Text on Selection Tool—the Workaround that Works

with 35 Comments

by Linda Sattgast

(Photoshop users: scroll down for instructions.)

Ever since Adobe introduced new Type tools in Photoshop Elements 10, scrapbookers have had type options that come close to emulating Photoshop. One of the new tools was the Text on Selection tool. This tool can be frustrating, however, if you try to use it as designed. Here’s where most people start: with the Text on Selection tool itself.


You are offered the Quick Selection Brush for making a selection, but it seldom does a good selection job. Thankfully, there’s an easy workaround:

• Use any other selection technique you desire to get a selection outline. For example, to get a curved selection outline to use with the template pictured below, in the Layers panel, I Ctrl clicked (Mac: Cmd clicked) on the thumbnail of the curved template layer to get a selection outline. Fast and easy.


• Once you have your selection outline, get the Text on Selection tool and click once inside the selection. This tricks the tool into thinking it created the selection outline and gives you a check mark and a cancellation mark.


• Click the check mark to accept the selection. This turns the selection into a path.

Don’t Skip This Next Step!

• At this point, you have no idea what your alignment is. Alignment options don’t appear until after you click on the path, so I recommend resetting the Text on Selection tool.

Warning: If you change the alignment after clicking on the path, the text will jump to another spot on the path—usually the exact opposite of where you clicked.

That’s why I recommend resetting the tool. The default is Left Alignment, so at least you’ll know where to click on the path.

• To reset the Text on Selection tool in Photoshop Elements 11, open the menu to the far right in the Tool Options and choose Reset Tool. In earlier versions, this menu will be to the far left in the Options Bar.


Now You’re Ready To Type

• If you took my advice and reset the tool, hover your cursor over the path where you want your type to start. (Don’t just click anywhere on the path.)

• When your cursor changes into an I-beam with a slash mark, that means you can click on the path to initiate a type layer.

• As soon as you click on the path, a new type layer will pop up in the Layers panel.

• Now type what you want to say. You may need to adjust the font, size, or amount of the type to make it fit in the allotted space.

• Click on the check mark to commit the type.

• After committing your type, you may want to move it. Get the Move tool and use the Arrow keys to nudge it into place. I moved mine below the curve and changed the color to white.


If you want to try the Text on Selection tool using the same template I used, click here to download the template.

Photoshop Users:

• Ctrl click (Mac: Cmd click) on the thumbnail of the curved template layer to get a selection outline.

• Open the Paths panel (Window > Paths).

• Open the Paths flyout menu and choose Make Work Path.

• In the dialog box, click OK to the default tolerance of 1 px.

• Get the Horizontal type tool.

• In the Options Bar, select your font, size, and alignment.

• Decide where on the path you want to place your cursor. Choose a spot that goes with the alignment you selected. If you’re using left alignment, click where you want your type to begin. If you used center alignment, click in the center of where you want the type to appear.

• Hover your cursor over the path where you plan to click. When your cursor changes to an I-beam with a slash, that means you can click on the path to initiate a type layer.

• Once you type your words, you may need to adjust the font, size, tracking, or amount of the type to make it fit in the allotted space.

• Click on the check mark in the Options Bar to commit the type.

• After committing the type, you may want to move it. Get the Move tool and use the Arrow keys to nudge it into place. I moved mine below the curve and changed the color to white.

Here’s my finished page:



Photos and page by Linda Sattgast
Template from Under the Pier collection by Carol Gilmour (modified)
Paper from Duty Honor Country Kit by Etc. by Danyale and Family Tree Papers by Joanne Brisebois
Photo frame cluster by Jen White using Duty Honor Country by Etc by Danyale
Scattered leaves from Senior Yearbook by Kitty Designs
Type overlay from Travel Mates Post Card Overlays by Susie Roberts
Staple from Travel Adventure by Linda Sattgast
Fonts: Hero Light and Myriad Pro

Quote: “Quiet is peace. Tranquility. Quiet is turning down the volume knob on life. Silence is pushing the off button. Shutting it down. All of it.” Amir in The Kite Runner

35 Responses

  1. Maggie Adair
    | Reply

    Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! This is gotta be the best tutorial I have read on text on a path. I have wanted to be able to do this in PSE in like forever. Thank you so much Linda, I really appreciate this tutorial 🙂

  2. Terri
    | Reply

    Thanks Linda. Is nice to be able to find the tutorial when I needed to use it, even though it is many months later. Love your tutorials> Terri

  3. Dede Wurl
    | Reply

    Would love to link my photo to this…it turned out great with the text selection tool workaround…thanks, Linda!

    • Linda Sattgast
      | Reply

      I’d love to see a link to your image here!

      • Dede Wurl
        | Reply

        Not sure how to link it here. I do know how to link from the forum.

  4. Betty
    | Reply

    I’m so close, but I’m still having some problems. I can get everything working – the selection, reset the tool, even the typing, but for some reason my letters start to follow the path, but within a few letters circle around to the opposite side of the selection. I’m working in Elements 10 and I used a shape, an apple. Not quite what you used in your tutorial, but still a viable subject, right? In one attempt I made it all the way around the apple, but on the outside of the selection when I had intended on my letters being on the inside of the selection. Help.

    • Betty
      | Reply

      I spoke too soon. I kept trying the steps, but on one pass I accidentally skipped over the step of clicking inside the selection and voila! It worked – a couple of times (I was worried it was a fluke, so I tried it again.)

      I’ve tried out a number of your tutorials and found them really beneficial – thanks for providing them.

