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Mastering Photoshop: How to Remove Anchor Points Effortlessly

How to learn photoshop Fast

Mastering Photoshop involves understanding the intricacies of anchor points, crucial for crafting paths that shape custom selections and designs. Given their importance, learning how to remove anchor points in Photoshop without affecting the essential Bezier handles becomes a skill that enhances one’s ability to refine and control selections smoothly. This adept maneuvering ensures a seamless editing process, especially when using the Direct Selection Tool to achieve polished results.

This article delves into various effective methods to remove anchor points, covering tools such as the Delete Anchor Point Tool, the Pen Tool, and the Direct Selection Tool, among others. Each method offers a unique approach to streamline the editing workflow, from simple deletions to adjusting paths with precision. Additionally, troubleshooting common issues provides the reader with solutions to potential hurdles, making the journey of mastering anchor point removal in Photoshop as effortless as possible.

Understanding Anchor Points in Photoshop

In Adobe Photoshop, anchor points are critical components in the creation and manipulation of paths. These points can be seen as the building blocks of the paths that users draw with various tools like the Pen Tool or Shape Tools. Here’s a deeper look into the nature and functionality of anchor points in Photoshop.

What are Anchor Points?

Anchor points are essentially markers that define the start and end of path segments within Photoshop. They can be placed at any position on the canvas to form straight or curved lines, which collectively create a complete path.

Types of Anchor Points

  1. Smooth Points: These are used to create smooth, flowing curves. A smooth point has direction lines extending out on both sides, ensuring that the curve transitions smoothly from one segment to the next.
  2. Corner Points: In contrast to smooth points, corner points create a sharp change in direction. These points are useful for creating angles and intricate shapes as the direction of the curve changes abruptly.

Manipulating the Shape of Paths

Each anchor point on a path has associated control handles, which influence the curvature of the path. These handles are adjusted by clicking and dragging them around the canvas, allowing for precise control over the shape of the path.

  • Direction Lines and Points: The position and angle of these lines and their end points (direction points) dictate the curvature of segments connected by the anchor points. Adjusting these can significantly alter the appearance of a path.

Path Components

Paths in Photoshop can be either open or closed. An open path has two distinct endpoints, whereas a closed path connects back to its starting point. Users can add or remove anchor points along these paths to refine their shape or extend them further.

Practical Usage

  • Adding Anchor Points: More points mean more control over the path but can also complicate the path’s shape and editing process. It’s often better to work with the minimum number of points necessary for the desired shape.
  • Deleting Anchor Points: Simplifying a path by removing unnecessary anchor points can make it easier to manage and edit.

Tools for Anchor Points

Photoshop offers specific tools for adding or deleting anchor points:

  • Pen Tool: Allows for the addition of new anchor points and the creation of new path segments.
  • Add Anchor Point Tool: Specifically designed to add new anchor points to existing paths.
  • Delete Anchor Point Tool: Used to remove anchor points from paths, simplifying the path’s structure.

Understanding how to effectively use and manipulate anchor points in Photoshop can significantly enhance a user’s ability to create detailed, custom graphics and edit images with high precision. By mastering these elements, users can achieve more refined and controlled results in their digital artwork.

Option 1: Using the Delete Anchor Point Tool

To effectively remove anchor points in Photoshop using the Delete Anchor Point Tool, follow these detailed steps to ensure precision and maintain the integrity of your vector shapes or paths:

