Use the Object Selection tool, Select Subject, Quick Selection, or Magic Wand tools to make quick selections in Photoshop.

Object Selection tool

Introduced in Photoshop 21.0 (November 2019 release)

Object Selection Tool in Photoshop

Note:

Not seeing the Object Selection tool in your toolbar? See Tools missing from the toolbar.

The Object Selection tool simplifies the process selecting a single object or part of an object in an image—people, cars, furniture, pets, clothes, and more. You simply draw a rectangular region or a lasso around the object, the Object Selection tool automatically selects the object inside the defined region. The tool works better on well-defined objects than on regions without contrast. 

Check out this video where Julieanne Kost dives into the improvements to Photoshop’s Select Subject, the innovations of the new Object Select tool, and the enhancements to Content-Aware Fill: AI Improvements to Photoshop 

You can access the Object Selection tool at the following locations:

The Object Selection tool is useful when you only need to select one of the objects or part of an object within an image that contains multiple objects. While the Select Subject command is designed to select all the main subjects in the image.

To select objects in an image using the Object Selection tool, follow the steps below:

  1. Select the Object Selection tool from the Tools panel.

  2. Choose a selection mode and define a region around the object.

    In the options bar, choose a selection Mode: Rectangle or Lasso.

    • Rectangle mode: Drag the pointer to define a rectangular region around the object.
    • Lasso mode: Draw a rough lasso outside the boundary of the object.

    Photoshop automatically selects the object inside the defined region.   

  3. (Optional) Subtract from or add to the selection

    In the options bar, click one of the selection options: New, Add To, Subtract From, or Intersect With the selection.

    New is the default option if nothing is selected. After making the initial selection, the option changes automatically to Add To.


    Add to the selection

    Hold the Shift key or select Add To Selection in the options bar, then draw a new rectangle or a lasso around the missing region. Repeat this process for all the missing regions you want to add to the selection.


    Subtract from the selection

    There are two options to subtract from the selection: 

    1. Use the Subtract From Selection option in the options bar

    1. Turn OFF the Object Subtract option in the options bar.
    2. Hold the Option (Mac)/ Alt (Win) key or select Subtract From Selection in the options bar, then draw an exact rectangle or a lasso around the boundary of the region you want to subtract from the selection. 

    2. Use the Object Subtract option in the options bar

    Object Subtract is especially useful when removing the background regions inside the current object selection. You can think of Object Subtract option as equivalent to Object Selection inverted. So, you can draw a rough lasso or a rectangle around the region to be subtracted. Including more of the background within the lasso or the rectangle region produces better subtraction results. 

    1. Turn ON the Object Subtract option in the options bar. 
    2. Hold the Option (Mac)/ Alt (Win) key or select Subtract From Selection in the options bar, then draw a rough rectangle or a lasso around the region you want to subtract from the selection.
  4. (Optional) Choose object selection options

    Sample All Layers: Creates a selection based on all layers instead of just the currently selected layer.

    Auto-Enhance: Reduces roughness and blockiness in the selection boundary. Automatically flows the selection further toward image edges and applies some of the edge refinement you can apply manually in the Select And Mask workspace.

  5. (Optional) Further refine the selection edge in the Select And Mask workspace

    To further adjust the selection boundary or view the selection against different backgrounds or as a mask, click Select And Mask in the options bar.

Select Subject

Select Subject command in Photoshop

The Select Subject command lets you select the most prominent subject in an image in a single click. Powered by advanced machine learning technology, Select Subject is trained to identify a variety of objects in an image—people, animals, vehicles, toys, and more. 

Access Select Subject in one of the following ways in Photoshop:

  • While editing an image, choose Select > Subject.
  • While using the Object Selection tool, click Select Subject in the options bar.
  • While using the Quick Selection or Magic Wand tools, click Select Subject in the options bar.
  • While using the Quick Selection tool in the Select & Mask workspace, click Select Subject in the options bar.

Select Subject automatically selects the prominent subjects in the image. You can then refine the selection using other selection tools. For example, in the illustration above, use the Subtract From Selection option with another selection tool to remove the part of the sidewalk included in the automatic selection.

