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How to Use Photoshop’s Refine Edge Tool for Perfect Selections


When you’re working with images in Photoshop, getting perfect selections lets you work in great detail. But the pen and lasso tools don’t make it easy to capture small details in complex areas. The magic wand tool can help, but it’s unpredictable.

If your selection isn’t spot-on, though, your design will suffer. So what are you to do? Worry not, as Photoshop’s Refine Edge tool can come to the rescue.

It’s now hidden behind the new Select and Mask tools Adobe Photoshop CC 2018: 9 Great New Features Adobe Photoshop CC 2018: 9 Great New Features Photoshop CC 2018 is here! And it has some awesome new features. Click to see nine features that will change the way you use Photoshop. Read More , but it’s still one of the most useful functions that Photoshop CC has to offer.

Let’s check it out.

When to Use Refine Edge in Photoshop

You can use Refine Edge on any image, but it really shines when you have a foreground that you’re trying to select against a contrasting background. It’s also best when you’re working with complex edges, like hair (which we’ll be using for this tutorial). Anything with straight lines is easy enough to get with the pen tool.

But lots of small projects, transitions, and blank spots will benefit from the Refine Edge tool. Once you learn how to use it, you can employ the tool on any image. It’s especially good when you’re changing the background of an image How to Change the Background of a Photo in Photoshop How to Change the Background of a Photo in Photoshop Changing the background of an image is one of Photoshop’s core features.

Read on to find out how to do it. Read More . But in time you’ll learn which images it’s best used on. Let’s take a look at how to use Refine Edge.

Step 1: Make a Loose Selection

You can use the Refine Edge tool on an entire image, but you’ll get better results if you help Photoshop focus on the area you’re interested in.

Here’s the image we’ll be using: To isolate the subject from the background, we’re going to have to get a selection that includes her hair.

Especially on the left side, that would be difficult–if not impossible–with the pen tool. Before we start using Photoshop’s Refine Edge tool, though, it helps to make a general selection. First, duplicate the layer by right-clicking Layer 0 and selecting Duplicate Layer.

We’ll name the new layer “Background”. We’ll use the pen tool to outline the woman’s face and narrow down the selection around her hair.

How to Use Photoshop’s Refine Edge Tool for Perfect Selections Now, select the Paths tab, right click Work Path, and turn this path into a selection. How to Use Photoshop’s Refine Edge Tool for Perfect Selections

Finally, turn that selection into a layer mask. How to Use Photoshop’s Refine Edge Tool for Perfect Selections

Step 2: Open Select and Mask Tools

Nothing happens to the image when you add the layer mask. To see your selection more clearly, make the background layer invisible.

How to Use Photoshop’s Refine Edge Tool for Perfect Selections Now we have a better idea of what we’ve actually selected. To get to the Refine Edge tool, we’ll need to open the Select and Mask window.

Select the rectangular marquee tool (keyboard shortcut M) or the lasso tool (keyboard shortcut L). You’ll see a button in the menu bar that says Select and Mask. Click that button to open a new window.

How to Use Photoshop’s Refine Edge Tool for Perfect Selections Note: To make it a bit easier to see where the Refine Edge tool makes changes, I’ve added a layer and filled it with pink. Select the Refine Edge Brush Tool.

How to Use Photoshop’s Refine Edge Tool for Perfect Selections

Step 3: Brush on Your Selection

With this tool selected, we’ll brush around the edges that we want Photoshop to refine. Before we start, though, you may want to change the size of the brush. There’s a brush-size dropdown in the menu bar that lets you quickly increase or decrease the brush size.

How to Use Photoshop’s Refine Edge Tool for Perfect Selections It can be helpful to start with a larger brush and then move to a smaller one as the selection gets finer. Now, brush over the area.

How to Use Photoshop’s Refine Edge Tool for Perfect Selections Photoshop extracts contrasting pixels for your selection much faster than you could with a manual tool. As you can see, the selection isn’t perfect.

But it’s a lot faster than manual methods. Keep brushing until you get the selection you want. How to Use Photoshop’s Refine Edge Tool for Perfect Selections

Step 4: Tweak the Selection

Once you’ve made your selection with the Refine Edge tool, it’s time to make a few tweaks to improve it.

The first thing to try is Decontaminate Colors. In the Properties tab, scroll down until you see the Decontaminate Colors checkbox. Click it and check out the results.

Here you can see the difference between the two options: How to Use Photoshop’s Refine Edge Tool for Perfect Selections In our case, some of the edges get a bit sharper, so we’ll leave the decontamination on.

Below this checkbox, you’ll find the Output To: dropdown. You can send this selection to a new layer mask or to the existing mask. We’ll select Layer Mask to add it to our current mask.

How to Use Photoshop’s Refine Edge Tool for Perfect Selections Click OK. Now we can make a few more tweaks.

