How To Use The Frame Tool in Photoshop CC 2019

Photoshop CC 2019 introduces The Frame tool, the newest addition to the Toolbar.

The Frame Tool allows you to create image placeholders that you can add images to at a later time. It is very similar to the Frame Tool in Adobe InDesign.

How Do Frames Work in Photoshop?

Frames are a new layer type in the Layers Panel. You can think of them as a container that holds content.

To allow for a non-destructive workflow, the content within frames is automatically added as Smart Object.

Frames are meant specifically for images. You can add smart objects but not shapes, text, or other content.

How to Create Placeholders for Images with The Frame Tool

Time needed: 3 minutes

Follow these instructions to create placeholder images with the new Frame Tool in Photoshop CC 2019. 

  1. Select The Frame Tool

    You can select the Frame Tool from the Photoshop Toolbar or by Pressing the K key on the keyboard.  

  2. Select the Shape of the Frame from the Options Bar 

    On the Options Bar, click on either the rectangular icon or
    the elliptical icon to select the shape that you want to use as a placeholder.

  3. Click-and-Drag to Create the Placeholder Frame

    Click-and-drag on the Canvas to create the placeholder frame.
    Note: Clicking-and-dragging over an existing image will mask the image by the frame boundaries.

  4. Drag-and-Drop Images Into the Frame

    Content within Frame will be replaced when other content is dropped into the Frame. You can drag-and-drop images from your hard drive or Creative Cloud Libraries. The image will automatically scale to fit the frame.

  5. Replace Images from Frames

    You can replace an image in a frame by dragging a new image onto it.

How To Select The Frame or Content in a Frame

With a frame that contains an image, you can select the Fram  Tool and use the following to select either the Frame or the Content:

  • A single-click on the content selects both the frame and contents.
  • A double-click on the content selects just the contents.
    • A second double-click in this state will revert to selecting the frame and content.
  • A single-click on the frame border activates the frame.

Note 1: There are no transform handles to scale the frame and contents together. However, you can resize separately.

Note 2: Once you scale the content within the frame, there is no way to
automatically “fit contents to frame”.

Frames from Images

With an existing image on the canvas, use the frame tool to draw over the desired area of the image. The image will be masked by the frame boundaries.

Frames From Text Layers or Shapes

You can convert any existing shape or text layer into a Frame.

From the layers panel, Right-click on the shape or text layer and select “Convert to Frame”.

Frames and The Properties Panel

Insert Image

  • Find on Adobe Stock: Opens your browser to the Adobe Stock website.
  • Open Libraries: Opens your Libraries Panel.
  • Place from Local Disk – Embedded: Opens the Place window. The image that you select will be embedded into the photoshop document.
  • Place from Local Disk – Embedded: Opens the Place window. The image that you select will become a reference file.


This option allows you to place a stroke around the frame.

You can select a color for the stroke, a pixel width, and an alignment for the stroke (inside, center, or outside).

Layer Comp

If your placeholder image is a Smart Object with a Layer Comp you can use the Layer Comp drop-down to select a comp that was defined in the source file.

Layer Comps are often used by designers to create multiple compositions (or comps) of a page layout to show clients. Layer Comps allow you to create, manage, and view multiple versions of a layout in a single Photoshop file.

A layer comp is simply a snapshot of a state of the Layers panel. Layer comps record three types of layer options:

  • Layer visibility: whether a layer is showing or hidden.
  • Layer position: Where the layer is in the document.
  • Layer appearance: whether a layer style is applied to the layer and the layer’s Blending Mode.

This feature lets you change the state of the Smart Object at a layer level without editing the Smart Object.


  • Edit Contents:
  • Converted to Linked:
  • Embedded:

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I open a new layer, then try to draw a frame, but the frame never shows up on the screen. I don’t know what I am doing wrong. I watched the tutorial and seven others. I am doing everything right, but the frame tool does not work. What do you think I can do?