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The Auto Selection Tool in Photoshop Elements – Instructions

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The Auto Selection Tool in Photoshop Elements - Instructions: A picture of a user refining the initial selection made by the Auto Selection Tool in Photoshop Elements.

The Auto Selection Tool in Photoshop Elements: Overview

            The Auto Selection tool in Photoshop Elements was introduced in Photoshop Elements 2018. It lets Photoshop Elements attempt to automatically select an image object by having you draw a selection shape around it. This tool will not often perfectly select the entire object, at first. However, it makes a terrific starting point from which you can then refine the selection it makes. It is also very easy to use.

            To use the Auto Selection tool in Photoshop Elements, select the “Auto Selection” tool from the Toolbox. Also, if necessary, select it from the Tool Options Bar. It shares a button in the “Select” button group with the Quick Selection Tool, Selection Brush Tool, Magic Wand Tool, and the Refine Selection Brush Tool.

            In the Tool Options Bar, then choose the type of selection to make. An improvement introduced in Photoshop Elements 2020 is the new “Select Subject” button. If you have a photograph of a subject in a layer to select, you can simply click the “Select Subject” button at the right end of the Tool Options Bar to let Photoshop Elements attempt to select the subject automatically, with no selection needed. Additionally, notice that this button is also available when you select either the Quick Selection, Selection Brush Tool, Magic Wand, or Refine Selection Brush Tools, in addition to the Auto Selection tool.

The Auto Selection Tool in Photoshop Elements - Instructions: A picture of a user attempting to automatically select a subject in an image by using the Select Subject button in Photoshop Elements.

The Auto Selection Tool in Photoshop Elements – Instructions: A picture of a user attempting to automatically select a subject in an image by using the Select Subject button in Photoshop Elements.

            Alternatively, to create a new selection, select the “New selection” button. To add to an existing selection, click the “Add to selection” button. To subtract from an existing selection, choose the “Subtract from selection” button. Then choose the selection tool to use to make the selection area within which Elements looks for an object to select by making a choice in the Tool Options Bar section to the right. Select either the “Rectangle,” “Ellipse,” “Lasso,” or “Polygon Lasso” choice. Use these selection shape tools as you would use the corresponding selection tool in the Toolbox.

            Checking the “Sample All Layers” checkbox makes the Auto Selection tool select an object in all layers you click and drag over. If unchecked, it restricts itself to the currently selected layer. To constrain the selection to the inside of the region you click and drag over, check the “Constrain Selection” checkbox. If unchecked, the selection can extend beyond the area over which you click and drag.

            After setting the tool’s options, then click and drag over the image area that contains the object to automatically select. Note that you must create this selection area using the selection methods of the shape type you chose. For example, if you chose the “Polygon Lasso” shape, then you must click at the different points around the area, back to the starting point, to make the shape selection.

The Auto Selection Tool in Photoshop Elements - Instructions: A picture of a user refining the initial selection made by the Auto Selection Tool in Photoshop Elements.

The Auto Selection Tool in Photoshop Elements – Instructions: A picture of a user refining the initial selection made by the Auto Selection Tool in Photoshop Elements.

            After making the shape selection, Elements then tries to select the object within the area you chose. If needed, you can then use the “Add to selection” or “Subtract from selection” buttons in the Tool Options Bar with this tool to quickly refine selection errors by clicking and dragging over them, too. This helps to quickly give you a selection area that you can then use or further refine, if needed.

The Auto Selection Tool in Photoshop Elements: Instructions

  1. To use the Auto Selection tool in Photoshop Elements, select the “Auto Selection” tool from the Toolbox and, if necessary, the Tool Options Bar.
  2. Then select the layer in the Layers Panel that contains the object to select.
  3. Then, in the Tool Options Bar, choose the type of selection to create.
  4. To let Photoshop Elements attempt to automatically select a subject without making a selection if using Photoshop Elements 2020 and if you have a photograph of a subject in a layer to select, click the “Select Subject” button at the right end of the Tool Options Bar.
  5. Additionally, notice that this button is also available when you select either the Quick Selection, Selection Brush Tool, Magic Wand, or Refine Selection Brush Tools, too.
  6. Alternatively, to create a new selection, select the “New selection” button.
  7. To add to an existing selection, click the “Add to selection” button.
  8. To subtract from an existing selection, choose the “Subtract from selection” button.
  9. Then choose the selection tool to use to create the selection area within which Elements looks for an object. Choose either the “Rectangle,” “Ellipse,” “Lasso,” or “Polygon Lasso” choice from the Tool Options Bar section to the right.
  10. To select an object in all layers you click and drag over, check the “Sample All Layers” checkbox.
  11. To constrain the selection to the inside of the region you click and drag over, check the “Constrain Selection” checkbox.
  12. After setting the tool’s options, then click and drag over the image area that contains the object to automatically select.
  13. You must create this selection area using the selection methods of the shape type you chose. For example, if you chose the “Polygon Lasso” shape, then you would click at the different points around the area, back to the starting point, to make the shape selection.
  14. After making the shape selection, Elements then tries to select the object within the area you chose.
  15. If needed, then use the “Add to selection” or “Subtract from selection” buttons in the Tool Options Bar with this tool to quickly refine selection errors by clicking and dragging over them, too.

The Auto Selection Tool in Photoshop Elements: Video Lesson

            The following video lesson, titled “The Auto Selection Tool,” shows how to use the Auto Selection Tool in Photoshop Elements. This video lesson is from our complete Photoshop Elements tutorial, titled “Mastering Photoshop Elements Made Easy v.2020.”

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