When I use the selection tool on a path or a line, Illustrator shows me a Path Toolbar at the top, where I can adjust stroke, dashing, etc. that looks like this

enter image description here

Often I'm working with imported diagrams where the parts are heavily grouped into each other. Here, the Direct Select tool becomes extremely handy because I can directly select the single parts of interest.

enter image description here

After selection, I get the Anchor Point Toolbar which is most of the time what I want, but not always.

Question: How can I make Illustrator show me Path Toolbar with the current selection? It seems I can do this by clicking on the Curvature Tool but isn't there a direct way to do this?

Edit: A simple example

Consider the following two unfilled shapes, that are grouped together. I can only use Direct Selection by clicking on the path, which leaves me with the Anchor Toolbar.

enter image description here

If I now click on Curve Tool, the toolbar switches to the Path Toolbar where I can adjust colors and strokes. Is there a better way to switch to the Path Toolbar?

  • I don't really understand. selecting 2 or more anchor points - or a path - with the Direct Selection tool, shows the "path" control panel options. Selecting only a single anchor point shows the "anchor point" control panel options. You want to see the Anchor point options with a path selected? Or the Path options with only 1 anchor point selected?
    – Scott
    Dec 6, 2016 at 5:18
  • @Scott I have added a small example. In fact, what I'm really talking about is unfilled paths and how to come back to the Path Toolbar and not the Anchor Toolbar. This might be misleading in the histogram picture I posted. The path I have selected there is indeed an additional framing empty path that is created around each gray histogram bar.
    – halirutan
    Dec 6, 2016 at 5:30
  • Just option-click a path with the Direct Selection tool. (Accesses the Group Selection Tool -- which really is more of an "object" selection tool - "group" is a bad name for it)
    – Scott
    Dec 6, 2016 at 6:35
  • And I thought I have tried all possible modifier key permutations :( Thank you very much.
    – halirutan
    Dec 6, 2016 at 6:37

1 Answer 1


Holding the Option/Alt down while using the Direct Selection Tool will access the Group Selection Tool.

Now, the name "Group Selection Tool" is a rather misleading name.... what it really does is select the entire clicked object. So, for example in the shapes in your question..... clicking a path with just the Direct Selection tool will select either a path or an anchor, depending upon what you click. However, holding Option/Alt down will select the entire clicked object, but not select anything else within the same Group.

You can see the Group Selection Tool by just clicking and holding on the Direct Selection Tool in the Toolbar. It's there. But there's generally no reason to actually grab that specific tool from the toolbar since all you need is the Option/Alt key.

I tend to vary between using Direct Select and bouncing my thumb on the Option/Alt as needed.

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