I could select the four blue rectangles with just drawing one selection box using the selection tool (V) around them if the green box would not be below it.

However, now I have to click on each blue box to select them individually.

Here is the question :

Is there a way to make the selection tool (V) work such that it only selects objects which it fully encloses ? In that way the green box would not be selected if I only draw the selection rectangle around the four blue boxes but I do not make the selection rectangle large enough to fully enclose the green box itself.

This is the standard way how ZoomNotes does selection on iPad (in case some of you are familiar with that very nice piece of software).

Here are some related and outdated posts but they don't really seem to offer solution.

This forum discussion seems to suggest some complicated scripting solution. Is that the only way to do this simple thing ?

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  • Surely layers would fix the problem?
    – benteh
    Apr 18, 2014 at 10:12

5 Answers 5


Just lock the green box, and it will be excluded from selection.

  • I guess that is a workable workaround.
    – jhegedus
    Apr 18, 2014 at 10:28

Choose Edit > Preferences > Selection & Anchor Display (Windows) or Illustrator > Preferences > Selection & Anchor Display (Mac OS).

This way you can select what you want beceause it selects the lining.

  • Select all
  • Shift-Click the green box to deselect it.


  • Select the green box
  • Choose Select > Inverse from the menu


  • Use the Lasso Tool to draw a shape around the blue boxes, not touching the edges of the green box.

There is no mechanism in Illustrator to only select object fully within a cursor/selection drag.


You can lock the green box quickly by using illustrator shortcut CTRL+2 and CTRL+ALT+2 to unlock everything.

Every locked object will be excluded from the selection.

Obs: Illustrator does not work like other softwares because if you try to select objects inside the green box you will actually move the green box. Adobe should implement a Move Tool and a Selection Tool separately, which is not the case. So, for this reason a better usage is the locking mechanism.

  • You can edit the options so that only edge hots select. Then you can do this. You can also go to outline mode
    – joojaa
    Nov 5, 2019 at 17:34

You can use the CoolSelection. It's a plugin tool for Illustrator.
It's similar to the Selection Tool (V), but it selects only objects fully inside the selection rectangle.
This answer was written by the author of CoolSelection.

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