Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0

$$99; $30 mail-in coupon included in the box for registered owners of programs including Adobe Photoshop Elements 1.0 and Adobe Photoshop LE.

It’s hard to imagine working with photos without Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0. From the time it was introduced in 2001, Photoshop Elements has been an runaway success. For one-sixth the cost of Photoshop, the program delivers most of the power and function of the full version in a user-friendly package. Some of the features are enough easier to use in their Elements version that even seasoned Photoshop users turn to it for particular tasks. Photoshop Elements 2.0 adds a number of new features and improves substantially on several existing tools and features. It’s a true bargain at $99.

If you’re happily using Photoshop Elements 1.0, why should you upgrade? Here are some inducements. Elements 2.0 is optimized for OS X, and it also works fine in OS 9. Elements 1.0, in contrast, only ran under OS X in Classic mode.

Elements uses Recipes, tutorials, hints and an extensive Help system to teach photo editing techniques and to guide users through the the application’s tools and palettes. Elements 2.0 has added several features to make these aids more helpful. Under the Help menu, a new Glossary explains computer and digital editing terms. Like the rest of the help system, the Glossary opens in your web browser. There’s also a new, always-available Help Search Field next to the Shortcuts Bar (the top rank of icons just below the Menu bar) where you can type keywords without having to burrow into the Help system. Results are displayed in a window with buttons that link to each Glossary, Help and Recipe entry that matches your search.

Quick Fix is a new dialog box in Elements 2.0 that combines the brightness, color, focus and rotate tools in one place. Located under the Enhance menu, Quick Fix gives you one stop shopping for making the most common photo adjustments. Before-and-after windows allow you to monitor the effect of each change as you apply it, and multiple levels of Undo, as well as a Reset Image button, let you revert if you don’t like the results of your editing. For easier access there’s a handy Quick Fix icon – a lightening bolt over a snapshot – in the Shortcuts Bar.

The new Frame from Video import option, found in the File menu under Import, allows you to easily extract a photo from a video file. Just click the Browse button to find the video file on your Mac, then use the controls to play, pause, fast forward and rewind. When you find a shot you want, click the Grab Frame button and the frame you’ve chosen will open as a new window in Elements 2.0. Frame from Video supports standard QuickTime and Windows Media Player formats. This means that if you want to grab a frame from an iMovie, you’ll need to save it first as a QuickTime file.

When you’re ready to share your photos, Elements 2.0 helps you to create a slide show or email your photos to your friends. You can create a PDF slide show by going to the File menu–Automation Tools–PDF Slide Show. The dialog box lets you select the images, set the interval between shots and the transition effects, then name and save the slideshow. The resulting slide show can be opened on computers running the Mac, Windows, Palm or Pocket PC operating system, as long as the free Adobe Acrobat Reader program, included with Elements 2.0, is installed.

You can send a photo by email by choosing Attach to E-mail from the File menu. This prompts you to save your photo and then places it in a new email message in your mail application. If you save in a format other than JPEG, you’re given the option to automatically convert the image or to send it as is. Oddly, there is no Help system here to coach you through optimizing your photo for emailing, and inexperienced users may find themselves sending photo files that are larger than necessary. iPhoto 2 does a better job in this regard, giving you a choice of size before you send your image. If you’re using Photoshop Elements 2.0 with OS X and iPhoto 2, you may be better off using iPhoto for emailing photos. Note that Elements integrates flawlessly with iPhoto. Go to iPhoto’s Preferences, select “Double click: Opens in other:” and browse to select Elements. Now you can use Elements 2.0 to edit photos that you manage in iPhoto. It’s a terrific combination.

If you’re still using Photoshop Elements 1.0, the new features you’ll gain with Elements 2.0 make upgrading money well spent. And if you’re still using PhotoDeluxe, Photoshop LE or another outdated program, now is the time to make the switch.

– Elsa Travisano
Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0
System Requirements: PowerPC processor, Mac OS 9.1, 9.2.x or Mac OS X v.10.1.3-10.2, 128MB of RAM with virtual memory on, 350MB of available hard-disk space, color monitor capable of displaying thousands of colors at a resolution of 800x600 or greater, CD-ROM drive.
Copyright ©2003 by Elsa Travisano. This review appeared in the October 2003 issue of Newsbreak, the newsletter of MUG ONE - Macintosh User Group of Oneonta, NY.