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In Photoshop CS4, I created a new completely transparent layer. I then selected the entire canvas and right-clicked to fill it up with a color.

However, I received the following error:

Could not move selection because the selected area is empty.

Of course, the area is empty, but that is why I selected the area; to fill it up with a color. How do I do that?

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

First, make black your background color, by pressing D, then X. Select the transparent layer.

enter image description here

Then, press

  • Ctrl-Backspace on Windows

  • Cmd-Delete on OS X

to fill the layer with the selected background color.

enter image description here

To do the same, using the foreground color, use alt instead of Ctrl or Cmd.

Holding down Shift while doing so will also preserve transparency values.

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Thank you! That was very helpful. Also, do you know how to select all the transparent areas of a png image efficiently in Photoshop? – David Faux Jan 21 '12 at 22:19
I don't know what exactly you mean, but you can Ctrl-click the layer thumbnail to select all visible pixels, and then inverse the selection with Ctrl-Shift-I. – slhck Jan 21 '12 at 22:32

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