Browsing Layer Groups

In the full Photoshop, grouping helps users to sort out a complex layer structure (fig. 1). Moreover, the groups can serve as limiters for knockout or adjustment effect (see example).

So long as PSE doesn't support the groups officially, if you open a file received from a Photoshop user, in the Layers palette you can see only the "closed folders" (fig. 2). You can neither browse the folders nor edit the nested items. Fortunately, the E+ easily solves the problem.

In the left panel of the "Layers" dialog, the groups can be recognized by the "node" symbol. After the group name [in the square brackets] you can read the number of nested items (fig. 3).

To look under the hood, you select the group in the list and apply the "Open Layer Group" command. Or simply double-click the group name in the Layers list.

Opening a layer group

Now that you are inside of the group, you may select a nested layer (in the fig.4, the "Layer 1" of the "Group 1" is selected), and then close the "Layers" dialog and start editing the layer. Although the Layers palette doesn't display the nested layer, you can see its name on the document's title bar (fig. 4).

Layer groups in Photoshop
Layer groups in Photoshop Elements
  Current layer name

In the meantime, some operations with the nested layers can be accomplished right in the "Layers" dialog:

  • To reorder the layers inside group, you use "Move Forward" and "Move Backward" commands.
  • To hide or show a nested layer, you uncheck/check the "Visible" gadget under the Layers list.
  • To ungroup the selected items (i.e., to move those from the current group to the parent level), use the "Extract Selected Items" command.

At last, to close the group and return to the upper level, apply the "Go to Parent Directory" command or just double-click the uppermost line with the group name in the Layers list (fig. 5).

Closing layer group

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