How to Crop a Layer in Photoshop – 3 Methods

Most photoshop users, especially the newbies, often witness the problem of cropping a particular layer in photoshop. So if you are one of them and are searching to know how to crop a layer in photoshop, 

let’s read out this photoshop tutorial article and learn how to crop multiple layers in photoshop. 

As we all know, photoshop has various tools that let us edit our photography as we want in photoshop. The crop tool is one of them. This tool allows you to crop an image or resize an image. 

But if you need to crop a particular layer from the document, what will you do then? Because the crop tool doesn’t let us crop one Layer or a part of a layer in photoshop. It just allows us to cut or clip a complete document.

So the solution is to learn how to crop one Layer in photoshop. Fortunately, Photoshop has some ways to crop a particular layer from a single document or image. 

Today in this tutorial, we will figure out 3 simple methods to crop a layer in photoshop.  

So let’s get started. 

How to crop a picture in photoshop

If you want to know how to crop a photo in photoshop, luckily, the process is quite simple and easy. You need to know about the working process of the crop tool from the Photoshop toolbar. 

Select the image

At the beginning of this method, import your desired image in photoshop. To do that, go to the File menu and select open, as you can see in the picture. 

import image

Select the crop tool

In the second step, select the crop tool from the toolbar. A square shaping line will appear on your image by selecting this tool. It indicates that the crop tool is activated.

select the crop tool

The result

Now you can cut or crop your image by clicking and dragging the marching line from each corner of it.

the result

Save the File

After a while, when you are happy with your image’s new size and shape, save the new document going to File> Save or File > Save as.

save the file

But in this case, if you try to cut a single layer from this image, unfortunately, you can’t do this using this crop tool. You have to go through some different methods as we are describing them below.  

So let’s see how to crop a particular layer in photoshop.

How to crop a Layer in photoshop – 3 simple methods

There are certain methods of cropping multiple layers in photoshop. This tutorial will discuss information about the 3 most eligible and simplest ways of clipping images in photoshop. 

So let’s have a look at the first method. 

METHOD-1: Use the Crop Tool (Convert the Layer to Smart Object)

Open the image

At the beginning of this method, open your image in photoshop. For opening the image, follow the instructions we’ve discussed before.

open image in photoshop

Copy the Layer

In the next step, make a copy of the original Layer so that the original Layer can be safe from any changes that will be done. 

copy the layer

Layer via copy

Now go to the Layer tab, select New and click on Layer via Copy.

layer via copy

Alternatively, you can also do this using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + J for Windows and Command + J for Mac.

Convert to Smart Object

Now in this step, right-click on the layer copy from the Layer’s panel and click on Convert to Smart Object. 

convert to smart object

After doing this, a square symbol will appear on the thumbnail, which indicates the layer copy is now a smart object.

Smart Object is a very useful tool in photoshop that preserves all the necessary information of an image such as colors, shape, resolution, details, and many more. 

In a single word, it is a non-destructive way of cropping images, and you can get all Layers’ history preserved within the Smart Object. 

That’s why when you’re cropping a layer, you must convert it into a smart object to get the best result.

So when the Layer is converted into a smart object, select the crop tool from the toolbar or press the keyboard shortcut “C” to activate the crop tool. 

Activate the crop tool

Now you can effectively crop one Layer using the crop tool you couldn’t do before converting the Layer into a smart object.

activate the crop tool

Resize and edit the Layer by clicking and dragging the edges until you get your desired result. Then when you’re done, press on Enter or Return and save the document; as usual, you save documents in photoshop.

Get the result

That means go to File> Save or Save as.

get the result

Activate the free transform tool

The free transform tool is more effective than the crop tool because it allows you to maintain a proper width and height and much more necessary information of a layer. 

There are also some alternatives to the crop tool. For example, you can also use the Free Transform tool instead of the crop tool.

For working with the free transform tool, go to the Edit > Free Transform or press Ctrl + T (Windows) or Command + T (Mac) from the keyboard. 

activate the free transform

Free transform

You’ll see some edges appearing on the Layer, indicating that the free transform tool is already activated.

free transform

So click and drag the edges to crop or cut your Layer in a particular shape. Thus when you’re satisfied with the new size or ratio of the image, confirm it by pressing on the Enter button (Windows) or Return button (Mac).

The result

So we hope you got the answer about how to cut a layer in photoshop as here it is. 

the result-how to cut a layer in photoshop

So let’s talk about the next method.

METHOD-2: Use the Marquee Tool

This is quite the simple and easiest way to crop a particular layer from an image having multiple layers in itself. 

According to this method, follow the following steps to cut one layer in photoshop. 

Step 1: At the beginning of this process, open or create the Layer in photoshop that you want to edit. 

create the layer in photoshop

Step 2: In the second step, select the Layer area you want to crop out. For this selection, use the marquee tool from the toolbar. You will find several options in this tool, as you can see in the picture. 

marquee tool from the toolbar

Rectangular marquee tool

It would be best if you chose from the rectangular marquee tool or elliptical marquee tool according to your choice of the shape of your Layer’s selection. 

