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How to Center Layers in Photoshop

Do you seem that some image is not exactly centered as you wish? Should be 5 pixels left or about 7 pixels upper? This short step-by-step procedure shows you how to center one layer in another by using Photoshop.

Before we start, I would like to focus your attention on the right upper History panel to follow all actions done by every single step. Also, don’t miss follow the Layers tab in the right lower corner to have an info which one is actually selected. Keep an eye on these two items all the time! They could significantly help you to clarify some doubts.

Well, let’s have a situation: very friendly and cute looking smiley should be exactly centered in the 500×500 pixels blank image. So, first open the smiley.png image and create new one, blank image by File > New selection of the top main menu. After this step #0, your workplace should look like the below one.

Photoshop Center Layers 0

Now, make layer from Background of the newly created blank image by double click on it, in the right lower Layers tab. Check, that the name of this layer has changed from Background to Layer 0. Also, notice the History pane at right upper corner to check the change. This first step should be recorded there.

Photoshop Center Layers 1

Following step is pretty simple – drag our friendly smiley over the newly created image and drop wherever you want. The Layer 1 is created which may be notable on the Layers tab in the right lower corner as well as Drag Layer in History is recorded.

Photoshop Center Layers 2

This is going to be the key step. Select Layer 0 on the Layers tab and select Rectangular Marquee tool from the left side toolset panel. Stretch Rectangular Marquee over the Layer 0 from upper left to lower right corner. This creates the reference area against which our smiley will be centered.

Photoshop Center Layers 3

Once Layer 0 is rectangulary marked, select Layer 1 (the smiley) and go to the Layer > Align Layers to Selection tab of the top main menu. Align submenu is folded out as screenshot shows.

Photoshop Center Layers 4

Select Vertical Centers and you’ll get your nice smiley centered verticaly in the Layer 0 as shown below.

Photoshop Center Layers 5

Do the same with Horizontal Centers and the Layer 1 is exactly centered in the Layer 0.

Photoshop Center Layers 6

Now select Layer 0 from Layers tab, click on it by right mouse button and select Deselect (clear wording :-))

Photoshop Center Layers 7

Once Layer 0 is deselected, your friendly smiley is absolutely centered on the background image!

Photoshop Center Layers 8

If any of these steps is not clear, check every step against screenshot, which can be zoomed in by click on it. Don’t forget to follow the History and the Layers tabs, they help a lot if something was not understood properly.

22 Responses to “How to Center Layers in Photoshop”

  1. nesa says:

    thanks a lot 4 the tutorial..

  2. Jonathan H says:

    I realise this is an old post, but very handy none the less! :)

  3. Dan Murphy says:

    Thanks, that was easy to follow and has saved me heaps of time!

  4. Mike says:

    So clear and helpful. Thanks!

  5. Sally says:

    Very easy to follow – thanks very much

  6. mason says:

    Thanks, saves lots of time

  7. Christina says:

    Thanks a lot!

  8. zuka says:

    nice, very easy to follow, thanks very much..
    i just don’t understand why adobe can’t make it easier for user.. :)

  9. Danner says:

    That is not a friendly-looking smiley face

  10. Danner says:

    but thanks!! It was heaps of help!

  11. Vince Chee says:

    This is really really helpful! Thank you so much for this easy understanding tutorial!

  12. Maribel says:

    I was looking for information on how to do this for over an hour! Thank you soooooo much, you explained it perfectly~

  13. Joe B says:

    Why is Align Layers sometimes greyed out?

  14. Michael says:

    Excellent thank you

  15. Grumble says:

    Thanks for this simple, useful tutorial!

  16. wes says:

    What Joe said…

    I’m working on a .PSD and it won’t let me do this. Greyed out.

  17. Paige says:

    Thank you!

  18. Kees says:

    You just have to select it, than you can align it :D

  19. Adele says:

    Thank you, this is just what I needed to know while creating my business cards. x

  20. Matt says:

    So simple .. :) milion times thanks :) nice tutorial

  21. Guo says:

    Thank you very much :)

  22. Rencontre says:

    I’ve been using Photoshop since 1998 (Photoshop 4.0), and I didn’t know such a simple thing until now… Well I want to center layers because I am into web layout wireframing, now.
    Thanks a lot for this tutorial.

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