Centering the Contents of a Layer in a Photoshop Document

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Adobe Photoshop provides several tool options for using guidelines and establishing symmetry in its documents. One of the most basic is the ability to center images and text located on layers in the document.

Finding and Marking the Center of a Photoshop Document

Before you can find and mark the center of a Photoshop document, turn on Rulers and Snap to Guides or confirm they are already turned on.

  • Open an existing file or create a new document using File > New.
  • Select View on the menu bar and click Rulers to toggle the rulers on.
  • Return to the View menu, click Snap To and select Guides.

With Rulers and Snap To Guides turned on:

  • On the menu bar, click Select and choose All.
  • On the menu bar, click Edit and select Free Transform, which places a crosshair at the center of the document. (If you prefer using keyboard shortcuts, use Ctrl+T in Windows or Command+T in MacOS to enter free transform mode.)
  • Click and hold on either the horizontal or vertical ruler. Drag a guide from the ruler onto the document. As you drag it near the crosshair, release the guide and it snaps into place centered on the crosshair.
  • Drag a guide from the other ruler to the approximate center of the document. Release it and it snaps to center.

The guides are indicated by thin blue lines by default. If you don't drag the guide near the crosshair, it won't snap to center. If this happens, delete the off-center guide by selecting the Move tool from the toolbar and using it to move the guide off the document. Drag another guide from the ruler and release it near the crosshair.

When you have two centered guides, press Esc and Select > Deselect to exit free transform mode. The crosshair disappears but the guides stay in place.

You can also place a guide manually by opening View > New Guide and entering an orientation and position in the pop-up menu that appears.

Centering Layer Contents in a Document

When you drag an image onto a layer, it centers automatically on its own layer. However, if you resize the image or move it, you can recenter it in this manner:

  • In the Layers palette, select the layer you want to center and the background layer or select two or more layers.
  • Choose Layer on the menu bar, followed by Align and Vertical Centers to center the layer contents vertically.
  • Choose Layer > Align > Horizontal Centers to center the layer contents horizontally.

If the layer contains more than one object — say, an image and a text box — the two items are treated as a group and the group is centered, rather than an individual item. If you select several layers, the objects on all the layers center one on top of another in the document.

Tip: the Options bar at the top of the screen contains shortcut icons for the Align options.