An image of a boat and a whale in the ocean. The boat has been separated into its own layer, which has a bounding box around it so that it can be rotated.


How to rotate a layer in Adobe Photoshop.

Learn about the many ways to rotate a single layer in your Photoshop project.

What does it mean to rotate a layer?

Layers are key to almost everything you do in Photoshop. Every edit you make to an image can be overlaid on top of the image as a new layer. By adding and editing individual layers, you can edit nondestructively — preserving the original image so you can go back to square one at any time.


Rotating a layer is simply taking one of the many layers in your project and turning it clockwise or anticlockwise around a fixed point, all without rotating any other part of the image.

Why rotate a layer?

There are several ways you can give your image just the tweak it needs by rotating a layer.

An Adobe stock image of shop front signage with a cafe logo on it.

Adjust a logo.

If you’ve added a logo as a layer to your work, you can rotate it to make sure the design looks like you want.

An Adobe stock image of mountains. The mountains have been duplicated and rotated to create a mirror effect.

Fine-tune a mirrored image.

Creating a mirror effect? Rotate the layer with the duplicate image to line it up with the original.

A before and after comparison of a photo with a rotated layer.

Alter a graphic.

Rotate a single layer of a graphic design to subtly change its appearance.

An example of a layer being rotated in a composite image.

Create a composite.

While photo manipulating a composite, you can alter the angle of an element you’ve added to blend it in with the picture.

How do I rotate a single layer in Photoshop?

There are a few different ways to rotate a layer. The quickest and easiest method uses the Move tool to get the job done in just three steps.

1. Select it:

From the Layers panel, select the layer you want to rotate.

2. Box it:

From the toolbar on the right, choose the Move Selection tool. A point identification box will appear around the layer.

3. Rotate it:

Click and drag the corners to rotate the layer. Hold the Shift key to rotate in 15-degree increments.    

How else can I rotate a layer?

You can also use the Free Transform tool to rotate your layer. Although it’s a more manual workflow, this method offers more options for turning your layer by a specific number of degrees.

1. Select it:

Choose the layer you want to rotate from the Layers panel.

2. Edit it:

From the top menu bar, select Edit › Transform. The point identification box will appear around the layer.

3. Rotate it:

Choose between different rotation options — you can rotate 90 degrees or 180 degrees in either direction. Alternatively, click and drag to rotate the box or enter the number of degrees you want to rotate the layer in the top toolbar. 

What are some shortcuts to rotate a layer?

Speed up your workflow and spend less time navigating menus with these tips and best practices.

An example of the menu that shows up when you right-click on a layer. The menu shows options for Content-Aware Scale, Puppet Warp, Perspective Warp, Free Transform and Transform.

Transform shortcuts.

Press Ctrl+T or Command+T on Mac to open the Free Transform menu or right click the layer and select Free Transform from the drop-down menu.

An example of the Batch Rotate Layer feature being used.

Batch rotate layers.

Hold down the Ctrl key and click each layer you want to modify in the Layers panel. When you use the Move or Free Transform tool, they’ll all rotate together.

An example of the Pivot Point feature being used.

Change your pivot point.

When Show Transform Controls is enabled, you can see the pivot point your layer will rotate on. Click and drag the pivot point to set it anywhere on your canvas.

An example of the Convert to Smart Object feature being used.

Create a Smart Object.

Convert a layer into a Smart Object to protect its pixels when you rotate or resize it. This will preserve image quality through multiple edits.

Adobe Photoshop

Do more with Adobe Photoshop.

Learn more Photoshop functions.

Explore tutorials to discover what else you can do with Photoshop.

An image of flowers with filters applied.

Apply filters.

Filters are a quick way to make major changes to the colour and tone of an image.

An image of a body of water with a blue filter and the Adobe Photoshop logo in the lower left corner.

Change the image size.

Learn how to crop, straighten or otherwise alter the size of an image in Photoshop.

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