About selecting pixels

A selection isolates one or more parts of your image. By selecting specific areas, you can edit and apply effects and filters to portions of your image while leaving the unselected areas untouched.

The easiest way to select pixels in your image is to use Select Subject or one of the quick selection tools. You can also select areas of a certain shape with the marquee tools or use the lasso tools to make a selection by tracing an element in your image. It's also possible to make selections based on a range of colors in an image. There are commands in the Select menu to select, deselect, or reselect all pixels.

In addition to pixels, vector data can be used to make selections. Use the pen or shape tools to produce precise outlines called paths. Paths can be converted to selections.

Selections can be copied, moved, and pasted, or saved and stored in an alpha channel. Alpha channels store selections as grayscale images called masks. A mask is like the inverse of a selection: it covers the unselected part of the image and protects it from any editing or manipulations you apply. You can convert a stored mask back into a selection by loading the alpha channel into an image.


While paths can be converted to selections, selections can also be converted to paths.

Select single or multiple objects or paths for quick editing. See the tutorial on Path selection and editing.

Video tutorial: Select part of an image

Video tutorial: Select part of an image
Train Simple

Video tutorial: Making fine hair selections

Video tutorial: Making fine hair selections
Photoshop Principal Product Manager Bryan O'Neil Hughes shares how to make fine hair selections in the second episode of the Photoshop Playbook.
Bryan O'Neil Hughes

Video tutorial: A selection tip

Video tutorial: A selection tip
Scott Kelby

Select, deselect, and reselect pixels


If a tool is not working as expected, you may have a hidden selection. Use the Deselect command and try the tool again.

Select all pixels on a layer within the canvas boundaries

  1. Select the layer in the Layers panel.
  2. Choose Select > All.

Deselect selections

  1. Do one of the following:
    • Choose Select > Deselect.
    • If you are using the Rectangle Marquee tool, the Elliptical Marquee tool, or the Lasso tool, click anywhere in the image outside the selected area.

Reselect the most recent selection

  1. Choose Select > Reselect.