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Photoshop Elements 2 Marquee Tools

Photoshop Elements 2 Marquee Tools

rectangular marquee iconelliptical marquee icon


Used for selecting rectangular and elliptical areas
Found at #1 in the Toolbar diagram at left


The rectangular, and elliptical marquee tools are grouped together in the toolbar. To find the one you want, click on whichever is showing in the toolbar, and select the one you need from the pop-up menu.

When dragging a new selection, you can constrain the rectangular marquee to draw a perfect square by holding down the Shift key while dragging your selection. Doing this with the elliptical marquee tool will get you a perfect circle. Pressing the Shift key while a selection outline is already active will cause the new selection to be added to the existing one.

If you hold down Alt as you drag, the selection will draw outward from that point, i.e. the initial click will be the center of your selection, and, as you drag, it will radiate outward from that point. Pressing Alt while a selection outline already exists will cause the second selection to be subtracted from the first.

Note – if your Alt key does not appear to be working in Elements, you may have another program running in the background that has taken over that key. GuruNet (Atomica) and FlySwat are two such applications. Uninstall them, or reassign the hot key in those programs to regain use of the Alt key in Elements.

To move a selection border as you drag, hold down the spacebar, and reposition your outline. To move a selection outline after you have completed it, make sure a selection tool is selected in the toolbar, then place the pointer inside the selection outline, and drag. To move the contents of a selection, use the move tool.

The keyboard shortcut for these tools is the letter M. Hold down the Shift key while pressing the shortcut key to toggle between the rectangular and elliptical marquee tools.



The top two illustrations below are the rectangular marquee tool’s options bar (split in two because it’s so long). Choose a Feather amount, [usually 2-5 pixels] if you want a softer edge. Be aware, that current location colors will move with the feathered edge if the contents of the selection are moved. Anti-aliasing, which smooths pixel edges on curvy lines, is available only for the elliptical marquee tool as shown in the third illustration below (the rectangular marquee draws only horizontal and vertical straight edges that would do not require anti-aliasing).

If you choose Fixed Size from the Style menu, shown, and enter dimensions in the Width, and Height boxes, a marquee will appear to those dimensions when you click in the image. You can then place the pointer inside the selection outline and drag to move it (unless you have anything other than button (1) described next selected). If you use any Style setting other than Normal be very sure to set it back to Normal when you’re finished. Otherwise you’ll be tearing your hair out wondering what’s wrong with the tool the next time you try to drag a selection in the usual way.
marquee styles
Once you choose either of the Fixed options, the Width and Height options become available. If the units used for Fixed Size are not what you want, right-click directly on the text box to get a menu of available choices. You have to do this for both text boxes; resetting one does not reset the other.
Fixed Size units

The last 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


rectangular marquee options part one
rectangular marquee options part two
elliptical marquee options
add subtract intersect options


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.