Adobe Photosop Tutorial – Move tool and selection tools

The move and selection tools are something that I use very often when painting in Photoshop. It allows me to quickly select areas and adjusts them to my liking. There are many different types of selection tools for different purposes, I usually use the rectangle, lasso and magic wand tool. In this tutorial, I will be going through what the move and selection tools are in Photoshop and also how to use them in more detail.

Whenever you select a tool on the tools bar, you should see it’s options bar below the menu bar. The options bar contains all the options you can choose from for your selected tools. The options available change depending on the tool you’ve selected. We will be looking at the options bar quite alot. Let’s get started.

Move Tool


When this box is unchecked, you can only click and drag on the objects/ painted areas on your current layer.

When this box is checked, you will be able to click and drag on any objects around on the canvas.

Group/ layer

To the right of the autoselect option, there is a drop-down list where you can choose between the 2 options: group and layer.

When on the layer mode, you can only move objects on a single layer one at a time.

When on group mode, when you click and drag on an object that’s in a layers group, all of the objects in that group will be moved together.

Show transform controls

You can see this option to the right of the group/layer options.

When the option is checked, you will see a box around the object that you’ve selected with the move tool and some anchor points on the box for you to change the size, flatten, etc. you can toggle the box on and off with the short key: control + H.

When the option is unchecked, you won’t be able to see the box. The short key doesn’t work here.


To the right, you will see some icons for alignment. To activate them, click on the icon with 3 horizontal dots. At the bottom right of the pop-out window, set the align to from selection to canvas. Now, you can align the objects on the canvas by clicking on the type of alignment you want. They are aligned in relation to the canvas.

When you select on multiple layers in the layers panel, the ‘distribut’ option will be available, where the objects are distributed evenly in relation to each others location. This works when the ‘align to’ is set to selection too.

Rectangular and elliptical marquee tool

These 2 tools create rectangular or elliptical selections. Click and drag on the canvas to create your selection. Once you’ve made the selection, you can drag it around to your desired location. you can move the objects in your selection around by using the move tool. It only works when the selected object is on your current layer. When you are done with the selection, use control + D to deselect.

On the options bar, you will see these 4 icons.

New selection

To the left of the ‘feather’ feature, you will see 4 different icons with boxes. the first one on the left is the new selection mode.

Creates a new selection, if you’ve made another selection before that, the old one will be deselected.

Add to selection

This is the second icon of the four.

Add more areas of selection to your already selected areas.

Subtract from selection

This is the third icon of the four.

Delete parts of your selection, make a selection on top of the already selected area to deselect the overlapping area.

Intersect with selection

This is the last icon of the four

Remove selections outside of the overlap. When you have a selection and adds another one that overlaps with each other, the overlapped areas will be left selected while the rest of the areas will be deselected.


To the right more, you will see the feather option with a box to input numbers. this option softens edges in your selection. The higher the number, the softer the edges are.


The anti-alias option to the right of the feather option also helps with smoothing out hard edges.


There are 3 styles you can choose from the dropdown menu: normal, fixed ratio and fixed size.


Height and width of the rectangle or oval changes depending on how you drag your mouse.

Fixed ratio

For this option, 2 boxes will show up on the right where you can enter in the ratio of height and width you want. When you create selections, the size will change but the ratio will not.


For this option, you can enter how wide or high you want your selection to be and the size will stay the same. To make a selection simply click on where you want the fixed size selection to be.

Select and mask

This option takes you to the select and mask workshop where you can edit your selection non destructively. I’ll talk more about this in a future post.

Single row and column marquee tool

These 2 tools only make selections of rows or columns that’s only 1 px wide or high.

Lasso tool

The lasso tool allows you to create free selections by clicking and dragging your mouse around the area you want to be selected, after that, release the mouse and you’ll get your selection. If the point of release is away from the point where you started your selection, a straight line will be formed between them to complete the selection.

The options bar is the same as the rectangular and elliptical marquee tools.

Polygonal Lasso tool

This tool lets you create selections using straight lines. A straight line will form after every click. To complete a selection, click back on your starting point or press enter.

The options bar is the same as the rectangular and elliptical marquee tools

Magnetic lasso tool

The magnetic lasso tool is a smart tool that can automatically try to find edges of an object/ painted area. Click on a point to start the selection, move your cursor carefully around the edges of the area where you want to select. Click along the way to add more anchor points. To complete a selection, press enter or click back on the starting point.

The options bar is similar to the other selection tools but with 2 new options: contrast and frequency. Contrast affects how sensitive the edge detection is. Frequency affects how often the tool automatically adds anchor points.

Object selection tool

This is a more powerful smart tool that uses machine learning etc to automatically select objects for you, like a figure in a photo, or plates in a photo. Simply use the selection tool to cover the area and it will automatically make a smooth selection around the objects in the selection.

In the options bar, you can choose from the mode’s drop-down menu to decide if you want to use rectangular or free lasso selection. The select object option is even easier to use, simply click on it and it will find the most obvious object on your canvas and make a selection around it.

The ‘sample all layers’ option lets you make selections from multiple layers, not just from your current layer.

The auto-enhance option makes slightly smoother selections.

The object subtract tool is useful when deselecting objects. Turn it on and your deselections will be smart too. If it’s off, you’ll just be using rectangular or lasso selection normally without the smart functions.

Quick selection tool

This tool helps you quickly make a selection by roughly brushing over the area you want to select. It will automatically find edges.

The options bar is pretty similar to the others but you will also see the brush pen options.

The brush pen options let you make various adjustments to your selection pen-like how you’d adjust the standard round brush pen. You can change the brushes’ size, hardness, spacing, angle, and roundness.

Magic wand tool

Instead of making selections by finding edges, this tool finds pixels that are similar in colour and value for the selections.

2 new options in the options bar that I’ve not talked about before are: tolerance, sample size and contiguous

The tolerance number decides how much difference in colour or tone from the selected colour is allowed to be selected. So the higher the tolerance, the more area will be selected.

When the contiguous option is on, all areas with the same selected colour will be selected. When the contiguous option is off, only areas nearby the selected colour with similar colours will be selected.

The sample size option takes all the pixels of a selected area and takes the average as the selected colour. When it’s on ‘point sample’, only one pixel is selected as the selected colour.

So above are how you can use the move tool and various selections tools for different purposes. You may be overwhelmed with all the options at first, but once you’ve started trying them out and gets more familiar with them, you will be able to quickly decide which one of them is best for your specific needs.

I hope you’ve learnt something new from this post and enjoyed reading it. If you purchase something from the affiliate links that I’ve provided, I get a small amount of commission( at no extra cost to you!) which helps me keep writing art-related tutorials and blogs.

You may also be interested in:


Social Media

Recent Posts

Clip Studio Paint

30 Days Free Trial! The digital painting app for illustration, comics and animation!

Top online courses in Graphic Design & Illustration

Related Posts

Translate ยป