The Marquee Selection Tools

To edit and apply special effects to portions of your pictures, remove unwanted objects, or cut out objects from one picture and put them on another, that portion or object should be selected using a selection tool or a combination of selection tools in Pixelmator.

The most basic selection tools in Pixelmator are the Rectangular Marquee, Elliptical Marquee, Column Marquee and Row Marquee Tools. Rectangular Marquee and Elliptical Marquee Tools in Pixelmator are perfect for making simple, but precise selections – such as regularly elliptically or rectangularly shaped objects. Column Marquee and Row Marquee Tools are great for selecting columns and rows.

Step 1

Open an image in Pixelmator, preferably one with oval or rectangular objects.

Step 2

Click to select any of the Marquee Tools in the Tools palette.

For smooth selection edges make sure Smooth Edges are selected before making a selection with the Elliptical Marquee Tool. For the jagged, but precise edges deselect Smooth Edges.

Step 3

Drag over an area to make a selection.

Step 4

Once a selection is made, the selection borders can be easily modified if necessary.

To modify the selection borders, choose one of the following selection modes in the Tool Options bar:

New Creates a new selection.
Add To Adds new selection to an existing selection.
Subtract Subtracts from an existing selection.
Intersect Subtracts the overlap of two selections.

And click and drag to add to, subtract from or intersect with the current selection borders.

The selection borders can be modified using any of the selection tools.

Step 5

After making a selection, any changes can be added to the selected region. For instance, selected area or object can be moved, rotated, scaled, flipped, duplicated, cut, filled, inverted, copied and pasted elsewhere. Also color adjustments and corrections, various special effects and filters can be applied to the selection.

Marquee Selection tools are quick, powerful yet easy-to-use while making simple, but precise selections.

Tutorial Comments

  1. Bill Birchall

    This is a total ‘newbie’ question, but what have you actually achieved in this tutorial. Could you not have a side by side comparison, to clearly show the differences. Scrolling up and down makes it difficult to see the before and after. Apologies, if my question appears dim!

  2. Ausra


    The goal of this tutorial is to explain the basics of working with the Marquee tool.

  3. Sine Schjelderup

    Hi, is it possible to copy/paste the cropped circle onto another photo, and how do you do it?

  4. Ausra

    Hi Sine,

    Yes, simply select an area, choose Edit > Copy. Then, switch to the image where you want to paste it and choose Edit > Paste.

  5. DJ

    I followed the instructions to a T but the area selected and copied was not pasted.

  6. Ausra

    @DJ, once you made a selection, choose Edit > Duplicate.

  7. TAL

    Hi, I’m trying to figure out how to set the Elliptical Marquee tool to remain the same size each time I use it. I’m trying to cut out circular sections of several images, but need all of my selections to be the same fixed size. I know this is possible in Photoshop as I’ve done it, but I’m not sure how to do it with Pixelmator. Thanks!

  8. Ausra

    @TAL, you can bring up the Info bar to view the selection size as you draw it. Alternatively, you can make a selection, fill it with color, save layer by dragging it to the Desktop. Then, open the image, place the layer onto the canvas, and choose Edit > Load Selection. Hide the layer when you don’t need it.

  9. Devan

    How do you get rid of the selection? I can’t keep working and it just stays there.
    Thank you!

  10. Ausra

    @Devan, press Command-D to deselect.

  11. Carol

    Once you have removed the object, how do you then replace the background to fill the picture? I am trying to remove several objects from a wooden desk so that all you see is the wooden desk. I have used the cropping tools / the repair tools / layers and all sorts of other stuff but the photo is a mess! I can’t get the angles of the table to finish neatly at the wall and you can clearly see where I have deleted objects from. Any help you can offer would be appreciated. Thanks.

  12. Ausra

    @Carol, you might want to use the Repair Tool firsts, and then if needed put the final touches with the Clone Stamp Tool. Here’re quick video guides about those tools:

  13. John

    I have tried to learn Pixelmator, but i dont get anywhere. Simple things is impossible. Like select an area, copy it, and paste it again. It doesnt work, you end up with lots of selctions and a sooner or later you are stuck in some kind of modal dialogs you cant see.

    It must be possible design software so its easier to use than this?

  14. Ausra

    @ John, you can choose another selection tool. I suspect you use Magic Wand, or Paint Selection tool. Try others.

  15. Stacy

    I want to set an aspect ratio- such as 4×6 can I do that? It seems quite simple- I can even do it in Microsoft programs.

  16. James Sieberth

    Using the rectangular marquee, is there a way to delineate a selected square/rectangle with smoothed or “blurred” lines instead of exact precise line of demarcation? Thank you

  17. Maile

    How can I use the rectangle marquee tool to add a colored border around an image?

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