Ever wonder what the Expand Button in the Pathfinder Panel does and why it is not available? Here is how to access the Expand button and what it does!
Draw two or more shapes and select them with the Selection Tool.
Open the Pathfinder Panel and choose one of the Pathfinder options. You will notice that the Expand Button is not available.
However, when you hove over the Expand Button, it will give you the Tool hint telling you to Option + Click in order to create a Compound Shape.
If you click on a Pathfinder option, it will perform the function and give you one shape as a final result. You cannot edit each shape individually any more.
So what is a compound Shape? A compound shape is 2 or more shapes that make up a what looks like one shape. The result may look the same but each shape is still editable individually.
When you hold OPTION + click on a Pathfinder Mode, it gives you the final result BUT it keeps each shape as an individual shape that is editable.
When you OPTION + click on the shape mode, the Expand button becomes available.
The Expand Button allows you to expand the shapes, which are individually editable, to expand the shapes into one shape.
If you want to edit each shape, you can use the Isolation Mode to select just one of the shapes. Use the Selection Tool and then double click on the shape to enter into Isolation mode. Now you can edit and move the shape independently of the first shape. To exit Isolation mode, hit the Escape key.
Another way to edit each shape in a Compound Shape, select an item in a Compound Shape use the Group Selection Tool that is nested with the Direct Selection tool.
When you have the Compound Shapes selected, you can click the expand button to make all the shapes into a single shape that is no longer made up of individually editable shapes.
This is a set of shapes that has been "Expanded".