To organize and lay out your artwork, you use tools for selecting, positioning, and stacking objects precisely. You can measure and align objects; group objects so that they are treated as a single unit; and selectively isolate, lock, or hide objects.
Selection options and preferences
Before you can modify an object, you need to distinguish it from the objects around it. You do that by selecting the object. Once you’ve selected an object, or a part of an object, you can edit it.
Illustrator provides the following selection methods and tools:
Lets you quickly isolate a layer, sublayer, path, or group of objects, from all other art in your document. When in isolation mode, all nonisolated objects in the document appear dimmed and are not selectable or editable.
Lets you quickly and precisely select individual or multiple objects. You can select a single object (even if it’s in a group), all objects within a layer, and entire groups.
Lets you select objects and groups by clicking or dragging over them. You can also select groups within groups and objects within groups.
Direct Selection tool
Lets you select individual anchor points or path segments by clicking on them, or select an entire path or group by selecting any other spot on the item. You can also select one or more objects in a group of objects.
note: When in outline mode, the Direct Selection tool may select imported graphics that are near the tool’s pointer. To avoid selecting unwanted graphics, lock or hide the graphics before making the selection.
Group Selection tool
Lets you select an object within a group, a single group within multiple groups, or a set of groups within the artwork. Each additional click adds all objects from the next group in the hierarchy.
Perspective Selection tool
Lets you bring objects and text in perspective, switch active planes, move objects in perspective, and move objects in perpendicular direction.
Lets you select objects, anchor points, or path segments by dragging around all or part of the object.
Magic Wand tool
Lets you select objects of the same color, stroke weight, stroke color, opacity, or blending mode by clicking the object.
Live Paint Selection tool
Lets you select faces (areas enclosed by paths) and edges (portions of paths between intersections) of Live Paint groups.
(located in the Select menu) Let you quickly select or deselect all objects, and select objects based on their position relative to other objects. You can select all objects of a specific type or that share specific attributes, and save or load selections. You can also select all objects in the active artboard.
To temporarily activate the last-used selection tool (Selection tool, Direct-Selection tool, or Group Selection tool) when using another type of tool, hold down Ctrl (Windows) or Command (Mac OS).
Selecting paths and points in complex images can be challenging. Using the Selection and Anchor Display preferences, you can specify the tolerance for pixel selection and choose other options that can make selection easier for a particular document.
Specifies the pixel range for selecting anchor points. Higher values increase the width of the area around an anchor point that you can click to select it.
Object Selection By Path Only
Specifies whether you can select a filled object by clicking anywhere in the object or whether you have to click a path.
Isolate artwork for editing
Isolation mode isolates objects so that you can easily select and edit particular objects or parts of objects. You can isolate any of the following: layers, sublayers, groups, symbols, clipping masks, compound paths, gradient meshes, and paths.
In Isolation mode, you can delete, replace, and add new art relative to the isolated art. As soon as you exit isolation mode, replaced or new art is added at the same location as the original isolated art. Isolation mode automatically locks all other objects so that only the objects in isolation mode are affected by the edits you make— you don’t need to worry about what layer an object is on, nor do you need to manually lock or hide the objects you don’t want affected by your edits.
When you edit a symbol’s definition, the symbol appears in isolation mode. (See Edit or redefine a symbol.)
When isolation mode is active, the isolated object appears in full color, while the rest of the artwork appears dimmed. The isolated object’s name and location (sometimes referred to as bread crumbs) appears in the isolation mode border, and the Layers panel displays only the artwork in the isolated sublayer or group. When you exit isolation mode, the other layers and groups reappear in the Layers panel.
You can view isolated objects in outline mode or preview mode.
See the video Use isolation mode to isolate artwork for editing.
Double-click the path or group using the Selection tool.
Select the group, object, or path and click the Isolate Selected Object button in the Control panel.
Right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Mac OS) the group and choose Isolate Selected Group.
Right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Mac OS) the path and choose Isolate Selected Path.
Select the group, object, or path in the Layers panel and choose Enter Isolation Mode from the Layers panel menu or click the Isolate Selected Object button in the Control panel.
Click the Exit Isolation Mode button one or more times (if you’ve isolated a sublayer, one click takes you back a level, two clicks exits isolation mode).
Click anywhere in the isolation mode bar.
Click the Exit Isolation Mode button in the Control panel.
Using the Selection tool, double-click outside of the isolated group.
Right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Mac OS) and choose Exit Isolation Mode.
Select behind objects
In Illustrator CS5, you can select objects that lie underneath other objects using Ctrl+click (Windows) or Command+click (Mac OS). The pointer changes to Select Behind on the first Ctrl+click (Windows) or Command+click (Mac OS). On subsequent usage of Ctrl+click (Windows) or Command+click (Mac OS), the selection iterates through the objects directly underneath the pointer position.
