Remove Background Using Magic Wand Tool Photoshop – A Step by Step Tutorial

Magic Wand Tool Photoshop uses to select any part of an image to replace, remove or edit.

Do you need to use Photoshop in your day-to-day life? If the answer is Yes, you might have heard of the Magic Wand Tool and already used it.

Using the Magic Wand Tool, you can easily select any part of a photo. And make a background transparent within a few seconds. The magic wand tool is a handy tool in Photoshop for selection to replace or remove the background.

Learn how to replace or remove the background using the Photoshop magic wand tool from this step-by-step tutorial.

What is the Magic Wand Tool?

The magic wand tool is categorized as a Selection Tool in Photoshop. This tool will assist you in selecting specific areas of an image and editing it independently. The magic wand tool uses for selecting solid backgrounds or any other colored area.

However, it doesn’t show a convincing performance in an image with a different gradient or obscure feature.

Additionally, you can conveniently replace or remove the background with the magic wand tool without changing the subject. Product photography and eCommerce shots are the two areas where the magic wand tool is extensively used.

The pixel selection process of a magic wand tool is entirely dissimilar to a Quick Selection tool. Based on a similar color and tone, it selects pixels. The magic wand tool doesn’t search for individual borders; to complete its choices, it looks for a similar color canvas.

Magic Wand Tool Photoshop

Step by Step Process to Remove Background Using Magic Wand Tool

This tool will give the best result of those images, which have a constantly colored background. Moreover, this tool can be used on images with several specific tones.

Step 01: Selecting the Image

Opening it in Photoshop, and Making a Duplication Layer of the Background Layer. In Photoshop CC 2020, go to the File option at the top of the Menu Bar, select Open and choose the image that will be Editing.

Opening image in Photoshop

Once the image is opened in Photoshop CC 2020, the Layer panel needs to be opened by selecting Window > Layer.

Don’t forget to highlight the Background Layer at this stage. Now make a duplication of the background layer. To do so, select Layer> Duplicate Layer.

duplication of the background layer

You have to give a customized name to the duplicated layer. By providing a name to the Duplicated Layer ensure the removal of the Background Layer. As a result, you or your team member can easily access and use the file in the future.

Customized duplicated layer name

Step 02: Background Layer Hiding

Before starting the image editing, it will be significantly useful if you hide the Original Background Layer. This way, distracting will not happen when working in the duplicate Layer.

Background Layer Hiding

Look at the left portion of the image thumbnail in the Layer Palette, and you will see an eye icon there. Click on it to hide the Original Background Layer.

Step 03: Configure Photoshop Magic Wand Tool

Find the Magic Wand Tool in the Tools Palette. The tools palette is placed on the left side of your computer screen. Or select the shortcut key “W.” If you don’t find the Magic Wand Tool in the Tools palette, be sure that it is hidden behind the Quick Selection Tool.

At this point, click on the Quick Selection Tool and hold it for a few seconds. The Magic Wand Tool will appear, and you can select it then.

Magic Wand Tool Configuration

After selecting the Magic Wand Tool, with the help of a few Magic Wand Tools Parameters, you can control the maximum and minimum selection level at a time. 

At the upper portion of your computer screen, you will find the adjusting options on the Magic Wand Tools working process.

Magic Wand Tools working process


If you are using the Magic Wand Tool for the first time, this option needs to be selected.

Add to Selection

This option is automatically accessible if you press and hold the “Shift” key when working with Magic Wand Tool.

Subtract from Selection

With the help of this selection, removing pixels becomes accessible from your selection while you click on your selection area.

Intersect with Selection

The new selection gets created in this selection, and it includes previous selection pixels.

Sample Size

Adjusting the sample size is available in the newer version of Photoshop. Magic Wand Tool can select only one color pixel at once, and it is its default characteristic. If you command the magic wand tool to increase the sample size, it will average the pixel color around the sample into its selection criteria.


To select a larger area at once without adjusting the Magic Wand Tool Tolerance, you can’t do it. It would be best if you decide to keep the Tolerance range between 15 – 30. The tolerance level is 20 in our example image

Step 04: Making the Selection

There are two methods of selecting using the Magic Wand Tool.

Method 01: Background Selection

Method 02: Subject Selection

Depending on the background color of the image, you have to pick any method from the above. However, we will discuss both Methods for your better understanding.

Method 01: Background Selection

Does your image have a solid-colored background? If yes, then using the Magic Wand Tool, you can select the background. Then you have to make Inverse to the selection.

