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Adobe Illustrator - Selection Tools & Isolation Mode

This guide will show you how to choose the correct tool for modifying an object.

Using the Direct Selection and Group Selection Tools


Selection Tool

The Selection tool is the first tool in the Tools Panel. This tool works best for quickly selecting groups or objects on the top of everything else in the document.
  1. Choose the selection tool in the Tools Panel, or press V on the keyboard.
  2. Click or drag over objects or groups.

Direct Selection Tool

The Direct Selection Tool is the second tool in the Tools Panel. The Direct Selection tool selects and modifies paths within a shape
  1. Choose the Direct Selection tool in the Tools Panel, or press A on the keyboard.
  2. Click on the object.
    1. This tool selects the shape or object specifically and also highlights the anchor points around it. There is no bounding box, but the path and the anchor points of the selection (they look like small squares along the path)
    2. As the mouse gets closer to the edge of a piece of artwork, the anchor point will highlight when the mouse hovers over it.  
    3. Click on an anchor point and move it by dragging.
    4. To deselect the object or anchor point, click away from the object.

Group Selection Tool

  1. Click and hold on the Direct Selection tool in the Tools Panel. A flyout menu will appear, and the Group Selection tool will appear.
  2. Select and object, then click again and it will select an entire group of objects (the objects must be grouped prior
    • This is handy if there are a lot of groups within groups in the document.

Isolation Mode

Explore isolation mode and how it can help you get control of individual components within artwork.


When dealing with artwork that's been grouped together, isolation mode will allow edits to individual components of a group.

Using Isolation Mode:

  1. Zoom in on a piece of artwork.
  2. Select the Selection tool and click on it the object
  3. To enter isolation mode simply double-click anywhere on the artwork.
    1. Everything else on the canvas will go gray.
    2. A control strip will appear at the top of the window with breadcrumb links.
  4. Make changes to individual groups or objects by clicking on them or using the navigation at the top of the screen
  5. Click the little arrow to get out of isolation mode. Or exit isolation mode by double-clicking outside of the objects being worked on.

If you need further assistance please contact the Information Technology Help Desk at 920-424-3020 or

Keywords:"Direction Selection Tool", "Group Selection Tool", "Isolation Mode", "Selecting and Transforming"   Doc ID:64301
Owner:Richard L.Group:UW Oshkosh
Created:2016-06-21 10:08 CDTUpdated:2016-12-20 14:15 CDT
Sites:UW Oshkosh
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