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Learn Photography

Photoshop Elements >

Selection Tools >

5 - Deselect, Etc.

Before you make a selection, learn how to manipulate them.


If you no longer need the selection, save it if you wish (to be described).

Then do one of the following.

• Press the Esc key (upper-left corner of your keyboard).

• Press Ctrl + d.

• Go to Select > Deselect.


To reselect a selection, go to Select > Reselect.

Sometimes you won't be able to bring a selection back.

Save the Selection

If you may need the selection again, you can save it along with the PSD file of the photograph.

You can't save a selection with a JPEG file of your photograph.

To save the selection, go to Select > Save Selection, and enter a name for the selection.

When you reopen the file, and you want to use the selection, go to Select > Load Selection.

Flip the Selection

Sometimes it's easier to select what you don't want to select.

Then, you flip the selection to select what you really want.

To flip the selection, go to Select > Inverse.


The glove was selected below.

The marching ants of the selection are represented with the cyan outline.


The selection was flipped by going to Select > Inverse.

Everything is selected, now, except for the glove.

The marching ants, depicted with cyan:

• Are still around the glove.

• Are also around the edge of the photograph.


More clearly, everything that's cyan below is selected.


Refine the Selection

You may need to refine a selection.

There are three locations with tools for refining a selection.

The first location is the handiest.

Location #1 - Refine Edge

Go to Select > Refine Edge or click the button in options bar/Tool Options.

Look for Strays

Sometimes it's hard to see everything that's been selected—or hasn't been selected.

Open the menu in the View section, and select Overlay.

The area inside the selection remains clear.

The area outside the selection turns red.


You can use the sliders to smooth, feather, or change the size of the selection border.

Go to Refine Edge.

Location #2 - Modify Commands

Go to Select > Modify, and select one of the four commands.

The commands here are more powerful than the similar sliders in the Refine Edge window above.

Border Command

The Border command creates a border, feathered on both sides, around the original selection border.

You can enter the size of the border, and can change its color.

You can also do this by going to Edit > Stroke.

Smooth Command

The Smooth command is based on the color of the selection.

The command searches outside the edge of the selection for pixels that are the same color as those just inside the edge of the selection.

The range of the search is defined by how many pixels you enter in Sample Radius.

Expand & Contract Commands

The Expand and Contract commands change the selection by the number of pixels you enter.

Grow & Similar Commands

Go to Select > Grow or Similar.


The Grow command selects more adjacent pixels.


The Similar command selects more pixels throughout the photograph, not just adjacent ones.

Next, the selection tools will be described.