How To Invert A Selection In Photoshop

Sometimes, you’ll make a selection in Photoshop just to realize it’s the opposite of what you wanted. If you didn’t already know how to invert a selection in Photoshop, you might have redone your entire selection. Rather than wasting your time remaking a selection, make life easy by inverting it with a simple keyboard shortcut!

With an active selection, use the keyboard shortcut Control + Shift + I (Win) or Command + Shift + I (Mac) to invert your selection area.

Now let’s go into more detail about this process, plus a couple of additional ways to get the same result!

How To Invert A Selection In Photoshop

For the sake of example, I’ll use the Marquee Tool (M) to create a selection around the rectangle in my photo.

Step 1: Create A Selection Using Any Selection Tool

First, I’ll grab the Marquee Tool (M) and click and drag to make my selection.


With the new selection active, you can now see the marching ants that represent the selection area.


Step 2: Note Which Areas Are Selected

By default, all selections in Photoshop affect the inside of the selection area. In this example, that means the darker orange and the wood will be included in the selection.

The active selection area

Everything outside of this will not be affected.

The inactive selection area

But what if you want the opposite of that? This is where inverting a selection becomes so useful. Rather than creating a new selection, there’s a simple method and keyboard shortcut you can use.

Step 3: Invert The Selection

There are two ways you can invert a selection. Either using the menu path or the shortcut.

Option 1: Using The Menu Path

You can use the menu path in two ways. The first option is to right-click on your selection and choose Select Inverse.

This will invert your selection to the opposite of its current state. You can press this button multiple times to switch back and forth between selection areas.

The second option is done with the menu bar. With your selection active, go up to Select > Inverse.

This inverts your selection and can be pressed multiple times to switch back and forth between selection areas.

Option 2: Using The Shortcut

Keyboard shortcuts are a quicker way to do certain actions. With your selection active, press Shift + Control + I (Win) or Shift + Command + I (Mac) to invert the selection. Now, the lighter orange on the outside of the image is the only part that’s selected.


How To Invert A Layer Mask Selection In Photoshop

When working with layer masks, things work a bit differently.

If you are creating a layer mask with your selection, you can shorten the process by adding the layer mask and inverting the selection simultaneously. Firstly, create your selection as detailed above.

Then, hold in Alt (Win) or Option (Mac), and click on the Add Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the panel.

When adding a layer mask, by default, the mask hides the unselected area of your image. When you invert the selection while adding the mask, the area inside your selection is hidden.

If you have already created a layer mask, you can invert the mask using a different process. I discuss in detail how to invert a layer mask in this article. However, here’s a quick breakdown of this technique.

I have masked out the outer edge of the photo. However, I want to switch this around so I can keep the outer edge as a border.

To invert the layer mask, select the layer mask in the Layers Panel. The mask is selected when there is a white border around the thumbnail.

You can invert the layer mask by using the menu path. Go to Image > Adjustments > Invert.

You can also use the shortcut Control + I (Win) or Command + I (Mac). The mask will be inverted, and you will now see the areas that were visible hidden and vice versa.

Note: If you created a selection using a layer mask (pressing Control/Command and clicking on the mask), you can invert the selection the same way that you would with a regular selection.

How To Tell If Your Selection Has Been Inverted

When inverting a selection, it often doesn’t look like much has changed. There’s still the main marquee selection in the middle of the frame.

However, if you look to the outside of the canvas, there are now marching ants surrounding the edges. This means the selection has been inverted, and the selection area is between the two lines of marching ants.


To highlight what I mean, I’ll add a hue adjustment layer to change the color within the selection.


Notice how the lighter orange has changed colors while the middle of the photo remains untouched.

What’s The Point Of Inverting A Selection In Photoshop?

Why is it more useful to invert a selection in Photoshop instead of creating a new one? In short, it saves a lot of time.

Rather than adding to your original selection, you can invert the selection in an instant. That way, you have the perfect selection from the get-go.

Particularly when adding a selection to a layer mask, it saves you from needing to invert the layer mask afterward.

How To Delete An Inverted Selection

After inverting a selection, if you realize that you made a mistake and don’t want the area selected, you can easily delete an inverted selection.

If you want to revert back to the original selection, you can use the same method to invert the selection back to the original, or you can undo the inversion by pressing Control + Z (Win) or Command + Z (Mac).

If you want to remove the selection entirely, you can deselect the selection using the menu path by going to Select > Deselect. You can also use a shortcut to deselect the selection, which is Control + D (Win) or Command + D (Mac).


With a simple shortcut or menu path, you’ve successfully learned how to invert a selection in Photoshop. Rather than wasting time to remake or adjust your selection, the inverse selection option swaps to the opposite selection area. This is the perfect thing to use when dealing with layer masks or cutting out objects from your image!

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– Brendan 🙂

Article By

Brendan Williams

Hey, I'm Brendan! I'm a professional photographer and photo retoucher who has spent the majority of his career shooting or retouching outdoor lifestyle and social media campaigns for brands like G-Adventures, xoxo Bella, P&G, Fitbit, Chevy, Tourism California, and more. These days I primarily focus my efforts on this site, creating guides and tutorials that I wish I had earlier in my career. Each week I publish new tutorials on Photography, Photoshop, Lightroom, and Canva to help you unlock new skills and bring your creativity to new levels! Everything you learn here is backed by real experience, so you can finally skip the fluff and focus only on what matters.

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