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New Photoshop Tricks and Features to Try this 2020

New Photoshop Tricks and Features to Try this 2020

Every year, we get big updates in all the CC apps and Photoshop is no exception. Adobe drops quarterly updates, but the MAX one is always the biggest. Photoshop saw a lot of versions from Photoshop (version), then Photoshop CS (Creative Suite), then Photoshop (Extended and Standard), to Photoshop CC (Creative Cloud), to Photoshop CC (year). Still, we have the spin-offs namely Photoshop LE, Photoshop Elements, Photoshop Lightroom, Photoshop Mobile, Photoshop Lightroom Mobile, and the other siblings. This year, it’s just called Photoshop 2020, not Photoshop CC 2020.

But what does it mean? Are we going back to the physical installers? What are we getting with this new version?

Well, the subscription is here to stay. This year it’s a big release and there are some great features. Let’s look at them now with some Photoshop tricks to try.

Adobe Photoshop

  1. Improved Presets

After many years, Photoshop has finally updated the presets. Gradients, patterns, swatches, layer styles, and shapes have all received new library content. Don’t worry, if you love that bubble pattern, all the old presets are still available under “legacy”. These items have all been moved from the preset manager to Photoshop Panels. If you remember how brushes and swatches were reorganized into groups, you now have this functionality with the new preset panels.

Tip: Cmd/Ctrl+Click on subfolders to expand/Collapre them all at once. Gradients are now available as Library items.

The big feature though is being able to change the presets with a single click.  You can drag from the panels into the document to apply. If there is a selection, they will be masked to the selection, otherwise, they will appear as adjustment layers. You can also drag them directly into the layers panel. Now you can click on different preset to swap with a single click.

  1. Updated Object Selection Tools

The Object Selection tool is very exciting. It comes in 2 flavors, rectangle, and lasso. This amazing tool enables you to drag over an object in a photo or image and then Photoshop magically selects it for you, like Select Subject, but more focused. You could select it with the rectangle and then fine-tune with the Lasso option. As always Shift Adds to the selection, while Alt/Option subtracts. This is like a Magic wand and Magnetic lasso in one, but it’s powered by Sensei, Adobe’s AI engine. Worth noting, the Select Subject AI has also been updated and works much better now. You can also find Object Selection in Select and mask.

  1. Enhanced Transform Wrap

It’s now easier than ever to warp the shapes of objects or wrap textures onto them. With a layer active, Choose Edit>Transform>Warp or press Cmd/Ctrl+T for Free transform and right click and choose warp. Once warp comes up you can choose a grid from the Tool options bar.

The best part is this, if you hold down alt/Option and drag on the grid, you can split the mesh wherever you wish. This enables you to do custom splits.

  1. Smart Objects and Layers

This is one we have been waiting a while for. Previously if you wanted to make layers from a Smart Object, you had to open the Smart Object in a new window and then drag the layers back to the main document. A use case is making derivative items, where all the layers are the same on each except for one or 2 things such as numbering bullets.

Now all you need to do is Right Click on the Smart Object and choose Convert to Layers. If there are multiple layers in the Smart Object, they will be converted to a Layer Group.

Smart objects and layers, Photoshop

  1. Custom Content-Aware Fill

The last big update of Photoshop added some much-needed features in Content-Aware Fill. This is the tech that magically fills in an area that we select with pixel similar to the surrounding area.

We now have 3 modes, rectangle, which is the old default, an auto which often does a better job than rectangle, and now we have Custom. Custom allows you to paint on the image and only the painted areas will be used. As before, you have to access this through the menu Edit>Content Aware Fill.

  1. Consistent Transform

In the past, you scaled something by dragging, and to constrain you held down the Shift key. Then last year a “small” change to the way we transformed happened. Just like every other program on earth, scaling was constrained (staying in proportion) by default and you now hold down the Shift key to squish or scale non proportionally. Now we have the best of both worlds with a link at the top toolbar to constrain or not.

Here’s the thing, that link has always been there, but it wasn’t attached to the on-screen scaling before.

  1. Properties Panel

The properties panel has undergone an overhaul and has now become your command center. There are 3 areas that have been beefed up with lots of new options. Document Properties, Layer Properties, and Text. With these new additions, you can do a lot more without going through other menus or panels. This also makes it possible to work more in full-screen mode. Also, check out the cool things in Quick actions (press the button for things to happen).


  • Canvas: Dynamically change the canvas size and orientation by typing in a new size
  • Rulers, Grids + Guides
  • Quick Actions, Image size, and trim are especially useful to me


  • The ability to Flip and rotate in a single click is great.
  • Easy access to Align and distribute are nice, although these are also in the toolbar, but would be hidden in Full-screen mode.
  • Select a subject and remove background are sure to create some buzz. This is something out of SciFi, click REMOVE BACKGROUND to select, extract, and move the subject to a new layer in a single click.


  • All the text options for the Character and Paragraph panels are here. Click the ellipsis to expand and see all options.
  • Quick actions to convert text to a frame or Shape
  1. Lens Blur

Lens blur is not new. But this time around they have added a Set Focal Point button. If you have a depth map, you can click on the image to focus on where you click. You can use the depth map from a portrait mode photo from a mobile camera such as iPhone or Pixel in HEIC/HEIF format. Or you can create your own depth map.

Read more on the best security apps for your iPhone now so you can secure your iPhone in this new normal.

  1. Cloud Docs

When you choose Save, you now have the open to save your file to your local drive just like you always did, but there is an additional Cloud photo option. This enables you to save images in Creative Cloud for access anywhere. This is entirely up to you, you can choose where you want to save them and set that as the default location and change it anytime you like.

Just to clarify, Adobe is not forcing you to save images to the cloud, they are just making that option available if you want it. The big reason this option has been added is the upcoming Photoshop on the iPad. This will be an easy way to share images between iPad and desktop.

  1. Import Files from iPad and iPhone

This feature is only on the Mac, but you can import an image directly from an iPhone or iPad. Just plug the device in and choose File>Import>Images from the device. Navigate to your device on the left and choose the images you want to import.

Other Tips – Be Artistic and Just Do It

Be artistic with Photoshop

These are the little common sense tweaks that make everyday tasks easier. Here is the lineup for Photoshop 2020.

  • When you are painting with a brush, Hold Tilde key to switch to erase.
  • Keyboard shortcut to rotate the brush. Use arrow keys to rotate the brush. Holding down Shift rotates by 15 degrees each time. Double click the toolbar to reset.
  • Right-click on the document tab and choose Close others to close all the Windows except the one you are currently working in. Or use Ctrl+Alt+P.
  • Zoom to layer Content: Hold Alt/Option key and single-click thumbnail in the layers panel. Photoshop zooms in to fill the screen with that layer.
  • When you save an animated gif it now supports all frames instead of reducing it to a single image.

Final Thoughts

Upgrade your Photoshop skills by trying out these new features or feature updates. Level up your creativity by exploring new Photoshop products at Softvire.

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