Content-aware scaling

Resize images and protect content

Content-Aware Scale resizes an image without changing important visual content such as people, buildings, animals, and so forth. While normal scaling affects all pixels uniformly when resizing an image, content-aware scaling mostly affects pixels in areas that don’t have important visual content. Content-Aware Scale lets you upscale or downscale images to improve a composition, fit a layout, or change the orientation. If you want to use some normal scaling when resizing your image, there is an option for specifying a ratio of content-aware scaling to normal scaling.

If you want to preserve specific areas when scaling an image, Content-Aware Scale lets you use an alpha channel to protect content during resizing.

Content-aware scaling works on layers and selections. Images can be in RGB, CMYK, Lab, and Grayscale color modes as well as all bit depths. Content-aware scaling doesn’t work on adjustment layers, layer masks, individual channels, Smart Objects, 3D layers, Video layers, multiple layers simultaneously, or layer groups.

Photoshop resize image and protect content

A. Original image B. Scaled narrower C. Scaled narrower, using content-aware scaling 

For a video tutorial, see Photoshop and Content-Aware Scale.

Preserve visual content when scaling images

  1. (Optional) Choose Select > All if you’re scaling a Background layer.
  2. Choose Edit > Content-Aware Scale.
  3. Specify any of the following in the options bar:

    Reference Point Location 

    Click a square on the reference point locator  to specify the fixed point around which the image is scaled. By default this point is at the center of the image.

    Use Relative Positioning For Reference Point 

    Click the button to specify the new position of the reference point in relation to its current position.

    Reference Point Position

    Positions the reference point at the specific location. Enter X-axis and Y-axis pixel dimensions.

    Scaling Percentage

    Specifies the image scaling as a percentage of the original size. Enter a percentage for the width (W) and height (H). If desired, click Maintain Aspect Ratio .


    Specifies the ratio of content-aware scaling to normal scaling. Specify a percentage for content-aware scaling by typing in the text box or clicking the arrow and moving the slider.


    Chooses an alpha channel that specifies an area to protect.

    Protect Skin Tones 

    Attempts to preserve regions that contain skin-tones.

  4. Drag a handle on the bounding box to scale the image. Press Shift as you drag a corner handle to scale proportionately. When positioned over a handle, the pointer becomes a double arrow.
  5. Click either Cancel Transform  or Commit Transform  .

Specify content to protect when scaling

  1. Make a selection around the content you want to protect and then, in the Channels panel, click Save Selection As Channel  .
  2. (Optional) Choose Select > All if you’re scaling a Background layer.
  3. Choose Edit > Content-Aware Scale.
  4. In the options bar, choose the alpha channel you created.
  5. Drag a handle on the bounding border to scale the image.
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