How to Move a Selection While Editing in Photoshop

  • Thread starter EmeraldHike
  • Start date


May 10, 2021
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Have you ever tried to select something in Adobe Photoshop, when half way through you realized that you didn’t begin your selection at the correct spot? Basically, if you screw up the beginning anchor point, the entire selection will fail. You’ll either have to click somewhere in the image with your selection tool to deselect and start over or head up to the Select > Deselect menu to do the same thing. It’s not a great situation to be in because your work process doesn’t flow well and something like this wastes time. The good thing is, there’s a better way.

In this post, I’m going to demonstrate two methods for achieving better and more accurate selections. I’ll be using the Elliptical Marquee Tool to select a round object in a photograph. This is perfect because selecting something that’s round has notoriously been one of the more challenging obstacle to overcome while editing. First, I’ll demonstrate how to do this with guides and then I’ll offer you a quick tip that, if you don’t already know, will change your life forever.

Free-Handing It​

I want to start things off by showing you why free-handing a round selection should be avoided. Even if you can do a good job some times, it still isn’t worth guessing.

Initially, when deciding where you should first click when making a selection like this, it almost seems intuitive to set your anchor point right on the edge of the round object. From there, you can drag outward to encapsulate whatever it is you want. Allow me to show you what happens next.


Yeah, that one is off. I think you know what happened here. By selecting so close to the round object itself, I missed the beginning and overshot the end. I suppose that if I had made the perfectly sized and shaped selection, I could simply click and drag it over the object. How often do you get lucky like that? Never.

Ah, I get it. I need to start my selection outside the edge of the round object I’d like to select. I can do that. Let me try.


That was closer, but you can see the space over on the left side. That didn’t work either.

Using Guides​

Using guides is a great method for making accurate round and oblong selections. Take a look at the screenshot below.


If you place guides right along the top edge and the left edge of the shape and set your anchor point there and then drag, you should be able to easily and accurately select the area you desire. If you aren’t familiar with how to set guides, don’t worry. I already wrote a post on that topic as well.

Tips For Tabs & Guides in Adobe Photoshop

Using the Space Bar​

This is the method I really wanted to show you. It’s the one where you use the space bar to assist with accuracy.

Let’s say I’m not using guides and I want to make a selection. By the way, this trick works with both the Elliptical and Rectangular Marquee Tools. I’m simply using the Elliptical today.

Anyway, I want to free-hand a selection. To do this, I can start my anchor point anywhere and drag out so that I’ve got some sort of a selection made.


Then, while still holding down my left mouse button, I can hold down the Space Bar on my keyboard. The space bar essentially locks the current selection to its shape and allows it to be moved. So if I click and drag to make a selection, then press and hold the space bar and continue to drag, my selection will move where I want it to. In my case, I’d like to align the upper left edges of the selection and the object. So that’s what I’ll do.


Now that I’ve aligned those edges, sort of like I did using the guides, I can let go of the space bar and continue adjusting my selection to the shape I want it.


What’s really cool is that I can move the selection as many times as I’d like. It’s not a one time thing. For this example, I must have moved it 10 times to get it right. Now, this is a tip I can use!