I have several objects atop a rectangular backdrop, and I'd like to select them all via drag-selection (ie, creating a rectangle selection box around them).

Problem is: anywhere I can start the rectangle, the backdrop gets selected and my dragging just moves that.

Wondering if there's another solution besides the ones I've already deduced:

  1. start selection off-artboard or on a locked object, then deselect items i don't want

  2. be more judicious about locking background items (not an unworkable solution, but inconvenient in this project.

I'm asking mainly b/c, in Inkscape, holding down Ctrl makes your dragging automatically a selection box, avoiding this problem. My hope is that there's something similar in illustrator.


  • 1
    Go to Outline mode.
    – Jongware
    Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 21:09
  • Why not lock the unwanted item before selection of the items on top? (cmd+2)
    – cclark413
    Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 1:26
  • @cclark413 this particular project makes that extra step kinda inefficient, but that may be because i learned on inkscape and am just having difficulty adapting my workflow thanks jongware, i hadn't played with outline mode before. that did the trick & then some.
    – Brandon
    Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 22:25

2 Answers 2


As described by @jongware in comments to OP, working in outline mode obviated this problem


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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