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Photoshop 2020 Upgrade: New Features and how to use them

Photoshop 2020 learning Center – Superguide

This is the superguide where you can find all the new features and tutorials on Photoshop 2020.
You can also see all our super guides here, listing all the new features in Photoshop and Lightroom since 2007 (CS3)

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Every year around the time of Adobe MAX, we get a big update in all the CC apps and Photoshop is no exception. Adobe drops quarterly updates, but the MAX one is always the biggest. Worth note, in the Photoshop naming game, (Photoshop (version), then Photoshop (CS), then Photoshop (Extended and standard), to Photoshop CC, to Photoshop CC (year), (Not counting all the spin-offs – Photoshop LE, Photoshop Elements, Photoshop Lightroom, Photoshop Mobile, Photoshop Lightroom Mobile and the other siblings). it’s now just called Photoshop 2020, not Photoshop CC 2020. No, that doesn’t mean that it will be going back to perpetual boxes, 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.

Photoshop 2020 Superguide

Presets improvements

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 single click.

See Tutorial on the new Gradient panel here

Admittedly some of the more useful items I was hoping for, such as social media icons and UI elements are missing from the new presets (how to make you own) , they are an improvement over what we had before. (The 90’s called asking for their presets back).

Object Selection Tool

The Object Selection tool is very exciting. It comes in 2 flavors, rectangle and lasso. This amazing tool enables you to drag over and 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 its 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.

See full tutorial on Object Selection here


Enhanced Transform Warp

This is one of my favorite new features in Photoshop 2020. It’s now easier than ever to warp the shapes of objects or wrap textures on to 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.

Here are a couple of fun things I have been playing with the test the warp.

As far as warping, it reminds me of working with 3D modelling. With 3D you have points, vertices and surfaces. Same here, you can drag on the surfaces to warp, or select points and drag. You can also choose the Bezier handles once you click a point.

If you hold down Shift, you can select multiple points and move sections together. With multiple selected points you will see a selection box. Move your curser to the edge to see a little arrow. You can use this to pinch or bloat the points.

 See tutorial on WARP

Smart Objects to 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.

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 fill in area that we select with pixel similar to the surrounding area. I did an in-depth tutorial on that here

One thing that was missing was an invert button, so that you could start with nothing and paint on the areas to be used in the sample. Adobe went one better.

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

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. Wow, what a huge outcry from the constrain and the non-constrain community. Proof that change doesn’t come easy. Now we have the best of both world with a link at the top tool bar 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. Brilliant! Hidden, but mighty.


Super 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).

Document properties

  1. Canvas: Dynamically change canvas size and orientation by typing in new size
  2. Rulers, Grids + Guides
  3. Quick Actions, Image size and trim are especially useful to me

Pixel Layers

  1. 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 otherwise hidden in Full screen mode.
  1. Select 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.

Properties panel

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


Lens blur

Lens blur is not new and I have done tutorials on it before. 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 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.

See the tutorial here on how to work with depth maps for Blurring background

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 forecoming Photoshop on the iPad. This will be an easy way to share images between iPad and desktop.

Import from iPad or iPhone

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


JDI’s (Just Do It.)

JDI has been a thing in Photoshop for a while now. They are the little common sense tweaks that make everyday tasks easier. Here is the line up for Photoshop 2020.

  • When you are painting with a brush, Hold Tilde key (squiggly thing under the escape key) to switch to erase
  • Keyboard shortcut to rotate brush. YAY! Use arrow keys to rotate the brush. Holding down Shift rotates by 15 degrees each time. Double click tool bar 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 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.


I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Don’t forget to check out my other Photoshop 2020 tutorials here on PhotoshopCAFE

Great to see you here at the CAFE.



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52 responses to “Photoshop 2020 Upgrade: New Features and how to use them”

  1. Colin, as always, you have outdone yourself again! This helpful information along with video tutorials is a fantastic gift to us all. Thanks so much for all the work you do and all your contributions to continue to help us grow in our use and understanding of Photoshop!

  2. This is a great oveview of the latest update. Definitely checking your tutorials once everything is done downloading.

  3. Love you, Colin! OK, don’t take that personally, except that you are doing these tutorials personally, so maybe yes, take it personally. LOL. Seriously, thank you for your videos with down-to-earth explanations. You are a time-saver.

  4. Amazing guy Colin, I’m 2 months into learning photoshop and instead of being excited I’m discouraged because it’s so damned hard. But your videos make it better for sure.

  5. How do you turn off “Zoom to Layer Content”?! This feature is not desirable when trying to collapse nested groups and has created an irritating workflow. Please help!

  6. At last I have found tutorials that I can follow with almost no assumptions of prior knowledge of PS and presented at a sensible speed, FAB!!!!

  7. Hi Colin, You always produce very helpful educational materials. But I have a question – based on your Object Selection demo above. You’ve shown us a nice, dark red object against a pale, sepia background to showcase how miraculous the new Ps CC 2020 selection features are. How well does that tool work in a more often-encountered situation in which us users/photographers have a busier, more consistently toned to the object, background. Can the new tools still jump so effectively to the object vs all it’s surroundings? And, in situations like that how does it deal with flowing hair and other trickier objects? Thx!

