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The newest incarnation of the world’s most popular consumer photo editing software is proof that, as the Irish saying goes, the older the fiddle, the sweeter the tune. Adobe Photoshop Elements has been on the Mac an entire decade, but it keeps getting better with age.
Version 10 is available alone for $99.99 (or a $79.99 upgrade) or bundled with its sister video editing suite, Adobe Premiere Elements 10, for $149.99. The optional Plus version (an additional $30 for the bundle or $40 for the individual software) gives you access to exclusive tutorials and 20GB of cloud storage to back up and share your media. PSE10 keeps the user-friendly tools of previous versions intact while adding new features and enhancements.
For example, PSE10’s Organizer gives you a two-click import option that converts iPhoto Events to Photoshop Elements Albums. Importing photos and videos from the Finder is also only a few clicks away, though reorganizing photos from, say, Aperture’s Projects & Albums is considerably more labor intensive than the iPhoto import.
The new tools for typing text on a custom path are simple—and fun—to use.
PSE10’s main Edit interface looks much the same as it always has, having metamorphosed only slightly to a more streamlined look, but it boasts some nifty new tools and tricks. Additions to the text tool allow users to add curving text that automatically flows around shapes and objects, or on totally custom paths. You simply place a shape or draw a line wherever you like, choose a font, and type away—it’s ridiculously easy and a lot of fun.
Object Search, another new feature, is exactly what it sounds like: a content-based image search tool that peruses your photo library and identifies similar objects. When we tested it by selecting an image of a German shepherd, search results featuring the same dog appeared, but so did, among other irrelevant photos, a plate of barbecued chicken drumsticks and an accordion player. But the Refine Search button let us manipulate the search algorithm to include more of the shape of the dog, rather than focusing on the color, which dramatically improved the results.
PSE10’s new paint-on effects and Guided Edit options—the Orton effect, Picture Stack effect, and Depth of Field effect—can help aspiring amateur photographers achieve in postproduction whatever they may lack in knowledge and savvy during shooting. And in today’s (overly?) social world, PSE10 even lets you access your Facebook friends to tag them in your photos, then share those photos on Facebook right from within the Organizer.
The one place where PSE10 seems a little clunky is the Elements Plus package. Uploading to your online gallery takes forever compared to the quick-hit MobileMe gallery uploads from Aperture and iPhoto (iCloud hadn’t yet dropped as of this writing), and so it just didn’t seem worth the hefty premium price. Even for Plus users who employ the Adobe Photoshop Express Uploader desktop app, which imports photos into the app with lightning drag-and-drop speed, you have to take another step and sync before the photos upload to the cloud.
The bottom line. We found PSE10 to be a super-sweet platform, thanks to the evolution of the Organizer and slick new features. The Object Search is a game changer, and has us seriously reconsidering whether Photoshop Elements will replace Aperture ($79.99 in the Mac App Store) as our photo editor of choice.
Photoshop Elements 10
Multicore Intel processor, Mac OS 10.5.8 or later, 1GB of RAM, 4GB free disk space, 1024x768-pixel or higher display resolution.
New tools combined with a few old standouts and an improved Organizer make PSE10 a winner.
The Plus package, while a great idea for those who don’t have any other vehicle for sharing or backup, just doesn’t seem worth the price tag.