How To Copy A Mask In Photoshop

Mask layers are among the most useful tools in Photoshop. They work to hide aspects of your project without actually deleting them and can be reversed. Thus, masks help remove objects, enhance the backgrounds and their colors, and allow you to make detailed edits to specific parts of your design. How can you copy them?

Photoshop allows you to copy a mask from one layer to another or from one document to another. The simplest way of duplicating a mask in Photoshop is to select your layer mask and hold the “Alt” key. Next, you must drag it to the area of your canvas where you want it pasted.

Continue reading to learn more detail about copying masks in Photoshop!

Copying a Layer Mask

Although Photoshop does not have a direct “copy” tool to use for layer masks, the following keyboard shortcuts ensure that the process is still easy:

  1. Create a mask by going to the “layers” panel. Depending on your requirements, choose to make a revealing or concealing mask.
  2. Then, select the layer mask, and hold the “option” key if you are using Mac software or the “alt” key if you are using Windows software.
  3. Holding the correct key, drag your mouse across the canvas to create its duplicate.
  4. When you are upon the correct layer panel, let go of the mouse to paste the layer mask there.

This process duplicates the original layer mask onto a different layer. There might be times when you need copies of layer masks on numerous layers. However, no Photoshop tool copies layer masks onto multiple layers simultaneously.

Instead, you can group together your layers in the “layers” panel. Then, you can duplicate the layer mask onto the entire group to paste it within all the layers inside the group. 

Alternatively, you can also drag the original mask layer and drop it on different layers to copy it. This speeds up the process as you do not need to create a new mask each time.

The following video describes the abovementioned steps in detail:

Next, we will discuss moving a layer mask without copying it. 

Moving a Layer Mask To a Different Layer Without Copying It

To change the place of a layer mask, simply click on it and slide it over to the required layer. Instead of copying the mask, this will move it to a different layer. This step can be repeated many times to move masks onto different layers easily.

Also, you can unlink masks from the layer that they are on. This is beneficial as it allows the mask to be moved to different locations without moving the entire layer. To do this, press the ‘link’ icon found between the layer and the layer mask icons. 


Masks are an integral part of the editing process in Photoshop because they allow editors to make specific changes to their work in detail. The method of copying masks using keyboard shortcuts is simple, but they cannot be copied onto more than one layer at a time.