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Photoshop Elements 2 Magic Wand

Photoshop Elements 2 Magic Wand

magic wand icon

Used for selecting areas
Found at #16 in the Toolbar diagram at left


This tool selects all pixels that are the same color as the one you click on. How precisely similar the color must be to be included is set in the tool’s option bar [see below] before the selection is made.

Frequently, after the initial click, additions are made to that selection by holding down the Shift key, and clicking repeatedly on any additional shades that did not get selected.

Note that the magic wand does not work on 1 bit Bitmap mode images.

This tool is useful if you have very evenly colored objects, or if you wish to make a selection in order to edit the hue, saturation, or brightness of a particular color which is intermingled with colors you don’t want to change.

Note that the magic wand uses the sample size setting currently selected on the eyedropper tool’s options bar. Also be aware that the magic wand does not make partial selections. It’s all or nothing.

The keyboard shortcut for this tool is the letter W.


The illustration below is the magic wand’s options bar. The Tolerance value sets how much variation in the clicked-on color will be included in the selection. A low number allows less variation; a high number allows more. Values may be from 0 to 255.

Anti-aliasing softens the jagged [pixel] edges on curvy portions of the selection. Check the Contiguous box if you only want to select pixels adjoining the original spot that was clicked. Same colored pixels elsewhere in the image will not be selected. If Use All Layers is checked, the Tolerance settings will ‘look at’ all layers to decide where to draw the selection outline.

The second illustration below is a numbered, larger scale version of the buttons from the left end of the options bar which determine how the selection you draw will interact with any existing, active selections. They are:
1) make a new selection (no interaction)
2) add to an existing selection
3) subtract from an existing selection
4) select only the overlapping area in this new selection, and an existing selection

magic wand options bar

If you have doodled with a tool’s options and want to get back to the default settings, click that tool’s icon at the far left end of its options bar. Choose either Reset Tool to reset only the current tool, or Reset All Tools to restore default settings to every tool.

Please note that all descriptions, and illustrations featured refer to files which are in Photoshop’s .psd format, and which are in RGB color mode. Other file formats, and color modes may generate different options. Some Photoshop features are not available for images not in .psd format, or RGB color mode. To find what color mode your image is in, choose Image > Mode.