How can I use the InDesign direct selection tool or pen tool on a path that has a text wrap over it, without just hitting the text wrap contour?

So to recap: in InDesign, when you apply a text wrap to an object - pushing away text above or below the object (or more often, only below if you change the Composition options in Preferences) - it creates a path-like object (a text wrap contour) that marks precisely where text is prevented from going.

You can edit this path like any other path using the Pen tool or A direct selection tool (white arrow). Using the V selection tool (black arrow), you can select the original object and its text wrap contour, moving or transforming them together. Holding down alt (opt) with the Direct Selection tool - which makes it act like Illustrator's Group Selection tool, adding more elements to the selection up the tree with each click - you can select the whole text wrap contour and move it as a unit.

Great, but there's something missing from all this. Assuming the original object is a vector path, how do you select individual points of the original path, not the pale, lighter coloured, greyed-out looking path of the text wrap contour? And how do you add or remove points to it with the pen tool? The normal way just grabs points from the text wrap contour, even if it has been sent to the back of the stacking order.

A few options that kind of work, but aren't ideal:

  • Turn the text wrap off, manipulate the object, turn it back on again. Potentially a big pain and not suitable if you want to change the path but not the wrap.
  • Select the whole text wrap boundary, hold shift, hit a cursor key in any direction making a big nudge in that direction, edit the original path, then big nudge it back into place. Not a bad option, but a bit of a pain.

Surely there's a better way? Is there any way to toggle or specify whether it's the path, or the text wrap contour, that I'm interested in?

2 Answers 2


You can traditionally simply click either the path or the text wrap to edit them with the Direct Selection Tool (white arrow).


I realize if the text wrap is set to 0 then the two paths overlap and you can't click through the stacking order. In these cases. I find it best to simply add some space to the wrap, even if it's 1pt.


This will, in most cases, result in minimal text wrap changes, but allow you to also zoom in and alter the vector shape path. You can then reset the wrap to 0 if you wish.

For this reason I never set text wraps to 0. I always set them to a minimum of 1pt to allow some room between the object and the wrap path.

I don't know of any other way to edit the original path if the wrap is set to 0. The selection techniques in Indesign seem to be getting worse as the application ages.


The speedy way to handle this kind of situation when you're working fast (this isn't the only case where object in a stacking order can be problematic) is Cmd/Ctl-L to lock the one you don't want, then go ahead with your selection. Ctl-Alt-L/Cmd-Opt-L unlocks everything on the spread when you're done.

If you anticipate doing several rounds of adjustment, you can also move the shape above the text frame in the stacking order (CS5 and later) using the Layers panel, or with the keyboard shortcut Ctl/Cmd-].

  • I couldn't actually get these to work in CS6 (Mac) - in both cases, with either one point of the text wrap contour selected or with the whole text wrap contour selected but not the underlying path, locking and stacking order changes applied to both the text wrap contour and the path, so the path would either be locked as well or still under the contour. +1 for the tip about using lock & unlock everything though, it answers a different question I didn't ask but have had for ages: "How am I supposed to get anything done in complex layouts in InDesign without Illustrator's Isolation Mode?" Sep 14, 2012 at 11:36
  • I didn't grasp the question correctly, thinking that you were running into problems of selecting the text frame instead of the object. Glad the tip was useful, nonetheless! :) Sep 14, 2012 at 23:17

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