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Selecting objects in Animate

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Learn how to use Selection tool in Animate

In Animate, you can use Pointer, Subselection, and Lasso tools to select objects. When you select objects or strokes, Animate highlights them with a marquee. You can choose to select only an object’s strokes or only its fills. You can hide selection highlighting to edit objects without viewing highlighting. 

Modifiers of Lasso tool




Selection Tool (V)

Use this tool to select an entire object. Click or drag an object to enclose object with rectangular selection. 

Subselection Tool (A)

Use this tool to reshape a motion path of an animation. You can expose the control points and Bezier handles on the path that correspond to each position property keyframe. 

Lasso Tool (L)

Use this tool to create an irregular selection outline on an object. 

Polygon Tool (L)

Use this tool to define a selection area with a series of connected straight lines. To pick up this tool, keep the Lasso tool selected and click the Polygon Tool. 

Magic Wand Tool (L)

Use this tool to select areas of a bitmap graphic that contain the same or similar colors. To pick up this tool, keep the Lasso tool selected and click the Magic Wand.

Modifying objects

Select the object first, to modify it. You can group individual objects to manipulate them as a single object. Modifying lines and shapes can alter other lines and shapes on the same layer. To prevent a group or symbol from being selected and accidentally changed, lock the group or symbol.

Modifying properties of an object

You can use Property inspector to modify an object’s stroke and fill properties. When you select an object, the Property inspector displays the following:

  • The object’s stroke and fill, its pixel dimensions, and the x and y coordinates of the object’s transformation point.
  • A mixed selection, if you select multiple items. The pixel dimensions and x and y coordinates of the selected set of items.

Select objects with the Selection tool

The Selection tool  lets you select entire objects by clicking an object or dragging to enclose the object within a rectangular selection marquee. To select instances, groups, and type blocks, you have to enclose them. 

 To select the Selection tool, you can also press the V key. To temporarily switch to the Selection tool when another tool is active, hold down the Control key (Windows) or Command key (Macintosh). See keyboard shortcuts for more information.

To disable the Shift-selecting option, deselect the option in Animate General Preferences. See Set preferences in Animate

Selecting objects

  • To select a stroke, fill, group, instance, or text block, click the object.
  • To select connected lines, double-click one of the lines.
  • To select a filled shape and its stroked outline, double-click the fill.
  • To select objects within a rectangular area, drag a marquee around the object or objects to select.
Making more selections
  • To add to a selection, hold down the Shift key while making more selections.
  • To select everything on every layer of a scene, select Edit > Select All, or press Control+A (Windows) or Command+A (Macintosh). Select All doesn’t select objects on locked or hidden layers, or layers not on the current Timeline.
  • To select everything on one layer between keyframes, click a frame in the Timeline.

Deselect all

To deselect everything on every layer, select Edit > Deselect All, or press Control+Shift+A (Windows) or Command+Shift+A (Macintosh). See keyboard shortcuts for more information. 

Deselect individual items

To deselect any individual item from a group of selected objects:

  1. Select the selection tool
  2. Hold down the Shift key and 
  3. Click the individual item

The individual items can be any strokes, fills, or drawing-objects. 


To lock or unlock a group or symbol, select the group or symbol, and then select Modify > Arrange > Lock. Select Modify > Arrange > Unlock All to unlock all locked groups and symbols.

Draw a freehand selection area using Lasso tool

You can use the Lasso tool to create an irregular selection outline. Select it from the Tools or press L. Based on your setting preferences, to select an object you can choose to enclose the drawing-object or partially cover it. See Set preferences for selecting section in this page for more information.  

  1. Drag the Lasso tool  around the area of an object. To select the inner circle of an object, drag the freehand lasso tool around it. 

  2. End the loop approximately where you started, or let Animate automatically close the loop. Animate closes the selection outline and highlights the selected object. 

Draw a straight-edged selection area using Lasso's Polygon tool

The Lasso tool's Polygon mode modifier lets you define a selection area with a series of connected straight lines. Keep the Lasso tool selected and click the Polygon Tool. 

  1. Select the Lasso tool’s Polygon Mode modifier  in the options area of the Tools panel.

  2. To set the starting point, click the object. 

  3. Position the pointer where you want the first line to end, and click at that position. Continue setting end points for more line segments.

  4. To close the selection area, double-click at the last position. Animate closes the selection outline and highlights the selected object. 

Draw a selection area with both freehand and straight-line edges

When you use the Lasso tool and its Polygon Mode modifier, you can switch between the freehand and straight-edged selection modes.

  1. Deselect the Polygon Mode modifier of the Lasso tool.
  2. To draw a freehand segment, drag the Lasso tool on the Stage.
  3. To set start and end points for each new line segment, hold down the Alt key (Windows) or Option key (Macintosh) and click the area. 

    Use this step to draw straight-edged segments. 

  4. To close the selection area, do one of the following:
    • Release the mouse button. Animate closes the selection area.  

    • Double-click the starting end of the selection area line.

Hide selection highlighting

To view how an artwork appears in its final state, you can hide highlighting of an object while selecting and editing it. 

  1. Select View > Hide Edges.

Select the Hide Edges option again to show selection highlighting.

Set custom bounding box colors for selected objects

You can customize the colors for bounding box rectangles that appear around selected objects on the Stage.

  1. Select Edit > Preferences (Windows) or Animate > Preferences (Macintosh).

  2. Click the General category.
  3. In the Highlight Color section, select a color for each type of object, and click OK.

Set preferences for selecting

The Pointer, Subselection, and Lasso tools select objects by clicking them. The Pointer and Subselection tools select objects by dragging a rectangular selection marquee around the object. The Lasso tool selects objects by dragging a free-form selection marquee around the object. When an object is selected, a rectangular box appears around the object.

  1. Select Edit > Preferences (Windows) or Animate > Preferences (Macintosh).

  2. In the General category of the Preferences dialog box, do one of the following:
    • To select only enclosed objects and points, deselect Contact-Sensitive Selection and Lasso tools. Points that lie within the selection area are selected.

    • To select partially enclosed objects or groups, select Contact-Sensitive Selection and Lasso tools.


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