Photoshop Layer Style tips and keyboard shortcuts

Layer style is very useful feature in Photoshop and provides quick access to styles for text, objects, layers.. Styles are created from layer effects like drop shadow, bevel and emboss.. it is worth to know how to use them and some keyboard shortcuts.

Let’s start from STYLES panel, if you do not see this panel at right side of screen go to Window menu and choose Styles. Many default styles have in parenthesis explanation for what purpose to use them like Text, Image, Button.. I will give one example with text style: first click on layer with text to select it on LAYERS panel then click on style which have Text in parenthesis like Chiseled Sky (Text). Style will be applied to the layer and its components are described at bottom of the layer.


To change set of styles to some other (Photoshop ships with many sets) click on triangle at top right corner of STYLES panel and choose styles set from the list. You can also reset styles to defaults – Reset Styles, Load Styles, Save Styles.. from this list.


If you like style but something seems to be wrong like too much bevel is applied first try to scale style. Right click on fx in LAYERS panel and choose Scale Effects... In Scale Layer Effects dialog click on arrow on the right side of Scale and move slider to the left to decrease amount of effects or to the right side to increase amount of effects, when you are done click on OK button to confirm and exit this dialog.

From list which appears on right click on fx you can also Hide All Effects (temporary), create separate layer for each effect – Create Layers, Clear Layer style, Copy Layer Style..

To add new effect – choose effects name from the list. When you click on effects name, Layer style dialog will open with tab for that effect active.


To open Layer Style dialog from LAYERS panel double-click on layer thumbnail if layer is filled with pixels. When layer is Smart Object, contains vector objects or text hold down and Alt key while double-clicking. In Layer Style dialog you can change existing effects, to add new or to build new style. To add effect click on its name then change any available settings. To change already applied effect click on its name or use keyboard shortcuts: Ctrl + (0-9). Turn on Preview (right side of dialog below New Style button) to see on screen what are you actually doing or changing. When you finish with effects adjustments click on New Style button on the right side of Layer Style dialog and save style for a later use.

Note: saved Layer Style will be added to the current set of styles. It is recommended to use Preset Manager and save style or set to disc, otherwise you will be prompted to save changed set when replacing current set of styles. If you do not save set when replacing it, you will lose newly created style
When you finish adjusting effects click OK button to confirm and exit Layer Style dialog.


To change settings for applied effect double-click on its name in LAYERS panel. This will open Layer Style dialog with that effect tab active.


To move style from one layer to another, click on fx, hold down mouse button and drag onto another layer. When surrounding rectangle appears, release mouse button and style is moved.

To copy style to another layer, right click on fx and choose Copy Layer Style, right click on layer you want to paste style and choose Paste Layer Style.

As you will see right click on layer brings list with many other options like: Warp Text, Create Work Path, Convert to Shape.. You can also paste style to multiple layers: first copy style then select multiple layers, right click on any selected layer and choose Paste Layer Style.


Another way to copy style to another layer is to hold down Alt key while dragging fx to another layer. Not only style but and individual effects can be copied to another layer. Hold down Alt key, click on effect’s name then and drag effect to another layer. When surrounding rectangle appears release mouse button.


To temporary hide effects or individual effect click on eyeball in front of Effects (hides all applied effects) or in front of effect name (temporary hides that effect). To show effect click one more time. When eye is visible effect is applied, when eye is hidden and effect is hidden.

To remove effect , click on effect name and drag it to trash icon. All effects applied can be also deleted by clicking on Effects and dragging to trash icon.


To not forget to mention that Layer Style dialog can be accessed from fx at bottom of LAYERS panel or from Layer > Layer Style > choose option.

Further readings and videos (free):
5 Tips for Layer Styles by Matt Kloskowski

Layers: The Complete Guide to Photoshop's Most Powerful Feature (2nd Edition)

Photoshop / Layer effects and styles

Product used in this tutorial: Adobe Photoshop CS5 Extended

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