Photoshop CS6 Enters a Several-Week Period of Free Public Beta

Tonight, at 9:01pm California time (that’s 1 minute after midnight on the East Coast), Photoshop pulls off something it has attempted just once before: It enters a nearly seven-week period of public beta, during which you can download the program for free. Yes, Photoshop CS6 is available, right this moment, for your immediate click, install, and enjoyment. And it will cost you nothing.

That is to say, you won’t have to shell out cash. But you will have to expend some attention. Because, and make no mistake about this, CS6 is one of the biggest upgrades to Photoshop since its inception.

Which is why I’ve created a total of 29 movies on the topic for, including the one above and five more embedded in this post. The full 29-movie course is available, in its entirety, for free to members and non-members alike. Just click on this link, Photoshop CS6 Beta Preview, and start watching.

Meanwhile, here’s my take on the product: After many months using the application, I put it in the same rarefied air as Photoshop 1 (a big upgrade from no Photoshop whatsoever), Photoshop 3 (layers!), Photoshop 5 (color management, layer effects, history, editable text), Photoshop 7 (healing, Camera Raw), and Photoshop CS3 (smart filters, 3D). Feature-wise, it’s closest to the 1990’s-era Photoshop 5. Because the damn thing’s dripping with the stank of the spanking new. If this were a car, you’d be driving it for a month just to learn all the gizmos and then sitting in your garage just to smell the upholstery. And honestly, friends, this is one good-smelling application.

In fact, Photoshop CS6 may be the most impressive upgrade to the program since Adobe assigned the CS trademark. My two cents, love to know yours.

For example, there’s the infectious tang of the dark interface, feature in the above movie. (Lightroom users will say they already had this, but this is Photoshop, so where’s the comparison?) The darkness is calming and it allows you to focus on your image without the distraction of the bright stuff around the edges. On the PC, it looks like the image below. On the Mac, it’s topped off by a light gray menu bar, which sucks, but it’s a necessity of the light OS. Click the image below to see a full-res view.

The new dark interface in Photoshop CS6

And that’s just the beginning. What follows is a list of my Top 10 favorite features in the program:

Feature #1: Auto Save & Recover. By default, Photoshop CS6 automatically backs up your image every 1 minutes. So if you’re working on a big project and you crash, there’s a very good chance (a great chance in my experience) that when you relaunch, your project will be waiting for you, with your most recent modifications intact.

Feature #2: The Nondestructive Crop Tool. As demonstrated below, this thing rocks. By default, the new Crop tool crops the image non-destructively, meaning that it generates a new layer and keeps all pixels from the original image inside a reduced canvas. It also previews a rotation and supplies a Straighten tool in the options bar.

Feature #3: Content-Aware Move. This eye-popping feature doesn’t always work as miraculously as the following movie might imply. (The Content-Aware Move tool fares best with random backgrounds.) But its abilities to automatically fill in backgrounds and stretch image elements without distorting them make it a welcome addition to the software.

Feature #4: The revamped Layers panel. You can now “filter” layers. Meaning that you can take a 1-layer composition and show just the type layers, or just the layers with drops shadows, or just those set to the Multiply mode. You can search for a layer by name. And you can apply a blend mode to multiple layers; expand, contract, and jump a bunch of layers; and apply a layer effect to an entire group. It’s such a big topic, I expend three movies on the topic(s) in my free video course, Photoshop CS6 Beta Preview.

Feature #5: The Blur Gallery. The three-part Blur Gallery lets you create depth-of-field in post. You can drop pins to define points of focus. You can create iris and tilt blurs. And you can combine as many blur styles as you like. Plus, you do so inside a kind of sub-program that occupies the entire screen and provides an authentic preview. Considering buying one of those $1 thousand-dollar cameras that shoot really tight depth of field? Might wanna rethink that.

Feature #6: Editable 3D Type. If you’ve been skeptical about 3D in Photoshop (don’t blame you), CS6 gives you reasons for new hope. As I show in the next video, you can extrude text into the third dimension without A) the clunky Repoussé (it’s gone) and B) losing the ability to edit your type. Photoshop’s 3D features take some time to get used to, but where type is concerned, CS6 amazes. (Note: 3D will only be available in the Extended version of the program when the product ships in a couple of months.)

