How to Use the Select Menu in Photoshop CS6

Although you can add, subtract, and intersect selections in Photoshop CS6 by using the Shift and Alt (Option on the Mac) keys and the selection option buttons on the Options bar, you can do much more with the commands on the Select menu.

In this menu, you can find ways to expand, contract, smooth, and fuzz your selection, and even turn your selection inside out. You can also use this menu to automatically select similar colors and create selection borders. With this kind of knowledge, imperfect selections will soon be a thing of the past.

Select all or nothing

The All and the Deselect commands are pretty self-explanatory. To select everything in your image, choose Select→All. To deselect everything, choose Select→Deselect. The key commands Ctrl+A (Command+A on the Mac) and Ctrl+D (Command+D on the Mac), respectively, come in very handy and are easy to remember.

In most cases, you don’t have to select everything in your image. If you don’t have an active selection marquee, Photoshop naturally assumes that you want to apply whatever command you execute to the entire image.

How to reselect a selection in Photoshop CS6

If you’ve taken 20 minutes to carefully lasso a spiny sea anemone from its ocean home, the last thing you want is to lose your coveted selection marquee. But that’s exactly what happens if you accidentally click the canvas when you have an active selection tool in hand. The selection marquee disappears.

Sure, you can choose Edit→Undo if you catch your mistake right away. Technically, you can also access the History panel to recover your selection. However, a much easier solution is to choose Select→Reselect. This command retrieves your last selection.

Besides immediately bringing back a selection you accidentally deselected, the Reselect command can come in handy if you decide to select an element for a second time.

For example, if you do such a great job retouching your spiny anemone that you decide to add, by copying, another anemone to your image, go ahead; it’s all up to you. By using the Reselect command, you can easily load the selection again, rather than start the selection from scratch.

The Reselect command works for only the last selection you made, so don’t plan to reselect a selection you made last week — or even ten minutes ago — if you’ve selected something else in the meantime.

How to swap a selection in Photoshop CS6

Sometimes, selecting what you don’t want is easier than selecting what you do want. For example, if you’re trying to select your pet dog, photographed against a neutral background, why spend valuable time meticulously selecting him with the Pen or the Lasso tool, when you can just click the background with the Magic Wand tool?

Don’t forget to use the Shift key to select bits of background you might have missed the first time.

After you select the background, just choose Select→Inverse. Presto, you now have Fido the Retriever selected and obediently awaiting your next command.

[Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/rKIRKimagery Image #4978951]
Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/rKIRKimagery Image #4978951
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