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Whenever I select an object in Blender it will be outlined in orange or yellow. How is it decided which colour will be used for the outline, and what does each one mean?

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  • $\begingroup$ the red color means selected, the yellow color means last selected. Last selected makes the object "active", which has different utilities. For example if you want to parent several objects to another one, the last selected will be the parent, so it's always better to show which was the last. $\endgroup$
    – moonboots
    Jul 3, 2020 at 12:56
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    $\begingroup$ i am kind of new to this whole stuff so sorry but i need to ask what you mean by parent $\endgroup$
    – charles
    Jul 3, 2020 at 13:59
  • $\begingroup$ youtube.com/watch?v=GS452KMVWKA $\endgroup$
    – moonboots
    Jul 3, 2020 at 14:04
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the help on that. so what if i am working on a particular mesh and i decide to add a new object. I get that(as you said)the object will have the yellow color select which means that was the last object i selected. Why am i then finding it impossible to yellow color select the original mesh i was working with. Instead when i select the ORIGINAL mesh it goes in the red color select. In other words i am wondering if it is possible to go back to the original mesh and still select it with the with the yellow color rather than the red color $\endgroup$
    – charles
    Jul 3, 2020 at 18:10

1 Answer 1

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3D Viewport:

One way to select objects is clicking on them in the 3D Viewport in Object Mode.

Objects with an orange outline are sleceted, but the one object with a yellow outline is the active object. There can only be one object with a yellow outline (but there can be multiple with an orange outline). When holding Shift down (that is the default key), you can select multiple objects. The object you select last is the yellow and active object. This is important if you want to do operations on multiple selected objects.

For instance, if you select two cube objects in Object Mode, "Cube" and "Cube.001" in that order, and then press Ctrl + J, then "Cube" will become part of "Cube.001". Since "Cube.001" was the active object. "Cube" will be gone and the "Cube.001" object will have a mesh consisting of two cubes.

If you select two cube objects, then select a sphere object and then de-select the sphere object, you are left with two cubes with an orange outline. Now joining the objects with Ctrl + J will not work, because Blender does not know which object to make part of the other and which one to keep as the remaining object.

Also, if you add geometry in Edit Mode, for instance add a cube to a cube and then select it in Object mode, both cubes have a yellow outline. It may seem you have two objects with the same color outline, but it is one object. So not a new object was added, but geometry was added to the mesh of the object, and in Object Mode the cubes will move as one.

(If you have multiple meshes in one object, but you want to separate them into multiple objects, you can select the object in Edit Mode an press P and choose for instance By Loose Parts.)

EDIT:

Outliner:

If you select objects in the Outliner window however, it can be different.

In the Outliner there is a square with rounded edges around the active object. There is always an active object. So there is always such a square somewhere in the Outliner, even if no object is selected.

If you select an object in the Outliner by clicking on it, it turns yellow in the Outliner and it gets a yellow outline in the 3D Viewport. Shift select other objects and they will turn orange and have an orange outline. So in the Outliner the first selected object is, and remains (while selecting in the Outliner), the active object.

If you select an object in the Outliner, other than the active object (whether the active object is selected or not), by right clicking on it and choosing Select from the menu, it will turn orange in the Outliner and have an orange outline in the 3D Viewport. So if the active object is not selected, you can select multiple objects this way without any of them being yellow or having a yellow outline.

If you select an object and then go into Edit Mode, you cannot select other objects (or their corresponding meshes) in the 3D Viewport. You can select other objects in the Outliner, but in this case the object you are editing is and remains the active object. Also the meshes of subsequently selected objects do not become editable, even though it is possible to edit the meshes of multiple objects at the same time. In order to do this you will have to select multiple objects before going into edit mode.

EDIT 2:

Outdated graphic card drivers:

It is also possible you select a single object and the outline is orange (even though it should be yellow). And when you try to move it, only the origin (the small dot) is affected. Also the origin can be moved away form cameras and lights. This should not happen and is likely caused the 3D Viewport not updating. Updating you video card drivers should resolve this issue.

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    $\begingroup$ thanks. so what if i am working on a particular mesh and i select a new object. i get that the object i newly selected will have the yellow color select. How can i yellow color select the original mesh i was working with $\endgroup$
    – charles
    Jul 3, 2020 at 17:49
  • $\begingroup$ The last selected object is the active object and has the yellow outline. Also be aware that the selection colors in the above answer only apply to objects, and only apply to Object Mode. Meshes are not objects, but objects can contain a mesh. In the Outliner window for instance, an object has an orange icon, and the mesh of the object has a green Icon. You can edit a mesh in Edit Mode. In Edit Mode the selection colors are different. The active, or last selected, element (either a vertex, edge or face) is by default white, while other elements are orange. $\endgroup$ Jul 3, 2020 at 18:45
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for the help on that. so what if i am working on a particular OBJECT and i decide to add a new OBJECT. I get that(as you said)the OBJECT will have the yellow color select which means that was the last object i selected. Why am i then finding it impossible to yellow color select the original OBJECT i was working with. Instead when i select the ORIGINAL mesh it goes in the red/orange color select. In other words i am wondering if it is possible to go back to the original OBJECT and still select it with the with the yellow color rather than the red color select $\endgroup$
    – charles
    Jul 6, 2020 at 10:41
  • $\begingroup$ I assumed you selected your objects in the 3D Viewport. It should work as described if you select your objects there. If you select objects by right clicking in the Outliner window however, it can be different. Or you might be in Edit Mode and, as i said in my previous comment, my initial answer applies to Object Mode. In any case, I have edited my answer accordingly. If the selecting doesn't behave as described, then it might be due to different user interface preferences (though i doubt it), or maybe you're experiencing a bug. I think I covered most of it now; hope it helps : ) $\endgroup$ Jul 6, 2020 at 17:19

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