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

Select Subject

Select the prominent subjects in an image in a single click

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, pets, 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 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.

Options to refine selections

A. New selection B. Add to selection C. Subtract from selection D. Intersect with selection 
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.


    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.


    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


    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.


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:


    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.


    Creates a smoother-edged selection.


    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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