I try to solve some "enigmatic" issue with the Pathfinder panel used along Alt/Option button as Ai suggests -

enter image description here

The help explains as follows -

Apply a Pathfinder effect using the Pathfinder panel Select the objects to which you want to apply the effect. To apply a Pathfinder effect to a group or layer, target the group or layer.

In the Pathfinder panel, click a pathfinder button (in the bottom row), or Alt‑click (Windows) or Option‑click (Mac OS) a Shape Mode button (in the top row).

However, I cannot achieve any compound shape using Option+click on Pathfinder panel (as opposite to applying pathfinder effects) - I dont see any changes in the appearance panel also (no any live effects I mean).

What do I miss?

Ai 16

1 Answer 1


Holding down the Option/Alt behavior changed at roughly CS4 (if I'm remembering versions correctly). I don't know if Adobe corrected or updated the help files accordingly (they often do not).

The difference is in how the Pathfinder operation is applied and whether or not results are expanded.

In Illustrator CS6, the default behavior of the Pathfinder Panel buttons is to apply the operation and then expand the results. This leaves the resulting base shapes only.

The Pathfinder Effect menu item has the opposite default behavior. The Pathfinder Effect applies the pathfinder operation but does not expand the results. This leaves the original object paths in tact and only visually changes the appearance.

When the Option/Alt is held down and a Pathfinder Panel button is clicked it essentially makes the Pathfinder Panel buttons operate similarly to the Pathfinder Effect. That is, the Panel operations are not expanded by default if you hold down the Option/Alt key when clicking the Panel buttons. (Note with CS4 or earlier the default behavior is the opposite of this.)

The image you posted is slightly confusing because all this only applies to the Shape modes and clearly, those three ellipses have not had any shape operations performed upon them because the result would be objects of a single color.

enter image description here

Note the Option/Alt key has no function when choosing a Pathfinder Effect from the menu. It only alters the Panel button behavior.

  • How do you perform the operation technically - I select the grouped objects then press Alt and simultaneously click on the Intersect in the Pathfinder panel - nothing happens... ???
    – Ilan
    Commented Jun 14, 2014 at 7:05
  • The panel buttons won't have any effect with Option/Alt on a group. Groups are seen as one item. For groups, the Effect menu item is more appropriate if you want the "clipped" appearance the Option/Alt key normally provides.
    – Scott
    Commented Jun 14, 2014 at 7:31

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