How to Unflatten an Image in Photoshop - The Only Working Solution

If you've flattened an image in Photoshop and need to revert it, don't panic. Either use the History panel to undo your steps if the document is still open, or take advantage of Smart Objects to unflatten your layers—both methods will save you the headache of starting from scratch. Trust me, understanding these techniques is a game-changer for effective layer management.

September 15, 2023
How to Unflatten an Image in Photoshop - The Only Working Solution
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How do I recover a flattened image in Photoshop?

Unflattening images is a crucial Photoshop feature that allows you to revert your flattened image back to its layered state, giving you the flexibility to make additional edits, adjustments, or corrections. It's like having a safety net for your creative projects.

Today, we're going to delve into:

  • The importance of keeping your document open and how to use the History panel to undo your steps
  • The power of Smart Objects and how they can be your saving grace when you've merged layers
  • Step-by-step procedures for both scenarios to ensure you can unflatten your images effectively

Step 1: Open the Layers Panel

If you've merged your layers into a Smart Object, navigate to the Layers panel by clicking Window > Layers.

Step 2: Double-Click the Smart Object

Find the Smart Object thumbnail in the Layers panel and double-click it. This will open a new document containing your original, unmerged layers.

Step 3: Select All Layers

Hold down the Ctrl (Windows) or Cmd (Mac) key and click on each layer to select them all.

Step 4: Duplicate Layers

Click on the panel menu (the three horizontal lines at the top-right corner of the Layers panel) and choose "Duplicate Layers."

Step 5: Choose Original Document

A dialog box will appear. Select your original document from the drop-down menu and click "OK."

Step 6: Delete the Smart Object

Return to your original document. You'll see your layers have been copied back. Now, you can delete the Smart Object layer as it's no longer needed. Alternatively, you can right-click on the Smart Object and choose "Convert to Layers" to revert it within the same document.