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The Magic Wand Tool in Photoshop Elements – Instructions

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A picture of a user making a selection with the Magic Wand Tool in Photoshop Elements.

Overview of How to Use the Magic Wand Tool in Photoshop Elements:

            The Magic Wand Tool in Photoshop Elements lets you select a consistently colored area or region in an image without manually tracing its outline by hand. To use the Magic Wand Tool in Photoshop Elements, click the “Magic Wand Tool” button in the Toolbox. It shares a button in the “Select” button group with the Quick Selection Tool, Selection Brush Tool, Auto Selection, and the Refine Selection Brush Tool. So, make sure to select the Magic Wand tool from the Tool Options Bar after clicking the button in the Toolbox.

            In the Tool Options Bar, set the standard selection options you want. This tool has some additional, unique options. The first setting is the “Tolerance” setting. You can enter any value from 0 to 255 using the slider or the adjacent field. A lower number selects colors in the image very similar to the pixels you click in the image. A higher number selects a broader range of similarly colored pixels in the image.

            To ensure the selection has smoother curves versus jagged edges, check the “Anti-aliasing” checkbox. To select only pixels in the tolerance range specified that are touching the pixels you click, check the “Contiguous” checkbox. To sample the color to select using the combined color value from all layers in the image area at which you click, check the “Sample All Layers” checkbox. If unchecked, the tool only samples the pixel color you click in the selected layer, instead.

            After selecting the desired settings, hold the Magic Wand Tool over the color to select in the image and click it. Doing this selects all pixels in the tolerance range specified. If the “Contiguous” checkbox is checked, then only the pixels within the tolerance range specified and adjacent to the pixels you clicked are selected.

A picture of a user making a selection with the Magic Wand Tool in Photoshop Elements.

A picture of a user making a selection with the Magic Wand Tool in Photoshop Elements.

            If needed, to refine the edge of your selection after making it, you can click the “Refine Edge…” button in the Tool Options Bar to open the “Refine Edge” dialog box. You can then refine the selection using this dialog box.

Instructions on How to Use the Magic Wand Tool in Photoshop Elements:

  1. To use the Magic Wand Tool in Photoshop Elements, click the “Magic Wand Tool” button in the Toolbox and, if needed, the Tool Options Bar.
  2. In the Tool Options Bar, choose the type of selection to create: “New Selection,” “Add to Selection,” “Subtract from Selection,” or “Intersect with Selection.”
  3. To set the tool’s color range tolerance, enter any value from 0 to 255 by using the “Tolerance” slider or its adjacent field. A lower number selects colors in the image very similar to the pixels you click in the image. A higher number selects a broader range of similarly colored pixels in the image.
  4. To ensure the selection has smoother curves versus jagged edges, check the “Anti-aliasing” checkbox.
  5. To select only pixels in the tolerance range specified that are touching the pixels you click, check the “Contiguous” checkbox.
  6. To sample the color to select using the combined color value from all layers in the image area at which you click, check the “Sample All Layers” checkbox.
  7. If unchecked, the tool only samples the pixel color you click in the selected layer, instead.
  8. After selecting the desired settings, hold the Magic Wand Tool over the color to select in the image and click it to select all pixels in the tolerance range specified.
  9. If the “Contiguous” checkbox is checked, then only the pixels within the tolerance range specified and adjacent to the pixels you clicked are selected.

Video Lesson on How to Use the Magic Wand Tool in Photoshop Elements:

            The following video lesson, titled “The Magic Wand Tool,” shows how to use the Magic Wand Tool in Photoshop Elements. This video lesson is from our complete Photoshop Elements tutorial, titled “Mastering Photoshop Elements Made Easy v.2022.”

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