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Design Photoshop Foundations Masks Basics Masks & Gradients

Chris Harkin
Chris Harkin
1,104 Points

How to unlock image

When I try to copy on image on to the other (ctr a > ctr c > ctr v) the second image/layer has a pad lock beside it assuming that means the image is locked and I can not change it. If so how do I unlock it? or am I missing a step or something something.

Chris Harkin
Chris Harkin
1,104 Points

Sorry should have mentioned I'm using Photoshop CC

1 Answer

Matt Varner
Matt Varner
5,373 Points

Chris Harkin,

TL:DR at bottom. :)

Thanks for the question. This happens to me all the time when I use Photoshop...usually when I'm a little over-eager to start working on a file immediately. I can't count the number of times I've started editing a file in Photoshop, noticed nothing happening...and then had to make sure I was editing on a brand new layer...or at least unlocking the background layer.

Oh, I should mention that this is what you are actually referring to: a locked layer, rather than a 'locked image,' which is preventing you from making any edits.

Typically, when you start a new file for editing, there are no locked layers...but should you open up an existing non-layered image (typically an image file already compressed or flattened) and begin an attempt to edit the document, you may hit the 'locked layer' wall. Luckily enough, the fix is easy.

Like everything in Photoshop, however, there are multiple ways of solving a given issue...and how you go about choosing which method you want to use is dependent on your familiarity with the product, your goals for your project/file, etc.

I'm going to assume the following is true:

  • You're new to Photoshop.
  • You ran into trouble just following the first step in the video where she pastes the copied content into the second file.
  • You really just want to finish the lesson without too much fuss or fanfare.

It would be irresponsible of me to fail to mention, however, that just willy-nilly unlocking layers is not great Photoshop technique (i.e., best practices), and I wouldn't want to be responsible for starting off your experience with the tool by enhancing a bad habit that could wind up being more costly down the road.

To easily unlock a layer you want to edit that is currently locked:

  1. Double-click the locked layer in your Layers panel.
  2. Type in a new Layer name and hit enter (or just hit enter)

This will typically remove the 'soft-lock' on a background layer for a file you opened in Photoshop so you can edit it. There's also a 'hard-lock,' which no matter how many times you double-clicked, would just laugh and tell you 'No' until you made an effort to unlock it.

Photoshop, like other tools, can be daunting when you are first starting out...but with practice comes great reward. It is a great tool.

Chris Harkin
Chris Harkin
1,104 Points

Thanks Matt Varner for you answer it was very help full. Yes you are correct I am new to Photoshop and at the moment I am finding it a bit tricky to get used to but I am also starting to see what a powerful tool it is.

Also as much I like these tutorial videos and as good and helpful as they are I really wish they would update the videos to the new version of Photoshop CC as a lot of my time is spent looking for tools, etc that adobe have moved since cs5. And am sure you can under stand this can be a little frustrating as getting used to Photoshop can be a little tricky its self to get used to especially for newb like myself :-)