Free Transform in Photoshop CC 2019 – New Features and Changes
Learn how Photoshop CC 2019 changes the way we use Free Transform to scale and transform images and text, and adds new features to speed up your workflow!
In this tutorial, I'll show you the changes Adobe has made to the Free Transform command in Photoshop CC 2019. If you're a long-time Photoshop user, some of these changes may take some getting used to. Especially since Free Transform now behaves differently depending on which type of layer (pixel, type or vector shape) you're working on.
The biggest change in CC 2019 is that Free Transform now scales objects proportionally by default. But, only for certain types of layers. Also, the reference point inside the Free Transform box, which lets us move the center point of a transformation, is now hidden. I'll show you a couple of ways to bring it back. And we get new, faster ways to commit our transformations in CC 2019. Let's see how it works.
To follow along, you'll need Photoshop CC and you'll want to make sure that your copy is up to date. For a complete look at Free Transform, including how to warp images, check out my Free Transform Complete Guide.
Let's get started!
New in CC 2019: Scale images proportionally by default
The big change with Free Transform in Photoshop CC 2019 is that it now scales images proportionally by default. In previous versions of Photoshop, we needed to hold the Shift key as we dragged a corner handle in order to lock the aspect ratio in place. But now, the aspect ratio is locked automatically. Holding Shift while dragging a corner handle in CC 2019 switches you to freeform mode where you can drag in any direction. If you're a long-time Photoshop user like me, well, you'll get used to it eventually.
Here's an image I've placed into my Photoshop document (butterfly image from Adobe Stock):
Selecting Free Transform
To select the Free Transform command, go up to the Edit menu and choose Free Transform. Or, select Free Transform with the keyboard shortcut, Ctrl+T (Win) / Command+T (Mac):
How to scale an image proportionally
In Photoshop CC 2019, to scale an image proportionally, drag any of the transform handles:
How to scale an image proportionally from its center
To scale proportionally from the center of the image, press and hold Alt (Win) / Option (Mac) as you drag a corner handle:
How to scale an image non-proportionally
To scale an image non-proportionally, press and hold Shift as you drag a corner handle. This unlocks the aspect ratio and lets you drag in any direction. And to scale non-proportionally from the center, hold Shift+Alt (Win) / Shift+Option (Mac) as you drag:
UPDATE: If you just can't get used to this new Free Transform behavior, Adobe has added a Use Legacy Free Transform option. Check out my Restore Legacy Free Transform tutorial to learn how it works!
New in CC 2019: Faster ways to commit transforms
Also new with Free Transform in CC 2019 is a faster way to commit a transformation. Just move your mouse cursor outside and away from the Free Transform box, and then click on the document to accept it.
You can also commit a transformation in CC 2019 by choosing a different tool from the Toolbar, or a different layer in the Layers panel.
Note that the previous ways to commit a transformation (click the checkmark in the Options Bar, double-click inside the Free Transform box, or press Enter (Win) / Return (Mac) on your keyboard) also still work:
New in CC 2019: The hidden transform reference point
If you've been using Photoshop for a while, you know that the Free Transform box displays a reference point in the center. The reference point is used to mark, and move, the center point of the transformation. But now in Photoshop CC 2019, the reference point is hidden by default. Adobe chose to hide it so we avoid moving the reference point by mistake:
How to show the transform reference point in Photoshop CC 2019
The reference point is still there, and there's a couple of ways to show it.
From the Options Bar
One way is by clicking the new reference point toggle box in the Options Bar. Click it once to show the reference point. Click it again to hide it:
From the Photoshop Preferences
Another way is from the Photoshop Preferences. On a Windows PC, go to Edit > Preferences > Tools. On a Mac, go to Photoshop CC > Preferences > Tools:
In the Tools Preferences, select Show Reference Point when using Transform:
Either way shows the reference point in the center of the Free Transform box. And in CC 2019, the reference point is now bigger and more obvious than in previous versions:
New in CC 2019: Scaling Type layers proportionally
We've seen that Free Transform in Photoshop CC 2019 now scales images proportionally by default. But it also scales Type layers proportionally by default. Click and drag a transform handle to scale type with the aspect ratio locked in place. Hold Alt (Win) / Option (Mac) as you drag to scale the type proportionally from its center.
To scale text non-proportionally, hold Shift as you drag a corner handle. Or, hold Shift+Alt (Win) / Shift+Option (Mac) to unlock the aspect ratio while scaling the type from its center:
Scaling vector shapes in Photoshop CC 2019
Just when you've gotten used to the way Free Transform works in Photoshop CC 2019, you'll come across vector shapes. Unlike pixel-based layers and Type layers, Shape layers in CC 2019, for whatever reason, still do not scale proportionally by default. Dragging a handle without holding Shift still scales the shape non-proportionally:
How to scale Shape layers proportionally in CC 2019
To lock the aspect ratio of a vector shape as you scale it, press and hold Shift as you drag a corner handle. And to scale a shape proportionally from its center, hold Shift+Alt (Win) / Shift+Option (Mac) as you drag:
And there we have it! That's a quick look at the changes to Free Transform in Photoshop CC 2019! Check out our Photoshop Basics section for more tutorials! And don't forget, all of our tutorials are now available to download as PDFs!
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