Find A Favorite Selection Tool That’s Hidden From Photoshop’s Menus

Find A Favorite Selection Tool That’s Hidden from Photoshop’s Menus
If you want to cut a subject out of a background, there’s no better way than with Photoshop, of course. And within Photoshop, the Select and Mask tool is the obvious choice for making a highly detailed selection around fine image elements such as hair. But the Select and Mask tool is, well, not as great as it should be. And frankly, in my opinion, not as great as a previous Photoshop tool—the one that it replaced—called Refine Edge. Since Select and Mask was introduced a few years ago, Adobe user forums are full of people who, like me, miss the old tool. It was easy to use and functioned quickly and well. But when Select and Mask was introduced, Refine Edge seemed to disappear from the application. Well I’m here to tell you that there’s hope. I have a way to access that old Refine Edge tool even though it’s nowhere to be found in the menus.

Find A Favorite Selection Tool That’s Hidden from Photoshop’s Menus

If you’d like to use Refine Edge, simply make a selection using any tool you’d like (I prefer the single-click approach of the Select Subject option, found in the Select menu) and then hold the Shift key when clicking on Select and Mask on Photoshop’s Select menu. What do you know? It doesn’t open up the Select and Mask tool, it opens up the good old Refine Edge tool, the very same one that so many photographers have been missing for its speed and accuracy.

Adobe’s official stance seems to be that the Select and Mask tool is a new and improved version of the old Refine Edge tool, but experience shows it’s simply too cumbersome, too slow and frankly less effective than the comparatively lightweight Refine Edge tool. It doesn’t do as much, but what it does—making fine selections even better—it does incredibly well.

Find A Favorite Selection Tool That’s Hidden from Photoshop’s Menus

It’s possible, maybe even likely, that we just haven’t learned all of the intricacies of the Select and Mask tool. But after several iterations of the application, with continued “improvements” from the developer, the fact remains: In practice, for many photographers, the Refine Edge tool works better, faster and with more accuracy than Select and Mask. So if you want to access that old tool that isn’t found on any Photoshop menu, make a selection and hold the Shift key while you click Select and Mask to launch Refine Edge.

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