      • Linda Sattgast
        | Reply

        You can flip the type inside or outside the path. With the text active, press the Ctrl key (Mac: Cmd key) to get a bounding box. Click near the type and drag in or out to flip it. Then let go of the Ctrl/Cmd key and commit the type.

  5. noreen
    | Reply

    Thanks Linda. It worked this time!

  6. Loretta
    | Reply

    I’m stuck! When I click on the accept check mark I can’t get the type tool to work correctly. I click the mouse at the top of the curved path, but it goes to the bottom edge of the page and doesn’t follow the path at all. I can see my text in the layers panel but not on the page unless I move it up with the arrow keys, but then it is just a straight line. Any suggestions as to what I’m doing wrong? I’m using PSE10.

    • Linda Sattgast
      | Reply

      First, reset the Text on Selection tool (see the tutorial for how to reset the tool).

      Once you reset, the default alignment for Text on Selection will be left. Therefore, you must start as far left as you want your type to start. Don’t click in the center of the path.

      Once you click on the path, don’t change the alignment, or the type will jump to another spot—usually the exact opposite side of the path! The reason your type is straight at the bottom is that the path along the bottom is straight. Only the top part is curved.

      So reset the tool, and then don’t change the alignment after you activate the type layer by clicking on the path. That should take care of the problem.

      I rewrote some of the steps in the tutorial to make this more clear, since you’re not the only one who had trouble with this. 🙂

      • Loretta
        | Reply

        Thanks Linda! It took me awhile to find the reset tool (I couldn’t find the tutorial on how to do this so found it online) but that took care of the problem. Yeah, I’m excited to learn how to do this now and put it to good use! 🙂

  7. SusannB
    | Reply

    Wow, Linda..always had a hard time trying to do type on a path. This was spectacular and so easy. Thank you so so much!

    • Linda Sattgast
      | Reply

      Yay! I’m glad it’s working for you now!

  8. A
    | Reply

    I am using PSE 10 and everything works until I try to type. Then instead of writing, the instrument panel changes depending on which letter I push. What do I need to change?

    • Linda Sattgast
      | Reply

      Make sure you have actually clicked on the path to start a new type layer. Move your cursor close to the path until you see your cursor change to an I-beam with a slash. Then click on the path. A new type layer will appear in the Layers panel.

  9. Donnak
    | Reply

    Thanks so much! I was struggling with this just yesterday and now have a solution. Great tutorial–as always. Thanks again.

  10. Diane
    | Reply

    I’ve been doing battle with this one since it came out. Loved this workaround!!! It works!!!

  11. noreen
    | Reply

    Lovely page Linda!
    I followed your instructions using PS cs3 but when i got to typing the type did not go on the path, just typed as regular across the page.
    what am I doing wrong?
    Thanks for your help,

    • Linda Sattgast
      | Reply

      Hi Noreen—After you create the path, get the Type tool and move it close to the path until you see your cursor change to an I-Beam with a slash. That means you can click on the path, and your words will follow the path.

  12. Karen
    | Reply

    I love this page. what a great look. I’m ready to scraplift this one. Thanks for the tips.

  13. Lori
    | Reply

    WOW!!! Who knew! Thank you for sharing this great work-around trick!

  14. Shirley Lewerenz
    | Reply

    Stunning page! Thanks for this info; I cannot wait to try it out. You always make things easier with your detailed instructions!

  15. Shirl/Grambie
    | Reply

    Linda, everything is just so informing and filled with love and fun. It bring back memories of the Premier beginning with the TOTW and WBWT. Thank you for advancing my digital scrapping abilities with encouragement and love. It is because of you that I am a PSE user today. Blessings. 😉

    • Linda Sattgast
      | Reply

      Shirl, you go back with me a long ways! Hugs and blessings to you today, too!

  16. Karen M in FL
    | Reply

    Wow thanks for this information. I switched from 5 to 11 and couldn’t figure out how to make my old justify trick work. Totally missed the whole button thing and this tip just make that even better. Thanks so much.

    • Linda Sattgast
      | Reply

      Wow, Karen—you were ready to upgrade if you were still using PSE5! (Although that was a GREAT version!)

      A lot of new stuff has been added since version 5, so enjoy!

  17. mary
    | Reply

    Your page is beautiful. Thanks for the work around.I seems Adobe just makes things harder to use instead of easier.

    • Linda Sattgast
      | Reply

      I think they’re trying to simplify things for Elements users without giving them the full power of Photoshop, but in this case, it was confusing. With this workaround, however, it really is quite easy to get a great selection outline!

  18. Barb
    | Reply

    Thanks for the tips, Linda! and I must say your page is breathtaking!

    • Linda Sattgast
      | Reply

      Thanks so much, Barb!

  19. Thejage
    | Reply

    Absolutely beautiful page!!

    • Linda Sattgast
      | Reply

      Thanks! It calms me down every time I look at it!

  20. Theresa
    | Reply

    GREAT tut!…I have a question though…why when I do it does it not let me start typing where I want it makes me typ all the way around the other side of the object I type on. Like directly across the object.


    • Linda Sattgast
      | Reply

      The alignment options only show up after you click on the path, but if you change the alignment after clicking on the path, it moves the starting point, so that’s probably what’s happening to you. That’s why I suggested in the tutorial that you reset the tool, which sets it to Left Alignment, and then you will know where to click for your left starting point and won’t need to change it later.

      Alternately, you can click on the path, type a word or two, change the alignment (which will make the words move) and commit the type anyway. Then you can delete the type layer and start again. The alignment you used last time will stick, and this time it will type where you click—just don’t change the alignment!

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