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Adobe Elements Review

article by Nicky Hoseck author September 15, 2019
our score
One of the best photo editor programs on the market, Adobe Photoshop Elements makes it easy to create eye-catching images by blending photographs with a variety of themed graphics, slideshows, greeting cards, calendars, collages, and customized jackets.
  • AI image recognition
  • Automated organization and editing of photographs
  • Available for Windows and Mac
  • Creates magnificent collages, scrapbook pages, slideshows, and calendars
  • Multiple enhanced features such as batch photo fixing, filters, and guided edits
  • Slow import of enhanced images
  • Limited social media sharing options
  • Web-only support, with no in-application search functionality
With Adobe, I knew I was getting quality and my pics are now more amazing than ever before!
Nicky Hoseck, author
Ease of Use Jump Start Your Photography
Server Locations Creative Assets Cloud Library
Free Storage Limit Access Adobe Stock
Multiple Logins Create an Image for Social Media
Reliability Jump Start Your Designs
Photography Try Now >>
$ 9.99 /mo
  • Lightroom CC and Photoshop CC
  • All Photography Essentials
  • Your Own Portfolio Website
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All Apps Try Now >>
$ 49.99 /mo
  • 20+ Creative Desktop and Mobile Apps
  • Premium Fonts
  • Your Own Portfolio Website
  • 20 GB of Cloud Storage
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All Apps+ Try Now >>
$ 79.98 /mo
  • 20+ Creative Desktop and Mobile Apps
  • Adobe Stock Images
  • Premium Fonts
  • Your Own Portfolio Website
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Setup Setup

Getting started with Photoshop is simple enough but it’s even easier if you follow the setup guide available on Adobe’s website. For such a powerful piece of software, Adobe Photoshop CC downloads in seconds. Although there is a free trial available, users will nonetheless have to hand over their credit card details and give an idea of what they’ll be using the software for, be it personal or professional.

The installation itself is a much longer process than the initial download but does its thing without impacting too much on other tasks which is fortunate as, with a sluggish internet connection or older device, it can take over an hour to complete.

Once installed, users will be greeted by a rather imposing grey interface. Although first impressions aren’t great, once you start working with the photo editor, you’ll appreciate just how effectively that dull grey background makes the images and colors stand out.

Although the proliferation of tools and options is a little daunting, to begin with, new users can learn as they go using the in-app tutorials. Not only is this a great way to familiarize yourself with Adobe’s capabilities, but it’s also a lot of fun.

Nevertheless, if you think you’re going to be cutting out images and sticking them together to create mind-blowing collages in minutes, think again. Getting the hang of Photoshop and all its tools and functions take time and, if you haven’t used a photo editor before, you should be prepared to put in a good couple of hours of simply playing around before you start on your first serious project.

Adobe Photoshop’s power comes with significant demand for system resources so it’s well worth checking out its capabilities and assessing your own needs before imposing this behemoth of an app on your device. Having said that, Photoshop is simple to download and even the installation process is seamless if not necessarily streamlined.

Personal Use Benefits User Interface

Although Adobe Photoshop’s user interface may be a little intimidating for first-time users, it’s a lot less cluttered than many other photo-editing programs. It’s also been designed to give easy access to multiple functions while preserving a clear working space. On the left-hand side, a vertical toolbar offers a variety of tools and sub-options, while the real powerhouse is located on the right. Here you’ll find everything from layers to color palettes, and channels to swatches.

The tools available in the vertical menu include cropping, moving, eye-dropping color sampling, as well as pens, brushes, clone stamps and a variety of selection tools. The icons used for each of these functions make tool selection a breeze, even for those new to digital photo editing. At the bottom of the vertical menu are options for changing background and foreground colors as well as adjusting the screen mode.

Novice users will do well to familiarize themselves with these functions before moving over to the options available on the other side of the interface which require a little more expertise. Fortunately, this is a simple process as, to understand the function of each tool, all you have to do is hover over it and Photoshop will pop-up a description of its capabilities.

