I recently discovered in Photoshop there is alpha information in stored in the layers that you don’t have full access to. This script will give you read-write access to it and make it easier to edit the underlaying image. This tool really only does one niche thing, but since nothing else replicates what it does it could prove to be useful once in a while.

When you apply a layer mask to a layer  or an opacity it appears like the masked info dissapears and is erased, because you can’t bring it back. It is in fact not gone. The layer contains alpha information that you can only add to. My script writes over this alpha data to bring back the original image and includes the old alpha data in a new layer mask.

This is also works on file formats that do not contain a separate alpha channel but have alpha data, like PNG. This makes editing semi-transparent images a breeze.

Now for an example:

This is a highlight state for a button that is 30% transparent. If you need to edit this without the original files it will be quite difficult. You can’t be certain of the colors because you don’t know if they are lighter colors or if thats the transparency effecting it, so editing it will probably mean starting over.


If you apply Unmask to it..

It moves the alpha info into a layer mask. It will only appear to have added a layer mask because it does not change anything only rearranges it. If you disable the layer mask you will get the full opacity original image! this makes editing transparent images so much easier! Now you can edit the image, and even change the alpha information!


Unmask will not always be able to bring back the hidden information. If you make a selection and hit delete, Unmask may only bring back part of the image. When you hit delete PS overwrites the image with white and adds the selection to the alpha info (so it looks like a hole). So if you delete, Unmask may only bring back parts of the image and may contain white spots. Unmask works best on applied masks and transparencies.


(Unmask.zip 111 KB)


Windows x32, x64 (7, vista, XP)
Photoshop CS4 or CS3 (x32 only)
64bit Photoshop will not work because of the required filter. 64bit windows running 32bit Photoshop works fine.


Creative Commons License
Unmask by Mikeal Simburger is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.


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