For example, in this area, the Refine Edge tool made part of the woman’s hair transparent. How to Use Photoshop’s Refine Edge Tool for Perfect Selections Select the layer mask and the brush tool (keyboard shortcut B).

Set the foreground color to black and paint over the area that’s been misselected. How to Use Photoshop’s Refine Edge Tool for Perfect Selections You can use a brush to clean up any of the selection that you’re not happy with.

Once you’ve selected the area you want, you can start making adjustments to your background. (I’ve added an adjustment layer to turn the background black and white for a selective-color look.) How to Use Photoshop’s Refine Edge Tool for Perfect Selections

Now Keep Practicing With the Refine Edge Tool

While Photoshop’s edge-detection tools are very advanced, they’re not perfect. So you’re going to need to practice working with them and tweaking your final selections.

You might feather the selection to capture a bit of the foreground and a bit of the background. Or use a very small brush to catch even smaller details that Photoshop didn’t. You can also play around with the Refine Edge settings, like Feather and Contrast, to see how they affect your selections.

Like any other tool in Photoshop, it takes a while to get proficient with Refine Edge.

But with practice, you can become an edge-refining master, and you’ll be well on your way to mastering all kinds of Photoshop techniques 7 Techniques to Help You Start Learning Photoshop 7 Techniques to Help You Start Learning Photoshop There are many different ways to learn Photoshop from scratch.

These simple techniques can help anyone to start learning Photoshop. Read More .


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Samsung Gear Icon X review: Wire-free wonder or cableless calamity?

Samsung was among the first to join the wire-free revolution with its Gear Icon X[1] wireless in-ear earphones. The product didn’t exactly set the world alight, though, so the company followed it up at the end of 2017 with a newer, bigger pair with better battery life. In addition to the wire-free perk, Samsung also markets the Icon X as fitness-focused.

The question is: can these in-ears compete with our other wire-free favourites?

Secure and snug fit

As with any wire-free earphones there still remains the concern of whether they’ll fall out of your ears during use. Even though a cable rarely supplies any real structural support, having such a tether connecting two earbuds is still a more secure option.

Pocket-lintGear Icon X 2018 image 6

With the Icon X, Samsung has produced a fit that’s as secure and snug as the Jabra Elite[2]. The fit is partly down to the rounded shape and grippy silicon around the Icon X buds’ middles, but predominantly because of the small sports fin on each that tucks inside the ridge of each ear.

It tucks in nicely, ensuring that the ear buds won’t ever fall out. Thankfully, that doesn’t mean the buds feel like they’re stretching your ear canals. After a couple of hours’ wear, however, the snug fit does start to get a little uncomfortable.

We found the two hour mark was about the limit we wanted them in our ears. On the whole, the looks are stylish and subtle, with no distracting buttons, nor eye-catching design features. The black model we tested is simply matte black, while the underside hosts gold-plated connection points which line-up with the connectors inside the portable, pill-shaped charging case.

Pocket-lintGear Icon X 2018 image 5

On the outside of each earbud is a touch-sensitive panel that you can use to control music playback.

Whether you want to skip tracks, change the volume, play or pause, there’s a gesture for it. Sadly, it’s not something that’s easy to master on such a small surface. We found some gestures got mistaken for others, resulting in skipping a track when what we really wanted to do was change the volume, for instance.

We also found that the earphones would trigger an exercise activity just as we were putting them in, and not intending on doing exercise at all. In the end, we found the experience easier and less prone to accidental activities and mistaken gestures when we just permanently locked the touch surfaces, so they couldn’t be used.

Versatile sound

There are so many earphones out there that don’t give you the option to adjust the sound profile, but thankfully the Samsung Icon X isn’t one of those. While there’s no in-depth 9-band equaliser, you can adjust between a few different presets to change the sound style.

There’s bass, soft, dynamic, clear and treble boost to choose from. We stuck with dynamic for a punchy sound, which still had plenty of bass and mid-level pop to keep things immersive.


The ambient sound option is one of the Icon X’s most enjoyable sound performance aspects. With it switched on, and the voice focus activated, it’s possible to both listen to music and hear what’s going on in the outside world.

Turn it to the maximum level and everything around becomes really clear and amplified. It may not be a feature we would use constantly, but used while running near busy roads and junctions it adds a level of awareness and safety.

All the features but one thing missing

The best way to make the most of the Icon X is by signing up to Samsung Health, the fitness-tracking platform built to collate and make sense of fitness data from the company’s range of activity trackers and wearables. The Icon X isn’t quite as high-tech as some other fitness tracking earphones we’ve tried, but there are some smart features.

You can set them up to auto-detect when you’re working out, and have that information collated in the Health app. Alternatively the touch sensor on one earbud can be used to manually activate, but as we’ve already noted, that’s often too easy to activate by accident.

Pocket-lintGear Icon X 2018 image 2

For all of its features and design positives, the Icon X is missing one key element that would push it into being the perfect workout companion: a heart-rate sensor. Without this, you still need a wrist or chest-worn monitor to get accurate activity stats.


