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I am completely new to Graphic Design and I am using Gimp.

As you can imagine, the first few steps are a hate-love relationship kinda thing.

I found that the selection tool is at the core of the things I am currently fiddling around with. Sadly, every time I selected something, the next step would not come easily because the selection just won't go away. I googled a bit and I stumbled across this really really great Gimp Unstuck FAQ. Turns out, (on Windows) you have to press Shift+Ctrl+A to cancel selection.

Is there any historical reason as to why the Esc key is not used for this, like it is in most other apps and games?

  • Yeah, I already have a "selection mask" in my case – Domi Jan 24 '16 at 8:17
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On selecting an area we can cancel the selection using the ESC key until this selection was converted into a selection mask.

enter image description here

In above example we already had a rectangular selection where we are about to add another elliptical selection. At this time we can cancel the elliptical selection using ESC, as expected.

The reason why Gimp uses another key combination (ShiftCtrlA) is to avoid deletion of the whole selection using ESC while we are adding another selection to our pre-existing mask.

In case we are not happy with the default key combinations we can define our own keyboard shortcuts with Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts:

enter image description here

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