Adobe CS5 Illustrator Selection Tool - dummies

By Jennifer Smith, Christopher Smith, Fred Gerantabee

The selection tools of Adobe Creative Suite 5 (Adobe CS5) Illustrator include several capabilities including anchor point, marquee, multiple selection and even saving your selection. These functions allow more precise manipulation of your illustration.

Selecting an anchor point

When you have a selection to work with, you can deselect all active anchor points and then make just one anchor point active. Follow these steps:

  1. Choose Select–>Deselect to make sure the object isn’t selected.

  2. Select the Direct Selection tool (the white arrow) from the Tools panel.

  3. Click one anchor point.

    Only one anchor point (the one you clicked) is solid, and the others are hollow.


  4. Click and drag that solid anchor point with the Direct Selection tool.

    Only that solid anchor point moves. Note that an anchor point enlarges when you cross over it with the Direct Selection tool.

Using a marquee to select an object

Sometimes you can more easily surround the object you want to select by dragging the mouse to create a marquee. Follow these steps to select an object by creating a marquee:

  1. Choose the Selection tool.

  2. Click outside the object and drag over a small part of it.

    The entire object becomes selected.


    You can also select only one anchor point in an object by using the marquee method:

  3. Choose Select–>Deselect to make sure the object isn’t selected and then choose the Direct Selection tool.

  4. Click outside a corner of the object and drag over only the anchor point you want to select.

    Notice that only that anchor point is active, which can be a sight-saver when you’re trying to select individual points. You can use this method to cross over just the two top points or side anchor points to activate multiple anchor points as well.


Selecting multiple objects

If you have multiple items on a page, you can select them by using one of these methods:

  • Select one object or anchor point and then hold down the Shift key and click another object or anchor point. Depending on which selection tool you’re using, you either select all anchor points on an object (Selection tool) or additional anchor points only (Direct Selection tool).

    You can use the Shift key to deactivate an object as well. Shift+click a selected object to deselect it.

  • Choose Select–>All or press Ctrl+A (Windows) or Command+A (Mac).

  • Use the marquee selection technique and drag outside and over the objects. When you use this technique with the Selection tool, all anchor points in the objects are selected; when using the Direct Selection tool, only the points you drag over are selected.

Saving a selection

Spending way too much time trying to make your selections? Illustrator comes to the rescue with the Save Selection feature. After you have a selection that you may need again, choose Select–>Save Selection and name the selection. The selection now appears at the bottom of the Select menu. To change the name or delete the saved selection, choose Select–>Edit Selection. This selection is saved with the document.

New in Illustrator CS5, you can use the same Select-behind keyboard shortcut that has existed in InDesign for several versions. To select an object behind another, simply place the cursor over the area where you know that the object (to be selected) is located and press Ctrl+click (Windows) or Command+click for Mac OS.