Photoshop: Import multiple images into one layered document

I was forced into a corner at work this week. I needed to layer dozens of images into the same Photoshop document.

If I was a fool, which I am, I would open Photoshop, then proceed to File > Open all of these images at once. Afterwards, I’d choose one as my Photoshop document, slowly drag-and-dropping the rest on top of it, automatically creating their own layers one at a time.

Not to mention this means watching Photoshop suck the life-force out of your computer as it opens a new tab for each image. But no longer. I have learned, and now that my work week is over, I will share.

Note: Before ANYTHING else, if you ever believe there is a better way to do something in software as sophisticated as Photoshop, you’re probably right, and the “way” most likely already exists. Google is your friend. All I had to do was search for something to the degree of, “Photoshop, Importing multiple files into one document”, and within minutes I was on my way.

1.) Open up Photoshop.

2.) At the top of your Photoshop menu, go to File > Scripts > Load Files into Stack…


3.) From there, you’re prompted with a new window that has a few options/actions.


It’s fairly straight forward, but as long as you know where all the images you want to import at once are, you’re pretty much set.

Hit Browse, then select/shift-click/highlight your group of images (whatever you prefer to do for selecting multiple files at once). The images will appear in the empty white space of the window as a list, by their respective file names. Go ahead and hit OK, and watch Photoshop do its magic.

Before long, you’ll have a single Photoshop document, with a layer for each image file you imported on top of one another.

There’s one less fool.


Published by

Andrew Kuhar

Designer by day. Musician at heart. Video game enthusiast. Taco connoisseur.

99 thoughts on “Photoshop: Import multiple images into one layered document”

  1. Bro, I was having the same issue, I know adobe rules, and I was pondering the menus looking for an obvious way to do this easy, and I passed like 5 times over this command, but never clicked, so I googled, thanks, my last option was to open and add one layer at a time, but it was to make an animated GIF and there where 150 stills, so It was really my last option, thank again! cheers

    1. I know what you mean, I pretty much went through the same motions until I realized this function actually existed and what it does. When you’re working with a bulk of related assets that all have the same dimensions and need to be exported uniformly, this is a really great way to set up a document–especially if you need to apply/change anything to all of them at once.

      Thanks for stopping by, I’m glad I could help!

      1. you have to rasterize your layers first…. also remember if you’re trying to preserve transparency convert each layer to smart object and then merge visible, don’t flatten.

  2. Hi,

    But how do i do if i want to have all the images imported into a file with a particular size. I ask this because so far, all it does (and its great already) is opening a new file and layer all the images. But i need a photoshop file with smaller size…

    Any help?

    1. Hey Bartolomeu,

      The easy answer would be to simply resize and/or crop the PS document/image after all the layers are imported. However, it sounds like you want the canvas to be a specific size from the start, and to stay at that size while the images load in.

      This sort of method is usually best for images that are all the same size going into PS from the start–so, if you have images of varying sizes, they’re probably going to abide by whatever the first/largest image’s size is (I’m not exactly sure how it prioritizes that).

      The other solution could be to resize the images manually to the same scale and dimensions before loading them into one file. This ensures they’ll sit inside a canvas uniformly. Without seeing what constraints you’re up against though, this about the best advice I can give for right now.

      Hope this helps. Otherwise, I’d be happy to offer some other suggestions. Thanks for asking!

  3. Holy jesus, this way easier than what I was doing. I loaded the first image, then dragged the other files on top of it, which does what you want, but you have to hit “enter” for every single image.

    You are a genius. Thank you.

    1. No, John, thank you. Glad to hear this saved you some time!

      By the way, you have some great landscape photography–looks like you’ve been to a lot of interesting locations. Keep up the good work.

      1. Doesn’t work on Photoshop CS2… Google often brings up CS4 and above solution which not existed on CS2 and below… Do you in any chance know the method to do the same with old photoshop version? For example CS2?

      2. Hi Benjamin.

        After looking into it myself some, I found that there is a custom script written that adds this functionality to CS2 — you can find it here:

        Scroll down and look at the “Adobe Photoshop CS2 Scripts” section — you’ll be looking for the “Merge-A-Matic/Place-A-Matic” script. It comes with Quicktime tutorials in the sidebar as well that demonstrate the features, so hopefully this is what you’re looking for and works for you.

