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Photoshop Elements > Composite Layer

What Is It?

When you make a composite layer, the visible layers are copied to a new layer.

Unlike with flattening, none of the existing layers are deleted.

This process is also called stamp visible or claw command.

The latter name comes from having to use so many fingers to enter a command.

What's It Good For?

A composite layer is useful when:

• You want to use some of the layers to create Version A, and other layers to create Version B.

Then, you can compare the two versions, A and B.

• You're performing an operation that should affect all of the pixels in all of the layers.

You'll probably need to do so when toning, reducing noise, resizing, and sharpening.

You could flatten the layers, but then you would no longer have the layers.

Create a Composite Layer

There are three methods.

Method #1 - Copy & Paste

To create a composite layer, do the following.

This method creates a composite layer, and preserves all of the layers.

1) Deselect the eye icons on the layers you don't want to merge.

2) Click the top layer (highlighted).

3) Go to Select > All.

4) Go to Edit > Copy Merged.

5) Go to Edit > Paste.

Here's an alternative method.

Method #2 - CLAW Command

(Windows only)

This method merges all of your layers.

Press Shift + Ctrl + Alt + e.

You can remember it by noting the first letter of each step SCAE (Shift + Ctrl + Alt + e).

Method #3 - Alt + Merge Visible

1) Press and hold Alt.

2) Go to Layer > Merge Visible.


Photoshop Elements makes a composite layer when saving a PSD file if Always is selected for Maximize PSD File Compatibility in Preferences

The composite layer can be read by other software.

To go to Preferences, do the following.


Go to Edit > Preferences > Saving Files.


Go to Photoshop Elements > Preferences > Saving Files.