Feature #7: The Adaptive Wide-Angle filter. This new filter allows you to take the bend out of dramatic wide-angle shots (see the movie below). The distortion is often part of the attraction of such shots, but if you want to remove the distortion, now you can. Happily, the filter works its magic with such exactness and aplomb that it’s hard to resist. Plus, you can apply it to wide-angle panoramas, as long as you stitch them in C6.

Feature #8: Filling and stroking shape layers. You know shape layers, those vector-based path layers that you can scale and rotate with impunity? Well, if so, they’ve improved in Photoshop CS6. Now you can assign strokes to shape layers, including dashed outlines. You haven’t been able to do that before. Plus align, distribute, and stack shapes within a single layer, as in the movie below.

Feature #9: Video editing. In Photoshop CS6, you can edit movies in the Timeline panel. And as I show in the following movie, it’s like iMovie on crack. But why add such a thing to Photoshop? Because many of us own DSLR cameras that capture movie files. And those of us who don’t own iPhones. So we’re all sitting on movies that need to be edited, and now Photoshop serves our needs.

Feature #1: Camera Raw 7. I love that the last feature I mention is Camera Raw. Because for years, it would’ve been much closer to the top, and yet once again, this upgrade is great. ACR7 looks a lot like its predecessors, but it results in better output. Specifically, it’s much better at recovering highlights and shadows without artifacts. My recommendation: redevelop your old images with happy results. :-)

And that’s not everything. As I mentioned at the outset, I have 29 free movies that show how to use every last feature, including the many text enhancements, the new Oil Paint filter, the 3D shadow and reflection previews, the new Auto color adjustments, and more.

At least, now you have something to do with your copious spare time.

Next entry:The Tragic Solemnity (or, If You Prefer, Quiet Authority) of My Photoshop CS6 Videos

Previous entry:Deke’s Techniques 112: Designing a Model Railroad Track in Illustrator

  • Deke, is that you?

    Is it me or does your voice sound different…lower…on these recordings? Either way, I am super excited!

  • New CS6

    Just a newbie to CS5 which I am beginning to get the hang of, slowly.

    Wow, what an amazing program.

    Now CS6 which I can see will knock my socks off too.

    I’ve learnt enough to appreciate these new features. Double Wow !

    Thank you Deke for your tutorials. I’ll need them.

  • Lens Flare

    The Lens Flare preview panel is still uncomfortable as in CS5? If yes, hope they fix it when the stable version is released.

  • Great

    Wonderful new features and great demonstrations. I can’t wait to see it in real action!

    @ bodieq: I think he had a flu, that’s why the strange voice and no yelling… XD.

  • Yeah, you sound like Adam Corolla, but Adam is funnier…

    just kidding.

    A. Adams not even funny… I just like his accent.


    B. Like that type of attitude is going to get my question answered!

    Will all my actions which are used in CS4 and CS5 be usable with CS6 too?

    I would test out myself but I am not at home on my computer.

    Thanks ya’ll!


  • Good Riddins Repoussé

    Seems Photoshop is having its own lil’ renaissance.

    Great stuff indeed.

    So are the adobe illustrator taking it easy or running behind?

    To be fair they got their work cut out as illustrator needs a lot of under the bonnet work.

    How come we not seen a sneak peek of the amazing new features that are coming to Ai???;)

    Deke does sound tired and maybe even a tad under the weather..

    But it could also be just from shear dismay or disappointment at how

    dumb some of the comments are from certain members of this blog lately.

  • Photoshop CS6 Beta Preview

    Deke, I believe someone has tampered with the video speed of your tutorials, I know you do not speak so slow or low.  Slow is not good.

  • Thank you for your photoshop cs6 preview movies

    Learning photoshop with you all the time! Waiting for your photoshop CS6 one on one, eagerly!

  • Content Aware

    i agree with Deke that content aware only works with certain type of images. You’ll notice whenever they demo it, its always a person in a grassy field or against a stone wall. They never use a real world example. Personally i dont use it that much because i find myself spending more time fixing it up, i just usea combo of old school cloning, patch and healing.

