I'm trying to select a layer so I can run select > modify, but the modify option is never enabled. Here's a screenshot:

(Oh, and I'm a complete noob to photoshop ... obviously)

enter image description here

  • It also looks like you've got your layer mask selected instead of the actual layer... Oct 6, 2011 at 12:21

3 Answers 3


To modify something, you need to first have it selected (the animated marquee will show).

To select the shape you must ctrl/cmd click on the layer mask. This will select the layer for you. From there, you can use all the options!

  • I've tried that and it doesn't seem to work. My whole question was about HOW to select and you answered saying 'you first need to select'...
    – LuxuryMode
    Oct 5, 2011 at 23:38
  • 1
    Yes... and then I stated how you can select it (that's my second sentence)
    – Hanna
    Oct 6, 2011 at 1:17
  • Thanks. For some reason though that isn't working for me. Aarrg!
    – LuxuryMode
    Oct 6, 2011 at 2:37
  • its not working coz you already selected wrong option...
    – Jack
    Oct 6, 2011 at 5:44

Your Problem :

Dont select direct selection tool which is this enter image description here see in your tools panel left hand side it is selected, when you have to work with paths you can use this, right now you are doing the same and when paths are active you can not modify any shape...in your screen shot your path is active, so you can not modify/can not see the modify option.

When there is marching ants(Marquee Selection) around your shape/layer/anything, you can use your modify option, else you can not, so always remember this...

Your Solution :

Select Move tool shortcut key is v icon is this enter image description here than go to your layer pallet ctrl+click on the shape then a automatically selection will appear, see my screen shot.

enter image description here

and for your information by modify option you can not change shape or anything you can change only selection.you can only increase decrease selection then you have to fill with your desired background

Hope this is clear....

  • down voter cant explain reasons?
    – Jack
    Mar 11, 2012 at 5:12

Johannes' answer will get you to your goal. Some more detail is worth noting though. There is a huge difference between selecting a shape (which you have done in your screenshot) and making a Selection (which will select an area of your canvas). You ask how to "select a layer" but this is a misnomer because what you really need to do is make a selection with the same shape as your layer.

When you have a vector object "selected", it is just allowing you to move the object or its points. It is not actually selecting any area of the canvas, just the anchors.

The SelectModify command is used to modify a Selection and has nothing to do with vector objects in a layer. In fact, it has nothing to do with pixels or masks or even layers at all. A Selection, in this sense, is simply a scoped area of the canvas that you are currently working on.

Making a selection is basic Photoshop and can be done many ways:

  1. Use the Marquee (M) tool and drag out a shape between two points.
  2. Use the Lasso (L) tool and draw a shape between many points.
  3. Holding Ctrl/Cmd and clicking on a thumbnail image (either layer or mask) in the layer's toolbox will make a selection that has the same shape as the layer or mask's contents. (This is Johannes' answer and the easiest way to make a selection from a layer.)
  4. Pressing Ctrl + Enter when a vector Shape is selected will make a selection with the same shape as the Shape.

You'll know you have a proper selection because there will be "marching ants" animating down and right from any northwest vertex. If you have a selection and want to hide this animation, press Ctrl + H to temporarily disable the animation.

When you have a Selection, all of the actions you perform will only affect the area of the canvas that you have selected. Filters, adjustments, drawing, etc. will only affect those pixels within the selection on the current layer or mask.

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