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Photoshop's Select Subject gives you a head start on masks

The one-click masking tool, previewed in fall, is available in a new update, and it's... OK. Plus, Windows 10 users get better interface scaling.

Select Subject works OK, but because you can't fine-tune the settings or give it guidance, it's not as good as it could be.
Lori Grunin/CNET

The latest Adobe Photoshop update rolling out today delivers the Select Subject tool promised last fall, a one-click selection tool that chooses what it thinks is the subject of a photo and automatically selects it. As a way of getting you about 90 percent of the way for a subset of your images, it's great.

Of course, it's probably going to get better over time (please, please), especially if Adobe starts allowing you to tweak the settings a bit. The biggest problem is that the results look like it's using only one tolerance threshold; it doesn't handle anything with lower-contrast areas particularly well. For instance, in the photo above, it misses the front right paw because the white tip abuts a light-gray area, and the back sneaker bottom because the white isn't as bright as on the other sneaker.

In this case, tweaking the results is an easy edit. But in other cases it chose the incorrect subject -- I desperately wanted to be able to tell it where to look. It failed on what I considered a brain-dead easy laptop-on-flat-white background, and could have been easily fixed if I'd been able to adjust the threshold to compensate for a small area on the edge where the lighting had been a little too bright. It doesn't seem like it respects settings for feathering, either. 

Yes, these are all things that can be cleaned up afterward, but it felt like it could have been so much better if Adobe didn't take the gee-whiz-look-our-AI-is-magic approach. Plus, watching people tweak those settings would tell Adobe to further train the AI.

Adobe also improved its interface scaling with options up to 400 percent (in 25 percent increments) automatically adjusted based on the system settings. Only people running the Spring Creator's update (version 1703) or later of Windows 10 can take advantage of it, though. The Microsoft Dial support, which Adobe announced last fall has been "reannounced" now that the Fall Creators update is broadly available, which it requires.

And if you're an XD user, congratulations -- you can now preserve layers and styles when you paste SVG from Photoshop.