How to select with Photoshop

After reading my guides on how to use Photoshop , did you get a great desire to take advantage of the famous Adobe photo editing program to create photomontages? Well, before you do such a feat you should learn how to use the selection tools included in the software well. At the base of every good photomontage, in fact, there is the correct selection of the elements to be inserted in it, and in this sense Photoshop offers a very wide range of solutions that you must know how to use with care. How about if I give you a hand to take your first steps in this world and let’s find out together how to select with Photoshop ? It will be much simpler than you imagine, you will see!


  • How to select with Photoshop on PC
  • How to select with Photoshop online
  • How to select with Photoshop mobile

How to select with Photoshop on PC

To learn how to select with Photoshop you must be able to master all the selection tools included in the program. Among these there are the tool selection rectangular and elliptical marquee tool , which allow to carry out selections on the basis of geometric shapes, and lazi , which instead allow you to select people and objects in a “free.”

Then choose the tool that seems best suited to the element you want to select and start your photo editing work. To view the complete list of all available selection tools, right-click on the rectangular selection and simple lasso icons in the Photoshop toolbar (the one located on the left side of the screen).

At this point you have to use the mouse to create your selection based on the characteristics of the chosen tool. I’ll list the main ones below, so you can choose better.

  • Rectangular Selection Tool – creates a simple rectangular selection that is applied by holding down the left mouse button and “drawing” the selection to be made on the screen.
  • Elliptical Marquee Tool – creates an elliptical selection that is applied by holding down the left mouse button and “drawing” the selection to be made on the screen.
  • Lasso tool – allows you to freely select any part of an image. It should be used by holding down the left mouse button and tracing the profile of the person or object to be selected in the photo.
  • Magnetic Lasso Tool – used like a lasso but has the ability to intelligently adhere to the edges of the selected image. By clicking while using it, you can insert full stops to refine the selection.
  • Polygonal Lasso Tool – allows you to create polygonal selections. It is used by clicking on the points where you want to insert the corners of the polygon.

After selecting one of the aforementioned tools, act directly on the work area in the center. Note that, if you want, you can also select multiple elements at the same time in the same image. Just hold down the Shift key on your computer keyboard and create all the selections after the first one (to be created following the guidelines above).

Let’s take a few practical examples, so you can better understand how to use Photoshop’s selection tools. To select a person, for example, I suggest you use the Magnetic Lasso tool trying to be as precise as possible while tracing the edges of the subject in question.

Don’t overdo it, though. Subsequently, you can in fact click on the Refine Edge button located at the top right and refine your selection using the adjustment bars in the window that opens.

At the end of the operation you should be able to obtain an extremely precise selection ideal for cutting out the selected element and using it in photomontages or other artistic creations.

For more information on this procedure, I suggest you take a look at my guide on how to crop with Photoshop , in which I explained step by step how to extract objects and people from photos using the most famous photo editing software in the world.

An “alternative” technique for selecting people and objects with Photoshop is the quick mask , which can be called up by clicking on the button located under the color palette or by pressing the Q key on the computer keyboard. With the quick mask, in fact, you can use the brush tool to “color” the portions of the image to exclude from the selection by setting it to white or to include in the selection by setting it to black .

It is a very versatile tool that can be used both to create selections from scratch and to refine selections made previously with the lasso. To learn more about how it works, read the guide on how to select an object with Photoshop that I published on my site. I assure you that everything is much simpler than you imagine.

In addition to the “manual” selection tools that I explained to you in the previous lines, there are also some “automatic” ones that can greatly facilitate your work. They work very well, even if it must be said that for more complex jobs, acting “manually” could always be the best way.

Among the automatic selection tools there is, for example, the Quick Selection tool : to call it up, click on the brush icon with the hatched area (in the toolbar on the left) and, holding down the left mouse button, hover the pointer over the subject to be selected automatically, until the selection is completed.

If you need to select a particular subject (for example a person in the foreground), call up the Object Selection tool (by right-clicking on the brush icon with the hatched area in the program toolbar and selecting the appropriate wording) and, at the hover, wait for it to be recognized by the Photoshop algorithm: if this happens it will be highlighted in blue and you can select it by clicking on it. Simple, right?

How to select with Photoshop online

Having activated your Creative Cloud subscription , you can also take advantage of Photoshop on the Web , an online version of the famous photo editing program, which is simple to use and which works on Chromium-based browsers installed on computers with at least 4 GB of RAM and with a at least 2 GHz processor.

To use it, go to your Creative Cloud library , log in with your Adobe ID and click on the preview of the photo you want to act on. Next, click on the button (∨) attached to the Open in button and select the Photoshop on the web item .

On the page that opened, then click on the brush with the shaded area (on the toolbar This left) and choose one of the tools available (eg. Lasso , Quick Select , Rectangular marquee , Elliptical marquee , etc.), whose operation is almost identical to that of the desktop version of Photoshop (so I will not repeat myself in indicating how it works, having already done so in the previous chapter ).

If the online version of Photoshop does not meet your taste, you can take advantage of alternative solutions, such as Photopea , which I told you about in my tutorial on how to edit photos online and has an interface practically identical to that of Photoshop for Windows and macOS .

How to select with Photoshop mobile

Would you like to select with Photoshop on smartphones and tablets , but don’t know if it’s feasible as what? Well, it depends on which Photoshop app you use on your device.

If you take advantage of one of the free ones (eg Photoshop Express , Photoshop Lightroom , etc.), you should know that, at the time of writing, they do not offer selection tools useful for the purpose in question. The situation changes, however, if you use Photoshop for iPad , which is free for a month (then it costs 10.99 euros / month, unless you already have an active Creative Cloud subscription).

After opening the app and importing the photo to be edited using the Import and open function , tap on the brush icon with the hatched area located on the toolbar (left) and choose the tool to use: Lasso , to select a “free” shape with your finger or Apple Pencil ; Object selection , to select the subject of your interest with a simple tap; Selection rectangle , to draw a rectangular selection; Ellipse selection , to draw an elliptical selection; and so on.

Once you have identified the tool of your interest, to use it, all you have to do is act directly on the image. Using the buttons at the bottom, you can also deselect, invert the selection, improve the border, and so on. Interesting, right?

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