I want to select all the pixels from a layer, not only the ones with more than 50% opacity. A Ctrl+click on the layer thumbnail only selects the pixels with more than 50% opacity.

enter image description here EDIT:

The magic wand trick with contiguous checked

enter image description here


The magic wand trick with contiguous un-checked

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  • 1
    Photoshop can select layers with below 50% opacity. Not sure why you don't see the selection. But if you fill that selection, you will see the layers with lower opacity still get filled.
    – AndrewH
    Oct 2, 2018 at 19:26
  • @AndrewH, yes Photoshop selects pixels below 50% opacity, but the selection only shows pixels above 50%. The selection has the same opacity as the original layer. It works perfectly with fill, but I believe the OP wants to create a selection with 100% opacity containing all pixels with more than 0% opacity?
    – Wolff
    Oct 2, 2018 at 19:36
  • Ok yes weirdly it fills the lines where no selection is shown, why doesnt it show the whole selection ? really weird
    – Jonas Frey
    Oct 2, 2018 at 19:41
  • because if i select->modify->border... only the shown selection is modified , if i select->modify->expand... also the not visible 'selection' is modified , i dont get whats happening here :0
    – Jonas Frey
    Oct 2, 2018 at 19:43
  • 4
    Photoshop shows a "marching ants" line to indicate your selection. But a selection is more complex than just "selected" or "not selected". It has opacity. So it has been chosen to only show what lies below 50% as selected. Otherwise you would have trouble seeing more complicated selections. Maybe you could benefit from using "Quick Mask Mode" (in the bottom of "Tools") where the selection is shown as a red overlay?
    – Wolff
    Oct 2, 2018 at 19:57

5 Answers 5


Here is a method:

  1. Select the layer.
  2. Press W for Magic Wand.
  3. Set the Tolerance to 0 and uncheck Contiguous.
  4. Click somewhere in the transparent area.
  5. Press Shift + Ctrl + I (on PC) or choose Select > Inverse to invert the selection.

Now you have selected everything with an opacity > 0%.

  • this solutions is not working if the pixels of the content are connected and inside the conected pixels are more pixels which i want to select
    – Jonas Frey
    Oct 2, 2018 at 19:56
  • I have edited my answer. See the 3rd point.
    – Wolff
    Oct 2, 2018 at 20:00
  • You can also uncheck "Anti-alias" if you want a totally clean selection of pixels.
    – Wolff
    Oct 2, 2018 at 20:02
  • Good to hear! Then please accept the answer so it can benefit others and I can get my points :-)
    – Wolff
    Oct 2, 2018 at 20:08
  • @JonasFrey, If aliased selection truly is good enough or exactly what you want, good for you. I just wanted to let you know that, even though, I'm not a hundred percent sure I know what you are doing with the selection, there definitely is a better way to do it.
    – Joonas
    Oct 2, 2018 at 21:57

Ctrl+A will select everything on a layer. See this:

  • no it selects the whole image not a layers content
    – Jonas Frey
    Oct 2, 2018 at 19:51
  • @JonasFrey: um, did you try?
    – Jongware
    Oct 2, 2018 at 20:40
  • Exactly. It does select the entire content of a layer, you might be trying to achieve something else (create a mask?) or maybe not fully understanding how to work with a full selection. A CTRL+click selection ignores the transparency of a layer, which creates your problem of only partially selecting the edges of an antialised stroke. Its all here helpx.adobe.com/photoshop/using/making-selections.html
    – Lucian
    Oct 2, 2018 at 20:52
  • Well not really. This selection would contain all the pixels in that layer (assuming nothing overflows the document), but it doesn't exactly create a selection with nothing but all the filled pixels in the layer. Make this selection and then fill the area and you will fill the whole document. The reason why you may think it selects the pixels in that layer is because, technically you could say that since it sure isn't selecting anything more or anything less... Except the transparency of course.
    – Joonas
    Oct 3, 2018 at 6:03
  • Certain methods just ignore the transparent whitespace around the filled pixels, but in the end using those methods without even doing this selection would have the same end result. Although admittedly there are exceptions due to how a selection works in general, but that doesn't affect the situation OP was trying to solve. The method OP was using was just fine. He just didn't realize his selection did exactly what he was asking about and that... what he was asking about wasn't really what he wanted.
    – Joonas
    Oct 3, 2018 at 6:03

From here: https://community.adobe.com/t5/photoshop/shortcut-for-quot-select-visible-pixels-quot/m-p/2434220#M8305

Ctrl+clicking (Cmd + click on Mac) on the layer thumbnail works just make sure that you do it on the thumbnail itself


To move or resize everything in a layer, click the layer you want and press ctrl + t.

If you only want a piece of a layer, use the lasso tool first. When you lasso what you want to select, it will show the bounding box where you selected with your mouse/pen instead of just the pixels. To fix this just move the selection anywhere to refresh it and then undo. It will then show the selection on only the pixels present in the layer.

If you want to select things on two different layers, just click both layers while holding down shift and then press ctrl + t or use the lasso tool.

(I know this forum was made two years ago but it still popped up when I was trying to remember how to do this and it took me a while to figure it out)


Ctrl-Click on the layer thumbnail image in the Layers panel to select all pixels in that layer. Visually, the selection will only appear on pixels that are more than 50% opaque, but all non-transparent pixels are actually selected.

From the help pages:

Ctrl-clicking or Command-clicking the layer thumbnail selects the nontransparent areas of the layer.

The selection itself will actually have opacity, too, if you select the pixels this way.

selection opacity

  • The "100" was created by rasterizing text, erasing 0% of its pixel content, selecting the "line" layer, ctrl-clicking the "100" layer, and drawing a 100% opaque black line over it.
  • The "75" was created by rasterizing text, erasing 25% of its pixel content, selecting the "line" layer, ctrl-clicking the 75 layer, and drawing a 100% opaque black line over it.
  • The "25" was created by rasterizing text, erasing 75% of its pixel content, selecting the "line" layer, drawing a 100% opaque black line over it, ctrl-clicking the "25" layer (at which time a warning appears: "Warning: No pixels are more than 50% selected. The selection edges will not be visible."), and then deleting the selection. You can see that only 25% of the black line was removed.

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