How to deselect in Photoshop: 2 simple tips and tricks [2022]


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So you’re learning Photoshop – bravo!

Perhaps you’ve even recently mastered all of the various selection tools. But now you’re unsure about how to deselect.

In this article, I am going to walk both Mac and Windows users through the exact steps required to deselect practically any selection in Photoshop.

Selecting and deselecting is an essential part of mastering the art of Photoshop because it allows you to target specific areas when editing photos and graphics.

In this post, I will address how to:

If you have any other questions regarding Photoshop selections, reselections or deselections, leave them in the comments section below and I might address them in a future article update.

For the purposes of this tutorial, today I will be using Adobe Photoshop CC 2022.

This is how to deselect using the Select menu in Photoshop (apple photo by Alex Staroseltsev/shutterstock.com)
This is how to deselect using the Select menu in Photoshop (apple photo by Alex Staroseltsev/shutterstock.com)

How to deselect a selection in Photoshop

There are two ways to deselect a selection in Photoshop.

These methods will deselect all active selection areas (everything encompassed by the animated dotted line that resembles marching ants).

1. Use the Select option from the Selection menu

This option works the same way for both Mac and Windows users.

To deselect a selection in Photoshop using the top menu (or the main Photoshop menu), navigate to Select, and choose Deselect from the dropdown.

2. Use the deselect shortcut

To deselect a selection in Photoshop on a Mac using the shortcut, hold down the Command button and click D on your keyboard ( Cmd+D).

To deselect a selection in Photoshop on a Windows device, hold down the Ctrl button and click D on your keyboard (Ctrl+D).

Pro-Tip: If either of these shortcuts didn’t work, you may have to reset your default Photoshop shortcuts.

To do so, click on Keyboard Shortcuts in the menu bar and select Keyboard Shortcuts and Menus from the dropdown.

Next, find Select in the Application Menu Command section.

If you are on a Mac, click on Cmd+D. If you are a Windows device press Ctrl+D. When you are done, click on the Accept button.

Pro-Tip: If you receive the error “could not complete your request because the content of the layer is not directly editable“. It most likely means that you are trying to select or deselect a Smart Object.

To deselect any portion of a Smart Object you will first need to rasterize it – aka convert it back to a pixel based image.

To rasterize a Smart Object, open the layers panel (Window>Layers or use the shortcut F7 on your keyboard), find the Smart Object layer thumbnail, click on it using the right mouse button and select Rasterize Layer.

You should now be able to select and deselect as normal.

How to deselect only one part of a selection in Photoshop

There are three various tools you can use to deselect part of a selection in Photoshop.

When holding down the Option Key, the Marquee Tool's plus sign should switch to a minus sign (apple photo by Alex Staroseltsev/shutterstock.com)
When holding down the Option Key, the Marquee Tool’s plus sign should switch to a minus sign (apple photo by Alex Staroseltsev/shutterstock.com)

Deselecting with the Marquee Tool

First, select either any Marquee Tool from the main Photoshop toolbar. Marquee

Tool options include the Rectangular Marquee Tool, the Elliptical Marquee Tool, the Single Column Marquee Tool and the Single Row Marquee Tool.

Next, click and hold the Option key on your Mac keyboard (or the Alt key on a Windows device).

Finally, click and drag draw a shape while holding the above-mentioned keys on your keyboard over whatever portion of the image you wish to deselect.

Pro-Tip: If the main Photoshop toolbar isn’t visible, toggle it on by selecting Windows>Tools.

When holding down the Option Key, the Lasso Tool's plus sign should switch to a minus sign (apple photo by Alex Staroseltsev/shutterstock.com)
When holding down the Option Key, the Lasso Tool’s plus sign should switch to a minus sign (apple photo by Alex Staroseltsev/shutterstock.com)

Deselecting with the Lasso Tool

This works similarly to the Marquee Tool.

First, select any Lasso Tool from the main Photoshop toolbar. The default Lasso Tool works the same way as the Polygonal Lasso Tool and the Magnetic Lasso Tool when it comes to making selections and deselections.

Next, click and hold the Option key on your Mac keyboard (or the Alt key on a Windows device).

Finally, create a custom closed-loop shape while holding the above-mentioned keys on your keyboard over whatever portion you wish to deselect.

Pro-Tip: You will need to full close your selection when using the Magnetic Lasso Tool. To do so, circle back to the original anchor point and click on it with your mouse.

When holding down the Option Key, the Magic Wand Tools's plus sign should switch to a minus sign (apple photo by Alex Staroseltsev/shutterstock.com)
When holding down the Option Key, the Magic Wand Tools’s plus sign should switch to a minus sign (apple photo by Alex Staroseltsev/shutterstock.com)

Deselecting with the Magic Wand Tool

And finally, we have the Magic Wand Tool and its subsets the Quick Selection Tool and the Object SelectionTool.

Again, all three tools work similarly to the Lasso and Marquee Tools when it comes to making deselections in Photoshop.

First, select the Magic Wand Tool – or any of its subsets –  from the main Photoshop toolbar.

Next, click and hold the Option key on your Mac keyboard (or the Alt key on a Windows device).

Finally, click whatever portion you wish to deselect while continuing to hold the above-mentioned key on your keyboard.

The Reselect Tool is your best option for reselection a previous selection in Photoshop (apple photo by Alex Staroseltsev/shutterstock.com)
The Reselect Tool is your best option for reselecting a previous selection in Photoshop (apple photo by Alex Staroseltsev/shutterstock.com)

How to reselect a selection in Photoshop

Last but not least, there are two ways to reselect a selection in Photoshop. The first way is commonly used throughout the industry, the second is a really neat tip that even some seasoned designers don’t know about.

The Undo command

If your last keystroke was unselecting something that you now wish to reselect, simply click on Cmd+Z on a Mac or Ctrl+Z on a Windows device. Or choose Edit from the menu bar and select Undo.

The Reselect Tool

If you wish to reselect something that was selected many keystrokes ago, instead of using the Toggle Last State option use the nifty Reselect Tool.

To use the Reselect Tool, either choose Select from the menu bar and click on Reselect from the dropdown. Or, simply use the shortcut by pressing Shift+Cmd+D on Mac (or press Shift+Ctrl+D on a Windows device).

The neat thing about this tool is that it doesn’t matter if your deselection was made 100 keystrokes ago or 2, your last selection will be magically restored.

You’re welcome.

Are you considering a career in graphic design or freelance? Are you a design novice hoping to learn more about Photoshop? Was this tutorial helpful? Comment below and don’t forget to connect with me on social media.

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