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In a tutorial I am seeing the guy go into 'Mesh Mode' where he is able to select edges behind other edges.

However I am unable to do this in 2.8.

When I select it just selects the closest edge.

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    $\begingroup$ The closest edge to the mouse, or the closest edge to the camera? $\endgroup$ – Linguini Sep 29 '18 at 19:04
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To be able to select occluded geometry you must enable the viewport option X-Ray.

Either use the button on the 3D View Header or press access the with Z key Shading Pie Menu > Toggle X-Ray.

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ As of 20190518 the x-ray option can be found under the viewport options (little arrow to the right of the shader options) but only in solid or wireframe mode (not lookdev or rendered). The x-ray symbol as shown in the answer above is not there anymore. $\endgroup$ – squarespiral May 18 '19 at 17:36

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