Background Selection
  1. It is significantly essential not to do any work in the Original Layer. So, select the duplicate Layer to accomplish your work.
  2. Select the Magic Wand Tool, and click on any portion of the image as per your preference.
  3. Now press and hold the Shift key. At this point, don’t forget to click on background areas that are not being selected at the initial stage—for example, the orange shadows.
  4. Then press Shift + Ctrl + I (for Windows), Shift + Command + I (for Mac). This will allow you to select Inverse, or the subject will get selected.

Method 02: Subject Selection

Subject Selection

You may need to work on images where the background comes with multiple colors.

Photoshop CC 2020 has an advanced feature named Select Subject. This feature will assist you in selecting the image. Even the most intricate image can easily be selected with this feature.

  1. Confirm to do the editing work in the duplicate Layer.
  2. Now, choose the Magic Wand Tool and make sure not to click on any image portion.
  3. Click on the Select Subject button at the top of the application. You will then have a rough selection of the subject.
  4. You will find an option named Subtract from Selection at the top of the screen. Next is to click on any portion of the image except the subject, such as the subject’s shadow. This will ensure that these areas will be out of selection while editing the image.

Now one question might have popped up in your mind. 

Can I use the Magic Wand Tool if I have an older version of Photoshop?

Definitely, you can. But there will be some limitations. Selecting the subject will not be an issue using the Magic wand tool in the older version of Photoshop. For this, the background has to be a complex one and a one-colored subject. To select the subject, you have to follow Method 01.

The key difference is; you will not be able to select the Inverse after finalizing the selection.

Step 05: Refining the Selection Edges

Next, you will need to choose an option named Select and Mask… positioned at the Select Subject option’s right side.

In the older version of Photoshop, you will have this option as follows Select > Refine Edge.

Refining the Selection Edges

Now a new window will appear. You will find a series of global controls on the right side, and Spot Adjustment Tools will appear on the left side.

Select the View button from the Properties tab at the top right corner. Select the button and if On Layers (Y) is not selected, select it. Don’t forget to do it.

Refining Edges

Now you will see an isolated subject that doesn’t have a background.

At this stage, you can play with the features, but we will not use different features. Underneath Global Refinements, there is an option named Smooth function, and to the left of the screen, there is the Refine Edge Brush tool. We will take assistance from these two features.

To smoothen any rough edges of the subject, drag the Smooth slider to the right side.

smoothen rough edges

Now click R to get access to the Refine Edge Tool. This feature will allow you to spot out any specific areas of the photo. Using this tool is simple. Select the tool, paint over the selection area where refinement is needed.

smoothen edges

Once you finish refining as per your requirement, go to the Output Setting placed at the lower right side corner of your computer screen. From there, choose Output to Layer Mask and then hit OK.

Output to Layer Mask

Now the subject is entirely isolated from the background applying the Layer Mask option.

isolating background

Step 06: Applying New Background

We are at the final stage of this tutorial.

You must have a preferred image that you want to use as a background in the image that you are editing. Open the file of the background image.

Press Ctrl + A to select the entire image. Then press Ctrl + C to copy it.

Applying New Background

Now go to the file that contains the isolated subject. The unaltered background needs to select. Then press Ctrl + V to paste the background image in the isolated subject file.

A new layer (with new background) will appear in the Layer palette between the original background and duplicate background. Now click on the eye icon of the original background to make it visible again.

If your original image’s background is white, it will help if you decide to select the blend mode to multiply the new background image. As a result, you can drag the actual shadow back to the new image.

Adding more layers as an additional background is also possible. And by toggling the eye icon, you can see how the image will appear with a different background.

After creating layers, fill them up with solid colors to see your subject against a background that comes with a solid color option.

images on different background

When to Apply the Magic Wand Tool in an Image?

As stated earlier, Magic Wand Tools is commonly used by product photographers and eCommerce sellers. Following this technique, you can remove an image background and replace the sky or any without any hassle. Moreover, It helps to remove the white background easily.

Below are a few scenarios about when to apply the magic wand tool in an image. 

  • You can show your product in different environments. Your customer can see your product against a familiar and beautiful background. It will help you to improve customer engagement as well as product sales.
  • With this technique, you don’t need to change the settings of your original image. Without making any effect on the original image, you can change your product’s shape, size, and background. This means that capturing multiple images is unnecessary while you can change the background as per your requirement with the Magic Wand Tool.
  • Most 3rd party marketplaces such as Amazon, Alibaba, eBay want product advertisements with white backgrounds. Magic Wand Tool allows a person to change the background of the image to white. After making your product image with a white background, you can list your product to those 3rd party marketplaces without any trouble.

Final Thought on Magic Wand Tool Photoshop

In a few images, you will face the challenge of using the magic wand tool. While using it in other images will not give you much trouble. With a couple of easy tips and tricks, you will be able to get great images.

Follow the above step by step, guidelines on how to replace or remove an image background using the magic wand tool and give your image a beautiful look.

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