How to Remove the Bezier Handle in Photoshop CS5

If you are like me, you have spent many frustrating hours working with Photoshop and the pen tool trying to figure out the same thing. How can you get rid of, delete, or otherwise remove the Bezier Handles attached to an anchor point?


First, some background. Maybe you aren’t sure what a bezier handle is. A bezier handle is the little “wing” that comes off any anchor point created with the pen tool that creates the curve in a line. If you drag it out further, the curve becomes greater. It is created by clicking and dragging with the pen tool to create a new point. If you click without dragging, you end up with a point with no handles at all, and thus no curve is created as a result of this anchor point.

But what if you want just one bezier handle, not two? This might be useful if you need a curve on one side of the point and not the other. If you were smart enough to figure out that they are even called bezier handles, you probably Googled your way across the internet, coming across tutorials telling you that to remove them, you simply alt + click and they will go away. This is not accurate. Alt + clicking merely allows you to modify one of the handles independently of the other. A useful tip, to be sure, but it does not accomplish what we need.

So how DO you delete the bezier handle? Sadly, as of Photoshop CS5, the answer is: you can’t. Every anchor point created with the pen tool has either 0 or 2 handles on it (for the most part: read on.)

But have no fear; there is a workaround!  With the anchor point selected and the pen tool active, alt + click the bezier point and drag it to the very center of its corresponding anchor point. While this doesn’t technically delete the point and handle, it in effect renders it useless, which is almost as good. Zoom in as much as you can to get it directly in the center of its anchor point, and you will be dealing with a tiny fraction of a pixel in terms of the effect on the curve, which for all intents and purposes is good enough. If you are a perfectionist, there is nothing I can do for you.

There is also a way to partially avoid this situation altogether.  If you click and don’t drag to place a new anchor point, and then hold down alt and click on the new anchor point and drag out from it, you now have an anchor point with only one handle. It seems as though you have no control over which handle it is, it always controls the future side, not the existing line between this point and the previous one. It’s  not ideal but it works!

Hopefully this helps some people… I found myself shocked at the lack of information out there about this and hope to help someone out. Unfortunately my CS6 beta expired so I can’t test this in the newer version of Photoshop, perhaps they fixed it. As far as I know, Illustrator actually allows you to DELETE the bezier point using the same method I described, but that functionality is not in Photoshop as far as I know.

About Brian Johnson

Brian Johnson is a website developer and designer living in Minneapolis, Minnesota with a passion for code and WordPress. He spends his days building WordPress websites for small businesses, developing new code with the online community, and living life.

18 Comments on “How to Remove the Bezier Handle in Photoshop CS5”

  1. Brian,

    There actually IS a way to remove the handles. You simply use the convert point tool and click on the point with handles. It converts it to a standard point.

    1. Congratulations Brian Mallett on not actually reading the article. Thanks for the tips Brian Johnson. Your article doesn’t really ‘fix’ the problem of deleting the single bezier curve but it did end a fruitless search. Kind of boggling this slipped past Adobe QA. Pen tool ain’t exactly a fringe use tool.

  2. When you draw that point or especially when adding a point to an existing path segment, you can hit option or select the convert point tool to “convert” your point to non-bezier. If your not drawing and just using your direct selection tool, you will not be able to key command “option” over to the convert tool anymore, cause you are no longer on the pen tool. So, an extra step if your modifying paths instead of drawing on the fly. But usually drawing with the pen tool you have a good idea of what your doing holding with the option tool and drag clicking. The only instance this annoys me in photoshop is when quickly intersecting straight lines to add non-bezier points. Illustrator does them non-bezier by default on a straight path. So working in both programs mindlessly you forget.

    1. And Im pretty sure the convert tool has been around in photoshop since the early days of like 7 or CS1, so Im a little surprised you wrote an article on something photoshop has had a pretty basic solution for, being the reputable developer/designer you are?

      1. I think you missed the point of the article: it’s specifically for getting rid of just one of the Bezier handles, not both. As mentioned in the article, it’s not very hard to end up with 0 or 2 handles, but there isn’t an easy way to remove just one of them. You are right: the convert anchor point tool works just fine for getting rid of both but not one. But that wasn’t my initial dilemma.

        However, after investigating I did find one related trick: when an anchor point has no bezier handles, you can create just one by holding alt (PC) while using the convert anchor point tool. Granted, this doesn’t delete any but it’s still useful. Strangely, the major limitation appears to be that it only creates a handle for the leading edge of segment; there’s no way to create just one on the other side using this method. I use CS6 now, I think maybe this particular feature was new from CS5 to CS6?

  3. You can delete one of the bezier handles in CS5. If you click and drag your anchor point to get the bezier handle you want on one side of the anchor point, you can simply alt+click the anchor point to delete the other bezier handle, as long as you haven’t extended your path beyond that anchor point. If you go back to a previous anchor point and alt+click it, then it will remove both anchor points. So, it’s dependent upon the situation. If you alt+click an anchor point at the end of a path it will delete the bezier handle for next section of the path. If you alt+click an anchor point in the middle of a path (i.e. there are path segments extended from both sides of the path) it will delete both bezier handles and convert it to a simple anchor point.

  4. I believe I found the solution for this: If you want to use only one handle, ALT click on the Point. You will create always the handle on one side by this. For the other one, click and drag on the Point (you’ll create both handles) and ALT click the Point to remove one. The remaining seems to be the handle on the OTHER side. TADA!
    Can you guys confirm that?

  5. You can just Alt+click an anchor point to convert it in CS5, too. I do this constantly because I always get bezier handles even though I don’t want them. And I am not clicking/dragging. Just clicking. Not supposed to happen.

  6. Sorry for the error in last post, the second step shoud read:

    2) Click and drag the point out with alt+V. The anti-clockwise handle appears. If you need the other handle, one usually can achieve the same curve by working on the next or previous point.

  7. Great post. Thanks for this solution, and with your inspiration let me add the next step.

    1) If you already have a point with two handles, click on it with V to turn it straight.
    2) Click and drag the point out with alt+V or shift+alt+V. It gives 1 anti clockwise/clockwise handle.

  8. I’m not exactly sure how this applies to CS 5, but in CS 6 if you have an anchor point with handles and you select the anchor point and then you option click on it(the anchor point not the handles) it will remove the handles.

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