The New Direct Selection Tool: Photoshop CC

This has been my biggest workflow killer since the new release. Happily, on Jessica’s recommendation a while back, I switched the shortcut keys of the direct selection and path selection tools to “A” and “S” respectively so that I could quickly switch during UI work. I made the upgrade to Photoshop CC last week and weirdly, the direct selection tool no longer works in the way I’ve been used to for years and years. Apparently, it is a feature of the new CC interface but, I can’t get my head around it at all.

For the moment, I’ve worked out, if you try and direct select by clicking the path, expecting the empty boxes at each corner to pop up, like before, they won’t. To get these back, hit the “escape” key once you’ve got the black “path selection” squares up at all corners. This de-selects all points and allows you to re-select using the direct selection tool once more.

N.B. Looking on the Adobe Forums, you can also option+click on the path/direct selection tool in the toolbar to revert to previous behaviour. But you have to do this every single time.

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  • Hence why I still keep my old copy of CS around. You just never know…

  • It looks like if you double click on the path with the direct selection tool then you isolate the shape in the layer palette. It’ll be the only visible layer, and you’ll see a little toggle in the upper right hand corner of the palette turn red. This allows the previous behavior, where you can click and drag over points you want to select and it only affects the isolated layer. Hitting escape or clicking the toggle goes back to normal mode.

    This threw me for a loop the first time I accidentally triggered it, but it took me a few more hours to realize what was actually happening.

  • Oh Sarah, bless you for writing this! I think the “feature” part of it all comes in because now we don’t have to deselect and reselect to get direct selections to show. In any case, thanks a ton for the quick fix!

  • How do you manage to work with Photoshop for UI or any web related projects at all?

  • I find this feature to be very buggy. Doubble clicking with either the path selection tool (the black one) or the Direct selection tool (the white one) only works sometimes. Does it work all the time for you guys?

  • Trying this stuff out at the moment, the layer I was previously able to “isolate” by double clicking is no longer available for isolation.

  • Whoa, I’ve been complaining to coworkers all day and no one seemed to get it. This is exactly what I was confused about, I just couldn’t quite pinpoint what changed.

  • If you double click the object with the direct selection, you isolate the object and you can change it. And if you double click again, you come back to the normal layers. Is a bit annoying. Though, there is still a bug, that if you do somethings on the object, it will turn into an “old” shape, and you cannot edit the rounded corners anymore. You have to get the path selection tool, click in one of the corners, to open again the details.

    My tip? Use Sketch App. Many UI designers are migrating to it, and so do I. And I’m loving it. Honestly. I love Photoshop, I use it for 13 years now, but Sketch is truly made for us.

  • Quick tip, you can cycle between all of the tool variations in photoshop by pressing select,

    So even though Direct select and Path select are the same shortcut key (A). Shift+A will toggle between the two making workflow much, much faster.

    Works for all tools so shapes, brushes, marquee types etc all much faster

  • Thanks for your post, honestly thought I was losing my mind. Ugh …

  • Thank you for this post!!

  • Claire

    I’m going nuts right now! Nothing anyone has said has actually helped.

    I can direct select sometimes, then it’s like it turns off all of a sudden.

    I have to use other tools and then come back to it, and direct select works all of a sudden! Does this happen to other people?

  • Luke

    First of all, thank you for posting I thought I lost my mind.

    Second of all, what is Adobe thinking? I’ve been working this way for *years* and they switch this arbitrarily? Very, very frustrating.