When you break down the majority of designs you find online to their basic elements, you will find that most designs are just a collection of different-sized shapes. To save yourself some time, you need to know how to duplicate shapes in Photoshop. Thankfully for you, there are five ways that you can easily duplicate your shape.
Why are there so many ways to duplicate your shape in Photoshop you ask? Mainly to give you as many options as possible to fit your work style. In this guide, I’ll cover multiple ways to duplicate shapes using keyboard shortcuts and various ways to duplicate shapes without memorizing any keyboard combinations.
5 Ways To Duplicate Shapes In Photoshop
None of the options below are complicated, and you don’t need to use all of them each time you duplicate a shape. Just pick the option that will be the easiest for you to remember and use that option as many times as you need to.
Option 1: Pressing Command / Control + J (Mac / Win)
The standard way to duplicate a shape is to use the built-in keyboard shortcut designed to copy an object.
First, create a shape using the Shape Tool (U), then click on your shape to select it.
Next, press Command + J (Mac) or Control + J (Win).
At first, it will appear that nothing has happened. On your canvas, you will only see one shape and not two.
To confirm that the keyboard shortcut worked, turn your attention to the Layers Panel.
In the Layers Panel, you will find two separate layers: the original shape layer and the duplicated shape layer. This duplicated layer confirms that the keyboard shortcut worked.
Select the Move Tool (V) from the Toolbar to find the duplicated shape on your canvas.
Your duplicated shape is actually on top of the original. Click on the duplicated shape with the Move Tool, and drag it to where you need it on your project.
Option 2: Holding Alt Or Option While The Move Tool Is Active
The Move Tool is mainly used for moving objects around your canvas, but that’s not all that the Move Tool can do. You can also use the Move Tool to duplicate an object.
To do this, first, make sure that the Move Tool (V) is selected in the Toolbar. The Move Tool will be at the top of the Toolbar by default.
Once your Move Tool is selected, hold down the Alt key (Win) or the Option key (Mac).
The thing to pay attention to is the cursor. While you hold down the Alt or Option key, you will see a white cursor behind the normal black cursor. This white cursor means that you are ready to duplicate your shape.
To duplicate your shape, click and hold on to the shape itself (while still holding Alt or Option), then drag your mouse anywhere on your canvas. You will see the duplicated shape behind your cursor.
Drag your mouse to where you need it on your project, then release the mouse button to drop the duplicated shape on the canvas.
Option 3: The Copy & Paste Shortcut
The copy and paste method will possibly be the most familiar to you, as you can use this method to duplicate any object or string of text in most programs outside of Photoshop.
This method involves copying your shape first, then pasting the copied shape on the same canvas.
To copy your shape, click on it to select it, then press Control + C (Win) or Command + C (Mac). Your shape is now copied to your clipboard.
To paste your copied shape, press Control + V (Win) or Command + V (Mac). This will paste your copied shape in the middle of your canvas.
From here, you can use the Move Tool (V) to place your pasted shape where you need it for your project.
Option 4: Right-Click To Duplicate The Shape
You might be the type who hates memorizing or using keyboard shortcuts. If that’s the case, then this option might be the one you’ll want to use most often.
In the Layers Panel, right-click on your layer.
After you right-click on your layer, a large submenu will open up. Toward the top of this sub-menu, click Duplicate Layer.
A new window will pop up. You can name your shape if you’d like to, but the essential options are at the bottom of the window.
The Document option allows you to send your duplicated shape to a different project altogether. To make this work, ensure your other projects are open, then choose your desired location in the Document drop-down menu.
If your project has more than one Artboard, you can use the Artboard drop-down menu to choose which Artboard you want to send your duplicated shape to.
When you’re ready, click OK to confirm.
Once you hit OK, your duplicated layer will show up in the Layers Panel and on top of your original shape on your canvas. Use the Move Tool (V) to place your duplicated shape where you need it.
Option 5: Drag The Shape Layer To The New Layer Icon
This is another method to duplicate your shape without using a keyboard shortcut. This method is great when you need a straightforward solution that requires little thinking.
Don’t worry about the shape on your canvas, and go straight to the Layers Panel. Click and hold on your shape layer, then drag it to the Add new layer button.
You will see the duplicated shape in the Layers Panel above your original image.
Back on the canvas, your duplicated shape is on top of your original. Use the Move Tool (V) to place your duplicated shape where you need it in your project.
It’s worth noting that these shape duplication methods work for text layers, image layers, smart objects, and any other layer you are working with! So by adding these five techniques to your toolbelt, you’ll save more time in all aspects of your workflow.