How to Reverse a Selection in Photoshop

Have you ever painstakingly made a selection in Photoshop, only to realize you actually need the exact opposite of what you made? 

For example, you carefully selected the person in your portrait because you want to remove the background. But when you delete your selection, the person disappears, not the background. You could painstakingly redo the whole selection, or you could simply reverse it in one step.

Hey there! I’m Cara and I can attest that knowing how to invert a selection in Photoshop is a very useful skill. It’s also super easy, so let me show you how!

3 Ways to Reverse/Invert a Selection in Photoshop

Reversing the selection, or inverting as Photoshop calls it, is super simple. You can reverse any selection, so it doesn’t matter what selection tool you use to make the original selection. 

For this example, I’ll just press Select Subject in the bar at the top of the workspace. (You must have a selection tool active for this option to appear). Photoshop then creates a selection around what it thinks is the subject. It’s crude, but it didn’t do too bad. 

There are three ways to reverse or invert your selection. They are all super simple and I’ll show you all three so you can decide which one is easier for you to remember. 

Method 1: Reverse Selection Keyboard Shortcut

The quickest way to reverse your selection is with a keyboard shortcut. With your selection active, press Ctrl + Shift + I on a PC or Command + Shift + I on a Mac. 

Method 2: Right-Click

If remembering the shortcut gets troublesome, you can go for this option instead. Right-click somewhere within your selection. Choose Select Inverse from the menu that appears. 

Method 3: Menu Bar

The third way is to choose the option from the menu bar. Go to Select in the menu bar and choose Inverse. You can also find the keyboard shortcut here if you forget it. 

How Do You Know the Selection Is Inverted?

After you perform one of these operations, you might find yourself wondering what changed. Did Photoshop even do anything?

If you don’t know what to look for, it is easy to overlook the inversion. So let’s look at this again. 

In this image, you can see the marching ants around the figure of the girl. This moving dotted line indicates the edges of the selection. 

Everything inside the selection will be affected by the changes you’re going to make. Everything outside the selection will remain unaffected. But sometimes it can be hard to tell which side is inside. Hold that thought.

Now let’s see what happens when I invert the selection. At first glance, it looks the same. But upon closer observation, you’ll notice that there are now marching ants around the border of the image. 

In the first image, the girl is selected. In the second image, the background is selected. 

To make it more clear, here’s what happens when I delete each selection. 

This happens when I delete immediately after using the select subject tool in Photoshop. 

But if I invert or reverse the selection and then delete it, this is what I get. 

It’s a very different result but you can see how it would be useful. This brings us to answer our final question.

Why Reverse Selections in Photoshop?

It would be a pain to select the background in most images. Selecting the subject is usually easier, especially with the powerful AI tools that Photoshop offers. 

Instead of going to the extra work of selecting the background, you can select the subject, and then simply invert it. Such a time saver!Want to learn more Photoshop tricks like this? Check out more of our tutorials like how to remove the background of an image!

About Cara Koch
Cara fell in love with photography circa 2014 and has been exploring all corners of the imagery world ever since. When she felt limited by Lightroom, she dove headfirst into Photoshop to learn how to create the images she wanted.

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