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Select the Delete Anchor Point Tool:
    • Navigate to the toolbar and select the Delete Anchor Point Tool, which is typically grouped with the Pen Tool. You can also press the “-” key if the tool is active.
  2. Locate the Anchor Point:
    • Hover over the anchor point you wish to delete. The cursor will change to indicate that the Delete Anchor Point Tool is active.
  3. Delete the Anchor Point:
    • Click on the anchor point to remove it. If the anchor point is part of a curve, observe how the curve adjusts automatically. To maintain the shape of the curve more precisely, hold down the Shift key while clicking.
  4. Adjust the Path If Necessary:
    • After deleting the anchor point, use the Direct Selection Tool to fine-tune the path. Click and drag the remaining anchor points or their direction handles to smooth out any irregularities in the curve.
  5. Enable ‘Constrain Path Dragging’:
    • If the path behaves unexpectedly, enable ‘Constrain Path Dragging’ in the options bar. This setting helps prevent unwanted changes in the path’s shape, ensuring straight lines remain straight after the deletion.
  6. Check ‘Auto Add/Delete’:
    • Ensure that the ‘Auto Add/Delete’ option in the Options bar is enabled. This feature facilitates the addition or removal of anchor points without switching tools.

Tips and Tricks

  • Precision Deletion: Holding down the Shift key while using the Delete Anchor Point Tool can help in maintaining the integrity of the path’s shape, particularly with curves.
  • Reshaping: After deleting an anchor point, you may need to reshape the line. Click and drag on the nearby anchor points or their direction levers to adjust the path smoothly.
  • Avoid Common Mistakes: Do not use the Delete or Backspace keys or the Edit > Cut or Edit > Clear commands to delete anchor points, as these actions remove not just the point but also the connecting line segments.

By following these steps, you can efficiently use the Delete Anchor Point Tool in Photoshop to refine your graphic projects, ensuring clean, precise modifications to your paths and shapes.

Option 2: Removing Anchor Points with the Pen Tool

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Activate the Pen Tool:
    • Select the Pen Tool from the toolbar or press the P key. Ensure that the path you want to edit is active.
  2. Hover Over the Anchor Point:
    • Move the Pen Tool over the anchor point you intend to delete. The cursor will change to a minus sign (-) indicating that you are in delete mode.
  3. Delete the Anchor Point:
    • Click on the anchor point to remove it. This action will automatically adjust the path.
  4. Adjust the Path if Needed:
    • If the path shape needs refinement after removing the anchor point, use the Pen Tool to click and drag any remaining anchor points or their direction handles to smooth out the path.
  5. Check Auto Add/Delete Setting:
    • Verify that the ‘Auto Add/Delete’ option is enabled in the options bar. This feature allows for more intuitive point addition or deletion.

Tips and Tricks

  • Reshaping After Deletion: After removing an anchor point, you might need to adjust the path. Click and drag the nearby anchor points or their handles to refine the path shape.
  • Converting Points: To convert between smooth points and corner points, use the Pen Tool while holding down the Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac) key.

Common Issues and Solutions

  • Path Not Selected: Ensure the path is active. If the Pen Tool does not change when hovering over the anchor point, check if the path is selected.
  • Guides Locked: In cases where paths do not seem editable, ensure that no guides are locked that might be preventing the deletion of anchor points.

By mastering these steps, users can effectively remove anchor points using the Pen Tool in Photoshop, allowing for precise control over the editing of paths and shapes.

Option 3: The Anchor Point Dialogue Method

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Selecting the Anchor Point:
    • Hover your cursor over the anchor point you wish to delete. Wait until the cursor changes to a full blue circle, indicating the anchor point is selected.
  2. Accessing the Dialogue Box:
    • Right-click on the selected anchor point. A dialogue box will appear. From the options presented, select ‘Delete Anchor Point’.
  3. Enabling Constrain Path Dragging:
    • Before proceeding with the deletion, ensure that ‘Constrain Path Dragging’ is enabled in the toolbar. This setting helps maintain the integrity of your path, especially in maintaining straight lines when expected.

Tips and Tricks

  • Precise Deletion Control: Using the dialogue method provides high precision in selecting and deleting anchor points, which is particularly useful in complex path edits.
  • Anticipating Changes: Be aware that deleting anchor points can sometimes alter the path unexpectedly. Enabling ‘Constrain Path Dragging’ helps mitigate unwanted changes.

