1. Create a new Google Slides in Google Drive.
  2. Add three boxes: Box1 is a larger box, inside of it are two smaller boxes, Box2 and Box3: Three boxes
  3. Then try to select just Box2 and Box3, without also selecting Box1.
  4. It does not work. I've tried using Shift and Ctrl modifiers in various ways and it does not work.

The workaround is very costly: I have to first move Box1 aside, then drag a selection rectangle around Box2 and Box3, move both of them to a new location, and then move Box1 back into place. That is bad because I have now lost the original location of Box1.

Is that workaround the only way?

(Note that this is about Google Slides, Google Drawings, or using Google Drawings within a Google Document, not about selecting text inside Google Documents or cells inside Google Spreadsheets. Nor is this about any Microsoft products.)

  • how about selecting any object and then clicking tab
    – HongboZhu
    Commented Sep 19, 2017 at 12:56
  • That does not work. Select Box2, click tab, and it selects Box3. The intent is to select only Box2 and Box3 but not also Box1.
    – bgoodr
    Commented Sep 21, 2017 at 14:46

6 Answers 6


Holding alt while you select with the mouse only selects the objects that fall fully within the select area (default behavior is to select anything that intersects with the select area).

I was able to select the 2 inner boxes using this method.

However, I was also able to select the 2 inner boxes using shift and ctrl modifiers.

  • 2
    "Holding Alt while you select with the mouse... " : does not work either. Just typing the Alt key causes Firefox to toggle display of its menu, and is apparently not passed to the Google Slides webpage. This is on Firefox 59.0.2 running on Ubuntu 17.10.
    – bgoodr
    Commented Mar 31, 2018 at 21:22
  • 1
    Oh, but selecting the 2 inner boxes using Shift works now. It definitely did NOT work when I originally posted this question, so I suspect someone fixed this defect. So I'm rewarding your post with it being "the" answer. :)
    – bgoodr
    Commented Mar 31, 2018 at 21:26
  • 1
    ALT will work, be sure to start the selection outside of all objects and then encompass the entire object you desire with the selection - some situations may pose an impossible method if there is no clean entry from a raw background into your application without fully encompassing another object.
    – cgseller
    Commented Aug 12, 2019 at 20:25
  • OMG thank you so much Commented May 3, 2020 at 14:53
  • @bgoodr you might try this to disable firefox menu toggling.
    – user60794
    Commented Jan 28, 2021 at 9:45

I've found selecting one object and then repeatedly hitting tab the best way to select an object (particularly when sending one object to the back would also then make it hard to manipulate).

Unfortunately it can mean hitting tab several times!


Select Box1, right click, then Order - Send to back. At this point Box2 and Box3 can be selected.

  • This also works in other Google apps, like Google Drawings.
    – Carl
    Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 7:56
  • This is a great tip and probably the simplest
    – Anupam
    Commented May 25, 2021 at 11:19

As I always say Google has a long way to go before it can compare to certain applications for example Google slides, there are so many other and better applications to use but to answer your question:

Yes and no .

Something's you can try to do would be:

  1. Click box1 and click move back or move to background. This will then allow you to click box2 or box3 when you hover over them with your mouse.

2.( what you already tried) moving box1 to the side then fixing box2 and box3.

3.use a different application.

That's all I got hope some of this helps out!

  • I think I will have to accept yours as the answer here, but before I do, can you clarify what "move to background" means? I searched the context and main menus and could not identify what this means. I only found a way to change the background color, not move any objects to the background (which I would presume would allow them to not participate in object selection).
    – bgoodr
    Commented Jul 26, 2015 at 17:13

Can't see it in G-Slides, but in PPT it is possible to pull up a side menu that shows all of the objects on a slide (mostly for animation purposes) but from memory that allows you to select the "working" object for any editting task.

The "move to background" idea means shifting the biggest shape to the back-most layer in the graphic (if you move it to the front it hides the smaller images). Expectation is that the cursor will pick up the top images and ignore the background. Use Arrange...Order.... to select your options. Seems to work on slide I have here.


If Box1 is transparent, it might be in front of the other boxes, which isn't visually obvious yet makes it impossible to select what's underneath it. Make sure Box1 is behind Box2 and Box3 by using the context menu or a shortcut (Command-Downarrow several times, or Command-Shift-Downarrow to send to the back).

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