Moving over to the other side of the interface, users will find layers, channels, and paths, among other things. Layers are one of the most useful features of Photoshop, giving users the ability to combine multiple images or graphics and text. These are quite easy to get to grips with and can be reorganized with a simple drag and drop maneuver.

Although Photoshop has a lot of different elements for users to become familiar with, its user interface makes life easier by being logically organized and by keeping the clutter at bay. The tools are surprisingly responsive and intuitive, and windows pop up to keep you on track with your current task. As powerful as it is, Photoshop is nonetheless quite easy to use and a welcome alternative to some of the more bewildering free options which seem to have tools scattered haphazardly across the interface, leaving little room for maneuver.

Bottom Line Editing Tools

Photoshop has so many different tools you could write a book about it and, with nearly 70 tools to choose from, deciding which ones deserve the limelight isn’t easy, so let’s just start with the basics. Most of us want to be able to perform small corrections and enhancements to our images and Photoshop makes this surprisingly easy with its selection of editing tools. For instance, if you want to remove a spot or blemishes from your image, you can use Photoshop’s intuitive healing brush tool which works similarly to its clone stamp tool.

Other editing tools mean users can customize colors, change lighting and effect, or even remove haze so you can rescue an image from the fog that descended as you snapped the shot. Text editing tools have had a much-needed revamp which gives users more versatility when it comes to combining text and images.

Photoshop’s editing tools are second to none, placing the power of perfection into the hands of the user. Some of the most popular and frequently used tools include transformation tools that will rotate, skew and otherwise manipulate sections of your image, text additions and layers; and distortion tools that add special effects to your graphics like blurring, pixelating, adding lens flare, etc. Colors can also be adjusted to create a warmer atmosphere or to give it that good old sepia tinge.

Whether you simply want to sharpen up the focus on an image or crop out an annoying fire hydrant that you hadn’t noticed in the background, Adobe Photoshop has an editing tool to make it possible. Similarly, if you’ve decided to create an inspirational piece of art, Photoshop can give you not just the tools but the wings to reach a new level of creativity.

Ease of Use Features

No matter how many features Photoshop has, Adobe manages to find something new to enhance the user experience every few months. In addition to new editing tools, the latest version of Adobe Photoshop includes a host of features, ranging from cloud storage to online showcasing.

Creative Cloud users get access to the portfolio showcasing site, ProSite and its sister site, Behance. Images can be shared on the latter directly from Photoshop and it’s a great way to engage with other users and get inspiration for new projects.

The latest workflow management tool, Adobe Generator, is another useful addition, giving users greater control over image assets and streamlining copying functions. For example, instead of having to select, copy, and export a logo from a larger image, with Adobe Generator the user simply has to add a file extension to the relevant layer and a new image featuring that asset is automatically created.

The versatility of the cloud storage facility is not to be overlooked either. Not only does it mean you can free up some precious space on your hard drive, but you can also share incomplete projects with clients without having to email hefty attachments.

Photoshop’s latest makeover has seen a few handy tweaks in the editing department as well and the once awkward sharpening feature has been enhanced with the introduction of a Smart Sharp filter. Similarly, the 3D features have been improved with higher quality previews and slicker switching from 2D to 3D.

Photoshop has a lot of features and many of them will save professionals a lot of time and inconvenience. The only downside is that many users will only see the tip of the iceberg simply because they don’t require that high level of functionality. Nevertheless, if you’re looking for a photo editor with more than feathers in its cap than a peacock has in its tail, then Photoshop is the answer.

Multiple Devices PC Compatibility Requirements

Photoshop is many things but if there’s one thing it’s not, it’s lightweight. Adobe recommends that users have at least 2.5 GB of RAM to run Photoshop on a PC, and 3 GB on a Mac. In reality, Photoshop can gobble up a lot more than this, although this does depend on the size of the files you’re working with. Theoretically, you can run Photoshop with just over 500 MB but that’s about as effective as weeding your garden with a toothpick.

