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.
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.