How to select an object under another object With Inkscape On a Mac

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Inskcape is a powerful open source – and free vector program that works on a variety of platforms.  On my Mac it had some things that did not work quite right.  One of those was an inability to select one object that was under another object.  This is a handy feature that allows you full control and it’s a bummer if it won’t work right.

According to the help files on Inkscape.

How can I make the Alt key work ?

If you find yourself unable to use Inkscape functions that require the alt key (i.e., option key) such as Alt+D to create a clone or Alt+Click to select under, you will need to turn off the “Emulate three button mouse” under the Input Preferences for X11.

Recent X11/Xquartz versions (≥ 2.5.1) have a new GUI option in the preferences dialog to make the option/alt key work like a real Alt modifier instead of Mode_switch (X11 Preferences > Input > Option keys send Alt_L and Alt_R). Changing this setting will have the downside of no longer being able to input diacritic and other special characters via keyboard in X11-based applications because both option keys will be changed. See below for a more fine-grained solution.

I tried the top option and it did not work on my computer.  I’m running on El Capitan on a Macbook Pro.  What did work was to select the checkbox – Option Key sends Alt-L and Alt-R.

After I checked that, there were no more issues.  To enable and alt click on a Mac, use Option-click and it will select the next object below.

A Handy Tip

Now you might be asking, how do you know what object you have selected?  Well that’s a good question and I have a solution.  Let’s say for example that you have 2 text layers.  To know which is which, temporarily change the color of one that you want on the bottom – say to blue.  If the one on top is black, then click once on the text.  The Fill tab at the bottom will show black.  Now Option-click and look at the fill tab – it should turn blue confirming that you have selected the object below.

I hope this helps.

Here’s a video tutorial showing how to solve this problem.

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