Common Issues and Solutions

  • Unexpected Curvature: In some instances, deleting an anchor point using this method may result in the path curving unexpectedly. To avoid this, always ensure ‘Constrain Path Dragging’ is active to maintain straight lines.
  • Tool Responsiveness: If the cursor does not change to a blue circle, check to ensure you are correctly hovering over the anchor point and that the correct layer is active.

Option 4: Employing the Direct Selection Tool

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Select the Direct Selection Tool:
    • From the toolbar, choose the Direct Selection Tool (shortcut key ‘A’). This tool is essential for selecting and manipulating points and segments within a path.
  2. Create a Bounding Box:
    • Click and drag across the canvas to draw a bounding box around the paths or segments you need to select. This action allows you to isolate specific areas for detailed editing.
  3. Selecting Points:
    • Click directly on an anchor point or direction point to select it. To modify your selection, hold the Shift key while clicking to add or remove points from your selection.
  4. Adjust the Path:
    • Once selected, you can move the anchor points to alter the path’s shape and flow. This is useful for fine-tuning the details of your graphic.
  5. Deleting Anchor Points:
    • To remove an unwanted anchor point, simply select it and press the Delete key on your keyboard. This will erase the point and automatically adjust the path.
  6. Handle Deletion in Photoshop CS6:
    • If you need to delete just one handle of an anchor point in Photoshop CS6, select the point, hold the ‘Alt’ key, and drag the handle you wish to remove. Release the mouse button first, then the ‘Alt’ key.
  7. Constrain Path Dragging:
    • Before deleting an anchor point, turn on “Constrain Path Dragging” in the options bar to prevent the path from curving unexpectedly. This ensures the path remains straight where needed.

Tips and Tricks

  • Precision Editing: The Direct Selection Tool allows for precise control when selecting and moving points. Use the zoom function to enhance visibility and accuracy.
  • Multiple Selections: For bulk adjustments or deletions, use the tool to select multiple anchor points. This can streamline the editing process, especially for complex paths.
  • Path Behavior: Be mindful of how paths behave after point deletion. Sometimes, additional adjustments may be necessary to achieve the desired result.

Common Issues and Solutions

  • Bezier Curves After Deletion: If deleting an anchor point results in an unwanted bezier curve, ensure ‘Constrain Path Dragging’ is active. This setting helps maintain straight lines.
  • Tool Responsiveness: If the tool does not select the anchor point as expected, ensure you are on the correct layer and that the path is active. Sometimes, locked layers can prevent selection.

By mastering the Direct Selection Tool in Photoshop, users can enhance their ability to edit paths with precision, ensuring high-quality results in their digital artwork.

Option 5: Utilizing the History Panel for Deletion

Understanding the History Panel

The History Panel in Photoshop serves as a chronological record of all actions and edits made to a document. It lists the previous 20 states by default, with older states automatically deleted to free up memory for ongoing Photoshop tasks. Each state is named after the tool or command that caused the change, providing a clear trail of the editing process.

Using the History Panel to Delete Anchor Points

To utilize the History Panel for deleting anchor points, follow these steps:

  1. Open the History Panel:
    • Navigate to Window > History to open the History Panel.
  2. Select the Desired State:
    • Click on the state before the creation of the unwanted anchor point. This action will revert the image to that state, effectively removing any changes made thereafter, including the addition of anchor points.
  3. Use the History Brush Tool:
    • Select the History Brush Tool from the toolbar.
    • In the History Panel, click the left column of the state you want to use as the source for the History Brush Tool.
    • Paint over the areas where anchor points need to be deleted. This step allows you to selectively revert parts of the image to a previous state, effectively removing unwanted anchor points without affecting the rest of the image.

Managing Snapshots and States

Snapshots can be particularly useful when working with complex edits:

  • Creating Snapshots:
    • Snapshots can be created by selecting New Snapshot from the History Panel menu or by using the shortcut Alt-click (Windows) or Option-click (Mac) on the Create New Snapshot button. Snapshots are similar to states but offer advantages like naming and storing them for the entire work session, making it easier to compare effects or revert to a specific point in your editing process.
  • Deleting Snapshots:
    • To delete a snapshot, select it in the History Panel, then choose Delete from the panel menu, click the Delete icon, or drag the snapshot to the Delete icon.

