Erase with the Eraser tool

The Eraser tool changes pixels to either the background color or to transparent. If you’re working on a background or in a layer with transparency locked, the pixels change to the background color; otherwise, the pixels are erased to transparency.

You can also use the eraser to return the affected area to a state selected in the History panel.

  1. Select the Eraser tool .
  2. Set the background color you want to apply if you are erasing in the background or a layer with locked transparency.
  3. In the options bar, choose a Mode setting. Brush and Pencil set the eraser to act like those tools. Block is a hard-edged, fixed-sized square with no options for changing the opacity or flow.
  4. For Brush and Pencil modes, choose a brush preset, and set Opacity and Flow in the options bar.

    An opacity of 100% erases pixels completely. A lower opacity erases pixels partially. See Paint tool options.

  5. To erase to a saved state or snapshot of the image, click the left column of the state or snapshot in the History panel, and then select Erase To History in the options bar.


    To temporarily use the Eraser tool in Erase To History mode, hold down Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac OS) as you drag in the image.

  6. Drag through the area you want to erase.

Stroke smoothing

Photoshop performs intelligent smoothing on your brush strokes. Simply enter a value (0-100) for Smoothing in the Options bar when you're working with one of the following tools: Brush, Pencil, Mixer Brush, or Eraser. A value of 0 is the same as legacy smoothing in earlier versions of Photoshop. Higher values apply increasing amounts of intelligent smoothing to your strokes.

Stroke smoothing works in several modes. Clicking the gear icon () to enable one or more of the following modes:

Pulled String Mode

Paints only when the string is taut. Cursor movements within the smoothing radius leave no mark.


Stroke Catch Up

Allows the paint to continue catching up with your cursor while you've paused the stroke. Disabling this mode stops paint application as soon as the cursor movement stops.


Catch-Up On Stroke End

Completes the stroke from the last paint position to the point where you released the mouse/stylus control.


Adjust For Zoom

Prevents jittery strokes by adjusting smoothing. Decreases smoothing when you zoom in the document; increases smoothing when you zoom out.


Change similar pixels with the Magic Eraser tool

When you click in a layer with the Magic Eraser tool, the tool changes all similar pixels to transparent. If you’re working in a layer with locked transparency, the pixels change to the background color. If you click in the background, it is converted to a layer and all similar pixels change to transparent.

You can choose to erase contiguous pixels only or all similar pixels on the current layer.

Erase similar pixels
Example of erasing similar pixels

  1. Select the Magic Eraser tool .
  2. Do the following in the options bar:
    • Enter a tolerance value to define the range of colors that can be erased. A low tolerance erases pixels within a range of color values very similar to the pixel you click. A high tolerance extends the range of colors that will be erased.
    • Select Anti-aliased to smooth the edges of the area you erase.
    • Select Contiguous to erase only pixels contiguous to the one you click, or deselect to erase all similar pixels in the image.
    • Select Sample All Layers to sample the erased color using combined data from all visible layers.
    • Specify an opacity to define the strength of the erasure. An opacity of 100% erases pixels completely. A lower opacity erases pixels partially.
  3. Click in the part of the layer you want to erase.

Change pixels to transparent with the Background Eraser tool

The Background Eraser tool erases pixels on a layer to transparency as you drag. You can erase the background while maintaining the edges of an object in the foreground. By specifying different sampling and tolerance options, you can control the range of the transparency and the sharpness of the boundaries.


If you want to erase the background of an object with intricate or wispy edges, use QuickSelect.

The background eraser samples the color in the center of the brush, also called the hotspot, and deletes that color wherever it appears inside the brush. It also performs color extraction at the edges of any foreground objects, so that color halos are not visible if the foreground object is later pasted into another image.


The background eraser overrides the lock transparency setting of a layer.

  1. In the Layers panel, select the layer containing the areas you want to erase.
  2. Select the Background Eraser tool . (If the tool isn’t visible, hold down the Eraser tool , and choose the Background Eraser from the pop-up menu.)
  3. Click the brush sample in the options bar, and set brush options in the pop‑up panel:
    • If you’re using a pressure-sensitive digitizing tablet, choose options from the Size and Tolerance menus to vary the size and tolerance of the background eraser over the course of a stroke. Choose Pen Pressure to base the variation on the pen pressure. Choose Stylus Wheel to base the variation on the position of the pen thumbwheel. Choose Off if you don’t want to vary the size or tolerance.
  4. Do the following in the options bar:
    • Choose a Limits mode for erasing: Discontiguous to erase the sampled color wherever it occurs under the brush; Contiguous to erase areas that contain the sampled color and are connected to one another; and Find Edges to erase connected areas containing the sampled color while better preserving the sharpness of shape edges.
    • For Tolerance, enter a value or drag the slider. A low tolerance limits erasure to areas that are very similar to the sampled color. A high tolerance erases a broader range of colors.
    • Select Protect Foreground Color to prevent the erasure of areas that match the foreground color in the toolbox.
    • Choose a Sampling option: Continuous to sample colors continuously as you drag; Once to erase only areas containing the color you first click; and Background Swatch to erase only areas containing the current background color.
  5. Drag through the area you want to erase. The Background Eraser tool pointer appears as a brush shape with a cross hair indicating the tool’s hot spot .

Auto Erase with the Pencil tool

The Auto Erase option for the Pencil tool lets you paint the background color over areas containing the foreground color.

  1. Specify foreground and background colors.
  2. Select the Pencil tool .
  3. Select Auto Erase in the options bar.
  4. Drag over the image.

    If the center of the cursor is over the foreground color when you begin dragging, the area is erased to the background color. If the center of the cursor is over an area that doesn’t contain the foreground color when you begin dragging, the area is painted with the foreground color.