How to Auto Align Layers in Affinity Photo

Photo editing is challenging enough when you deal with single shots. However, they can become nightmares if you must combine several shots to make a single image. Aligning the shots as layers will help, but that is not always intuitive in Affinity Photo, especially for you already edited.

Unfortunately, there is no way to automatically align layers In Affinity Photo. You must complete all alignments manually or set it as a flag when creating a new photo stack.  

Manually aligning layers can ruin photos if not done properly. Therefore, by reading further, you will learn how to align layers in Affinity Photo to get the best out of your shots.

How to Align Layers in Affinity Photo

Most people understand that most photographs will require some editing. The lighting could be off. Subjects might move. The reasons for the edits are endless. Despite this understanding, most people still overlook layer alignment.

Alignment issues can pop up for numerous reasons such as:

  • Moving the camera while shooting
  • Accidently moving a layer
  • Importing layers from different cameras and other editors

To make matters worse, you usually notice these issues near the end of the editing process. At that point, moving the layers may break your adjustments. As such, you might wonder if your photo editor could ensure the correct alignments automatically as you worked.

Affinity Photo Does Not Support Auto Align

Unfortunately, unlike other editors, Affinity Photo does not include an auto-align feature. At least, not in the traditional sense. Instead, it requires you to create a new empty layer stack. The stack would keep your layers aligned, but you must do it before you make any other changes.

Otherwise, you must every alignment adjustment manually. Luckily, you can access the alignment controls every time to move a layer. So, with a little luck and skill, you can still get your desired effect. It will just take some time to perform some of the more tedious steps.

Affinity Photo Alignment Controls

With that said, aligning layers in Affinity Photo requires using the right Alignment commands you can find on the Alignment popup window. You can access this window by selecting the “Alignment” option from the Toolbar.

General Content Alignment Options

The Alignment window lets you set your adjustment criteria, including an “Align to” menu with a few presets such as page, spread, margin, or selection bounds. You also have the option to align things vertically or horizontally. Nothing happens until you click “Apply”. So, you can take as much time as you need to select your desired settings.

You can even align objects across multiple layers, but you will be limited to the “selection bounds” options. For instance:

  • Align Horizontal – aligns either the left or right edge or the center points
  • Align Vertical – aligns to the top or bottom edge or the center (middle) points)

Alignment Handles

You can create custom alignment by using alignment handles. The handles appear as you move objects to help you place them precisely where you want them. They even work across multiple section boxes, allowing you to align their edges better.

However, you must ensure that you have the “Show Alignment Handles” option toggled on within the Move Tool’s settings. The handles should then show up along the edges and centers of your selections, along with floating guidelines across the page.

Using Blending Tools to Help Align Layers in Affinity Photo

Because you must align layers manually, you may have to find a non-destructive tool or shortcut to improve the operations. For instance, many editors use the Affinity Photo Differences blending mode to highlight the aligning content. That is because any misaligned content will show up as white pixels.

Blending modes are not permanent alterations. They simply create a layer mask on top of your existing layers. Plus, you can access both the Bending Modes selector and the Move Tool from the Layers panel, letting you move back and forth between them as much as you need.

Using them in the alignment process is simple too. Once you selected the appropriate blending mode, you just activate the Move Tool and use the arrow keys to adjust the alignment one pixel at a time. You are done once the white pixels disappear. You can then switch the blending mode back to “Normal” to switch to the next misaligned layer to continue your work.


While most photos will require some alignment adjustments, Affinity Photo does not offer any reasonable method to automatically align layers on the fly. Instead, you must fix any misalignments manually using the Move Tool and the various adjustment options Affinity Photo does supply. Otherwise, you must use a third-party tool such as Placeit to do the work.