I'm referring to the layer "Background" that is automatically created. What's the purpose of this layer? Will I loose some functionality if I duplicate it and remove the original?

I feel this layer is very limited in comparison with "normal" layers; you can't apply layer styles or change layer properties.



Think of that layer as the actual 'image'. That is a simplification, but it serves a point. If you duplicate it, feel free to remove it. Or you could just drag the lock-icon to the trash-icon and edit the background layer directly. I usually duplicate the background layer and do my sharpening on the duplicated layer, so I can go back, reduce the sharpening and such without going back in my editing history. I like it that way.

  • Didn't know you could drag the lock icon, that is awesome. Seems to convert it to a "normal" layer. Thx! – Znarkus Jan 2 '11 at 22:59

I think it's just there by tradition, a feature from the past, when adding layers was a new concept.

In my opinion, there is no special need for this background layer anymore. You can delete it, or you can use it if you want.


You can hold ALT and double-click to convert the Background Layer to a normal layer. But consider this: If the first thing you do is copy that layer (Ctrl J) and do all your edits on this new and any subsequent layers you might create, then you'll always have the original as a reference point. It can be useful to do a quick "before and after" by holding Alt and clicking the Background layer's "eye" icon which will toggle all the other layers on and off. Also: what if you decide you've over-done an edit? You can always make a copy of the bg layer, move it to the top of the stack and use a layer mask, opacity and/or blend modes to "reign-in" over zealous editing. That untouched background layer can prove to be a useful safety net.

  • Yes, the before/after functionality is really awesome, I use it all the time and can't understand why I didn't thought of it when writing my reply. – monotux Jan 3 '11 at 11:10

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