Paths panel overview

The Paths panel (Window > Paths) lists the name and a thumbnail image of each saved path, the current work path, and the current vector mask. Turning thumbnails off can improve performance. To view a path, you must first select it in the Paths panel.

Photoshop Paths panel
Paths panel

A. Saved path B. Temporary work path C. Vector mask path (appears only when shape layer is selected) 

Select a path

  • Click the path name in the Paths panel. Only one path can be selected at a time.

Deselect a path

  • Click in a blank area of the Paths panel or press Esc.

Change the size of path thumbnails

Choose Panel Options from the Paths panel menu, and select a size, or select None to turn off the display of thumbnails.

Change a path’s stacking order

  • Select the path in the Paths panel, and drag the path up or down. When the heavy black line appears in the desired location, release the mouse button.

    Note:

    You cannot change the order of vector masks or working paths in the Paths panel.

Create a new path in the Paths panel

  • To create a path without naming it, click the Create New Path button  at the bottom of the Paths panel.
  • To create and name a path, make sure no work path is selected. Choose New Path from the Paths panel menu, or Alt-click (Windows) or Option-click (Mac OS) the New Path button at the bottom of the panel. Enter a name for the path in the New Path dialog box, and click OK.

Create a new work path

  1. Select a shape tool or a pen tool, and click the Paths button  in the options bar.
  2. Set tool-specific options, and draw the path. For more information, see Shape tool options and About the Pen tools.
  3. Draw additional path components if desired. You can easily switch between drawing tools by clicking a tool button in the options bar. Choose a path area option to determine how overlapping path components intersect:

    Add To Path Area 

    Adds the new area to overlapping path areas.

    Subtract From Path Area 

    Removes the new area from the overlapping path area.

    Intersect Path Areas 

    Restricts the path to the intersection of the new area and the existing area.

    Exclude Overlapping Path Areas 

    Excludes the overlap area in the consolidated path.

    Note:

    While drawing with a shape tool, hold down Shift to temporarily select the Add To Path Area option; hold down Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac OS) to temporarily select the Subtract From Path Area option.

Path options

You can define the color and thickness of path lines to suit your taste and for easier visibility. While creating a path—using the Pen tool, for example—click the gear icon () in the Options bar. Now specify the color and thickness of path lines. Also, specify whether you want to preview path segments as you move the pointer between clicks (Rubber Band effect).

path-options
Path options: Thickness and Color

Manage paths

When you use a pen or shape tool to create a work path, the new path appears as the work path in the Paths panel. The work path is temporary; you must save it to avoid losing its contents. If you deselect the work path without saving it and start drawing again, a new path will replace the existing one.

When you use a pen or shape tool to create a new shape layer, the new path appears as a vector mask in the Paths panel. Vector masks are linked to their parent layer; you must select the parent layer in the Layers panel in order to list the Vector mask in the Paths panel. You can remove a Vector mask from a layer and convert a Vector mask to a rasterized mask. For more information, see Add and edit vector masks.

Paths saved with an image appear when you open it again. In Windows, JPEG, JPEG 2000, DCS, EPS, PDF, and TIFF formats support paths in Photoshop. In Mac OS, all available file formats support paths.

Note:

Paths in formats other than those listed here generally don’t survive a transition from Mac OS to Windows and back to Mac OS.

Save a work path

  • To save without renaming, drag the work path name to the New Path button  at the bottom of the Paths panel.
  • To save and rename, choose Save Path from the Paths panel menu, enter a new path name in the Save Path dialog box, and click OK.

Rename a saved path

  • Double-click the path name in the Paths panel, type a new name, and press Enter (Windows) or Return (Mac OS).

Delete a path

  1. Click the path name in the Paths panel.
  2. Do one of the following:
    • Drag the path to the Delete icon  at the bottom of the Paths panel.

    • Choose Delete Path from the Paths panel menu.

    • Click the Delete icon at the bottom of the Paths panel, and click Yes.

    Note:

    To delete a path without being asked to confirm, Alt-click (Windows) or Option-click (Mac OS) the Delete icon at the bottom of the Paths panel.

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