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Adobe Photoshop CS6 beta: what you need to know

The Adobe Photoshop CS6 beta is a good chunk of what we'll expect to see in the final version of the next-gen image editing software. This will form part of Adobe CS6, alongside InDesign CS6, Illustrator CS6, Adobe Creative Cloud and Adobe's Touch apps.

Don't forget to check out our Photoshop CS6 review

You don't need a serial number to install and use the beta. But you will need an Adobe ID. "Adobe ID login and online activation are required either at installation or within seven days after your first launch of the Photoshop CS6 beta," says Adobe.

Overview: new Photoshop features

Photoshop CS6 boasts an array of new features, including:

  • Significant performance improvements in key editing tools
  • New interface color preferences
  • Preset migration and sharing
  • Background Save and Auto-recovery
  • An all-new Crop tool
  • New Content-Aware tools
  • Type styles
  • Layer search
  • Vector strokes
  • Dashed line creation
  • Skin tone-aware selections and masking
  • Improved lens adjustments
  • New blur tools
  • New video tools
  • Completely new 3D workflows
  • A pre-release version of Adobe Bridge (a visual media manager)

As for the best stuff. Watch Russell Brown's '6 Favourite Photoshop CS6 beta Features. The video includes demos of Adobe Camera Raw 7.0, the adaptive Wide Angle feature, two of the blurring tools and Tilt-Shift. It also covers the Content-Aware Move and Patch tool and the new Crop tool.

'Just Do It' (JDI) improvements

Adobe's Jeffrey Tranberry helpfully provides a full list (opens in new tab) of the user-submitted 'Just Do It' (JDI) improvements that have been included in the Adobe Photoshop CS6 beta. They are:


  • Contact Sheet II has been restored as an Automate option
  • PDF Presentation and Layer Comps to PDF have been restored as Automate options


  • Add ability to record brush strokes in actions with "Allow Tool Recording" option
  • Brightness/contrast slider for textures when painting
  • Brush projection for static tips
  • Brush tip cursor reflects brush pose and jitter for round and captured tips
  • HUD brush resize and hardness can now change opacity (CTRL-OPTION up/down)
  • Increase maximum brush size to 5000px
  • Change color dynamics to per stroke instead of per tip (user option for old behavior)


  • Enable Split Channels for documents with single layer (so you can split simple transparency)

Colour Picker

  • Allow clipboard paste into hex field with # in contents (i.e. #aabbcc), or 0x (i.e. 0xAABBCC)
  • Allow shortcut hex values (i.e. #123)


  • Add ignore adjustment layers options bar item for the eyedropper
  • New mode for eyedropper to select layers current and below
  • Show the sample size popup for the various eyedropper tools (black point, white point, etc.)

File Formats

  • Allow for reading more bit depths in TIFF files
  • Give the user choices regarding how they want transparency treated in OpenEXR on file open and save
  • Read BIGTIFF format (TIFF files over 4 Gig)
  • Read common stereo image pair formats (JPS, MPO, PNS)


  • Increased GPU stability by prequalifying GPUs on the fly before use


  • Grammar policed throughout app
  • Use consistent grammar style in the title of dialog windows (no commands such as "Choose a color:")

Image Resizing

  • Auto-select the best resample method based on the type of resize (bicubic-automatic)


  • (Macintosh only) Import images from devices provides ImageKit scanning and camera acquisition support


  • Add a contextual menu item that deletes a layer effect not just disables it
  • Add bicubic sharper & bicubic smoother options when free transforming layers (menu in options bar)
  • Add dither options to Layer Styles for Gradient Overlay and Gradient Stroke
  • Allow 00 or Shift 00 to work when setting layer/fill opacity (previously no way to get 0%)
  • Allow changing color labels on multiple layers at once
  • Allow changing of blend modes for multiple layers at once
  • Allow locking of multiple selected layers
  • CMD+J to duplicate selected layers and layer groups (in addition to layers)
  • Layer tooltips to include layer name (if defined)
  • New command to rasterize layer effect into layer, merging the selected layers into themselves (Rasterize Layer Style)
  • Opt+click on toggle arrows (groups and effects)in layer panel should close all targets
  • Reorder effects in the layers palette to match the Z-order style/blend mode (bottom most effects in terms of blending order, drop shadow is below the other effects)
  • Show blend if/Blending Effects badge on layer if they are not default values
  • Show correct opacity and blend mode values for hidden layers
  • Tab goes to next layer on inline layer rename, SHIFT + TAB goes to previous
  • When creating a shape layer, the layer name should not be like "Shape 1" but instead reflect the tool named such as "Rectangle 1"


  • Add option to load last mesh
  • Increase maximum Liquify brush size to 15,000
  • Resize Liquify brush with shortcuts: bracket keys [ ] now match same increments in Photoshop
  • ctrl (win) / cmd (mac) switches to magnifying glass
  • alt + right click + drag to change brush size (win)
  • ctrl + alt + left click + drag to change brush size (mac)


  • Enable Invert and Threshold adjustments for masks in 32-bit/channel


  • Hold SHIFT during startup to disable Optional and 3rd party plugins


  • Add New Document presets for common devices (e.g. iPhone, iPad, etc.)
  • Add new Gradient Map presets for traditional print toning and split-toning
  • Sticky reorganization of tool presets (changes persist after relaunch)
  • New HDR Pro presets from RC Concepcion and Scott Kelby


  • Add "Edit" button for the description field in the print dialog
  • Allow print dialog and print preview window to be resized
  • Allow user to change the "preview well" background color in the print dialog
  • Allow user to manually position the printed area on the page
  • Hide color profiles that are inappropriate for currently selected printer when using "Photoshop Manages Color"
  • Reintroduce "Print selected area", allow user to modify selection in print dialog


  • Add warning message that 16-bit images cannot display their file size in the Save as JPEG dialog


  • Add ability to access tool name associated with the tool preset name via scripting
  • Add the ability to return an array of guides in a document from the scripting SDK


  • Make the marquee, lasso, and mask panel feather values support decimal places like the feather dialog
  • Remember feather radius when showing dialog for selection from a path


  • Don't hide smart object icon when transforming a layer
  • Improve dragging of vector curves
  • Rotate 90 with even x odd pixel dimension to not land on a half pixel position
  • Preference to disable auto-rotate on open


  • Add command to insert "lorem ipsum" for type
  • Added Gamma rendering parameter for better text rendering


  • [Windows] New/open document to context click on a document tab (has always been on Mac, now Windows too)
  • Add "Don't show again" checkbox to Purge warnings
  • Remove the app bar and reduce the drag/app bar over 30%

Have you downloaded the Adobe Photoshop CS6 beta? Let us know what you thought of it in the comments below.

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