Smart Object

A Simple Guide to Smart Objects

2013 年 7 月 10 日

Among all the questions I have received from my customers, one of the most frequently asked is undoubtedly the one regarding smart objects in Photoshop. What are smart objects? What can they do? How should I deal with them? If you are having these questions, this article is for you.

What is a Smart Object?

According to the official definition from Adobe, “Smart Objects preserve an image’s source content with all its original characteristics, enabling you to perform nondestructive editing to the layer.”

Wait wait wait… you feel that this is way too technical to understand? To keep it simple: let’s say if you are customising one of my flyer templates, then smart objects will enable you to only modify the content of the layer while keeping the styles and effects I put on it intact, no matter how complex they are. Sounds cool? Lets begin!

How do I Identify a Smart Object?


Easy enough, a smart object has a special icon in the lower corner of its thumbnail. For example, in the screenshot above, the layer called “<-Double Click” is a smart object, while the one called “Blue light” is not.

How can I Open a Smart Object?


To open a smart object, simply double click the thumbnail of the layer. Please note that it is the thumbnail (in the red circle) that you need to double click, not the name of the layer on the right.

If you double click on the text, then you will open the layer style panel, which is another story. This is also one of the most common mistakes made dealing with smart objects.

What should I do Next?


After you successfully open the smart object, the source of it will reveal. In this case, it is the text “Smart Object”. Do you notice that all the neon-light effects on the text magically disappear? Yes! That’s exactly the power of smart objects. You do not need to deal with them at all now. All you need to do is focus on the content of the text, and edit as you want.

As you may wonder, the smart object is not always text. It can be almost anything. The key point is that if you need to edit the source of a smart object, open it and do it here.

Save and Close it


Yay! I have changed the text to Neon Night now! So after editing, check your result, and simply save (ctrl + s) and close the document. You will then be taken back to the main PSD file.



Now your editing work has been saved, and like a charm, the original effects of neon lights are automatically applied to your new text! Let’s celebrate!

Hopefully after this guide, now you are familiar with the basic steps of updating a smart object. If you still have questions, please feel free to comment or send me an email to, and I’ll be more than glad to answer!

At last, in any case you are interested in the “Neon Night” example used in this article: it’s one of my flyer templates for sale on Graphicriver, which can be downloaded here.

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