I have multiple groups of shapes in a hierarchy that goes several levels deep. Something like this:

Layer 1
    Group 1
        Group 11
            Shape 111
            Shape 112
        Group 12
            Shape 121
            Shape 122
    Group 2
        Group 21
            Shape 211
            Shape 212
        Group 22
            Shape 221
            Shape 222

Each time I need to add some effect to one of the innermost groups, say Group 11, I need to double-click my way through all the parent groups in the hierarchy. The problems is that after I save changes Illustrator losses the current group I'm editing and goes back to the top level of the hierarchy, Layer 1 in this case.

How can I quickly select one of the innermost groups? Is there a shortcut or something I can use?

2 Answers 2


Select it with the layers panel. Only normal selection will mark the layer not select it you need to select it with the round dot next to the object name.

  • That would work in most cases I think, but in case that the innermost groups look very similar on the layers panel I would have to select one by one, until I can pick the right one. Is there something I can do from within the canvas?
    – rraallvv
    Aug 12, 2017 at 21:50
  • @rraallvv no but if you select something close its going to be easy to find. You could write a script to do this though. Not in front of illustrator capable machine so i can not test. Shouldnt be too hard but then the script and object model of adobe isnt all that great.
    – joojaa
    Aug 12, 2017 at 22:05
  • Sceneitem do have a parent parameter so it should be easy to script.
    – joojaa
    Aug 12, 2017 at 22:23
  • Thanks for your suggestion, I've found some examples here, I'll give it a try since it seems just a few lines of code would be needed to select the parent of the current selected item. By the way, do you know whether one could capture a click on the canvas from a script?
    – rraallvv
    Aug 13, 2017 at 14:51
  • @rraallvv Not possible, make a plugin
    – joojaa
    Aug 13, 2017 at 15:02

As pointed out in the answer and comments by @joojaa, Illustrator doesn't support such feature, so one would have to write a script for this.

The following is a simple script for selecting the parent group of the current selection. There might be a couple of corner cases I didn't check but it works for me. Also the steps in this answer describe how to run the script with a keyboard shortcut.


// Select the parent of the current selection

if ( app.documents.length > 0 ) {
    var doc = app.activeDocument;

    if ( typeof doc.selection[0] !== 'undefined') {
        var parent = doc.selection[0].parent;

        if ( parent !== doc.selection[0] && typeof parent.layer !== 'undefined') {
            doc.selection = parent;

I didn't need Illustrator to load the script from the Scripts folder, but in case it's needed, the script has to be copied to that folder and its location depends on the version and platform used.

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