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How to Use Keyboard Commands to Create or Add to a Selection in Photoshop CS6

How does Photoshop CS6 know whether you want to create a perfect square or add to a selection when you press the Shift key? Photoshop has a little glitch in its way of doing things. Well, not so much a glitch as a conflict. With so many ways of doing things, somewhere along the line you may have to jigger with Photoshop to get it to do what you want.

Here is how that plays out:

  • When you make an initial selection with the Rectangular or the Elliptical Marquee tool, holding down the Shift key constrains the proportions of the selection, thereby allowing you to create a perfect square or a perfect circle.

  • If you hold down Alt (Option on the Mac) when using either of these tools, you can draw from the center out.

  • If you hold down Alt (Option on the Mac) when using the Lasso tool, the Lasso tool temporarily becomes the Polygonal Lasso tool.

Unfortunately, despite numerous requests, the ability to read users’ minds wasn’t a Photoshop CS6 upgrade feature. The following steps show you what you have to do to get Photoshop to recognize your wishes.

To add a perfectly square or round selection to an existing selection, follow these steps:

  1. Hold down Shift and drag when using the Rectangular or the Elliptical Marquee tool.

    Your selection is unconstrained.

  2. While you drag, keeping your mouse button pressed, release the Shift key for just a moment and then press and hold it again.

    Your unconstrained selection suddenly snaps into a constrained square or circle.

  3. Release the mouse button before you release the Shift key.

    If you don’t release the mouse button before you release the Shift key, the selection shape reverts to its unconstrained form.

To delete part of a selection while drawing from the center out, follow these steps:

  1. Hold down Alt (Option on the Mac) and drag when using the Rectangular or the Elliptical Marquee tool.

  2. While you drag, keeping your mouse button pressed, release the Alt (Option on the Mac) key for just a moment and then press and hold it again.

    You’re now drawing from the center outward.

  3. Release the mouse button before you release the Alt (Option on the Mac) key.

Use the preceding steps when you’re selecting a doughnut, tire, inflatable swim ring, and other circular items that have holes in the middle.

[Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/AYakovlev Image #3409811]
Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/AYakovlev Image #3409811
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