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9 selection tools in Photoshop explained

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Photoshop is a tool used by millions of photographers, designers and editors around the world. There’s barely anything you can’t do with this tool in hand.

However, as powerful as it is, Photoshop can be quite intimidating to learn at first as well. Thanks to a large number of tools present, you might find yourself googling how to do a certain something every ten minutes. 

For using most of Photoshop tools to manipulate or edit an image the way you like, you first have to select the part you’d want to edit. Sounds simple enough, right?

Wait until you click the selection tool in Photoshop. What you’ll find that instead of one simple selection tool as you’re used to seeing, there are a number of different options to choose.

So which option does what? When should you use a particular option and what separates them from each other? In this article, we explore what the three selection tools in Photoshop do and how to work with them.

Also read: Photoshop 101: Five tips and tricks for beginners

Selection tools in Photoshop

There are about nine different selection tools in Photoshop. Each has a unique use case and learning which tool to use when can create a lot of difference in your workflow and make your job that much easier. 

Selection tools in Photoshop are divided into the following three categories:

  • Marquee tools
  • Lasso Tools
  • Magic Selection/Wand Selection tools

Note that there are other ways you can make selections in photoshop as well like Color range and Invert. However, for this article, we’re focussing on selection tools that you control manually by mouse. 

Let’s start with the simple ones.

Marquee tools

Rectangular Marquee tool

As the name suggests, this is the default selection tool that you’re so used to seeing. 

Guide to the 9 selection tools in Photoshop | Candid.Technology

Just select the tool and drag around an area that you’d like to select. The tool is located right below the Move tool in the Photoshop toolbar. 

Elliptical Marquee tool

This one works exactly like the rectangular one; however, you guessed it, makes circles instead.

Right-click on the Rectangular Marquee tool, and you’ll find this one tucked right under there.

Single Row/Column Marquee tool

The tool itself works exactly like it’s more common brothers. However, you’d use this one quite sparingly. You can select it by right-clicking on the Rectangle Marquee tool. 

You see, the tool makes a horizontal(or vertical) selection, just a single pixel high, based on the tool you’ve selected. 

Also read: How to sharpen low-resolution images in Photoshop?

Lasso tools

Lasso tools allow for a lot more flexibility in terms of the area that you’re selecting. 

Lasso tool 

The tool is located right under the Marquee tools in the Photoshop toolbar. 

Once selected, you can drag with your mouse and create a selected freehand. Just make sure you come around and complete the edge. 

Polygonal Lasso tool

To select this tool, right-click on the Lasso tool.

As the name suggests, the tool works exactly like the lasso tool. However, instead of drawing freehand, you draw in straight lines. Helpful when you have to select a tricky part of your image quickly.  

Magnetic Lasso tool

This is another variation of the Polygonal lasso tool. Instead of drawing freehand, the selection will snap to the closest edge it can find. The tool is beneficial when making quick cut-outs from images. 

To select it, just right-click the Lasso tool and select the Magnetic Lasso tool.

Also read: Photoshop 101: Changing colours in an image

Magic Wand/Quick Selection tools

Right under the lasso tools, you’ll find two other very useful tools tucked away under one another. These are the Magic Wand and Quick selection tools.

The quick selection tool works by automatically finding and selecting edges as you drag around an object. It’s relatively simple to use, and while it doesn’t provide as much control as the lasso tools, it’s still pretty useful in case you’re trying to select a large object.

Consider it a selection brush. You go along painting the selection or removing it just like you would paint colour or an effect with a brush.

The Magic Wand tool is a slight variation of the quick select tool. You see, instead of making a selection based on the edges of an object, it makes selections based on the tones and colours. 

This type of selection can be immensely helpful if you’re trying to catch a particular colour in your image. You can select this tool by right-clicking the Quick Select tool then selecting the Magic Wand tool. 

Also read: How to wrap text around images in Photoshop?

Yadullah Abidi

Yadullah is a Computer Science graduate who writes/edits/shoots/codes all things cybersecurity, gaming, and tech hardware. When he's not, he streams himself racing virtual cars. He's been writing and reporting on tech and cybersecurity with websites like Candid.Technology and MakeUseOf since 2018. You can contact him here:

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