I find my workflow for temporarily locking/unlocking single objects to be very awkward. I often refrain from this operation since the process of re-unlocking only that, one, particular object at a later stage, is simply too cumbersome.

I assume you can relate to what I'm referring to, but for clarity, here's my typical use case:

You're inside a tangled mixture of paths, groups, objects… trying to prevent affecting this one, particular object, while working on others. Once you hit Command-L/Ctr-L on that object… continue working… then sometime later want to revert the locked state on that one, particular object, you're pretty much screwed, having to either:

  1. Locate the needle in the haystack (Layers palette) prior to unlocking it… or

  2. Unlock All with Command-Opt-2/Ctr-Alt-2 which is obviously pretty stupid, since you only wish to (referring to the scope of this question) unlock that one, particular object under your mouse cursor.

…You can't just right-click on the locked object and select unlock.


What's your workflow for this operation – how can I improve it?


  • 1
    Fantastic question, and I wish you could right-click and unlock. Seems intuitive. Commented Feb 29, 2012 at 11:14

2 Answers 2

  1. Hit v to select the selection tool
  2. Object > Unlock all... (Command/Ctrl-Option/Alt-2)
  3. Shift-Click the object you want to keep unlocked
  4. Object > Lock > Selection (Command/CTRL-2)

Seems to be the fastest, easiest method here.

Basically you unlock all locked objects, remove one object from the selection, then re-lock everything else.

  • 2
    Once the muscle memory is locked in, it's very quick. Commented Feb 29, 2012 at 1:33
  • Scott: that's a great answer, exactly what I was looking for. Alan's note on muscle memory, however, is also spot on… :)
    – Henrik
    Commented Feb 29, 2012 at 19:04
  • Glad to help hced. #1 is optional since you can simply do a Command/Ctrl-Shift-click at #3.
    – Scott
    Commented Feb 29, 2012 at 19:07
  • 1
    In the case of a small number of multiple objects (say 5 out of 250), it might also help to do a Save Selection, and then choose that saved selection after going through the above steps.
    – George C
    Commented Jul 17, 2014 at 20:52

There is a plugIn from ASTUTEGRAPHICS

Here is a tutorial for it.

It's called SubScribe and brings you a couple of features plus a new icon in the Tools-Bar: it's a lock/unlock-Symbol. I experimented with a tiny Script I did myself to solve this problem too. Select an Object, hit a special key to start the script and it's locked. The Problem was unlocking.

Of course you have to tell Illustrator which Object to unlock, therefore again a selection. But a selecion on an already locked Object would only be the highlight in the layers panel. In The end it was not a time saver. Get the PlugIn if it bothers you so much.

  • Seems like Adobe is working on this feature, OMG
    – AndyWizz
    Commented Dec 12, 2019 at 22:10

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