  8. Good morning Colin,
    The changes are most impressive especially the Object Selection Tool. I have used this on all my old examples some of which were really quite tricky to get perfect selections with and it worked in seconds. Wow! I think back to Photoshop 5.5 which I cut my teeth on – Wow again!

  9. You guys seem to make it sound like the “constrain scaling” change made last year was not that big a deal, but why was that change not made to other Adobe apps (i.e. Illustrator) if it’s so common place among other programs in the world? Yes I hated that change at first, but I’ve gotten used to it. However, when I switch between Photoshop and Illustrator or After Effects, I have to remember to use Shift everwhere else but Photoshop…so there’s that.

  10. Thanks for your vid, love the new features ….been a long time coming.
    Q-I don’t have Trim, Crop, Scale , Resize on my Properties, any idea how to show them there?

  11. Thank you so much for showing how to fix the constrained proportion. I really loved not hitting the shift key and was upset when it reverted back. I fixed it and am so happy!!

  12. I didn’t get “Quick actions to convert text to a frame”… could you please include this topic in your next tutorial? Thanks!

  13. Also, I forgot to ask… where are saved the presents like brushes, gradients, shapes, etc… They used to be storage at C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop 2020\Presets… but they are not anymore…. Thanks in advance for your answer…

  14. Colin, I really appreciate your tutorials. I have updated to Photoshop 2020, but do not have these features. Do I hav e to use Catalonia because I am still using High Sierra on my iMac? I’ve tried to ask Adobe this same question, but can not seem to receive an answer. Thanks.

  15. I had to buy a new machine because my old pc couldn’t run Sensei (12 year old, Windows 7) .
    Seems it was exactly the moment to do so.
    I could install my actions and the few plugins I use (the rest it old and not interesting anymore) with no problems.
    I also changed my two basic shortcuts:
    1/ saving better has no shortcut (experience), save as does need one, and gets Ctrl+S
    2/ Close Photoshop does not need one either, so Ctrl+W is to Save for Web.

    Apart from this, I must say that 20202 is really awesome.
    And so are your tutorials.

  16. Thank you for your tuitions they are both very helpful and easy to understand.The most recent instructions and assistant on the release of the changes to photoshop will certainly help me to gain full benefit of the improvements they provide

  17. Good morning Colin, can you please help?
    Puppet Warp in Photoshop 2020 (Windows 10) ceased to work. Couldn’t see the pins let alone move them. Was advised to go to Edit, Preferences and check use Graphics processor which worked but then the Lasso tools didn’t work. I contacted Adobe and had a long chat with someone there but could not resolve the issue. Would you have any ideas and an answer would be very much appreciated although I know you are bound to be very busy. Thank you in advance.

  18. Very grateful for your help.
    They are very helpful.
    I am now getting older and find your comments a bit on the too quick to catch it.
    I will use the “old review it again” button.

  19. Help. “Remove Background” doesn’t appear in the “Quick Actions”Properties window Photoshop 2020 Mac Catalina.

  20. I open images directly from a Windows Explorer or from ACDSee with default PS2020 set. The images open up in Camera Raw even though they’re not RAW images. Am I missing something here? They originally were processed in RAW. But are now .jpg. Can anyone answer this?

  21. I LOVE this video and the troubleshooting one you have for Photoshop 2020. I can not find an answer to my issue so hopefully, you have run across this. My Options Panel (that changes according to what tool you have and is located under the main subject bar in Photoshop (file, edit, image, layer, and so on) it is gone so when I pick up the brush tool I can choose the brush I want to use but I can’t change the transparency and all the other useful things that it has. When I go to the window drop-down and at the bottom I choose options it doesn’t come back whether or not I click it on or off, it is just gone.

  22. Have Elements 2013 at the present time…..whats the least expensive way to upgrade to a newer version

  23. Great video. Clear and to the point. A big plus is the fact that you share a written document that goes with it in case one has to go back to check on something. THANKS many times over!

  24. Hi Colin, Please how can i change my save as preference from cloud to my computer. since I opened photoshop for the first time. i didn’t get the option to choose where to save. I can only save as Cloud document. Please will be glad if you can provide help. Thanks

  25. Hello Colin, I would really appreciate a reply. I am trying to download Photoshop 2020, I have Photoshop CCs latest version and it wont upgrade to 2020. Where do I download Photoshop 2020?

  26. Hi Colin. Thanks for the great videos and text. I’ve learned a lot. However, I still can’t find where lumosity is hiding. Could you point me to it please. Thanks a lot

  27. Hi Colin. Using latest version of Photoshop. Have the Legacy Brushes loaded but cannot change size on some of them. Example: Pencil brush only works at 9 pixels. Any other size and the box surround turns from blue to orange in the Brushes Panel. Any ideas on how to fix this?

  28. These tutorials are just brilliant. I learn by observing, and the demos, together with clear instruction, allow this technophobe to learn a lot more about Photoshop! Thanks so much.

  29. So pleased to have this update tutorial – great for reference when editing … i always forget the tricks that i don’t use frequently!

  30. I have updated photoshop cc newest version okt 2020, v. 22.0 but the operation cloud replacement tool is not available in the edit file (column)
    What can I do?

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