PFRE is the original online resource for real estate and interior photographers. Since 2006, it has been a community hub where like-minded professionals from around the world gather to share information with a common goal of improving their work and advancing their business. With thousands of articles, covering hundreds of topics, PFRE offers the most robust collection of educational material in our field. The history of real estate photography has been documented within these pages.
All Articles


Image banner for the November 2023 PFRE Photographer of the Month Winner Javier Sotomayor, with a featured image of his winning photo titled "Open"

Congratulations to Javier Sotomayor, November 2023 PFRE Photographer of the Month! The theme this month was "Open." Javier Sotomayor - Entry #879 Dave Koch - Entry #877 Peter Wingfield - Entry #874 Here's what Javier has to say: Hello First of all I wa ...



For over a decade, photographers from around the world have participated in PFRE’s monthly photography contests, culminating in the year-end crowning of PFRE’s Photographer of the Year. With a new theme each month and commentary offered by some of the finest real estate & interior photographers anywhere, these contests offer a fun, competitive environment with rich learning opportunities. 

Contest Rules


View / Submit


View Archive


PFRE prides itself on the depth and breadth of the information and professional development resources it makes available to our community. Our goal is to help real estate and interior photographers be successful while bringing the community together and elevating the industry as a whole.

Conference News

No items found

How to Use Quick Selection Tool in Photoshop

Published: 18/03/2022

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

When shooting real estate interior photos, it can be challenging to avoid capturing other products in the background, especially if you don't have fast lenses. Knowing how to use the quick selection tool in Photoshop can help you remove the background and keep your product on a transparent background.

How to Use Quick Selection Tool in Photoshop

The quick selection tool in Photoshop selects image pixels based on borders and contrasts. It automatically detects boundaries and selects objects or areas of your canvas. Knowing how to use the quick selection tool in Photoshop can help you straightforwardly make broad selections.

The quick selection tool is the most popular in Photoshop due to its ability to work on complex photographs without the complexities of freehand selection. Open the photo in Photoshop and follow the steps.

The quick selection tool in Photoshop

Duplicate the Background Layer

When you open a photo in photoshop, it automatically becomes the background layer. If you want to keep your selections and edits nondestructive, it is advisable to duplicate the background layer.

You can copy the background layer by simply left-clicking the background layer and then dragging it to the Create a New Layer icon at the bottom. Click the layer visibility icon of the background layer to hide it. The background layer will be your reference if necessary.

Create a new layer tab

Pick the Quick Selection Tool

The quick selection tool is located on the tools panel on the left side of your Photoshop workspace. However, the organization of the tools might look different depending on the workspace you are using.

For instance, if you are using the default Photoshop Essentials workspace, the quick selection tool will be the fourth tool in the panel. However, you will need to right-click and expand the tool's submenu for you to access the quick selection tool.

Pick the quick selection tool by left-clicking and dragging the tool into your workspace. You can also pick this tool using the W keyboard shortcut key. Keep in mind there are several selection tools under this submenu, and you might need to hit W more than once.

Selecting the Quick Selection tool

Adjust the Quick Selection Tool Brush

For better selection results, you will need to adjust the brush of the quick selection tool to something smaller than your background. You can use the left and right bracket keys on your keyboard or the pull-down menu at the top to adjust the size of the brush.

The hardness slider controls how hard or soft the edges of your quick selection tool brush are. For the best results, it is advisable to leave this value at 100%, the default value. Depending on the photo that you'll be working on, you might need to change the shape and angle of the brush.

For instance, you can make the shape of the brush oval if you want to get up into little areas such as the corners of leaves, flowers, or furniture. However, you can work on most real estate photos with the default circular shape.

Adjust the Quick Selection brush

Make the Selections

Make sure you have selected the visible layer, and then start making selections of your photo background. Sometimes the selection might expand beyond the background or fail to capture some background parts.

If that is the case, you can use the tools labeled Add to Selection and Subtract from Selection at the top. Add to Selection and Subtract from Selection labels are brush-and-dotted-line icons, one with a plus sign and the other a minus sign.

When adding or subtracting the selections, it means you'll be working on a smaller portion of your subject or background. Therefore, it is advisable to reduce the size of the brush to make the selection more precise. Then left-click and drag as you watch how the selection progresses.

Marching ants line in Photoshop

Select and Mask

After you are satisfied with your selection, click select on the top bar menu and choose select and mask. A new workspace of select and mask will open up. The checkered background is usually transparent and is what your selection will be removing or masking.

