Remove and Replace Text Effect Backgrounds in Photoshop

Change Text Effect Backgrounds in Photoshop

Written by Steve Patterson.

In this tutorial, I answer one of the most popular questions I'm asked, which is, how do you save a text effect with a transparent background so you can move the effect onto a different background? Normally when creating a text effect in Photoshop, we create it on a simple colored background, usually black or white. But once the effect is done, we often want to move it onto a different background, which means we need a way to remove the original background and replace it with transparency. So how do we do that? It's actually very easy, and in this tutorial, we'll learn three ways to do it.

I'll be using Photoshop CC but any recent version will work. Let's get started!

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The text effect

Here's the text effect I'll be using. I show you how to create this gold text in a separate tutorial. Notice that the effect is sitting on a black background:

The original text effect on a black background in Photoshop
The original text effect on a black background.

The new background

And here's the new background I want to place the text into. I downloaded this one from Adobe Stock:

The new background where the text effect will be placed.
The new background for the effect.

How to make the background transparent

I'll switch back over to my text effect. And if we look in the Layers panel, we see the three layers that make up the effect. We have the "Sparkles" layer on top, and the two Type layers below it. We also have the Background layer on the bottom that's filled with black:

The Layers panel showing the text effect layers and the Background layer in Photoshop.
The text effect layers, plus the Background layer.

Turning off the Background layer

The first thing we need to do is remove the original background and replace it with transparency. To hide the background, just turn the Background layer off by clicking its visibility icon:

Hiding the background behind the text by clicking the Background layer's visibility icon.
Turning off the Background layer.

This leaves our text in front of a transparent background. Photoshop represents transparency with a checkerboard pattern:

The background behind the text has been replaced with transparency
The background behind the text has been replaced with transparency.

How to move the text effect onto a new background

So now that we've made the background transparent, how to we move the effect onto its new background? There's a few ways to do it.

Method 1: Using the PNG file format

One way is by saving the effect in a file format that supports transparency. The JPEG format doesn't support transparency, so it's not going to work. But the PNG format does, and that's the format we need.

How to save the effect as a PNG file

To save your text effect as a PNG file, go up to the File menu in the Menu Bar and choose Save As:

Choosing the Save As command in Photoshop
Going to File > Save As.

In the dialog box, name your file (I'll name mine "Gold text"), and then set the Format to PNG. Choose where you want to save it, and then click Save:

Saving the text effect as a PNG file in Photoshop
Saving the text effect as a PNG file.

Setting the PNG format options

Photoshop will ask you to choose a compression setting for the PNG file. This will look different depending on which version of Photoshop you're using, but I always choose the option for the smallest file size. Click OK to close the dialog box:

Setting the PNG format options in Photoshop
Choosing the smallest file size option.

Opening your new background

With the file saved, open your new background:

Opening the new background image for the text effect in Photoshop
Opening the new background image.

Placing the PNG file into the document

Go up to the File menu and, in Photoshop CC, choose Place Embedded. In Photoshop CS6 or earlier, choose Place:

Choosing the Place Embedded command in Photoshop
Going to File > Place Embedded.

Choose the PNG file you just saved, and then click Place:

Choosing the text effect PNG file to place onto the new background
Choosing the PNG file.

Photoshop places the file in front of the background:

Placing the text effect onto a new background in Photoshop
Placing the file into the document.

You can use the Free Transform handles to resize the text if needed. But in my case, I'll just accept it by pressing Enter (Win) / Return (Mac) on my keyboard. And just like that, the text effect has been moved to its new background:

The text effect is placed in front of the new background in Photoshop
The text appears in front of its new background.

If we look in the Layers panel, we see that our text effect has been added as a smart object above the image. We know it's a smart object by the icon in the lower right of the thumbnail. A great thing about smart objects is that we can resize them without any loss in quality. You can learn more about resizing smart objects in a separate tutorial:

Photoshop placed the text effect file as a smart object
Photoshop placed the file as a smart object.

Method 2: Copy and paste

So that's one way to move a text effect onto a new background. Let's look at a second way, and one where there's no need to save your document as a separate file. I'll delete my effect by dragging it down onto the Trash Bin at the bottom of the Layers panel:

Deleting the text effect from the background document
Deleting the text effect.

This leaves me with just my background image:

The background without the text effect
Only the background image remains.

I'll switch over to my text effect document, and because the Background layer is still turned off, we're still seeing the transparent background behind the text:

Switching back to the text effect document
Switching back to the text effect.

Merging the text effect onto a new layer

Another way to move your effect onto a new background is by copying and pasting it into the other document. To make it easier, we'll merge the layers that make up our text effect onto a new layer.

First, make sure your Background layer is turned off so you're seeing a transparent background behind the text. Then click on the top layer to select it:

Selecting the top text effect layer in the Layers panel
Selecting the top layer (with the Background layer turned off).

To merge your text effect onto a new layer, on a Windows PC, press Shift+Ctrl+Alt+E on your keyboard. On a Mac, press Shift+Command+Option+E. This merges all visible layers onto a new layer above them. This new layer holds the text effect and nothing else:

The text effect has been merged onto a single layer
The text effect has been merged onto a single layer.

Make sure the merged layer is selected, and then go up to the Edit menu and choose Copy:

Copying the merged text effect layer in Photoshop
Going to Edit > Copy.

Open your new background image:

Switching to the new background for the text effect in Photoshop
Switching to the new background.

Then go back up to the Edit menu and choose Paste:

Pasting the text effect onto the new background in Photoshop
Going to Edit > Paste.