  4. I needed this information for an animation group I recently joined xD I got scolded for not having everything under 1 psd, and I had no idea you could do this!

    1. Thanks for your comment, Shannah.

      I was in a pinch, too, when I first needed to use this technique – it’s great seeing fellow designers still getting so much use out of this tip, two and a half years later.

  5. Isn’t there a way to just drag an open file on top of another and it stacks them? I thought it was ‘shift’ and drag but can’t make it happen…

  6. Wow!!! Incredibly Great!!!
    Pls Andrew, how do i insert a picture in a frame when doing animation, so that it can easily move when the text or other animated object are moving too??

    1. Hi Charles,

      Without knowing what program you’re using for animation, I can only recommend looking for an “Import” option in your “File” menu, or anything that mentions adding an “image” to your scene — most don’t use the word “picture”, if that’s what you’re looking for. Hopefully this helps.

  7. I had found this on my own but couldn’t get it to work correctly. I followed the instructions as you listed and the images all pop up and appear to be loading into layers one after the other, and then the whole image/document just disappears. There is also nothing in History or anything to “go back” to. Have you encountered this?

      1. Hey Matthew, I’m glad you were able to resolve that. I’m pretty sure I remember having that issue myself the first couple times I tried this.

  8. OH thanks admin. I am work in Odesk freelance marketplace. Here is problem with uploading my many portfolio (snapshot picture) in one. Now i use your easy tecnic of PS, and add many picture in one photo.. and now i can upload many portfolio at once!

  9. Hi Andrew
    Thx a ton for that…a real time saver 🙂

    I’m wondering on a similar basis, howI can use a picture frame and place EACH of the loaded images(as you described) into that picture frame using a script…basically, all the loaded images would each be placed in the same Picture frame and individually saved. Is that possible or wishful thinking

    1. Hey Terry,

      Thanks for reading and letting me know this worked out for you. I’m glad the post was helpful!

      I believe what you want to do is save out each of the now imported layers, but with the framing around them, as individual image files respectively — unfortunately, I don’t know off hand of a way to parse through the layers and know which ones to export at a time. You may just have to do each one manually from this point (I would just place the frame layer above the rest so it always appears, and maybe lock it so it doesn’t get turned off by accident during the process). Worst case scenario, this takes some time, but at least your format should turn out consistently.

      Good luck!

    1. You’re welcome! It’s been years since I published this tip, but it’s always nice hearing how it still helps plenty of people out there. Thanks for letting me know 🙂

      1. thank you Andrew – great directions and saves loads of time. Any idea if there was an update for CC2014 to the question many are asking – Can you load into a pre-defined size or existing photoshop file that has the size you want then resize manually but allows all your images to be in the file you want. I am baffled that this can’t be done – to me its the reverse import to individual files.

  10. Holy Moses!

    I have a client.. right now.. that wanted an AE document converted to gif format for adding into a larger image… basically.. a browser frame with a section of the image animated for commercial slots and advertising. Guess what the animation was… a full on 40 second commercial.

    You literally saved me 4 hours (I’m guessing here) of precious moments I thought I was going to lose forever.

    What is better than this handy tip is the fact that you are still actively monitoring your blog. Here is a massive Kudo to you sir! I really need to buy you a beer!

    1. Wow, that is awesome to hear, Jason! So happy to know it helped save you that much time. It’s such a simple but effective tip, and I’m increasingly glad that I decided to share this on a whim when I did years ago. Shoot me a message if you’re ever in the Cleveland area — beers are plentiful in this town.

  11. Maybe you can help…

    I have a PSD file that I’m trying to open up in Corel Paintshop x4 but when I open the file it opens every ‘element’ of the image as a separate document… Not sure what to do to get it to open as the one document so that I can edit it.

    Any ideas?

    1. Hi there, Paul. I wish I could be of more help, but I’m not very familiar with Corel Paintshop (I may have opened it a couple times in the past, but that would’ve been many years ago). For what it’s worth, I wish you the best of luck in solving this 🙂

  12. Hi Andrew you have saved me 4 minutes for each of the 850 school photos I’m with currently 🙂 I decided to change my template and then realised I needed a little automation but the actions weren’t enough that I tried. I do have one question that you may be able to answer hopefully, I now OPEN 4 images and created a keyboard shortcut to run the script but with the open files however, I have to manually select USE OPEN FILES and then it loads to the stack. Is there a way to automate this selection of the OPEN files to run thorough to the stack??

