Random thoughts on art, technology, stuff, and occasionally Real Estate: Photoshop Elements Selection Tools: The Magic Wand

Photoshop Elements Selection Tools: The Magic Wand

The Magic Wand is such a simple tool that it does not even have a sub-menu.   The Magic Wand makes selections by color rather than shape or outline.  It is the selection tool of choice when selecting an irregularly shaped object of a fairly uniform color.

One classic application of the Magic Wand is selecting the sky in a photo;  usually with the intent of swapping a dull sky out for a brighter one.

To start, open your image, and click on the Magic Wand.


Click on the sky.


When you release the mouse button, notice how the Magic Wand has selected all areas in a close color range to the area on which you clicked.  But you want to increase the selection area to cover the entire sky.


To add to a selection, you can hold down the SHIFT key and click on the image again, or you can click the "Add to Selection" icon,  (the two tiny overlapping blue boxes) and click on the image again.  Click on the next area you want added to the selection.


When you release the mouse button, the selection will be enlarged.


SHIFT-click (or Add to Selection-click) in the next area to add.


There.  I selected almost all of the sky in just three clicks.  But the tiny areas of blue noticable between the tree leaves still need to be added. 


SHIFT-click (or Add to Selection-click) on each small area where the sky shows between the leaves or buildings.


If you accidentially select an area you do NOT want included, ALT-click will remove it.  Or click the Subtract from Selection icon, the tiny white box overlapping the blue box, then click on the color area to remove.


Here's the final selection.


If you are planning to swap out the sky, as described here, you will want to Inverse the selection.  That is, switch the selection around so that everything is slected except the sky.  Click Select -> Inverse.


Now notice how the selection outline of "marching ants " jumps to the house, and lower edge of the image.  Click Select -> Inverse again to reselect the sky.  Select -> Inverse again to jump back to the house and shubbery.  (To do the sky swap, you want the house and shubbery selected.)


More on Photoshop Elements Selection Tools:

Being Selective: Photoshop Elements Selection Tools

Photoshop Elements Selection Tools: The Marquee Can Do More Than You Think

Photoshop Elements Selection Tools: The Magic Wand

Photoshop Elements: Fast And Easy Blue Skies



To add to a selection:  SHIFT-CLICK

To subtract from a selection:  ALT-CLICK




Cheryl Johnson // Bob Tayor Properties, Inc.


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Comment balloon 15 commentsCheryl Johnson • November 29 2007 06:42AM


Cool! Does this work on all versions of photoshop? I have an older version 5.0.
Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) over 10 years ago

 Michael -- The Magic Wand has been around a long time.  Here it is in the toolbar for Photoshop Elements 2.0








Posted by Cheryl Johnson (Cheryl Johnson, Bob Taylor Properties, Inc., Los Angeles, CA) over 10 years ago


Thanks....I have learned something else on Active Rain......

Posted by Julie Chapman, New Homes Sales Lakeland Florida (DR Horton ) over 10 years ago
AHhhhh...the shift button.  I was playing with the tolerance settings.
Posted by Bob Carney, Licensed MD/PA Real Estate Agent (Taylor-Made Deep Creek Vacations & Sales) over 10 years ago
I love photoshop.  What version do you have?  I think I need to buy another one since mine is old.
Posted by Kay Perry (Kay Perry, Broker) over 10 years ago
Goodness, Cheryl, I have a wand but I don't even know what software I have.  I can tell you when I get a new computer I am going to make sure I have photoshop and come back and reread every one of your posts (if I'm missing from the rain for a while, you'll know why :)
Posted by Laura Cerrano, Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher (Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island) over 10 years ago
OK Cheryl, you've taught me something alse... Alt-Click subtracts.  Thanks
Posted by Don Stern, Greater Baton Rouge Real Estate (Realty Executives South Louisiana) over 10 years ago

Bob and Carole:  :-)

Kay:  I'm doing these demos in Photoshop Elements 5.  Ted Baker is doing some in Photoshop Elements 6.  For the most part the steps will be the same.

I also have full version Photoshop CS3 (and earlier full version 5.5 and 7) installed on this computer.  But I haven't used the full version much since I become obsessed with creating these demos in Elements.

Posted by Cheryl Johnson (Cheryl Johnson, Bob Taylor Properties, Inc., Los Angeles, CA) over 10 years ago
Cheryl - Thank you for this. I didn't know the Shift key would do this with the wand. Like Bob, I was trying to tweak the tolerances too
Posted by Ryan Martin, Bellingham Commercial RE Broker (Windermere Real Estate / Whatcom Inc.) over 10 years ago

I told you all that Cheryl was Hogwarts certified...magic wand and all.


Posted by Ted Baker, MidFloridaMediation.com (Carmody and Associates LLC) over 10 years ago
Hi Cheryl, Thanks for this post.  I was playing around with Photoshop yesterday and these tutorials have really helped.  It's still going to take quite a bit of time to become proficient, but it's a wonderful program and it's nice to have easy to follow instructions like you display on these posts.
Posted by Lola Audu, Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI ~Welcome Home! (Lola Audu~Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI Real Estate) over 10 years ago
Cheryl - the Alt-Click trick is wonderful - I thought I had to go back and start all over when I included too much.
Posted by Sharon Simms, St. Petersburg FL - CRS CIPS CLHMS RSPS (Coastal Properties Group International - Christie's International) over 10 years ago
Cheryl - It's been a while since I stopped by. Your PS tutorials are invaluable. Thanks so much.
Posted by Tom Plant (WINEormous.com) over 10 years ago

Thanks for the post

Idaho Real Estate

Posted by krishna kashyap av (home) almost 9 years ago

Thanks for your Photoshop element selection tutorial.....if you interest i will tell you another Photoshop magic tool you like.. Its the Photoshop pen tool....You can clip an image easily and quickly by this wonder tool i know... For more Information, you can check the following sites



These sites they provide you  excellent clipping path and image masking service for all your photo.....


Posted by Color Experts (Color Experts International) over 8 years ago