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What is Quick Selection Tool in Photoshop

Everybody says that Photoshop is a tough thing to handle. It is incredibly hard to understand by a beginner and we need to put a lot of effort in order to understand even a part of it. The answer to the above question is “Yes”. Photoshop is really a tough thing if you have used it only a few times. But the reality is that the Adobe Photoshop developers are really trying hard to make it more user-friendly so that even a beginner can use it within a short span of time.

Quick Selection Tool in Photoshop is an example of such efforts. This tool can sometimes make your selection incredibly easy and if nothing is against you, you can select the desired area within 5 seconds.

For the whole tutorial, I will be talking about what is Quick Selection Tool and How to Use it.


Last time I discussed Magic Wand Tool in my Get to Know Photoshop series.

Section 1: Basics of the Quick Selection Tool in Photoshop

Quick Selection Tool basically works on the principle of change in colors. Whenever we brush over something, it expands the selection and selects everything that lies within an “allowed contrast bandwidth”. As soon as it detects a sharp change in color, it discards its expansion. It may sound confusing now but you will understand it as soon as you complete the reading.

To activate Quick Selection Tool, all you need to do is to grab it from the tool panel or press Shift+W again and again until it activates.


Now let’s take an example of the image shown below. Here I want to select the sky. As you can see that there is a huge difference between the sky and the foreground. So Quick Selection Tool (or Magic Wand Tool) works best here. They can also then select the white clouds here easily because of low contrast.

Color Range command also works here but it may give undesired output due to the clouds.


Now follow the below image and all you need to do is to start from point A, end at the point B, and follow the line trajectory. Put your mouse cursor on the point A, hold down mouse left click and start to follow the trajectory. You will notice that the Quick Selection Tool is selecting everything that comes within the desired contrast bandwidth. Wherever Quick Selection Tool detects high contrast, it stops to expand the selection.


Here’s the selection is done with Quick Selection Tool. In case you have noticed, Quick Selection Tool has also included a part of the hut in the selection (encircled with yellow color). To remove it, all we need to do is to hold down the Alt/Opt key and brush on the unwanted area with the Quick Selection Tool.


If you are interested in learning the ways to use it tool more efficiently, please go to Quick Selection Tool: Advance page.

Section 2: Quick Selection Tool in Photoshop Advance

Like every other tool, Quick Selection Tool also comes with its own settings to provide more flexibility to this tool. If you look at the top panel, you will see these options. I am going to describe each and every option one by one.


A. New Selection:

In case you have done a huge mistake and you want to undo everything and want to begin a new selection, this option needs to be activated.

B. Add to Selection:

Turn on this option if you want to select multiple areas within one selection.

C. Subtract from Selection:

If you have followed the previous section properly, you might remember that I used Alt/Opt in order to remove the unwanted selection. Holding down Alt/Opt key temporarily activates Subtract from Selection and in this mode, anything you select will be subtracted from the selection.

D. Brush Size:

The area the Quick Selection Tool chooses to expands the selection is directly proportional to the size of the brush. More the size, greater would be the area of the expansion. Increasing the hardness will give you better result most of the time.

E. Sample All Layers:

Turn on this option if you want to make a selection where Photoshop considers all the layer into consideration. If you want to make a selection out the activated layer only, turn off this option.

F. Auto-Enhance:

As Quick Selection Tool works extremely fast, the selection made using Quick Selection Tool may be imperfect and irregular in shape. To make the selection perfect and a little bit smoother, Photoshop process’s the selection as soon as you leave the left mouse button and makes it somewhat perfect.

G. Refine Edge:

I have written a whole tutorial on Refine Edge Tool months ago and ways to improve your selection drastically using Refine Edge Tool. Visit the Refine Edge Tool tutorial if you want to learn everything about the Refine Edge Tool.

We are done here. Hope you have understood it well. Check out all the other tutorials in the Get to Know Photoshop Section.

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