What to Do When Photoshop Keep Selecting Wrong Layer

Photoshop is one of the most popular photo editing apps for graphic designers, photographers, and photo editors. However, many people have been having the same problem with certain versions of the application. When they try to select a particular layer, the program selects a different one. What should you do when this happens?

If Photoshop keeps selecting a different layer than the one you’re clicking on in the layers panel, there’s a good chance you have Auto-Select enabled. This feature is enabled in newer versions of Photoshop by default, and you’ll have to turn it off to fix the problem.

Below, we’ll discuss what exactly this feature does, as well as how to turn it on and off. Keep reading to start using Photoshop the old way!

Why Does Photoshop Keep Selecting the Wrong Layer?

The most common reason why Photoshop will select a different layer than the one you click is that you have Auto-Select enabled. This feature allows users to automatically select the top layer, or top group of layers, on the canvas you’re working on.

Auto-Select is turned on by default in all versions of Photoshop released in the past several years. If you’ve recently upgraded to a newer version of the application, this may be the reason why you’ve suddenly started having problems.

What is Auto-Select?

The Auto-Select feature has been a part of Photoshop since 2018. When a user has Auto-Select enabled, they can automatically select and move a layer simply by clicking on it in their canvas.

As mentioned, Auto-Select has been enabled automatically in new versions of the application released over the past several years. If you turn it off and then reset your Photoshop tools, Photoshop will re-enable it until you disable it once again.

If you want to keep Auto-Select enabled, but are having trouble selecting a particular label as a result, there is a way to temporarily disable it. Simply press and hold either the control key (if you’re using a Windows computer) or the command key (if you’re using a Mac computer) on your keyboard. This will allow you to use the layers panel to select your desired layer. As soon as you release the button on your keyboard, Auto-Select will turn itself back on.

How to Turn Auto-Select On or Off

If you want to go back to using Photoshop the way you used to, you’ll need to turn Auto-Select off. This will allow you to select the correct layer from the layers panel every time, even if it’s buried under several others.

Here’s how to turn Auto-Select on or off:

  1. From the Photoshop toolbar, choose the Move tool.
  2. With the Move tool selected, you should see a checkbox with the word “Auto-Select” next to it in the upper left corner of the screen. Simply uncheck this box to turn Auto-Select off, or leave it checked to keep it on.
  3. If you don’t see this option at the top of the screen, you may have a narrow options bar enabled in your preferences. To access the option, you’ll have to open the Photoshop “Preferences” menu, then navigate to “Workspace.” From there, make sure the “Condensed” option is turned off.

Should You Use Auto-Select?

People tend to have mixed opinions on Auto-Select as a feature, especially about the fact that it’s enabled by default. Let’s discuss some of the pros and cons of using Auto-Select on Photoshop.

Pros of Auto-Select

One of the main reasons Photoshop chose to enable Auto-Select by default was to make the application more user-friendly. While those who have been using Photoshop for years would probably prefer that Adobe did not enable new default features, many new users prefer Auto-Select.

While sorting through a layers panel can be intimidating to some, Auto-Select enables you to select and move a layer simply by clicking it. This is generally preferred by anyone who doesn’t yet have a solid understanding of Photoshop, layers, or digital editing in general.

Cons of Auto-Select

While Auto-Select is a great option for some, many people have expressed dissatisfaction with the fact that Photoshop enables it by default. If you have been using Photoshop for years to either create graphics or edit photos, you may feel that it adds an unnecessary step to the process you’re used to.

Whenever you update Photoshop and any time that you reset your tools, you’ll have to remember to turn Auto-Select back off. If you don’t realize what’s happening at first, this can cause a lot of frustration and wasted time.

Now, let’s discuss an issue that plagues both new and experienced Photoshop users: the problem of overlapping layers. If you’re creating an exceptionally detailed graphic or using a lot of filters on top of a photo, it can be challenging to select the right one. Even when you click on a shape or object you know is on one layer, Photoshop will often automatically select whatever may be on top of that object. This is especially true if you use a high-transparency layer. It can make it all but impossible to choose the right one.

What If Turning Off Auto-Select Doesn’t Solve the Problem?

If you’ve turned off Auto-Select and are still having the same issue, it’s likely a bug or glitch in your program. Try uninstalling and reinstalling Photoshop, making sure to save any files you’re still working on in a separate folder. If the problem persists, you may have to contact Adobe customer support.

Final Thoughts

If you use Photoshop regularly, it can be incredibly frustrating when the program continues to select the wrong layer. If you’re having this problem, turning off the Auto-Select feature will likely fix it. As the name suggests, Auto-Select automatically selects the layer your cursor is on top of when you go to move a layer. While this is an excellent, user-friendly feature for some, others consider it an inconvenience.

If turning off Auto-Select does not solve this problem, you may need to reinstall Photoshop entirely and try turning it off again. Still not having luck? Contact Adobe customer support.