Repositioning with the Content-Aware Move Tool in Photoshop Elements 15

By Barbara Obermeier, Ted Padova

The Content-Aware Move tool enables you to select and move a portion of an image in Elements15. The best thing is, however, that when you move that portion, the hole left behind is miraculously filled using content-aware technology. In other words, Elements analyzes the area surrounding the selected portion you’re moving and then fills the hole with matched content.

Here’s how to use this beneficial editing tool:

  1. In Expert mode, open your image and select the Content-Aware Move tool.

    The tool looks like two arrows. You can also press the Q key.

  2. Choose either Move or Extend mode.
    • Move: Elements moves your selection to a new location and then fills the remaining hole with content-aware pixels. The Move mode works great when you need to move an object, or objects, in your image for a more desirable composition. Keep in mind that this technique works best when the background of the new location of the object is similar to the background from which it was plucked.
    • Extend: Elements extends your selected area while maintaining any lines and structural elements and blending them into the existing object. This option works great for expanding or contracting objects such as hair, fur, trees, buildings, and so on.
  3. Choose your desired Healing setting.

    Healing controls the amount of flexibility Elements uses in determining how to shift pixels around and how strictly regions are preserved when determining the content-aware fill. The default setting is smack dab in the middle.

    You can also select the Sample All Layers check box to use content from all your layers. If you leave this check box deselected, you use only content from the active layer.

  4. Drag around the area of your image that you want to move or extend.

    If you need to fine-tune your selection, you can use the Path Operations options on the Options bar. Or you can press the Shift key to add to your selected area or press Alt (Option on the Mac) to delete from your selection.

    You can now also transform — scale or rotate — your selected area by selecting the new Transform On Drop option. When you move your selection, the transform box will appear and the Transform options will appear in the Options bar. You can select your options there or manually drag or rotate the handles of your transform box. Click the Commit button (the green check-mark icon) to complete the transformation.

  5. If you did not select the Transform On Drop option in Step 4, move your selection to your desired location.
  6. Touch up any areas that require it.

    You can break out the Healing tools or the Clone Stamp tool to fix any mismatches or remaining flaws. A few spots were fixed along the girl that weren’t quite matched up.

photoshop-elements-15-content-aware-move-tool
Recompose your image by using the Content-Aware Move tool.

You also have the option of filling any selected area with a Content-Aware option. Make a selection and choose Edit → Fill. Under Contents, choose Content-Aware from the Use pop-up menu.