Is it possible to crop a single layer, I can almost get the desired outcome using the eraser on a layer but surely it can be done with cropping?

  • Cropping? do you mean without changing the image/canvas size?
    – Omne
    Dec 30 '12 at 20:37
  • 2
    Are you trying to accomplish something photography related? This might be better on graphicdesign.stackexchange.com.
    – mattdm
    Dec 30 '12 at 20:39
  • Agree. For example this: graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/7011/…
    – MikeW
    Dec 31 '12 at 6:03
  • It just doesn't make any sense why you'd want to crop a layer and make your entire composition follow that resolution...one of the most annoying things about photoshop IMO
    – user20868
    Jul 5 '13 at 5:38

11 Answers 11


Use a layer mask. Tutorials galore exist on the topic already, eg: http://helpx.adobe.com/photoshop/using/masking-layers.html

Straight from Adobe:

You can add a mask to a layer and use the mask to hide portions of the layer and reveal the layers below. Masking layers is a valuable compositing technique for combining multiple photos into a single image or for making local color and tonal corrections.


I can't believe no one suggested this yet:

Just use the rectangular marquee to select what you want to crop down to, and COPY it to your clipboard. Then delete the entire layer and PASTE what you copied to a new layer.

This is especially useful if the layer you're cropping is larger than the canvas, in which case the select-inverse technique is messy.

  • 5
    Alternatively, you Select with marquee and press CTRL+J. Ps Will create a copy of the layer including ONLY the selected pixels. You can then hide or delete the original layer.
    – Jahaziel
    Jul 13 '15 at 16:33
  • 1
    Fantastic solution
    – qwr
    Apr 20 '16 at 21:09
  • This is great when you want to do a Free Transform and get the handles on the cropped edges.
    – Laurent
    Dec 25 '16 at 17:26
  • I can't believe they stopped supporting CTR+X for this operation, I thought they scrapped all the hotkeys because of that and that's how I ended up here today :D would've saved a click for each of us for every crop ... that's a lot! May 12 '20 at 0:44

You can also select the area you want to crop to with the rectangular marquee tool, invert your selection, then delete the now selected outside area. This is different from the layer mask in that it completely deletes the surrounding area, whereas the mask makes the surrounding area invisible.

  • From top menu - Select -> Inverse or just Shift + Ctrl + I (from CS5). Thanks for answer, exactly what I needed.
    – Jarrod
    Sep 21 '15 at 20:02

You'd most likely want to use one of the marquee tools. This will select an area in a crop like fashion and you can then delete the inside or the outside by right clicking and selecting 'select inverse'.

and that is how i crop inside one layer :)


No, you can't crop a single layer.

The closest thing would be to copy the layer to a new image, crop that image, and copy the layer back to the original image.

It's easier just to erase or mask the part of the layer that you don't want.

  • 2
    Huh, interesting. You can in Gimp.
    – mattdm
    Dec 31 '12 at 5:00
  • -1, You can't use the crop tool, but you sure can crop a single layer. Dec 31 '12 at 5:44
  • 1
    @whatsisname: Then you don't crop.
    – Guffa
    Dec 31 '12 at 14:14

You can also always just apply a layer mask you made by right clicking the layer and selecting "apply layer mask".


Just resize the layer using the transform tool. If you make the layer a smart object first, then you'll have the option to revert back to the original image size should you wish, without data loss.

  • 3
    resizing the layer is not going to do you any good if it makes that layer out of scale with stuff in the other layers. Jan 3 '13 at 2:56

enter image description here

A very easy trick: just crop it in another tab and move it back (screenshot here).


If you want to be able to change the size or shape of your crop you can also just make shape in a seperate layer and clip your image with a clipping mask on your shape. If you group the two after that you can move them as one. If you do this you're still able to change to shape of your crop afterwards.


If you convert the layer in question to a smart object then edit the smart object, you can crop the layer. When you save and close the smart object and revert back to the original stack of layers, the cropped layer is smaller and can be moved around in the larger image. Here is how I did it, although there may be shortcuts: (1) Left click on the layer to be cropped and select "convert to smart object" (2) Once the conversion is complete double-click on the layer icon to open the smart object (3) Crop the image as desired (4) Save and close the cropped layer, which returns you to the original layer stack. The cropped layer can now be moved around as needed. If more edits are needed on the layer, you will have to reopen it as a smart object. By telling PS not to delete the cropped pixels, I was also able to reopen the smart object and change the crop in a later edit.


Select the area > fill..> background

  • 1
    Can you elaborate a bit? Select the area you want to keep or exclude? On which layer? Background: you mean the background layer or background color?
    – MikeW
    Nov 8 '17 at 18:22

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