Photoshop Tip: How-To Delete Everything Outside the Selected Area

How To

I don’t know how many times I selected an area and then realized that I meant to select everything outside the area, like I want to delete the background, not the object. At that point I would deselect and start over. Sometimes the selected shapes would be complicated and I would lose precious minutes of work time.

Of course there had to be a way to invert the selected area and it’s taken me this long to get off my butt, sit down down on my butt, and search the web for a the solution. Here it is.

First an example of having the wrong area selected.

The ants are just marching around the type. Not what I want.

The magic combo is shift+command+i. That will invert the selected area. You can tell it worked because there’s also a column of ants marching around the border of the image.

Now everything but the type shape is selected.

Hit delete and the offending pixels are gone.


But wait there’s more.  If you press shift+command+i+delete (that is, all four keys at once) everything inside the selected area goes to black. When you would need to do this, I don’t know, but knowing how can’t hurt.


16 thoughts on “Photoshop Tip: How-To Delete Everything Outside the Selected Area

    1. I used the type tool to create the type, then rasterized it. Just go into layers scroll down to rasterize and over to type. Select one of the letters, then select similar. If I remember right, the font is Impact, a standard face that comes with the program.

    1. I created the background myself. It was for a never-completed post about how to draw outer space like the Marvel comics artists did in the 60s and 70s. The hang-up was not knowing how to offer a downloadable set of custom brushes.

      1. No way! That would’ve been really cool. I know it’s a lot to ask but would it be possible for you to share the image or psd? Just really like the effect you were going for. Wouldn’t mind replicating and even expanding on it.

  1. This is exactly what I was looking for, thanks!. My fifth grade students and I were discussing problem solving some image selecting difficulties we were having in preview. I can’t wait to share the solution with them, mind if I link them back to your site so they can read you tutorial?

  2. When I do all the steps and then press delete it gives me a dialog box called Fill.. and it asks which color i want to fill the background with.
    How can I keep it transparent with no color at all?

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