Customizing History Panel Options

For more tailored usage, adjust the History Panel settings:

  • History Options:
    • Access by choosing History Options from the History Panel menu. Here, you can set the maximum number of history states, enable non-linear history to make changes without losing subsequent states, and decide if layer visibility changes should be recorded.
  • Edit History Log:
    • The Edit History Log records all edits and can be set to store this data as metadata embedded in the image file, or exported to an external text file. This feature is useful for keeping detailed records of all changes, which can be essential for client revisions or legal documentation.

By mastering the History Panel in Photoshop, users gain a powerful tool for managing their editing process, allowing for sophisticated control over the revision and deletion of specific edits, such as anchor points. This method not only enhances workflow efficiency but also provides a safety net for complex digital artwork projects.

Option 6: Path Selection Tool for Bulk Deletion

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Activate the Path Selection Tool:
    • From the toolbar, select the Path Selection Tool or press the shortcut key A. This tool is crucial for selecting entire paths or separate segments within Photoshop.
  2. Selecting Path Components:
    • Click on any part of the path you wish to manipulate. When a path component or segment is selected, all anchor points associated with that section will be displayed. Selected anchor points appear as filled squares, while unselected ones are shown as hollow squares.
  3. Select Multiple Paths:
    • To select multiple paths, hold down the Shift key and click on additional paths. This can be done within the same layer or across different layers, allowing for versatile management of complex compositions.
  4. Delete Multiple Anchor Points:
    • Once the desired paths or segments are selected, press the Delete key to remove them. This action will delete all selected anchor points and their associated path segments.

Visual Indicators

  • Direction Handles: These appear as filled circles, indicating the manipulation points for adjusting the curvature of path segments.
  • Anchor Points: Selected anchor points are displayed as filled squares, making them easy to identify and manipulate.

Tips and Tricks

  • Efficient Selection: For quicker selection of multiple paths, drag a selection box around the desired areas using the Path Selection Tool. This method is effective for bulk deletions and adjustments.
  • Layer Management: Ensure that all layers containing paths you wish to edit are unlocked and visible. This prevents errors and ensures that all manipulations are applied correctly.

Common Issues and Solutions

  • Unresponsive Tool: If the Path Selection Tool does not select the path as expected, check if the correct layer is active and not locked. Also, ensure that no other element is obscuring the path.
  • Accidental Deletion: If you accidentally delete parts of a path, use the History Panel to undo the action immediately. This panel can revert your document to a previous state before the deletion occurred.

By mastering the Path Selection Tool for bulk deletion in Photoshop, users can efficiently manage and refine their graphic projects, ensuring clean and precise modifications to paths. This tool is especially useful in scenarios where multiple path adjustments or deletions are required, streamlining the workflow and enhancing overall productivity in digital artwork creation.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Issue 1: Bezier Curve Instead of Point Deletion

When using the Path Tool, users may find that deleting an anchor point unexpectedly results in a bezier curve. This issue can be addressed with the following steps:

  1. Use a Shape Tool: Begin by drawing a shape on your canvas.
  2. Select the Path Selection or Direct Selection Tool: Choose either tool from the toolbar.
  3. Enable Constrain Path Dragging: Check this option in the toolbar to ensure the path does not automatically curve when modifying points.

Issue 2: Dialog Box Interruptions

Sometimes, a dialog box may appear unexpectedly and disrupt the workflow. To manage this:

  • Check ‘Don’t Show Again’: When the dialog box appears, checking this option can prevent it from reappearing and interrupting your workflow.

Issue 3: Transforming Shapes

Transforming a shape before a dialog box appears can cause issues. To handle this:

  • Enable Constrain Path Dragging Before Transforming: This ensures that the transformation does not affect the path’s integrity.

