The Content Aware Patch tool, introduced in Photoshop CS6 and later implemented also in Photoshop Elements 12, is an extension of Photoshop's Content Aware Fill (CAF). This new mode for the Patch tool allows the user to provide more control over the content used for the fill, which often allows for better results on large selections.

Also new in Photoshop CS6, Content Aware Move is designed for moving or stretching a selection. In the default “Move” mode, the tool will try to fill in the source region where the object used to be. The “Extend” mode is designed for cloning or stretching.

Both tools have an Adaptation menu with a few modes ranging from Very Loose to Very Strict. Looser modes synthesize a wider boundary and allow more dramatic changes, while stricter modes reduce distortion on the selection.

Both tools build on the original Content-Aware Fill algorithm: Content-Aware Patch uses the selection region both as initialization and as the source of patches to fill the destination. Content-Aware Move duplicates an interior region of the selection and then synthesizes the boundary around it [1-3]. More specifically, Content-Aware Move was inspired by patch based “image reshuffling” [3] and “local scaling” [2] applications.


  • These features work best if the selection has some margin around the subject. The selection should *not* be tight/accurate at all!
  • Use looser modes when the textures don’t match, and stricter ones to protect the look of the main object (looser modes might distort it).
  • Content-Aware Move uses face detection, so faces should always avoid distortion, regardless of the Adaptation mode (as long the faces were detected!).
  • For cloning an object use Content-Aware Move's Extend mode. Cloning will happen if the source and target regions don’t overlap.
  • As with Content-Aware Fill, these tools only copy from opaque regions of the current layer or background. If you want to exclude some content from being used as source pixels for the fill process (e.g. out-of-focus blurry regions), first copy the image into a new layer and make the unwanted regions transparent using a brush or a selection tool.


(New!) Color Adaptation

In Photoshop CC 15.0 (2014) we enhanced the capability of our content aware features to handle color and intensity inconsistencies better. Content-Aware Fill now handles regions with a gradual color change (such as a sky region or shaded surfaces). One can replace and move regions with Content-Aware Patch and Move tools even if the new region/background have different color properties.

All the content aware tools now have Color Adaptation options - a check box in the Fill dialog, and a slider in the toolbar  - enabling more refined control over how much the color can be adapted during synthesis. The previous Adaptation menu is now a slider labeled "Structure Adaptation”.

This capability is based on a combination of gain/bias normalization of patch color channels [4] and gradient-domain blending with adaptive boundary constraints.  

In this release we’ve also significantly accelerated all the Content Aware features. The original Content-Aware Fill (without color adaptation) runs on average four times faster than in CS6! Very large images that do not fit into RAM (such as large panoramas) may see even greater speed improvements - as well as better quality.

Large Panorama were sped up by 10x.  The memory usage was significantly reduced as well.  The overall quality was improved due to various bug fixes.


  • You can use the arrow keys on your keyboard to quickly change the Color and Structure Adaptation settings to see different results.  You do not need to hit "enter" for the setting to take effect.
  • Although large color adaptation values allow the colors to change a lot, the features work best with more modest color variations. The features cannot handle very different textures yet.
  • With color adaptation, it is possible in some cases to move and mix regions from different images (see the birds example above)Unfortunately Content-Aware Move does not yet allow drag-and-drop across different documents. One way to work around this limitation is to merge the images into a single layer or into multiple layers in the same document (with the Sample All Layers checkbox checked).
  • The Color Adaptation value ‘0’ (no adaptation) reproduces the old behavior of these tools. This setting is also at least twice as fast as with higher values.


Here are some links to press and videos about this feature:

  • Bryan O'Neill Hughes sneak peek (~1.3 million views and counting!)
  • I'm happy to tell you that there's some real magic now", "The Content-Aware Patch tool is fantastic",  Gizmodo
  • "Content Aware Move handles the job like a champ in what can only be described as black magic" - MacLife
  • "If you think CAF is an amazing PS feature, wait till you play around with the new content aware tools” - PetaPixel
  • "Most impressive among what's new in PS CS6 are its Content Aware tools" - PCMag
  • "seriously awesome functionality" - Extreme Tech
  • "holy hell how is that possible" - Tested
  • "jaw-dropping" - TheNextWeb


Related projects:  Content-Aware Fill in Photoshop CS5, PatchMatch