If you ever worked with Photoshop, you probably heard the term Smart Object. It may seem like a small thing, but a Smart Object can be a valuable tool if you know how to use it. Read on if you want to know about Photoshop Smart Objects.

What Are Smart Objects For?

Essentially, a Smart Object is a layer that contains all of the same information as your original image but allows you to make some edits without degrading the image. For example, if you want to resize an image without impacting the quality, you can create Smart Objects first.

Advantages to Using Smart Objects in Photoshop

Making objects smart is easy, and there are several advantages to creating a Smart Object in Photoshop. You can even use vector images and camera raw files

  • Perform non destructive edits to images, including resize, skew, and distort perspective without degrading the original image.
  • Add non destructive filters to your images.
  • Embed images, specifically vector images, without altering the pixels.
  • Edit one image and apply the edits to all duplicate images.

Some photographers refuse to use Smart Objects because you can’t perform some edits directly on the layer, like burning or cloning. Crafty people found two workarounds for this issue, though. 

First, you can directly edit a Smart Object with a quick double click on the layer to open the layers panel. The Smart Object opens in a new window ready for you to edit with free transform. Second, you could copy the Smart Object in another layer to edit it.

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Embedded Smart Objects

Embedded Smart Objects function like any other layer in Photoshop files. They maintain the quality of the original image but allow you to perform some edits without degradation.

How to Use Embedded Smart Objects

It’s so easy to incorporate Smart Objects in Photoshop projects that there are multiple methods to use.

  • From the “File” menu, select “Open as Smart Object.”
  • Choose “Place Embedded” or “Place” from the “File menu.
  • Drag your file onto a Photoshop canvas from your drive.
  • Go to the “Layer” menu, select “Smart Object,” then choose “Convert to Smart Object.”

Linked Smart Objects

You can also use Linked Smart Objects in Photoshop CC. There are several benefits to using the Linked Smart Objects Photoshop feature. 

  • Reduces the size of the Photoshop file because you use an object from an external file. 
  • It’s possible to edit a single Smart Object and set it to automatically update every occurrence of that image throughout your other projects.
  • You can substitute a low-resolution image for large projects and replace it with the high-resolution version at the end.
  • Linked Smart Objects allow you to experiment with different files until you find the one you like best.

How to Use Linked Smart Objects in Photoshop

From your “File” menu, choose “Place Linked.” Whatever file you select creates a new layer marked with the “Link” icon. To make changes, right click the Linked Smart Object Layer. You can also modify content, resolve broken links, and change a Linked Smart Object to an Embedded Smart Object.

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Resizing Smart Objects

One of the main reasons to use Smart Objects is resizing because it preserves image quality. Since resizing an image often leads to degradation, creating it as a Smart Object layer allows you to resize it as much as you like without fear of ruining your image.

How to Use a Smart Object Layer to Resize an Image

Copy the image into Photoshop to trigger a prompt box with four options. The first choice should be “Smart Object.” Click “OK,” and your image will appear as a layer. You can scale it up and down using the layers panel. 

The layer saves in your TEMP files until you save it as part of a project. Once you save a project, the Smart Object layer becomes part of the master file.

How to Turn Off Smart Objects in Photoshop

If you decide that you don’t want one Smart Object in your Photoshop project, you can use two methods to turn the feature off. For both, just right click on the Smart Object and select “Rasterize Layer” or “Convert to Layers” to revert to a regular layer.