When wire-free earphones first started flooding the market, one of the most common issues with them was connectivity performance.

Turns out, building a pair of small, wire-free earphones that not only need to connect with the source, but also each other, is hard. For the most part, the Icon X does a good job of remaining connected to source. There aren’t any long downtimes, where one earbud shuts off or the music stops playing, as we’ve seen on a few competitors.

That said, the X’s performance is not perfect either.

Pocket-lintGear Icon X 2018 image 3

The biggest connectivity issue is what we’d describe as a glitch, rather than a full connectivity problem. Every so often, maybe once per song (roughly) there’s a fraction of a second where playback stops, like a little stutter. We tested it using both streaming music over Wi-Fi and mobile connection, as well as playing playlists and albums we’d downloaded for offline playback in Tidal and Spotify, and the issue was the same irrelevant of source and connection type.

Lasts your whole run, and then some

Samsung promises up to five hours of playback using Bluetooth to stream music from a phone to headphones (up to seven hours when playing music directly from the Icon X’s internal storage).

That’s a solid claim, although we could never quite make it to the five hour mark outside the case, more like four hours. After two hours of listening to music through Spotify and Tidal, the battery was down to 50 per cent. It’s worth noting, however, that for part of this testing period we had the ambient noise pass-through at its loudest level and with the voice enhancement switched on.

When they do need a top-up, the mobile charging case holds its own charge, so it’s possible to recharge on the go for future use.


The Icon X offers a tonne of features and decent dynamic sound, making them among the most versatile wire-free in-ear earphones on the market. Saying that, they’re not perfect. The touchpad controls are tricky, while the connection glitched every now and then producing a less than seamless listening experience.

There’s also no heart-rate monitor, which limits the fitness-tracking potential.

Still, with the Samsung Health tie-in and ability to store music offline on the earphones themselves, the Icon X certainly give the Bragi Dash Pro[3] a run for their money.

Alternatives to consider

Pocket-lintBose Soundsport Free image 1

Bose SoundSport Free

The SoundSport Free is among our favourite wire-free in-ears.

The design may be a little ‘out there’, but the sound is fantastic and the earbuds stay securely in the ears during exercise, without feeling uncomfortable at all.

Pocket-lintJabra Elite Sport 2017 image 1

Jabra Elite Sport

With a heart-rate monitor and smartphone app compatibility which can track your runs using your phone’s GPS, superb connectivity performance, and decent sound, the Jabra is a better fitness-focused wireless in-ear experience.


  1. ^ Gear Icon X (
  2. ^ Jabra Elite (
  3. ^ Bragi Dash Pro (

How to Back Up and Restore Adobe Lightroom Catalogs


Photos are precious. Photos you have worked on with painstaking edits are even more valuable. That’s why it’s a good habit to get familiar with how Adobe Lightroom backs up and restores its catalog of photos.

Note that Lightroom Classic CC backs up the catalog and not the photos themselves. You need to backup photos separately using a different strategy not covered in this article.

How to Back Up an Adobe Lightroom Catalog

The Lightroom catalog is a database that includes all the information related to the photo. It not only tracks the location of each photo but all the edits it has gone through in Lightroom.

So, regular catalog backups on a schedule can save your work in case of a crash. You can tell Lightroom Classic CC to backup the catalog automatically every time you quit the software:

  1. Go to Edit > Catalog Settings (Windows) or Lightroom > Catalog Settings (Mac OS).
  2. Choose a backup option from the dropdown for Back up catalog.

The Catalog Settings screen also shows the location of the catalog file and the backup meta-data. You can also exercise your backup options when quitting Lightroom.

  1. Exit Lightroom.
  2. In the Back Up Catalog dialog box, click Back Up to back up the catalog at the default location and exit Lightroom Classic CC.
  3. You can again select a backup schedule and a different location before you click Back Up.
  4. If you don’t want to back up this time, postpone the back up with a click on Skip this time or Skip until tomorrow. The command will vary according to the choice of the backup schedule you have chosen in the dropdown.

How to Restore an Adobe Lightroom Catalog Backup

Restoring a backed-up Lightroom catalog is easy and can save you from potential disasters like a hard drive crash.

  1. Choose File > Open Catalog.
  2. Browse to the location of your backed up catalog file.
  3. Select and open the backed up .LRCAT file.
  4. You can also copy the backed up catalog to the location of the original catalog and replace it.

Not backing up your photos is one of the photo management mistakes 5 Photo Management Mistakes You’re Making (and How to Fix Them) 5 Photo Management Mistakes You’re Making (and How to Fix Them) Organizing your digital photos can be a chore.

And there are some mistakes almost everyone makes.

Thankfully, there are also some simple solutions. Read More you want to avoid right from the beginning of your photography journey.

There is no reason not to do it because Lightroom makes it so easy to backup your catalog.


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