Issue 4: Maintaining Straight Lines

To maintain straight lines when deleting an anchor point:

  • Constrain Path Dragging: Always ensure this setting is enabled in recent versions of Photoshop to maintain straight lines during edits.

Issue 5: Advanced Vector Work Limitations

Photoshop may exhibit limitations with advanced vector work, particularly when deleting multiple anchor points while keeping the work path closed. Consider:

  • Using Vector Software: For complex vector tasks, using dedicated vector software like Illustrator or Inkscape might provide better results.

Issue 6: Tool Responsiveness in Photoshop CC 2023

In the latest version, users might notice:

  • Non-responsive Convert Tool: If clicking a handle with the Convert Tool does nothing, use the Convert Point tool and Option (Alt) click the center of a two-handled anchor point or a corner point to make adjustments.

Issue 7: Control Path Issues

When attempting to control the path with the ALT key:

  • Reset Photoshop Tools and Preferences: If the left side handle of the anchor is unavailable, resetting the tools and preferences can resolve this issue.

Issue 8: Visibility During Free Transform

To enhance anchor point visibility during free transform operations:

  • Enable Visibility in Options Bar: Check the appropriate box in the options bar to make anchor points visible.

Issue 9: Deleting Anchor Points in Photoshop CC 2018

For users working with Photoshop CC 2018:

  • Enable Auto Add/Delete: Hover over the anchor point and ensure the Auto Add/Delete option is enabled in the Options bar for effective deletion.

Issue 10: Limitations of the Curvature Pen Tool

The Curvature Pen Tool does not support removing anchor points directly:

  • Switch Tool Types: To remove anchor points, switch to another tool type capable of deletion.

By addressing these common issues, users can enhance their efficiency and precision when working with anchor points in Photoshop, ensuring smoother workflows and better control over graphic projects.


Throughout this comprehensive exploration of anchor point manipulation in Photoshop, we’ve uncovered the intricate roles that anchor points play in the creation and refinement of paths for digital artwork and design. By detailing effective methods for removing these points—through the use of the Delete Anchor Point Tool, the Pen Tool, Direct Selection Tool, and others—we have equipped readers with the necessary skills to navigate the complexities of Photoshop editing. The emphasis on troubleshooting common issues further ensures that users can overcome potential obstacles, thereby enhancing their editing experience and outcomes.

The significance of mastering anchor point removal in Photoshop cannot be overstated, as it directly contributes to the precision and quality of digital art creation. This article has not only provided essential techniques and tips for efficient anchor point management but also emphasized the importance of understanding the broader implications of these processes in the digital design realm. As readers continue to apply and expand upon these strategies, they are encouraged to explore further research and practice in order to fully harness the capabilities of Photoshop for their unique creative projects.


Q: How can I delete anchor points in Photoshop?
A: To delete anchor points in Photoshop, use the Delete Anchor Point tool, which is specifically designed for this purpose.

Q: What is the process to disconnect an anchor point in Photoshop?
A: To disconnect or break an anchor point in Photoshop, use the Direct Selection tool. Shift-click (or click-drag) to select multiple anchor points. To isolate a single anchor point, click on it with the Direct Selection tool. To deselect an anchor point, shift-click on it again.

Q: What is the most effective method to eliminate an anchor point from an object?
A: The most effective method to eliminate an anchor point from an object is to use the Delete Anchor Point tool in Photoshop.

Q: Which Photoshop tool is used for removing anchor points?
A: The Delete Anchor Point tool in Photoshop is used for removing anchor points.

Daniel Long

Daniel Long

About Author

Daniel Long, as a writer, delves into the realm of emerging technologies and business solutions, with a particular emphasis on optimizing efficiency and fostering growth. He educational background includes a Bachelor's degree in English from the University of California, Irvine, and he furthered his knowledge by attaining an MBA from Chapman University. This combination of expertise allows him to offer valuable insights into the ever-evolving business landscape.

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