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I just duplicated my model and moved it to a new layer to sort of 'save' a copy of it and now I can't enter edit mode?

You can reproduce this by opening a new project and duplicating the cube via Shift+D and then move that cube to a new layer. Once that happens you're no longer able to enter edit mode. Why? How can I maintain a copy of my model on another layer and edit the current layer?

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To enter Edit mode the active Object ( not an : Empty, Camera, Lamp ) should be on a visible layer.

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I just tried to reproduce the steps you took and had no problem. I duplicated the object (shift + d), moved the coppied cube to the 2nd layer (m then 2, not plus), then clicked on the original cube (on the 1st layer), and hit tab. Not a single problem along the way. What version of Blender are you using? I was actually having some issues with the latest version and had to roll back to 2.73 (alpha build). You may want to try that and see if that fixes it. If you're on an older version, try upgrading to a newer one, but simply coppying an object and moving it to another layer should have no impact on your ability to edit the first object in any version. Could be a bug or something else going on on your PC too.

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