For more information on refining selections, see Adjust pixel selections.

refine-selections
Options to refine selections

A. New selection B. Add to selection C. Subtract from selection D. Intersect with selection 
extra-selection
selection-edited
Refine the automatic selection using other selection tools. In this example, we've subtracted (right) from the automatic selection (left).

Quick Selection tool

You can use the Quick Selection tool  to quickly “paint” a selection using an adjustable round brush tip. As you drag, the selection expands outward and automatically finds and follows defined edges in the image.

  1. Select the Quick Selection tool . (If the tool isn’t visible, hold down the Magic Wand tool .)
  2. In the options bar, click one of the selection options: New, Add To, or Subtract From.

    New is the default option if nothing is selected. After making the initial selection, the option changes automatically to Add To.

  3. To change the brush tip size, click the Brush pop-up menu in the options bar, and type in a pixel size or drag the slider. Use the Size pop‑up menu options to make the brush tip size sensitive to pen pressure or a stylus wheel.

    Note:

    When creating a selection, press the right bracket (]) to increase the Quick Selection tool brush tip size; press the left bracket ([) to decrease the brush tip size.

  4. Choose Quick Selection options.

    Sample All Layers

    Creates a selection based on all layers instead of just the currently selected layer.

    Auto-Enhance

    Reduces roughness and blockiness in the selection boundary. Auto-Enhance automatically flows the selection further toward image edges and applies some of the edge refinement you can apply manually in the Refine Edge dialog with the Contrast and Radius options.

  5. Paint inside the part of the image you want to select.

    The selection grows as you paint. If updating is slow, continue to drag to allow time to complete work on the selection. As you paint near the edges of a shape, the selection area extends to follow the contours of the shape edge.

    Photoshop Paint with the Quick Selection tool
    Painting with the Quick Selection tool to extend the selection

    Note:

    If you stop dragging and then click or drag in a nearby area, the selection will grow to include the new area.

    • To subtract from a selection, click the Subtract From option in the options bar, then drag over the existing selection.
    • To temporarily switch between add and subtract modes, hold down the Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac OS) key.
    • To change the tool cursor, choose Edit > Preferences > Cursors > Painting Cursors (Windows) or Photoshop > Preferences > Cursors > Painting Cursors (Mac OS). Normal Brush Tip displays the standard Quick Selection cursor with a plus or minus sign to show the selection mode.
  6. (Optional) Click Refine Edge to further adjust the selection boundary. See Refine selection edges.

Magic Wand tool

The Magic Wand tool lets you select a consistently colored area (for example, a red flower) without having to trace its outline. You specify the selected color range, or tolerance, relative to the original color you click.

Note:

You cannot use the Magic Wand tool on an image in Bitmap mode or on 32‑bits-per-channel images.

  1. Select the Magic Wand tool . (If the tool isn’t visible, access it by holding down the Quick Selection tool .)
  2. Specify one of the selection options in the options bar. The Magic Wand tool’s pointer changes depending on which option is selected.
    Photoshop Selection options
    Selection options

    A. New B. Add To C. Subtract From D. Intersect With 
  3. In the options bar, specify any of the following:

    Tolerance

    Determines the color range of selected pixels. Enter a value in pixels, ranging from 0 to 255. A low value selects the few colors very similar to the pixel you click. A higher value selects a broader range of colors.

    Anti-aliased

    Creates a smoother-edged selection.

    Contiguous

    Selects only adjacent areas using the same colors. Otherwise, all pixels in the entire image using the same colors are selected.

    Sample All Layers

    Selects colors using data from all the visible layers. Otherwise, the Magic Wand tool selects colors from the active layer only.

  4. In the image, click the color you want to select. If Contiguous is selected, all adjacent pixels within the tolerance range are selected. Otherwise, all pixels in the tolerance range are selected.
  5. (Optional) Click Refine Edge to further adjust the selection boundary or view the selection against different backgrounds or as a mask. See Refine selection edges.

Video tutorial: Select part of a photo

Video tutorial: Select part of a photo
Infinite Skills

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