Photoshop Tip : Create a flattened layer AND keep all your layers intact in one file

Photoshop Tip : Create a flattened layer AND keep all your layers intact in one file

Photoshop Tip : Create a flattened layer AND keep all your layers intact in one file

When you’re working on a project, whether it’s photo retouching, graphic design or web design, it’s always a good idea to carefully keep an original PSD file with all your layers intact. Then if you want to come back to your file at a later time, you still have all your layers to play around with. When your work is finished you can send a flattened version to your client, or put it on your website portfolio. So now you have two files, your layered PSD and your flattened (and usually much lower file sized) single layered file.

But what happens if you want to have BOTH of these in one file. Is that possible? Why yes, with the power of Photoshop, it is indeed!

If you want to flatten an image in Photoshop, you don’t need to make a duplicate file in order to create a fattened layer while keeping your original layers. You can use this keyboard shortcut to have both in one file.

In windows, use Ctrl + Alt + Shift + E
On the mac, use Cmd + Option + Shift + E

In the example below, you can see the layers panels on the left has four separate layers. By using the keyboard shortcut above, Photoshop creates a new layer for you and places a flattened version of the image into this layer. This is such a handy option, and I use it all the time with my work in both illustration and design.



  1. Rich Webster says:

    Great site!

    BTW, in the same context, I frequently use “Copy Merged” to create a quick email of a design, or to move to another PS file. Just Command-A (select all) then Command-Shift-C (Copy Merged) then either go to your email app and paste or create a new PS file, and paste.

  2. Chet Scerra says:

    When I work with a large file in PSD or Tiff format and want to send the file via email, I first dramatically reduce its size, flatten the layers, then SAVE AS (using the same file name but tack on the suffix “EM” to the file name to denote it’s for email) then send. I then have two files of the same photo…one very large file in either PSD or Tiff format (with all the layers unflattened) and another, much smaller JPeg image that I use for mailing or putting on a web page.

    I’m still a little fuzzy on your tutorial here. I see in your example that you now have a flattened image (Layer 1) PLUS the remaining individual layers beneath. I don’t get it…all the layers seem to be there…unflattened. Granted, you have a merged new layer on top, however, the remaining layers seem to be still in existence. How does this reduce the file size so you can email it?
    I just don’t get it….please explain.
    thanks for your efforts,

  3. Jennifer says:

    Hi Chet

    Yes, you’re right, this actually produces a larger file size because you have all of the layers PLUS the flattened layer. By choosing Save for Web you can save the file for emailing or web use. And yes, you would get the same effect without creating a flattened layer. The main point I was (trying) to make is that you can easily keep all your layers and keep one flattened layer all in the same file. In my haste of writing, I mentioned email and web use which isn’t relevant.

    I’m now going to remove the part of the sentence that mentioned it so the focus is purely on the shortcut.

    Thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment!

  4. Synaura says:

    Great tip thanks for sharing, I had been looking to find the “flatten and keep your layers” shortcut.

  5. Jessica says:

    Hi Jennifer !! Always wondered how to do it. I am new to photoshop. Still learning you know. I would like to learn how to create splash and smoky actions in photoshop if you know or if you refer me a tutorial etc. TIA

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