  • Was someone holding a gun to your head?

    Where’s the enthusiasm that I signed up for?  Dude, your tone made me want to go back to drinking and it’s been almost 2 years for me.  It was painful to listen to.  I heard a glimmer of hope as you commented about that woman’s eyes being where her toes should be though.  Do you need a hug?  You made Ben Stein sound like Billy Mays.

  • Downloaded and installed the PS CS6 Beta

    After some problems initially [program did not create a Templates folder [Windows 64-Bit system] in C:Users[Username]AppDataRoamingMicrosoftWindows so I manually added the Templates folder in this location], I am now free to use the full beta version [Extended version] to my content until the pay version is released.  I am now going to head over to and watch Deke’s videos on CS6 [Deke is the master when it comes to Photoshop]. This ought to be something!

    Life is short so making lasting impressions

  • Deke are you OK? Seriously?

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s noticed given some of the posts above. Cheeze Deke, you sound like your backside is dragging on the ground in those videos. Where’s our hyped-up St. Dekester from past series including the infamous 101 tips in 5 Minutes one? You promised us that you were keeping the attitude! Where’s the attitude?!

    Seriously though you sound really run down. It wasn’t until I started making my own training videos (not for PS obviously) that I started to realise how much of yourself you have to put into those things, and I know that CS6 means that you’re going to have to churn out another 2 solid days’ worth, but it sounds like you need to make finding some “Deke-time” a priority.

    As for CS6, I like what I see. I really like the changes to the crop tool, which looks like it has finally been “done right”. As for whether I can justify spending the money on an upgrade before CS7, though (I skipped 4 and went from 3 to 5)... well, there’s a question. It’s never cheap.

  • OMG, this made me laugh

    No, I’m fine. You just inspired me to make a post. Will go up shortly.

  • I have to agree

    I have to agree with the tone of your usually enthusiastic attitude. You sound as if you’re just beat or maybe a few too many martinis before the recording. I prefer the other version of “The Deke”. I hope that one is back before the training videos for CS6.Please come back Deke.

  • Thank you, Deke!

    Thank you, Deke!

  • Colour Management - maybe your next book?

    Photoshop CS5 One-on-One is great; it’s refreshing to find a book that actually TEACHES you how to use it - unlike a lot of manuals!

    Being what I might describe as a “photography improver”, I’m starting to explore the topic of colour management.  I have been able to find quite a lot of information by searching the Internet, and have also got to grips with the Spyder4Pro colorimeter.  However, it seems generally very hard to find an information resource that covers the subject in a cohesive, comprehensive way from the perspective of rookie-improvers like me. 

    Colour Collective very kindly publishes a free e-book at but, whilst this is very helpful, it is written mainly for those engaged professionally with colour management interfaces between different media.  And this brings me neatly to “Deke’s fate” !  A book on colour management in your humorous, user-friendly One-on-One style would be wonderful.

    So there’s a new challenge for you!

    Best wishes,


  • How to select canvas for alignment?

    In CS5 there is a square for color and vector mask so you ctrl+click that square and there is a selection. CS6 beta don’t have that so I have to scroll down through all layers to select BG! I got on time because of “align edges” option but lose it because of scrolling + and - =0!

    I hope that you will find some option or shortcut for that!

    web designer

  • Thanks Deke!

    Photoshop CS6 ROCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Thank you Deke :-)

  • Beta

    Interface is easy on the eyes.
    Not keen on the ‘new’ 3d panel or Properties panel. Not fond of selecting a function like 3D ‘rotate’, clicking in the wrong place and having the selected function change to something entirely different, and wondering WHY such a change was introduced.
    3D - constantly freezes the program. Solution? Back to CS5 or Aurora or Xara. Interactive 3D was available years before Adobe ever got on board, and was/is much easier to use. Similarly, the new ‘blurs’ were available as plugins many years ago. Adobe seems to NOT be on the ‘leading edge’ of technology, but just a follower.

    DM’s presentation sounded much more professional in these vids than in all his others - not as much jumping from one interesting flower to another.

  • That was good

    It seems that you know what you are talking about.

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