Adobe Photoshop Elements 9
by Anonymous User

Elements boxPhotoshop Elements 9 has been released with some enticing new features for Mac and PC users, opening up new and creative possibilities.  Elements is one of the best available to hobbyist for organizing photos and fairly significant photo editing.

"The long-awaited Layer Mask Option is now part of Elements"

Elements comes in two parts: The Organizer and the Editor. The Organizer is the hub where you import, tag, share and make projects with your pictures. Editing, of course, happens in the Editor. The organizer remains a separate application (also available in Adobe Premiere Elements), and the separateness makes working with multiple photos clumsy.

You will be happily surprised that two of the best tools of Photoshop are now available in Elements: the Content-Aware Healing Brush (which recently made its debut in Adobe Photoshop's latest and greatest, CS5) and Mask. Elements 9 users can now enjoy this capability with the spot healing brush.

For the novice: The new Perfect Portrait feature basically steps you through the use of various editing tools, such as the spot-healing brush and the red-eye removal tool, to improve your pictures. Photomerge Style Match feature lets you specify a source photo and applies its qualities to another photo of your choice. I use a few sliders to adjust the effect and two brushes to either remove the effects from portions of the image or add it. There are others for the novice. Keep reading.

The long-awaited layer mask is now part of Elements; a feature that had set it apart from Photoshop CS version. Up until now, Masks have only been available when using adjustment layers. But with this version you can do really sophisticated photo editing and compositing previously possible with the more expensive Photoshop.

Elements 9 has new Guided Edit mode, which are step-by-steps for creating popular effects and finishes to your art work. These include making reflection effects recreating pop-art, and applying Lomo-style effect. Creating panoramas is easier than before, with the improved blending technology, automatically stitching images and filling empty spaces. Out-of-Bounds - this is a fun effect that make an object spring out of the frame. Perfect Portraits - Retouching can be a tricky job but the new option on Guided edits makes things simple. Pop-Art - a classic look that is made easy in Photoshop Elements 9.

Is Elements for You?
Despite the happy addition of some sophisticated editing tools, Elements remains a program best suited for hobbyists rather than truly committed photographers. The biggest reason? Its handling of RAW files. Sure a version of Adobe Camera Raw is included, but ACR tools are slight compared with those in Lightroom or Photoshop.

What's Hot:

  1. Easy Facebook uploads, improved panorama feature and spot-healing brush – tho’ a bit clumsy because it must first go through Organizer.
  2. Big news for Elements users is that this version sets the mask feature free. Elements now has full mask capability.

What's Not:

  1. Two applications complicates workflow and its auto-analyzer feature is very slow.
  2. The analyzer worked at a snail's pace on Windows 7-64 bit system.

ElementsWhen you're finished working on a photo in the Editor, you can now click on a button that is supposed to let you share it on Facebook; but when you do so, it sends the image back to the Organizer to complete the action.

Elements is still a 32-bit application. Elements does not offer an upgrade option to this version, so it may only be worth trading up to this version if you care currently using version 6 or 7. The transition from Elements 8 to 9 is too subtle to make purchase advisable. I must say, though, for me, the new Mask feature as well as Content-Aware Healing Brush in addition to the many other fun feature were sufficient enough to convince me to buy it.

Window: XP or newer. 1.6GHz processor, 1GB of RAM, 3GB HD space.
Mac: OS 10.5.8 or newer, multi-core Intel processor, 1GB RAM, 3.4 GB HD space.
PRICE: $100 regular, but shop around for cheaper price and rebates. For more info go to

Anonymous User is a HAL-PC member and an accomplished graphics designer and user of Elements. No questions accepted.

Elements 9 Information Links:

Editors note: The Tablet, separately reviewed, includes Elements 8, but version 9 was used for the review.