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Getting Elements to Help You Make Tricky Selections

If you’ve ever tried the Lasso tool for making selections, then you know two things: (1) it’s pretty useful, and (2) tracing right along the edge of the object you’re trying to select can be pretty tricky. But you can get help in the form of a better tool called (are you ready for this?) the Magnetic Lasso tool! If the edges of the object you’re trying to select are fairly well defined, this tool will automatically snap to the edges (as if they’re magnetic), saving you time and frustration (well, it can save frustration if you know this technique).

Step One:

Click-and-hold for a moment on the Lasso tool in the Toolbox and a menu will pop up where you can choose the Magnetic Lasso Tool (or just press the L key until you have it). Then, open an image in which you want to make a selection. Click once near the edge of the object you want to select. Without holding the mouse button, move the Magnetic Lasso tool along the edge of the object, and the selection will “snap” into place. Don’t move too far away from the object; stay close to it for the best results.

Step Two:

As you drag, the tool lays down little points along the edge. If you’re dragging the mouse and it misses an edge, just press Backspace (Mac: Delete) to remove the last point and try again. If it still misses, press-and-hold the Alt (Mac: Option) key and then hold down the mouse button, which temporarily switches you to the regular Lasso tool. Drag a Lasso selection around the trouble area, then release the Alt key and the mouse button, and BAM—you’re back to the Magnetic Lasso tool to finish up the job. Note: You can also click the Magnetic Lasso tool to add selection points, if needed.

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