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Although conventional (mask‐based) lithography will continue to dominate selected area processing in microelectronics, two approaches aimed at ‘‘maskless’’ patterning are playing major roles in applications and in research. (i) Self‐aligned processes add (or modify) material in simple spatial relation to an already existing pattern, based on selective surface chemistry or topographic structure. Because they simplify processing by eliminating lithography steps, self‐aligned processes are already exploited whenever possible. (ii) Direct beam processes can be used to deposit, etch, or modify material as needed, either by scanning of microbeams or projection of broad, patterned beams of photons, ions, or electrons, and a diverse set of support and special applications has been identified. Broader applications of maskless processing may arise from combinations of self‐aligned and direct beam processes, motivated in part by the advantages of in situ, integrated, dry/vacuum processing, but progress is dependent on better understanding and control of underlying chemistry and physics in order to achieve high quality materials and structures.