So there are tools in photoshop like "content-aware fill" and "content-aware scale". I also see a content aware check mark in photoshop a lot of times, like when I use the crop tool

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and when I use the patch tool, I "content-aware" selected on the dropdown-

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So, my question is, what exactly IS "content-aware"? Is it a tool, or collective name for multiple tools? Is it a setting, or something you chose from a dropdown? What is the meaning of the term "content-aware" ?

And what is the exact function of "content-aware" ?

2 Answers 2


Content-Aware is a technology that enhances the capabilities of multiple tools within Photoshop that assists in patching, (re)moving, scaling, filling, and extending pixels in rasterized images. It shows up in various tools throughout Photoshop but the technology behaves according to which tool it's being applied with.

The most basic explanation: when activated, it recognizes the content in your image to determine how to best make up the differences made in editing processes.

For example, when applied to the Patch Tool:

The Patch tool is used to remove unwanted image elements. The Content-Aware option in the Patch tool synthesizes nearby content for seamless blending with the surrounding content.

-Adobe Support:Content-Aware Patch and Move

And in regards to the Move Tool:

Use the Content-Aware Move tool to select and move a part of a picture. The image is recomposed, and the hole left behind is filled using matching elements from the picture. You do not need to carry out intensive edits involving layers and complex selections.

You can use the Content-Aware Move tool in two modes:

  • Use the Move mode to place objects in different locations (most effectively when the background remains similar).

  • Use the Extend mode to expand or contract objects such as hair, trees, or buildings. To best extend architectural objects, use photos shot on a parallel plane, rather than at an angle.

-Adobe Support:Content-Aware Patch and Move

These are just a couple of examples of how the Content-Aware technology is applied to different tools within Photoshop. As you can see, it's a powerful editing enhancement that uses the pixel information from the rasterized image to best guess how to fill in the "holes" that result from various editing operations. For a more in depth look at all of the Content-Aware applications, Adobe Support has them here.

  • what does restarize mean? Feb 7, 2017 at 19:42
  • oh i just checked the definition of restarize, it says "convert (an image stored as an outline) into pixels that can be displayed on a screen or printed.", but isn't every image made out of pixels? Feb 7, 2017 at 19:43
  • also, so when we use "content-aware" to move objects, its really just the patch tool without us telling it where to blend in from. And when we use the patch tool to tell phootshop from where to use pixels to blend in the space left by the removed object, it also uses some content-aware to do the blending thing. And when we use spot healing, that also uses content aware, right? Feb 7, 2017 at 19:45
  • That sounds about right. Keep in mind that it's not always a super accurate technology so you may still have to do some editing after the fact. The Content-Aware does a lot of the "heavy lifting" though. Feb 7, 2017 at 19:49
  • In regards to your question about raster images, I'm speaking primarily on rasterized vs. vector, in which Vector images are made of hundreds of thousands of tiny lines and curves (or paths) to create an image. Raster images are composed of pixels. Feb 7, 2017 at 19:51

To get a deeper understanding of what context aware scaling is and how it's actually working I can strongly recommend watching the original video presentation of the technique from 2007 by its inventors Shai Avidan and Ariel Shamir.

Their 5 minute video on youtube has a technical focus but still manages to explain the concept in a very approachable way. Basically context aware scaling is all about finding vertical and horizontal "paths" of pixels that can safely be removed or expanded without distorting the important parts of the image.

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