Design Hack: How to Select by Color in Adobe Illustrator, Plus More Selection Tricks

Clicking multiple objects within a complex or intricate design can be time-consuming for designers. Learn how to select by color in Illustrator, plus other  shortcuts in the Select menu.

Cover image via Mascha Tace

In design applications like Adobe Illustrator, the continuous motion of hitting Shift click to select multiple objects at once can be frustrating and never-ending. That time spent clicking vectors can add up fast.

But there’s a trick! With the useful Select dropdown menu, you can choose from selecting vectors with the exact fill and stroke color, same appearance, similar shapes, and more. Your time spent laboriously clicking each vector will drastically decrease with this design hack.


How to Select by Color in Illustrator

When working with complex designs or elaborate patterns, it’s daunting to have to individually select each vector object. Cut down on this process by learning how to select by color in Illustrator. With the Select dropdown menu located at the top of the program, you can activate specific colors with just two clicks.

Begin by clicking a vector object with the Selection Tool (V), then navigate to the Select dropdown and choose from Fill ColorFill & Stroke, or Stroke Color. You can achieve the same effect by clicking Appearance, which will match vectors that closely mimic the selected object’s fill, stroke, or both.

How to Select by Color in Adobe Illustrator

Pattern via OKing

The Fill Color command will select objects that contain the exact hue as the vector object you have originally selected. The Stroke Color command activates vectors with the exact same stroke color regardless of its fill color. When the Fill & Stroke command is enabled, objects with both the same fill and stroke colors will be activated. These options give you acute control over selection, especially if you are working on patterns or designs with repeated colors.

You can choose to recolor these selected vector shapes with the Color or Swatches panels, or you can compile them into a group for quicker selections in the future with Command + G. Once these shapes are grouped, you can easily change the look of the entire pattern or design by simply rotating the colors used.


How to Select Similar Shapes in Illustrator

Just as with the Select Same Fill or Stroke Color options, you can activate similar shapes within the Illustrator document. This is a great shortcut  when you’re recoloring or grouping similar shapes within your design.

How to Select Similar in Illustrator

Pattern via Geometric Complexity. Lustrous Lamps retro color palette applied. 

With the Selection Tool (V), click on a shape that was originally created with the Shapes Tool, such as a rectangle or circle. It’s imperative that you only select Shape Tool shapes, as the command will not recognize shapes created with the Pen Tool. You’ll know whether the selection is possible or not if the Select > Same > Shape command is greyed out. Any other shapes that are manipulated or created utilizing compound paths will also not be recognized.


How to Select All in Illustrator

If you’re more keen on selecting all items within the document or artboard, you can quickly do so with Command + A for all items and Option + Command + A for all objects within the designated artboard. These commands are also found within the Select dropdown menu.

How to Select All in Illustrator

Pattern via Geometric Complexity. Lustrous Lamps retro color palette applied. 

This keyboard command speeds up your workflow, especially when working on complex designs with multiple artboards in your Illustrator document. The long days of clicking and dragging across several objects are officially over. 

Click here to learn more essential keyboard shortcuts for Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign. 


Interested in learning more handy Adobe Illustrator tips and tricks? Look into these informative articles:

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