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How To Apply A Filter To Multiple Layers At Once In Photoshop

Photoshop is a complex app with lots of tools. Working in it is time consuming and it doesn’t exactly designed to be easy to learn or use. This is a trade-off that happens when you have a tool as complex as Photoshop. You have to sacrifice ease-of-use for more tools and features. Filters are a commonly used tool in Photoshop. You can apply multiple filters to one layer, and the same filters to multiple layers. Of course, if you want to apply a filter to multiple layers, doing it one at a time will take quite a while. As far as filters go, Photoshop has a way to make it less repetitive. It has a feature called ‘Smart Filter’ that lets you apply a filter to multiple layers in one go. Here’s how it works.

Apply A Filter To Multiple Layers

Step 1: Open a Photoshop file. Make sure you can see the Layers window. If you can’t, or you don’t know what it looks like, go to Window>Layers from the top menu bar and make sure Layers is checked. Then, click the Layers window tab pictured below.

Step 2: Select the layers you want to apply the filter to. You can select all layers in a sequence by holding down the Shift key. To select layers at random, hold down the Ctrl/Cmd key and click the layers you want to select. Once you’ve selected the layers, go to Filter>Convert to Smart Filters. What this does is it sort of merges the layers you’ve selected. At least, that’s how it appears in your file. Your layers all appear as one single layer. This might make you think that the layers will no longer be individually editable but that’t not the case. We’ll explain this in more detail a little later.

Step 3: Once the layers have been grouped/merged into a single layer for smart filters, you can apply the filters. Select the smart filter layer, and then go to Filter and select a filter from those available. The filter will be applied to all selected layers. For the sake of this article, we used the Stylize>Tiles filter.

Editing A Smart Filter Layer

To edit one of the layers in a smart filter layer, double-click it. this will open a new Photoshop file named after the smart filter layer. This file will have each layer that was merged to form the smart filter layer as a separate layer. In this file, edit the layers, and when you’re done save the changes. The changes will be reflected in your main file.


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