As you can see here, we have been using the rectangular marquee tool as we create a square selection around the Layer.  

rechtengular marquee tool

Note: Press and hold the shift button from the keyboard while dragging to create a perfect square or circle. 

Step 3: Select the Layer

You can drive into the next step when you are done with the selection. In this step, we will crop out the selected area from the Layer. 

Select the Layer you want to crop out from the toolbar to do that. Then press the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + shift + I (Windows) or press Command + shift + I (Mac). 

selected area from the Layer

Cut or delete

By doing this, everything outside of your selection will be selected to cut out. Then press the Delete button from the keyboard. 

Alternatively, you can also do it by going to the edit menu and selecting the cut option. 

cut or delete

The result

Now see everything outside of your selection has been deleted.

outside selection deleted

If you want to deselect the selection, press Ctrl + D if you are a windows user or press on command + D if you are a Mac user. 

METHOD-3: Use a Layer Mask

This process is one of the most useful ways of cropping layers from photos in photoshop. We want to recommend you use this technique if you’re going to get the best result. 

In this case, you have to know about the use of layer masks. Fortunately, the working process of a layer mask is simple enough.  

Create layers 

1. First, open or create the Layer in photoshop and unlock the background layer by clicking on this lock icon from the layer panel. 

create the Layer in photoshop

Select the selection tool

2. Now, make a selection around the Layer you want to crop. In that case, you can use any selection tools such as the Rectangular Marquee tool, elliptical marquee tool, Lasso tool and more. 

Select the selection tool

As you can see in the picture, I used the rectangular marquee tool that suits the shape of my Layer. 

Click on the layer mask tool.

3. In the next step, click on the layer mask option. You’ll find this icon 

Click on layer mask tool

The result 

4. After selecting the layer mask, everything outside your selection will disappear.

trim a layer

So this is how the layer mask can assist you to trim a layer most easily. The layer mask is essential and one of the most powerful features of Adobe Photoshop.

If you still don’t know about the layer mask, let us discuss it shortly. 

First, focus on the image we attached below. Here you can see the layer mask coloring white and black. 

The white area in your mask indicates that this area is completely visible, while the area coloring black is 100% transparent. 

This transparent area doesn’t mean that it is deleted. It means that the things from this area are just hidden. We can get them back using a white brush and painting on this transparent area. 

Resize a Layer

So we hope you understand why we called this method a non-destructive way to crop a picture using photoshop.

layer mask

If you want to learn more about Resize a Layer, let’s check out this article How to Resize a Layer in Photoshop.


1. Can you cbasiose Layer in photoshop? 

We can crop one Layer in photoshop using a layer mask. In this process, go to Select the Layer> make the selection using the marquee tool > activate the selection > create layer mask > get the result.

2. How do I crop part of an image in photoshop? 

Select the layer > make selection using marquee tool > activate the selection > press Delete key > get the result.

3. How do you crop around a picture? 

To do this:

  1. Open your picture in photoshop.
  2. Go to the toolbox and select the crop tool.
  3. Crop around your image as much as you want to cut out.

4. How do I crop a circle in photoshop? 

  • Open or create the Layer.
  • Select the Elliptical marquee tool from the toolbar.
  • Create the circle around the Layer.
  • Activate the selection.
  • Press the Delete icon or create a layer mask.
  • Get the result and save the document with a new size and shape.

5. How do I enable the crop tool in photoshop?

To enable the crop tool, go to the photoshop toolbar and click on the crop tool icon. After all, if you don’t get it, press on the button from your keyboard to enable the crop tool. 

Final Verdict

So we are almost at the end of today’s photoshop tutorial article. In this article, we have tried to explore the basics of the 3 most eligible methods of how to crop a layer in photoshop. 

However, among these three methods, the easiest method to cut a layer in photoshop is the use of smart objects. This method lets you crop part of a layer in photoshop using the crop tool. 

So at the beginning of your photoshop journey, undoubtedly, this method will be the best choice for you. Moreover, if you want to crop a layer in custom sizes and in a non-destructive way, definitely using the layer mask is recommended for all times.  

So this is almost all necessary information regarding the topic of how to crop an image in photoshop. I hope you got this tutorial helpful.

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About the author:

Chris Daniel

Chris Daniel

Chris Daniel is a very unique, professional, and informative website/blog writer. His biography page features various types of photography strategies in the USA. Keep an eye on his blog that contains a lot of creative details that draw with keep attention.

Chris Daniel

Chris Daniel

Chris Daniel is a very unique, professional, and informative website/blog writer. His biography page features various types of photography strategies in the USA. Keep an eye on his blog that contains a lot of creative details that draw with keep attention.

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