Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 review

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The pressure of meeting Adobe’s annual refresh cycle weighs heavily on the developers of Photoshop Elements. Last year’s refresh was the dampest of squibs, adding little but novelty features to Adobe’s consumer photo editor.

A quick glance at the feature list of Photoshop Elements 11 left us fearing the worst again: an interface revamp, a few new filters, and a couple of additional editing tools hardly left us tugging at the shrink-wrap. However, a few minutes in the company of Elements 11 was enough to convince us there’s more to it than the specification sheet reveals.

Let’s start with that new interface, which not only sees the gloomy charcoal colour scheme of yesteryear replaced by a lighter grey, but also a rethink of the entire editing workflow. The editor is now clearly divided into three modes: Quick, Guided and Expert. Quick mode deals with basic exposure and levels adjustments. Guided offers step-by-step wizards for creating effects such as a shallow depth of field and toy camera effects. Expert provides a modern twist on the traditional look of full-blown Photoshop and most of its advanced tools.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 11

While previous versions of Elements offered those three editing modes too, they now feel much more coherent, with options and side panels only appearing when needed. Expert mode benefits the most from this new look. The tool icons have been sensibly enlarged, with the options for these tools – such as brush size adjustment – now located in an enlarged panel at the foot of the screen, rather than crammed beneath the dropdown menus at the top. Panes for advanced tools such as layers and effects now only appear when clicked, eliminating the clutter of windows running down the right of the screen.

The new editing tools are hit and miss. Of the smattering of new effects added to Elements’ already extensive library, only the Comic effect enthralled us.

The addition of a simple vignette tool is long overdue, but the new tilt-shift effect is horribly imprecise and complicated compared to the tools in Snapseed and Corel PaintShop Pro X5.


Software subcategoryPhoto editing software

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported?yes
Operating system Windows XP supported?yes
Other operating system supportWindows 8

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