Flatten and Merge Layers in Photoshop Elements 10

Layers are fun and fantastic, but they can quickly chew up your computer’s RAM and bloat your file size. And sometimes, to be honest, having too many layers can start to make your file tedious to manage, thereby making you less productive. Whenever possible, you should merge your layers to save memory and space. Merging combines visible, linked, or adjacent layers into a single layer (not a background). The intersection of all transparent areas is retained.

In addition, if you need to import your file into another program, certain programs don’t support files with layers. Therefore, you may need to flatten your file before importing it. Flattening an image combines all visible layers into a background, including type, shape, fill, and adjustment layers.

You’re prompted as to whether you want to discard hidden layers, and any transparent areas are filled with white. We recommend, however, that before you flatten your image, you make a copy of the file with all its layers intact and save it as a native Photoshop file. That way, if you ever need to make any edits, you have the added flexibility of having your layers.

By the way, the only file formats that support layers are native Photoshop (.psd); Tagged Image File Format, or TIFF (.tif); and Portable Document Format, or PDF (.pdf). If you save your file in any other format, Elements automatically flattens your layers into a background.

Flattening layers in Photoshop Elements 10

To flatten an image, follow these steps:

  1. Make certain that all layers you want to retain are visible.

    If you have any hidden layers, Elements asks you whether you want to discard those hidden layers.

  2. Choose Flatten Image from the Layers panel menu or the Layer menu.

    All your layers are combined into a single background.

    If you mistakenly flatten your image, choose Edit→Undo or use your Undo History panel.


Merging layers in Photoshop Elements 10

You can merge your layers in a few ways. Here’s how:

  • Select only those layers you want to merge. Choose Merge Layers from the panel menu or the Layer menu.

  • Display only those layers you want to merge. Click the eye icon on the Layers panel to hide those layers you don’t want to merge. Choose Merge Visible from the Layers panel menu or the Layer menu.

  • Arrange the layers you want to merge so that they’re adjacent to each other on the Layers panel. Select the topmost layer of that group and choose Merge Down from the Layers panel menu or the Layer menu. Note that Merge Down merges your active layer with the layer directly below it.

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