To enable or disable this option, click Edit > Preferences > Selection and Anchor Display (Windows) or Illustrator > Preferences > Selection and Anchor Display (Mac OS). Then select the Control Click to Select Object Behind (Windows) or Command Click to Select Objects Behind (Mac OS) check box in the Selection area.
Select the next object in the stacking order
You can select an object above or below a selected object in the stacking order. These commands do not work when in isolation mode.
Select objects using the Layers panel
To select individual objects, click in the object’s selection column (between the target button and the scroll bar). Shift-click to add or to remove objects from the selection.
To select all artwork in a layer or group, click in the layer’s or group’s selection column.
To select all artwork in a layer based on the currently selected artwork, choose Select > Object > All On Same Layers.
Selection color boxes appear next to each selected item in the panel.
Select an object with the Selection, Lasso, or Magic Wand tool
To add or remove objects from the selection, hold down Shift and click or drag around the objects you want to add or remove.
Tip: When the Selection tool is over an unselected object or group, it changes to . When it is over a selected object or group, the tool changes to . When it is over an anchor point on an unselected object, a hollow square appears next to the arrow .Dragging over objects to select them
Use the Magic Wand tool to select all objects in a document with the same or similar fill attributes (such as color and pattern).
You can customize the Magic Wand tool to select objects based on stroke weight, stroke color, opacity, or blending mode. You can also change the tolerances used by the Magic Wand tool to identify similar objects.
To create a new selection, click the object containing the attributes you want to select. All objects with the same attributes that were clicked are selected.
To add to the current selection, press Shift and click another object containing the attributes you want to add. All objects with the same attributes that were clicked are also selected.
To subtract from the current selection, press Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac OS) and click the object containing the attributes you want to subtract. All objects with the same attributes are removed from the selection.
To select objects according to their fill color, select Fill Color, and then enter a Tolerance value between 0 and 255 pixels for RGB or 0 and 100 pixels for CMYK.
Low tolerance values select objects that are very similar to the object you click; higher tolerance values select objects with a broader range of the selected property.
To select objects according to their stroke color, select Stroke Color, and then enter a Tolerance value between 0 and 255 pixels for RGB or 0 and 100 pixels for CMYK.
To select objects according to their stroke weight, select Stroke Weight, and then enter a Tolerance value between 0 and 1000 points.
Select filled objects
The Object Selection By Path Only preference determines whether you can select a filled object by clicking anywhere within the object’s area with the Selection or Direct Selection tools, or whether you must click a path segment or anchor point with these tools. By default, this preference is off. In some cases, you may want to turn the preference on—for example, when you work with overlapping filled objects and you want to easily select underlying objects.
The Object Selection By Path Only preference is not applicable when selecting unfilled objects or when viewing artwork as outlines. In these cases, you can never select an object by clicking inside the object’s path. (See View artwork as outlines.)
Select groups and objects in a group
Once objects are grouped, selecting any part of the group with the Selection tool or the Lasso tool selects the entire group. If you are unsure whether an object is a part of a group, select it with the Selection tool.
The Direct-Selection tool and Lasso tool let you select a single path or object that is part of one group or several groups. If you have groups of objects within other groups, you can select the next group in the grouping hierarchy by using the Group-Selection tool. Each successive click adds another subset of grouped objects to the selection.
Click the same object again to select additional groups that are grouped with the selected group until you have selected everything you want to include in your selection.The first click with the Group Selection tool selects an object in a group (left); the second click selects the object’s group (right).
The third click adds the next group to the selection (left); the fourth click adds the third group (right).
Select faces and edges in a Live Paint group
You select faces and edges of a Live Paint tool using the Live Paint Selection tool. If you want to select the entire Live Paint group, simply click it with the Selection tool.
Click to select the highlighted face or edge.
Drag a marquee around multiple faces or edges. Any face or edge that is fully or partially enclosed by the marquee is included in the selection.
Double-click a face or edge to select all connected faces/edges of the same color (flood select).
Triple-click a face or edge to select all faces/edges of the same color (select same).
Tip: If you have difficulty selecting a small face or edge, magnify the view or set the Live Paint Selection tool options to select only fills or strokes.
Sets the color for the highlight. You can choose a color from the menu or click the paint swatch to specify a custom color.
Select objects by characteristic
You can select objects based on various groupings, including by formatting attribute, by layer, or by kind, such as brush strokes or clipping masks.
To select all objects with the same attributes, select one with the attribute you want, choose Select > Same, and then choose an attribute from the list: Blending Mode, Fill & Stroke, Fill Color, Opacity, Stroke Color, Stroke Weight, Style, Symbol Instance, or Link Block Series.
Link Block Series automatically selects threaded text boxes. You can select one of the text boxes and then use this command to select all the other text boxes linked to that one. For more information see Threading text between objects.
You can also use the Magic Wand tool to select all objects with the same color, stroke weight, stroke color, opacity, or blending mode.
Repeat, invert, or save a selection
To repeat the last selection command used, choose Select > Reselect.
To select all unselected objects, and deselect all selected objects, choose Select > Inverse.