How to Deselect (Remove Selection) in GIMP

Working with selections is one of the most essential tools in any image editor, and GIMP is no exception. But once you’ve finished working on your selection and it’s time to work on another part of your image, how do you remove your selection? It’s even easier than making one in the first place! 

The fastest way to deselect (remove selection) in GIMP is to use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl (Command if you use Mac) + Shift + A, which runs the Select None command. 

The Shift key is often added to shortcuts to reverse their effect. In this case, the shortcut Ctrl (Command on Mac) + A runs the Select All command, and so adding the Shift key reverses the command and you get Select None.

You can also get the same result by opening the Select menu from the menu bar and choosing the Select None command. 

As with all the commands that are a regular part of your image editing workflow, it’s a good idea to memorize the shortcut for Select None. But if it doesn’t work for you, you can always customize the shortcuts by opening the Keyboard Shortcuts window and updating it.

On the Windows and Linux versions of GIMP, the Keyboard Shortcuts window can be accessed through the Edit menu. But if you’re using GIMP on macOS you’ll need to open the GIMP application menu to find it, right next to the Apple menu in the upper left of your screen. 

Layer Boundary Edges

If your selection still won’t disappear after you’ve applied the Select None command, then it’s possible that what you’re seeing isn’t actually a selection, but rather it’s GIMP outlining the boundaries of the active layer.

You may have noticed the same thing in another place without connecting the two ideas. By default, GIMP seems to have a yellow and black selection marquee around your entire image border, but that’s not actually a selection, even though it looks extremely similar to one. 

The yellow and black dashed line around the image canvas looks very similar to the selection marquee, which isn’t the best design decision 

It’s actually a GIMP feature that shows the outline of your current layer, which is really only a useful effect when you’re working on multiple layers with transparent backgrounds. To disable the layer boundary outline, open the View menu and uncheck Show Layer Boundary.

Take a look at the example below for a more direct side-by-side comparison. From a user experience design perspective, these are way too close to make things easy for the user, so don’t feel bad if it tricked you too. 

This one confused me a fair bit before I figured out what was going on, and I’ve seen many forum posts from other users who were also unaware of the small visual difference between selections and layer boundaries. 

That’s all you need to know about how to deselect your selections in GIMP!

About Thomas Boldt
I’ve been working with digital images since the year 2000 or so, when I got my first digital camera. I've tried many image editing programs. GIMP is a free and powerful software, but not exactly user-friendly until you get comfortable with it, and I wanted to make the learning process easier for you here.

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