    Many thanks

    1. Hey there, Dean. Thanks for your comment — it’s not everyday I get to help somebody save 56 hours worth of digital labor 🙂 Perhaps it’s just me being somewhat tired at the moment, but I must admit I’m a little confused with what you’re trying to achieve. Any screenshots you can to provide of the issue would be helpful.

  13. Adobe is a shiftless company. They really are a joke when it comes to automation, and GIMP is eating their lunch in this regard. WHy in JC’s name does this need to be buried instead of under import. NO reason whatsoever. Adobe is a lazy company.

    1. Happy to be of help, Tearyne! I am still surprised by how often people turn to this post to solve this specific issue. You’d think they’d weave it into the interface to be more obvious/accessible by now.

  14. I am building websites with WORDPRESS. These are not ecom sites, but as I m sorting out hundreds of digital images I have taken over the last decade, I wish to preserve these in personal websites. Since the websites are “portable”, meaning they can be viewed on a desktop PC, but also on tablets and smart phones. I can then share them with friends and relatives in other countries.
    Your script will save me a huge amount of time. THANKS A MILLION!

  15. I have photoshop elements. I don’t think I can do this, what version of photoshop do I need to be able to do this? I want it so I can make higher resolution photos to make giant prints.

    1. I have been using CS6 for some time, and I believe I used an even earlier version when doing this. I wouldn’t be surprised if Photoshop Elements doesn’t offer it.

      However, Adobe renews their trials of the Creative Cloud (CC) series they moved onto whenever a major annual update comes out. You might want to go activate a trial of the current Photoshop CC (2015.5) and see if you can perform the action in there if you only need to for this specific project. For me, it granted up to a week on free trial this year.

      The link below is a good place to start. If you can’t find a trial anywhere on the site, I’d suggest downloading the Adobe CC app, and that’s usually the best place to acquire one for any of their products:

      Hope this helps!

  16. Thank you!!!! I do this all the time … the long hard tedious way! You just saved me loads of time. May God Bless You Indeed!!!

  17. Wow… 4 years later and this is still helping people 🙂

    I’ve been using Photoshop for as long as I can remember and never even noticed this option. If only you could help me travel back in time to save all the time I spent opening images separately!

    First world problem, but still… 🙂

    Thanks Andrew.

    1. It’s really a common problem for anyone who finds themselves in Photoshop often. Nobody wants to open dozens to hundreds of images one at a time — good chance you’ll miss a few that way, too. Still happy myself that this post is being of service to fellow designers and production artists.

  18. hello, may I add some photos in an opened document? I’m doing a motion and need to import several pictures, but I cannot make all the frames still, and I cannot open a new document all the times what I’ll work on.
    thanks a lot

  19. I followed these instructions but when I add the files, all the layers disappear and I end up with one layer rather than multiple. What am I doing wrong?

    1. First of all — so sorry it took me so long to see this question. Obviously, it’s been awhile since I’ve checked out the comments on this post!

      To answer your question…that is indeed a strange result. In the event you’re still wondering what might be wrong, I would recommend going with the “Folder” selection option, instead of “Files.” That way, it should grab everything within a single folder. (Just make sure all the images you want to load are in your folder of choice!)

      I just tested this process again with the latest version of Photoshop CC, and it still works.

  20. Maybe I missed it after reading through this thread… Is there a way to automate this process? Create a droplet or action that I can drop the 2 or more images that need to be combined into layers and then it’s saved as a PSD?

    1. From my recollection, this wasn’t covered in the thread/comments. Good question, though.

      I think the tricky part is that batches often rely on variable folders/file locations — because this script is built into Photoshop and weaves the file/folder selection into its workflow, I’m not sure how a batched action would reconcile all that.

      In my own brief test, however, it looks like the actions panel can record this script. I just don’t know how to turn that into a one-size-fits-all action/droplet. Good luck! Let us know if you are able to pull it off.

  21. Oh my word. As a newbie to Photoshop from PSE, I’m so happy to have found this post! Thank you so much, you’ve saved me from a big headache!

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