While Adobe notes that a minimum of 2 GB is required for basic functionality, it recommends a whopping 8 GB, which is understandable given the size of some of the files professionals will be working on. In addition to the RAM, PC users also need at least 3.1 GB of hard disk space to accommodate this high-maintenance package as well as the 64-bit version of Windows 7 or Windows 10, from Version 1709 upwards.

Mac users don’t fair any better anyone wanting to get the best from Photoshop will need an operating system no older than the macOS version 10.12 released in 2016. Again, at least 2 GB RAM is vital, and 8 GB more amenable, while hard disk space goes up a notch from the PC requirements to 4 GB.

To be fair, there aren’t that many photo editing suites available that don’t demand a lot of system resources. Images are, in themselves, pretty hefty, especially high-quality ones, so a certain amount of memory is required simply to open them. Having said that, there are lightweight alternatives that won’t demand quite as much from your PC but similarly won’t give quite as much in return.

Pricing Pricing

Adobe has always been considered expensive but, to be fair, its prices are very much in line with other professional photo editing software. Of course, there are plenty of free alternatives available but few of them offer the precision or capabilities of premium photo editors.

The cheapest way of getting your hands on Adobe Photoshop is to sign up for the Adobe Photography plan which means you need to open a Creative Cloud account as well. This includes access to the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom where you can share hi-res images, Lightroom Classic for image editing and organization and Adobe Spark, which streamlines social graphic manipulation and web page design. You also get all the power of Photoshop as well.

Photography plan prices vary depending on how much cloud storage space you require for your photographs and those medium-level users who are content with just 20 GB can get all these benefits for $9.99 per month. Storage space of 1 TB costs an additional $10 per month which isn’t cheap but it’s still competitive.

The next tier up gives us Adobe Photoshop for a single app and again includes Adobe Spark as well as 100 GB of cloud storage, Adobe Portfolio and Adobe Fonts, which, when combined, present an impressive suite of website design tools and features. All this could be yours for $20.99 per month which is expensive compared to the other plans.

The All Apps plan, for example, costs $52.99 per month but means you can make the most of Adobe on any device, mobile or desktop, and gives you the full stable of creative apps, including Illustrator, Photoshop, Adobe XD, Portfolio, Spark and Fonts. You’ll also get up to 10TB cloud storage, although the exact price per TB is not advertised.

The final, ultimate option for individual users is the combo Adobe All Apps plus Adobe Stock which is a stock image library packed with high-quality graphics which, as a stand-alone feature costs $29.99 per month. There seems little reason to include this as an additional plan as there is no financial advantage to opting for the combo plan when paying for the Adobe All Apps plan and independently adding on Adobe Stock will cost exactly the same.

Although Adobe’s prices are high, it’s impressive apps are most definitely worth it., and finding a photo editor with the same capabilities and usability for less is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Having said that, just as you wouldn’t buy a racing car for nipping to the shops and back if you’re looking for a way to tweak a few holiday snaps, Adobe is both too powerful and too expensive. Fortunately, there are discounts available for educational establishments as well as both students and teachers.

Bottom Line

Adobe Photoshop is a highly functional photo editor with enough scope to meet the needs of the most demanding professional user. Its range of editing tools is second to none while additional features make it a requirement for many in the photography industry.

To achieve these accolades, Adobe Photoshop is broad-reaching and powerful which also means it consumes a lot of system resources. This can be something of a hindrance to an older operating system meanwhile the average user only needs a handful of tools Adobe Photoshop provides. As a result, Photoshop isn’t necessarily the best option for personal use or hobbyists, despite its impressive capabilities.

Although Photoshop has a lot of tools and functions, it’s managed to keep its user interface neat and orderly and the somewhat dull gray background proves advantageous when working with colors. Even more impressive is the fact that the abundant tools and functions are easy to access via the combination of toolbars and windows. Some photo editors are counterintuitive even without the range of capabilities offered by Photoshop so hats off to its designers for making so accessible.

Given the amount of power it puts into the hands of its users, Adobe Photoshop is a cost-effective photo editor, especially for professionals. Amateurs and those who simply want to tweak a couple of holiday snaps, on the other hand, may find a lighter weight alternative more suited to their needs.