The Magic of Photoshop: Content Fill

We’ve all been there. You take the picture, all smiles, then ecstatically shove the SD card into your computer to start editing the magic you just photographed. You open up your file and everything is perfect – but wait – there’s a water bottle, or branch on the ground that ruins the composition of your shot. Or the most common problem, “I wish that person wasn’t there on the side.” It’s hard to get the perfect picture. There are almost always distracting elements that ruin the picture-perfect frame you had in your mind. But with the new patch on Photoshop CC in the Adobe Creative Cloud, it’s easier than ever to efficiently remove elements in your photo without making it apparent.

Let me Introduce you to Content-Aware Fill

Content-Aware Fill is nothing new to Photoshop users. It was introduced in the 2014 patch of Photoshop CC and it was revolutionary. The official description of the Content-Aware option in the Patch tool is to “synthesize nearby content for seamless blending with the surrounding content.” Content-aware easily removes elements. Start by pressing the ‘L’ key to bring up the lasso tool, circle the element you want to remove and hit ‘Shift+Delete.’ This will open up the Fill option. Make sure that Contents is listed as “Content-Aware” and hit Ok.

However, while it did work beautifully for small elements that are in your shot, it was hard to do it seamlessly on big elements like a person or a post. The Content-Aware Fill wasn’t that really content-aware, it was confused on what the content it is supposed to fill when dealing with bigger distracting elements of the picture.


I’m trying to remove the utility pole from the original picture (left) circled by the marching ants of the lasso tool. But when I hit Shift + Delete and choose content-fill, you can see on the right that it fills it with content from the roof of the building to the right of the picture rather than just leaving it a dark sky as I would want. This is one example of how content-fill wasn’t always working perfectly.

A Round of Applause For The New and Improved Content-Aware Fill

Before the October 2018 patch to Photoshop CC, we were left at the mercy of the algorithms of the Content-Aware, users would select the lasso tool, hit ‘Shift + Delete,’ hit ‘OK,’ and pray really hard that Content-Aware would pick up the right surrounding content to fill in. If it worked, Content-Aware is the best thing in photo editing. If it did not, we had to play clean-up in an effort to remove the element. Simply, we had no control on which surrounding content it should pick up. But that all changed 4 months ago. Here is how the new Content-Fill works:

Step 1: Grab the lasso tool and circle the element you want to be removed

Step 2: Instead of hitting ‘Shift + Delete,’ go to Edit -> Content-Aware Fill

Step 3: You will see your picture but it’s highlighted in lime green except for the area where your lasso tool was circled.

The green area is what the Content-Fill considers as the surrounding content. Basically, when it tries to fill the area that you want removed, it grabs the element from the green area and tries to fill it as best as possible. If you hover over the picture, you’ll notice that your mouse pointer has turned into a brush tool.

Step 4: Use the brush tool to remove the area that you don’t want the content-fill to consider as the surrounding content.

Step 5: Hit ‘OK’ on the right-hand side and voilà! The Content-Fill now only uses the dark sky that’s highlighted in green as the surrounding content, instead of trying to fill in the area with the roof of the building or the store signs, etc.

Final Picture: Before and After


As you can see, the utility pole is gone in 5 easy steps. The new Content-Fill tool for Photoshop is an extremely powerful removal tool for pictures. I use it for almost every picture I edit. Whenever you are editing a picture to post on social media and you are trying to remove distracting elements, don’t forget to use this newly updated tool. You do not have to be a Photoshop expert to use it, Adobe made it extremely simple and intuitive. Now go make your pictures picturesque!