Do you have trouble selecting objects near Point Type in Adobe Illustrator? You’ve been there. You want to select an object. Problem is, it’s really close to piece of Point Type. All too often we try to select objects that wind up being unreachable because they lie too close to a piece of Point Type, which we wind up selecting instead. Luckily, after years of angst, I discovered a solution.
Point Type in Adobe Illustrator is funny. There’s this invisible “shield” around it. This shield is much larger (at least it seems that way) than the text itself. It prevents you from selecting objects behind text by clicking between letter and words. This shield is particularly meddlesome with lowercase letters and decenders because we think surely we can click on that blue box (or whatever) because it seems far enough away from that Point Type. But that lowercase “j” is extending the Point Type’s territory even further.
Okay, now that we know we’re talking about the same thing, let’s move on to the solutions.
Step 1. Check ‘Type Object Selection by Path Only’ in Preferences
You’ll find this option in Preferences/Type. Click it and that nasty text shield goes away. But there’s a price to pay. With this option activated, the only way you can select your text is by clicking on the text path, a super, tiny, thin baseline thingy under all the letters, but above decenders. It’s really hard to grab. To do it right you need to slowly approach the text path with your cursor. When you’re right over it, Illustrator will let you know by adding a small black square to your cursor. Now, you can click, hold and move your text. But this workflow can really slow you down and break your rhythm, maybe even more so than with it turned off. So…
Step 2. Add the ‘Outline Object’ Effect
Select your Point Type and, from under the Effects Menu/Path/, select Outline Object. This effect does something really sweet to text in Illustrator: it lets your Point Type objects be treated as if their were converted to Outlines. You can still edit the text, but as far as selecting it, Illustrator now considers it outlines and shapes instead of a text object. Basically, it now considers the Path of the text to be the text itself! Now, since we’ve already checked ‘Type Object Selection by Path Only’ we can now click on the text to select it. Just the text. Not the baseline, not the wacky invisible shield surrounding it.
And now… you can select things behind the text by clicking between words and letters. And the ONLY way to select Point Type is to click on the visible parts of the text itself! Problem solved.
I now use this technique 90% of the time and so have assigned Command+3 to the Outline Object effect.
Too much of a good thing could be a bad thing. Let’s say you have some Point Type set in a very light face and it’s pretty small or you’re zoomed way out. Selecting that text could be a problem since you have to actually click on the text itself. Just keep in mind that selecting smaller text may just require an extra click to grab.
This method lets you select text by clicking on the visible portion of the text itself. However, dragging a short marquee and just “touching” a part of the text does not work. To select using a drag, you have to make sure you run over the actual text path (that thin baseline.)
Applying this technique to your old files
Now that you’ve learned this awesome new way to work around type in Illustrator, you may be anxious to open yesterday’s project and get back to work. But you may not be looking forward to applying the Outline Object effect to each and every piece of type. For this you can use Illustrator’s “Select Same” feature. Select one piece of text. Then from the Select Menu click on Object/Text Objects. Now ALL of your text objects will be selected, and you can apply the Outline Object effect to all of them at once!
That’s it. If you build ads or work with a lot of type in Illustrator, you’re about to be able to work a lot faster… and happier.