How to Use the Magic Wand Tool in Paint.NET

Select areas of the same color in Paint.NET for Windows

Magician with magic wand and hat
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The magic wand tool in Paint.NET provides a way to select areas of an image that are of a similar color. The results aren't always perfect, but it's usually more efficient than using the lasso select tool.

Instructions in this article apply to the Paint.NET image editing software for Windows, not the be confused with the website of the same name.

How to Use the Paint.NET Magic Wand

To use the magic wand tool in Paint.NET:

  1. Go to Tools > Magic Wand, or select the Magic Wand icon in the toolbar.

    Go to Tools > Magic Wand, or select the Magic Wand icon in the toolbar.
  2. Click anywhere on the image. Other areas of the image that are a similar color to the selected point will be included within the selection.

    Click anywhere on the image. Other areas of the image that are a similar color to the selected point will be included within the selection.

Paint.NET Magic Wand Tool Options

While a tool is active, the icons beside Tools change to display all available options. In this case, the only option is the selection mode. The default setting for this option is Replace. Hover your mouse cursor over each icon to see what it does.

While a tool is active, the icons beside Tools changes to display all available options. Hover your mouse cursor over each icon to see what it does.
  • Replace: Any existing selections in the document are replaced with the new selection. 
  • Add (union): The new selection is added to the existing selection. This can be useful if you want to fine-tune the selection to include some areas of a different color.
  • Subtract: New selections will remove parts of the original selection that are included in the new selection. Again, this feature can fine-tune a selection where areas have been selected that you did not intend to select.
  • Intersect: New and old selections are combined so that only areas within both of the selections remain selected.
  • Invert (“xor”): Add to the active selection, except when part of the new selection is already selected, in which case those areas are deselected.

The magic wand tool shares the same selection options as the other tools, but it also has two additional options: Flood Mode and Tolerance.

Magic Wand Flood Mode: Global vs. Contiguous

This option affects the scope of the selection that is made. When set to Contiguous, only areas of a similar color that are connected to the selected point will be included in the final selection. When changed to Global, all areas within the image that are a similar color value are selected, which means that you can have multiple unconnected selections.

This option affects the scope of the selection that is made.

Magic Wand Tolerance Setting

The Tolerance setting affects how similar a color must be to the selected color in order to be included in the selection. A low setting means that fewer colors will be considered similar, resulting in a smaller selection. Adjust the Tolerance setting by clicking the blue bar or the plus (+) and minus (-) symbols. Making full use of the various selection modes and adjusting the Tolerance setting can give you a reasonable degree of flexibility to fine-tune the selection as required.

Adjust the Tolerance setting by clicking the blue bar or the plus (+) and minus (-) symbols.