Photoshop CC, Adobe’s flagship image editing app, remains an industry standard because of its innovative vision of how the software can assist photographers and graphic designers in doing their jobs. While technically, Photoshop’s subscription model frees it from the tyranny of yearly upgrades, Adobe still announces high-profile updates on a yearly schedule. Having dispensed with commercial version numbers (it is now at version 20), Adobe now renames the app according to the prospective year.

If you already use Photoshop CC, then you are either a Creative Cloud or a Photography Plan subscriber, which means that the Photoshop 2019 update is automatically available. If you are not a subscriber, new features in the 2019 version may inspire you to give the app a try.

The 2019 version offers improvements to existing features like Content Aware Fill and Home Screen, as well as new tools like the Frame Tool and dynamic Blend Mode previews. It even adds something many felt it should have had all along: a Color Wheel. The Symmetry Mode, which was a technical beta in the last version, has now been fully implemented, letting you paint brush strokes in a symmetrical pattern.

Improvements to the interface, like matching the font size to the app’s controls, makes the experience more cohesive. A single click in the Preferences scales toolbars, icons, buttons, labels, and panels according to type size—tiny, small, medium, and large.
photoshop cc 2019 ui interface Jackie Dove
You can now scale the interface to the font size.

The new version of Photoshop revamps some common key commands to match most other programs. The new Undo (Command-Z) makes sense to most people, though it might be a challenge to the muscle memory of current Photoshop users who have long been accustomed to a different key combo and the Step Backward command for multiple undos. Similarly, Transforming a layer no longer needs the Shift key to preserve aspect ratio as you resize. You can now have Photoshop do math calculations in the image sizing tool or other fields that call for numeric values.
photoshop cc 2019 home screen Jackie Dove
Adobe has fashioned the home screen into a centralized resource for recent shots, tutorials, and your Lightroom catalog that you can access at any time via a new Home icon in the Options bar.

Color Wheel

photoshop cc 2019 color wheel Jackie Dove
Finally, Photoshop features a native Color Wheel.

The absence of a color wheel, à la Corel Painter, has always irked some users, and now Photoshop 2019 sports one. It operates the same way as classic color wheels, and will doubtless please many users who no longer have to rely on a third-party color wheel plugin.

Content Aware Fill Workspace

Content Aware Fill is an algorithm that “sees” what’s behind an unwanted or distracting object in your image, allowing you to remove it without a trace, and replacing it with the background that would have been there. This year, Photoshop leans into the content aware process with a new command and accompanying workspace that offers tools and options for more precise and complex fills.

You can now use an AI-enhanced live preview (powered by Adobe’s Sensei artificial intelligence engine) to pick and choose which part of the image the program should sample or exclude for precise control over the results. This update to the Content Aware Fill feature let me remove an unwanted object from a photo I’ve been working on literally for years—an extremely challenging job that I was unable to accomplish with previous versions.