However, the background of your photo might be showing, and the main object you want in the photo might be missing. If that is the case, navigate to the right menu and click Invert. Typically, this will invert the selection, and the object will start showing, and the background will be missing.

Select and Mask tab

Refine the Edges

You can also use the panel to make adjustments, such as adding a slight feather. In most cases, you will need the feather to make your photo more seamless regardless of the background you will put.

For further edge refinement, check the smart radius under the Edge Detection. Increase the radius to around three pixels by sliding the slider from left to right. On the left panel, click on the Refine Edge tool. On the upper side of the panel, you can slightly increase the size of this tool.

Use this tool to paint around the object's edges until you get the desired results. The level of refinement will depend on the object and the background you intend to add. The Refine Edge tool can help make the object's edges more natural and realistic, especially if they are hairy.

The Edge Detection

Output the Layer Mask

After making the adjustments, navigate to the Output To and then select Layer Mask. When you click OK to confirm, the background of your photo will be no more. You can then save the image in PNG file type to keep the background transparent. Typically, it saves the cutout version of the image.

You can export the photo by navigating to File in the drop-down menu, selecting Export, and then choosing Export As. Change the file format to PNG. You can also change the size of your image and then click Export. Enter the file name and then click Save.

Output the Layer Mask

How to Add a Background to the Photo After Cut Out

One of the main reasons you might want to remove the background is to swap it with another one. However, when adding another background, you need to ensure the background's lighting conditions and color temperature matches that of the object.

You also need to ensure the light source and where the shadows fall in the background match the object. For instance, if the original shot is from the right, the background shot needs to be from the right.

Failing to match these camera angles will make the background appear unrealistic. For instance, if the original photo was shot at 30 degrees, you should ensure the background is shot from almost the same angle. If the background meets these requirements:

  1. Open the cutout in Photoshop and then open the background photo such that it displays above your cutout
  2. Resize the background to entirely cover the cutout area
  3. Since the background should be underneath, drag its layer down to put it underneath your cutout
  4. You can make color adjustments on both the object and the background to ensure they blend well
  5. You can use the brush tool to refine the edges for a seamless result
The image that show how to use Quick Selection tool in Photoshop

Important Tips When Using Photoshop Quick Selection Tool

Although you can now remove the background of your real estate photos using the quick selection tool like a pro, the following tips can help make the entire process easier, faster, and more precise.

  • Instead of having to set the quick selection tool brush from scratch every time you want to remove the background, you can save the settings as a preset and then open them from the drop-down menu at the top left under the quick selection tool menu
  • When making selections on edges that are challenging to select, it is advisable to zoom in the image to help see the areas clearly and adjust the tools more precisely
  • If the background you plan to use doesn't require advanced refinement of the object's edges, you can use the auto-enhance feature for faster smoothening. Keep in mind that the auto-enhance feature can slightly slow down your computer
  • If you frequently use the Refine Edges feature, you can select the Remember Settings at the bottom of the panel to save the settings
  • You can improve the speed of adding and subtracting your selection by using the Shift and Alt keys to add and subtract the selections

Reasons Why You Need to Remove the Background of a Real Estate Photo

Whether you are taking photos of buildings or capturing interior products, there are high chances of capturing something you don't want. Unlike in wildlife or sports photography, you might want to remove the background of a real estate photo because of the following:

  • If you're planning to carry out additional photo edits such as adding reflections and shadows that might need a blank canvas
  • If you are showcasing a specific product, you might want to remove the other products in the background that might capture the eyes of the viewer
  • When the background doesn't blend well with the main subject, you might want to remove it to make the photo aesthetically appealing
  • Some digital platforms might require you to remove the background of the photo if the photo is for exhibition or showcasing
  • In case you want to swap the background of the photo to improve its visuals, you will have to remove the background first
Back ground image removed

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Change the Sensitivity of the Photoshop Quick Selection Tool?

No, you can’t change the sensitivity of the Photoshop quick selection tool as it doesn't have Tolerance control settings like the Magic Wand. The quick selection tool allows you to improve its precision by adjusting the brush settings, such as hardness and size.

What Makes the Quick Selection Tool Fail to Work in Some Photos?

The quick selection tool might fail to work as expected if there is insufficient contrast between the subject and the background. Since it selects image pixels depending on the borders, it might still not work if the resolution of the image is low.

Final Thoughts

The Photoshop quick selection tool is a great tool to help real estate photographers get rid of unwanted products on the image background. Knowing how to use the quick tool in Photoshop can help swap backgrounds and get seamless results regardless of how complex the background is.


Rela Logo
CS6 PSE Logo
HD Photo Hub Logo
FullFrame Logo

Learning Topics