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The Photoshop Elements 11 Quick Selection Tool

No one ever has enough time, so any tool that can shave a few minutes off a selection task is welcome. The Quick Selection tool in Photoshop Elements 11 can do just that. Think of it as a combo Brush/Magic Wand/Lasso tool. Easy to use — and producing surprisingly good results — it’s sure to become a favorite part of your collection of selection tools.

To make short work of selecting by using this tool, follow these steps:

  1. Select the Quick Selection tool from the Tools panel.

    The tool looks like a wand with a marquee around the end. You can also press the A key — or if the tool isn’t visible, press A again to cycle through the tools. You can also select the Quick Selection tool in the Tool Options.

    This is one of the few tools that works in either Expert or Quick mode.

  2. Specify the options in the Tool Options.

    Here’s an explanation of the options:

    • New Selection: The default option enables you to create a new selection. There are also options to add to and subtract from your selection.

    • Brush Settings: Choose your desired brush settings. Specify hardness, spacing, angle, and roundness settings.

    • Size: Specify the diameter, from 1 to 2500 pixels.

    • Sample All Layers: If the image has layers and you want to make a selection from all the layers, select this option. If this option is left deselected, you can select only from the active layer.

    • Auto-Enhance: Select this option to have Elements assist you with automatically refining your selection by implementing an algorithm.

  3. Click and drag over the desired areas of the image.

    Your selection grows while you drag.

    If you stop dragging and click another portion of the image, your selection includes that clicked area.

    [Credit: ©istockphoto.com/ABDESIGN Image #209970]
    Credit: ©istockphoto.com/ABDESIGN Image #209970
  4. Modify your selection, as needed.

    You have three options to change your selection:

    • To add to your selection, press the Shift key while dragging across your desired image areas.

    • To delete from your selection, press the Alt key (Option key on the Mac) while dragging across the unwanted image areas.

    • You can also select the Add to Selection or Subtract from Selection options in the Tool Options.

  5. If you need to further fine-tune your selection, click the Refine Edge option in the Tool Options.

    If the object is fairly detailed, you may even need to break out the Lasso or another selection tool to make some final cleanups.

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