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Adobe Photoshop adds support for adjusting brush settings with Surface Dial

Surface Dial support hasn't exactly been widespread since Microsoft first introduced the accessory in late-2016, but some apps, particularly in the design space, have added novel support. One heavy hitter, Adobe Photoshop, has technically supported the Surface Dial, but in a pretty limited way: The accessory could only be used to zoom in and out on the canvas. Fortunately, Adobe is stepping things up a little more with its latest Photoshop release by adding the ability for the Surface Dial to tweak some select settings on the fly.

Announced as part of a broader set of updates to its suite of design apps (opens in new tab) (via The Verge), Adobe revealed that Photoshop will now allow Surface Dial to "change tool parameters without taking your attention from the canvas." This essentially just lets you change brush settings like opacity, hardness, and size by rotating the dial as you work.

It's still a fairly limited implementation, but it makes the Surface Dial far more useful in Photoshop than it was previously. As The Verge points out, other apps like Sketchable, which was one of the first to support Surface Dial, have enabled far more robust integrations.. Still, the added support arrives with convenient timing, just ahead of the launch of the new Surface Book 2. At the same time, Microsoft has also announced that anyone who buys a Surface from now through January 18 will get a free three-month trial to an Adobe Creative Cloud Photography plan with 1TB of cloud storage.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the Editor in Chief for Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl. Got a hot tip? Send it to

  • Now, if only they would roll out Dial support for Lightroom!
  • when is this supposed to start working on the surface pro 4? 
  • The Dial should already work on the SP4.
  • Directly on the screen?
  • I think the decision to stop packing a free Dial with the Surface Studio was not a smart one if they intend on anyone using it.
  • They must have been too busy supporting the magical Apple Touch Bar "Completly Natural, Expressive and Powerfull new way of using Photoshop" - Adobe Presentor
  • This happens because of the biasness which favours apple. These developers and ceos, cfos, coos, every single person in the top tier of a company uses apple products at home or even in the offices for personal use. I've pointed out this face many many times. This is the reason whatever apple releases it immediately gets dev support because these devs also uses apple products.
  • Apple is much more populare among designers and artists than the rest of the population. If you're a Word or Excel user, you are probably on Windows. If you're an Abobe PS or Illustrator users, you are more likely to be on a Mac. Even in many large companies that are almost exclusively Windows-based, their art teams may very well be the one alcove of Mac users within the organization. Adobe is largely just playing to its customer preferences.
  • well I'm one and I'm using a windows pc + wacom. in fact corel's most important apps are not even available on mac
  • I tried the surface dial on a surface pro and studio in an electronics store demo. It's an amazing small device with a lot of potential. It could be useful for so many apps in windows. I could see myself use it it for almost every photo editing app available as a scroll for image searching, undo/redo's of certain editing tools. For music apps it would be great to use a music scrubber, control audio on the fly, start/stop skip a track etc. With document editors redo/undo an error, word scrolling, quicktools, such as wordcount, accurate selection tool in combination with keyboard, quick font and font size editing. with the dial's own proprietary quick menu. It would be easy to switch between apps and use the dial from a distance as a presentation or media wheel, for example switching between powerpoint and a video app or other medic app. do easy scrolling in medica app dashboards for scrolling and selecting (for example selecting and chosing a movie in film&tv, switching slides in a powerpoint prsentation, zooming in and out of slide details, a movie fastforward/reverse scrubber in netflix and a volume regulator or quick brightness toggle etc etc.