I don't think you are getting what Content Aware Fill is doing. Its choosing its own source, thats the whole point.
Let's say your image is divided in three horizontal layers. Sky, background and foreground. If you select a part of the foreground, you don't want content aware fill to use parts of the sky or background. Unfortunately you have no control whatsoever over the area which is being used as source.
Basically what I mean is: if you select the bottom right portion of your image, you want to be able to say: "use the bottom left corner as source"
Edit: By the way, nevermind. Seems like most people dismiss content aware fill as a marketing gimmick and just use it as is (hit and miss). I actually thought this tool had some potential if it would allow for some more control.
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If you want to control the source, use the patch tool.
If you want the app to automatically choose the source, use the spot healing brush and/or content aware fill.
There are already ways you can restrict the choice for content aware fill (by creating a new layer with just the parts you want to use) - but you still have to give it a lot of leeway to find good matches.
Using the patch tool is not the same as doing a content aware fill, when it comes to blending. If you have a white circle on a black background and want to patch it, it will be translucent. One could say "clone tool!", but then you have the edge blending to deal with. With content aware, the fill will be opaque, but the edges will still be fairly well blended. I like the edge blending capabilities of the content aware tool.
Your workaround by making a new layer with a selection seems to be the best workaround so far. But what I actually meant with this post, is that it would be nice to have some kind of a "patch tool" which handles transitions in edge areas like the content aware tool.