How To Unlock A Layer In Photoshop

Did you lock a layer but need to modify it now? You need to unlock the layer to do it. If you need clarification about how to do it, let us help you. 

To unlock a layer in the most time-saving way, right-click on the layer you wish to unlock and click on the Unlock Layer option. You can also click on the lock icon next to the layers. 

To learn more about the ways layers can be unlocked in Photoshop, please continue reading. 

Why Are Layers Locked In Photoshop?

You may wonder why layers need to be locked in Photoshop when working on a project. We have listed some reasons why locking your layers can be integral. 

Protection – Locking a layer can prevent it from being accidentally moved or modified. This is especially important for layers containing elements you want to keep the same or that are part of the final design. 

Editing restrictions – Locking a layer can prevent certain edits or modifications, such as deleting or painting over parts of an image. This can be useful if you want to protect certain parts of an image while still allowing other parts to be edited. 

Transparency – Layers with transparent areas may need to be locked to prevent changes to those areas. This is often the case when using layer masks or with transparent elements like logos or watermarks.  

Clipping masks – Layers used as clipping masks can be locked to prevent accidental modifications to the underlying layers. 

Layer order – Locking a layer can help keep the layer order organized and prevent accidental reordering of layers.

Unlock A Layer In Photoshop

To unlock one layer in Photoshop, follow the detailed instructions below. 

  1. Open your Photoshop document.
  2. Open the Layers panel by choosing Window > Layers from the menu.
  3. Locate the layer you want to unlock in the Layers panel.
  4. Look for the lock icon to the right of the layer name. If there is a lock icon displayed, it means that the layer is locked.
  5. Click on the lock icon to unlock the layer. The lock icon should disappear, indicating that the layer is now unlocked.
  6. You can also right-click on the layer in the Layers panel and choose “Unlock Layer” from the menu.
  7. If the layer is part of a layer group, you may need to expand the group in the Layers panel to access the locked layer.
  8. Once the layer is unlocked, you can make any changes to the layer as needed.
  9. Remember to save your changes when you’re done. 

To watch a tutorial to understand better how to accomplish this, watch this video: 

Unlock All Layers In Photoshop

To unlock all the layers in Photoshop, you can follow these steps:

  1. Open the Photoshop file containing the locked layers.
  2. Click on the “Layers” panel to open it if it’s not visible.
  3. If any background layers are locked, you must convert them to regular ones before unlocking them. To do this, double-click on the Background layer. 
  4. A New Layer dialog box will appear. Click OK. 
  5. If any layers are hidden, you will need to unhide them first. To do this, click on the eye icon next to the layer in the Layers panel.
  6. Hold down the Shift key and click on the top layer in the Layers panel to select all the layers.
  7. Right-click on any of the selected layers and choose “Unlock Layers” from the context menu.
  8. If you encounter a message that says, “Could not complete your request because of a program error,” try selecting fewer layers and repeating the above steps.
  9. If you have many layers, you may need to repeat the above steps several times until all the layers are unlocked.

Keyboard Shortcut To Unlock Layers In Photoshop

To use the keyboard shortcuts, you must ensure that the layer that you wish to target is selected. After selecting the layers, you can apply the combination of keys that works for you. The keyboard shortcut to unlock a layer in Photoshop is given below:

  • For Windows – Ctrl + Alt + / (slash key)
  • For Mac – Command + Option + / (slash key)


There are multiple ways to unlock layers in Photoshop. Choose the one that works best for you and is most convenient. Once you get the hang of the methods, you can do it in seconds.