Select, Move, Scale and Rotate Objects

source:trunk/resources/images/mapmode/move/move.svg Keyboard shortcut: S (Press S twice for source:trunk/resources/images/mapmode/rope.svg Lasso selection mode) — is one of the working modes

Select mode

This mode is to change the selection of objects on the map.

The selected objects are drawn in a different style (red color by default); depending on preferences and the active styles. They are listed in the selection list.

The cursor icon will also change depending on the selection mode.

Select the single object

The cursor changes depending on the object. In the table below, the first icon is for a source:trunk/resources/images/data/node.svg node and the second for a source:trunk/resources/images/data/way.svg way

Name Activation steps Cursor Description
Select single object Left mouse click source:trunk/resources/images/cursor/modifier/select_node.svg
Select a node or way under mouse cursor. More precisely, previously selected object(s) will be replaced with new object and displayed in selection list.
Unselect single object Ctrl (Windows/Linux) or Cmd (Mac) plus
Left mouse click
A way or node will be removed from the selection.
Select surrounding Double left mouse click default Select the surrounding object (area or multipolygon).

Cycle in dense or overlapping objects with pop-up

Cursor: none

Activation steps:

  • Middle mouse click to cycle objects with small pop-up (see also some information about middle click on Mac OS.
  • Left mouse click while holding the Alt (or AltGr) key to cycle through nearby objects without showing a pop-up window.

This is useful when:

  • certain way which shares common nodes with one or more other ways
  • multiple objects overlap
  • multiple objects very close to each other
  • selecting between multiple nodes if they appear as single node (multiple dots appear as one)

Action: it will show a pop-up window of nearby objects and to cycle through them. To make this type of selection the default, and thus not require the use of the Alt key, change the advanced preference selectaction.cycles.multiple.matches to true. Holding Ctrl (Windows/Linux) or Cmd (Mac) afterwards to directly select an object.

Selection rectangle

Select multiple objects using selection rectangle

Cursor: source:trunk/resources/images/cursor/modifier/selection.svg

Activation steps: hold and drag the Left mouse button around objects


  • Release the Left mouse button - to select all objects within the rectangle, more precisely:
    • all nodes within the rectangle and
    • any ways which are entirely within the rectangle will be selected
    • previously selected object(s) will be replaced with new object(s) and displayed in selection list panel
  • Hold the Right mouse button when releasing the left mouse button - cancel the selection rectangle

Hold right mouse to move rectangle

You can move defined rectangle as many times as you want: simply hold right mouse button and move mouse cursor around.

Pay attention that in order to select elements, you should release right mouse button first, then left mouse button.


When the mouse button is released and either Alt, Shift, Ctrl or Cmd is held, action will change:

Name Key Cursor Description
Select Alt default In addition to the normal behavior, select all ways that have at least one node within selection rectangle
Add Shift source:trunk/resources/images/cursor/modifier/select_add.svg The objects are added to the current selection
Remove Ctrl (Windows/Linux) or Cmd (Mac) source:trunk/resources/images/cursor/modifier/select_remove.svg Remove all objects in current rectangle from selection (if there were any);
nothing is added to the current selection
  • Alt can be combined with Shift
  • Alt can't be combined with Ctrl or Cmd - as this is used for the scale command described below
  • Ctrl or Cmd combined with Shift makes no sense


You can move the whole selection by moving the pointer close to a selected object, click and drag the pointer.

Moving is also possible with Shift + Arrow keys.

source:trunk/resources/images/mapmode/improvewayaccuracy.svg Improve Way Accuracy - over time many mappers switch to this tools instead of manually selecting-and-moving each node

Aligned move of selection

If the last-added way in the selection consists of exactly two nodes, then the whole move can be aligned to its direction by pressing and holding Ctrl (Windows/Linux) or Cmd (Mac) while dragging.

After mousebutton-down you can toggle Ctrl (resp. Cmd) arbitrarily often to switch between free and aligned move. The constrain offers four directions defined by the last-selected way (move within its direction, against it, and 90° rotations of these; vaguely comparable to the cardinal directions of a compass). To end an aligned move, it is recommended to release the mouse button before keyboard modifier key.

Drag a Midpoint creates New Node

Activation steps: clicking and dragging a yellow cross in the middle of a segment; at any point in time, there N mid points to drag where N is number of segments.

Action: will insert a new node at the location of the cross

Merge nodes

Cursor: source:trunk/resources/images/cursor/modifier/joinnode.svg

Activation steps: hold down Ctrl (Windows/Linux) or Cmd (Mac) and drag one selected node onto an unselected one

Action: merge selected nodes with another; internally it will simply use Merge Nodes - please read more details there.


Cursor: source:trunk/resources/images/cursor/rotate.svg

Activation steps: Shift + Ctrl (Windows/Linux) or Cmd (Mac) + Left mouse button and moving mouse up and down

Action: rotate selected nodes and ways around their geometrical center.

The rotation angle is displayed in the Status Bar.

Rotation at defined angles is possible via the ShapeTools Plugin.


Cursor: source:trunk/resources/images/cursor/scale.svg

Activation steps: Ctrl (Windows/Linux) or Cmd (Mac) + Alt + Left mouse button and moving mouse up and down


  • scale selected nodes and ways around their geometrical center. Proportions will be kept.
  • if used only on 2 nodes, it will move them from or to their mid point (depending on mouse move)

The scaling factor is displayed in the Status Bar.

Advanced details

Whether a mouse action is considered a selection or a move depends on some settings, to prevent objects from being moved when a simple selection was intended; this is particularly important on devices such as tablets that are touch sensitive or use a stylus. If the pointer is moved between pressing and releasing the left mouse button, the object will only be moved if the pointer moved more than 5 pixels or was held down for more than 0.2 seconds, otherwise the object will simply be selected. These two settings can be changed with the advanced preferences edit.initial-move-threshold (pixels) and edit.initial-move-delay (milliseconds).

See also

Back to Mode menu
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Last modified 11 months ago Last modified on 2023-05-11T01:41:03+02:00

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