Photoshop pastes the text effect onto the new background:

How to copy and paste a text effect onto a new background in Photoshop
The result after pasting the text effect layer into the new document.

In the Layers panel, we see our text effect layer above the image. This time, it's just a normal layer, not a smart object:

The text effect layer is added above the Background layer in Photoshop
The text effect layer appears above the Background layer.

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Method 3: Placing the text effect document as a smart object

So that's two ways to move a text effect onto a new background. Let's look at one more way, which is also my favorite way. Again, I'll delete my effect by dragging it down onto the Trash Bin:

Deleting the text effect layer
Deleting the text effect layer.

And then I'll switch back over to my text effect document:

Switching back to the text effect document
Switching back to the text effect.

Turning the Background layer back on

Before I go any further, I'm going to turn my Background layer back on by clicking its visibility icon in the Layers panel:

Turning the Background layer back on in the document.
Turning the Background layer back on.

This restores the original black background behind the text:

Restoring the original background behind the text effect in Photoshop
The original background returns.

Deleting the merged text effect layer

I'll also delete my merged text effect layer by selecting it and pressing Backspace (Win) / Delete (Mac) on my keyboard:

Selecting and deleting the merged text effect layer.
Selecting and deleting the merged layer.

Saving and closing the document

Now that I've restored the document back to the way it was originally, I'll save it by going up to the File menu and choosing Save:

Saving the text effect document in Photoshop
Going to File > Save.

And then I'll close my text effect by going back to the File menu and choosing Close:

Closing the text effect document in Photoshop
Going to File > Close.

This leaves me with just the new background image:

The text effect document has been closed. Only the new background document remains open.
The text effect document has been closed.

Placing the text effect as a smart object

Earlier, we learned that we could move our text effect onto a new background by turning off the Background layer, saving the effect as a PNG file, and then placing the PNG file into the other document as a smart object. But we can actually place the entire text effect document itself as a smart object! And the advantage is that the document will remain editable.

To place the text effect document into my background image document, I'll go up to the File menu and I'll choose Place Embedded. In Photoshop CS6 or earlier, I would choose Place:

Choosing the Place Embedded command in Photoshop
Going to File > Place Embedded.

This time, instead of choosing that PNG file I saved earlier, I'm going to choose the text effect's actual Photoshop document (the .psd file). I'll click on it to select it, and then I'll click Place:

Choosing the text effect's Photoshop document to place onto the new background
Choosing the text effect's Photoshop document.

Photoshop places the text effect in front of the background, just like it did before:

Placing the text effect document in front of the new background
Placing the text effect document in front of the new background.

Again, we can resize it using the Free Transform handles, but I'll just accept it by pressing Enter (Win) / Return (Mac). Notice, though, that the original black background is still showing behind the text, and it's blocking the new background from view. That's because the Background layer was still turned on. But that's not a problem because it's easy to fix:

The text effect has been added, but the original background is still showing
The text effect has been added, but the original background is still showing.

Editing the smart object contents

If we look in the Layers panel, we again see the text effect added as a smart object above the image:

The text effect document has been placed as a smart object above the background
The text effect document has been placed as a smart object.

But this time, rather than holding a PNG file, the smart object is holding a copy of the entire text effect document. To open the smart object and view its contents, double-click on its thumbnail:

Opening the smart object to view the text effect document in Photoshop
Opening the smart object to view the text effect document.

The text effect opens:

The text effect document inside the smart object.
The text effect document inside the smart object.

And if we look in the Layers panel, we see all of our layers still intact:

The Layers panel showing the text effect layers and the Background layer
The Layers panel showing the text effect layers and the Background layer.

Turning off the Background layer

To hide the original background, I'll turn off the Background layer by clicking its visibility icon:

Turning off the Background layer.
Turning off the Background layer.

This again leaves us with a transparent background:

The background behind the text effect is once again transparent
The background is once again transparent.

Saving and closing the smart object

To have our change appear in the main document, we need to save and close the smart object. To save it, go up to the File menu and choose Save:

Saving the text effect document in Photoshop
Going to File > Save.

And then to close it, go back to the File menu and choose Close:

Closing the text effect document in Photoshop
Going to File > Close.

And back in the main document, the original background is now gone and we see the new background in its place:

How to move a text effect into a new background in Photoshop
The result after turning off the Background layer in the smart object.

Bonus: Enhancing the effect

To finish things off, I'm going to use my background image to quickly enhance the sparkle effect around the text. In the Layers panel, I'll select the Background layer:

Selecting the Background layer in the Layers panel
Selecting the Background layer.

Then I'll make a copy of the image by pressing Ctrl+J (Win) / Command+J (Mac). The copy appears above the original:

Making a copy of the background image behind the text
Making a copy of the background image.

I'll click on the copy and I'll drag it up above the text effect:

Dragging a copy of the image above the text effect
Dragging the copy of the image above the text.

This temporarily blocks the text from view:

The text effect is temporarily hidden behind the image
The text effect is temporarily hidden.

Finally, to hide the areas of black and blend the gold sparkles in with the text, I'll change the blend mode of the image from Normal to Screen:

Blending the image in with the text effect by changing the blend mode
Changing the layer blend mode to Screen.

And here's my final result:

The text effect is temporarily hidden behind the image
The final, enhanced effect.

And there we have it! That's how to move a text effect onto a new background in Photoshop! Learn how to create the gold text effect used in this tutorial, or view our Text Effects section for more tutorials! And don't forget, all of our Photoshop tutorials are available to download as PDFs!

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