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In this question I found out uses for being able to deselect the active object.

You can basically use the active-but-unselected object as a transform pivot point for the rest of the object selection without affecting the active object. Which is great.

You click-select the object to make it active, then border-deselect it. It's now unselected but remains active.

Unselected Active Object

But here you can see the behavior is different in in Edit Mode.

Active Element

While this doesn't seem like a big deal with a vertex selection it would be nice with an Edge or Face to modify around a face's pivot point without actually modifying the active face.

I've been able to force deselect an active element through python but I was wondering if there was a way without scripting.

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  • $\begingroup$ Sidenote: If you need to do it frequently maybe make a script that puts a button on your toolbar for that purpose. $\endgroup$ – Duarte Farrajota Ramos Jul 12 '18 at 19:24
  • $\begingroup$ That's a good point. But my question is more about whether the workflow in Edit Mode is intended to be different than in Object Mode. Or if there's a way I can natively achieve the same behavior in both. $\endgroup$ – andyV Jul 12 '18 at 20:48
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    $\begingroup$ The active pivot is only needed for rotation and scale, which means it doesn't matter if a vertex is selected, which you noted already. In face mode the behaviour works as expected, the active face doesn't need to be selected. Did you maybe overlook something? | Edge mode seems to be the only mode where the design is counterproductive, but still, the pivot defaults to the active face if the active edge gets deselected (far from ideal, but you can control where the active face is). $\endgroup$ – Leander Jul 12 '18 at 21:05
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    $\begingroup$ Doesn't seem like a reliable approach to me. You can set the pivot point to 3dcursor, which means adding a step to snap the cursor to the location before selecting and transforming, but it will stay there for multiple steps until you move it. $\endgroup$ – sambler Jul 13 '18 at 7:16
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    $\begingroup$ well one might rotate around cursor (i do it often while i dont like it, but its blenders way). use in combo snap cursor to object / slection. $\endgroup$ – user3800527 Jul 13 '18 at 9:47
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Based on the comments it seems like the answer to the question is that Active-But-Unselected elements in Edit Mode are not really intended to be used the same way as Active-But-Unselected objects in Object Mode.

Active verts and edges become deactivated when unselected, and unselected faces, while remaining active, become hidden which kind of forces you to "work in the dark".

For the specific use-case I posted in the original question it seems like the cleanest way to achieve that is to use the 3Dcursor as the pivot like sambler and user3800527 mentioned.

To keep conventions consistent across modes in Blender I wish all elements had a persisting active item that remained visible regardless of selection. It would make learning Blender a lot easier without having to ask so many questions :)

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