How to Apply and Copy Layer Styles in Adobe Photoshop

In Brief...

Layer styles, such as drop shadows, glows and overlays, are effects that can be used and combined to create visual interest in a composition. Once a layer style has been created, it can quickly be applied to other layers within the same file or copied to a different file.


  1. Styles are added to a layer through the Layer Styles menu in the Layers panel.
    Layers Panel
  2. In this composition, three layer styles have been combined and applied to the top thumbnail layer.
    Layer Styles
  3. To apply the same combination of effects to the other thumbnail layers, hover over the fx icon to the right of the layer, hold down the Alt (PC) / Option (Mac) key, then click and hold on fx and drag the icon onto another layer.
    Layers Panel
  4. In essence, what you're doing is "cloning" the combination of effects. Here, it's been applied to all five thumbnail layers.
    Image with Effects Applied
  5. To apply the layer style to a layer in another file, go to the Layers panel, right-click (PC) / Control-click (Mac) on a layer's fx button, and choose Copy Layer Style.
    Layers Panel
  6. Go to the other file, and in the Layers panel, right-click (PC) / Control-click (Mac) on a layer and select Paste Layer Style.
    Layers Panel

Author: Kate Cahill

Kate Cahill is a graphic designer, writer, and creative director who has developed content for print and web. As creative director, she has produced award-winning work for agencies focused on the pharmaceutical, and health and beauty aid industries. She has also served as production manager, with responsibility for the successful fulfillment of long-run print contracts. Kate has been delivering training for Webucator clients since 2010. Her enthusiasm for cutting-edge technology, combined with hands-on practical experience, brings an added benefit to her class. Kate teaches real-world techniques and integration of Adobe software, as well as Microsoft PowerPoint to produce a fully-developed and cohesive brand identity.