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8 reasons why you cannot select your object in Blender

Most Blender artists have had the issue where they cannot select an object. There can be many reasons for this, and most of them are simple once you understand them.

Here are the reasons we will cover.

  • You are in edit mode for a different object
  • You marked the object as unselectable
  • You marked the object type as unselectable
  • You have the wrong tool selected
  • You are trying to select an object that is part of another object
  • Selection works, but you don't get the feedback that you selected
  • You are in local view for another object
  • A bug is preventing you from selecting in Blender

The problem is frustrating, even if the solution may be simple. Here are eight reasons why you cannot select an object in Blender.

You are in edit mode for a different object

A common reason for not being able to select the object you want is that you are already in edit mode for another object.

When you are in edit mode, you can only manipulate and change the geometry and data that belongs to the object that was selected when you entered edit mode.

To select another object if the issue is that you are in edit mode, follow these steps:

  • Check the top left corner of the 3D viewport and see if the drop-down menu there says object mode or edit mode (if you are in object mode, this is not your problem).
  • If it says edit mode press tab to exit edit mode for your current object.
  • Now you will be able to select another object in your scene

Keep in mind that you can be in edit mode for multiple objects at once. Just select multiple objects one by one by holding shift and click and then press tab to enter edit mode.

You marked the object as unselectable

In the outliner, we can mark an object as unselectable or not selectable. The outliner is the list of objects in your scene that is in the top right corner of the interface.

To see if an object is selectable. Press the filter icon in the top right corner of the outliner.

Related content: 10 New or hidden features in Blenders outliner

Press the arrowhead to show the selectable icon in the outliner.

Now you will have an arrow icon next to each object and collection. If this arrow is gray, your object is unselectable. A white arrow indicated an object is selectable and an arrow that only has two lines show that a complete collection of objects is not selectable.

This feature is there to make it easier to select the objects that we need to select when we have many objects in the scene. This way we can disable selection for the objects we are not currently working with instead of hiding them.

You marked the object type as unselectable

You can have the same problem but for an object type. For instance, if you cannot select lamps but you can select mesh or geometry objects.

To find out if this is the problem, go to the object types visibility drop-down menu in the top right corner of the 3D viewport. Then make sure that the arrow icons in this list are white for the object type you need to select.

By default, all object types are selectable, but you may have changed this here accidentally.

We can also toggle the visibility by object type in this menu by clicking the corresponding eye icon for the object type.

You have the wrong tool selected

If you are having trouble selecting anything at all in the 3D viewport, it could be that you have the wrong tool selected in the left side tool panel in the 3D viewport.

For instance, if you have the 3D cursor tool selected in the tools panel, you will move the 3D cursor instead of selecting when you click an object.

To solve this, you find the selection tools in the top most icon in the tools panel. Click it to select it or click and hold to see the selection options.

The default selection tool is the box selection tool. You can also select the selection tool and toggle between the different types using the W shortcut key.

You are trying to select an object that is part of another object

If you have an object that you want to select, but you can't select it by itself. It is likely that your object is part of another object. Follow these steps:

  • Make sure that you are in object mode
  • select the object
  • press tab to go to edit mode.
  • Select the geometry you want to be its own object
  • Press P then choose selection or use "by loose parts" if you want to separate all loose individual mesh pieces into different objects all at once.
  • To recenter the origin on each object, tab to object mode, right click and go to Set Origin->Origin to geometry.

In Blender we have object data and mesh data. In object mode we manage the object and in edit mode we manage the mesh. An object can have multiple meshes or geometry parts in the same object.

You may have added an object in edit mode by pressing Shift+A and continued to model from there. You were not really adding a new object. Just more mesh to the object you were in edit mode for.

Selection works, but you don't get the feedback that you selected

Maybe your object actually gets selected when you click it to select. But you don't get any feedback in the 3D viewport that it is actually selected.

Here it is likely that your overlays are turned off, or that you turned off specific overlays.

Related content: How to use 3D viewport overlays in Blender 3D

In the top right corner of the 3D viewport, find the overlay menu. Make sure that the show overlays button is blue. This shows that overlays are turned on.

If you still don't get feedback, i.e., an orange outline appears around the object you are trying to select, press the down arrow next to the overlay toggle button.

Here, make sure that outline selected, and origin are checked.

You can't see the object you want to select.

If some or all except one of your objects has disappeared from the 3D viewport, it could be that you have entered local view or that you have hidden some objects.

To show all objects if you have not gone into local view, but we hide objects, press Alt+H to show all hidden objects.

If you have gone into local view, you can press "number pad /" to go out of local view.

A bug is preventing you from selecting in Blender

There could be a bug preventing you from selecting in Blender. Here, try to reset the workspace and change the select button from left to right or from right to left.

Here is how to reset the default workspace:

  • First, go into your preferences. Edit->preferences.
  • Go to the key map section and change the selection button
  • Next exit preferences and right click your workspace in the interface's header. By default, this is the leftmost layout called layout.
  • Choose to delete.
  • On the right side of the rightmost workspace, there is a plus icon. Click it and go to General->Layout to add a new layout workspace.
  • Go into preferences and change the back to your preferred selection button.

Final thoughts

Not being able to select is a frequent problem, especially for beginners. There can also be many causes and it's hard to track down a solution.

I hope this was helpful to you and thanks for reading.

Author

Erik Selin
3D artist, writer, and owner of artisticrender.com

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