I have adoped an Adobe Illustrator document that I need to work with. The changes I need to make were just some very basic text changes (or so I thought). It turns out that every letter/intricate shape is it's own object.

This in itself isn't a problem, I would usually just select the shapes for the letters that I want to replace, then delete them and type in the space as normal.

The problem I'm getting is that every time I try to select an object everything gets selected because the objects are grouped, but all attempts to ungroup them have failed. I have tried selecting the group layer itself, and also instead selecting all of the child layers (some of which are groups themselves), but the "ungroup" option under the object menu is greyed out.

I have tried to expand appearance and also to compound path>release but none of this has worked. Would really appreciate some help.


EDIT. As requested, here is a screenshot of the layers panel:

layers panel

  • Are you trying to use the text tool to edit text? You can't based upon your Layer screenshot. All those letters are art not **text.
    – Scott
    Commented Aug 14, 2014 at 21:34
  • I've been trying to select them with the selection tool (black arrow).
    – Marc
    Commented Aug 14, 2014 at 21:40

2 Answers 2


The issue you describe is probably related to Clipping mask usage. You should try to delete it or place it in other layer, Ungroup and return the mask.

  • Mine was not a clipping mask issue, rather a Compound Path issue. I needed to release the Compound Path.
    – user72360
    Commented Jul 28, 2016 at 19:56
  • I'm trying to understand what this answer means by "delete it", is the answer referring to the "Clipping Path" seen in the OP screenshot? If so, how would it be deleted? I'm trying to apply this answer to a related question and I'm just not following it quite well enough. Commented Feb 10, 2023 at 19:19

When I experienced this problem, I had imported some text from a PDF file. It was in a font that I didn't have on my systems, so when I opened the PDF in Illustrator, it converted to outlines; this was the desired result. However, the three words were grouped. I was able to ungroup them, but then each word appeared to act as a group that I couldn't ungroup.

The answer was to "release compound path" (Object --> Compound Path --> Release.) The undesired effect was that all the "counters" were now filled in, so I had to select each letter with a counter (like an O) ((tip: drag select the letter including the inside part while holding shift)) and create a compound path (same command) for each letter.

Tedious, but effective for a small design need.

  • I had to do something similar, only I needed to perform the Compound Path -> Release action multiple times until the Appearance panel finally showed the object as a Path only.
    – George C
    Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 15:35

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