Corel PaintShop Pro X5 Ultimate review

Price when reviewed

PaintShop Pro X5 is as old as the hills in software terms, but regular, annual updates have helped it keep pace with the crowd. This year sees another raft of improvements, adding (according to Corel) an impressive 85 new tools and enhancements.

Happily, those changes don’t include an interface overhaul – something developers usually fall back on when there’s nothing else to shout about – so the front-end remains split into three simple-to-understand workspaces, under Manage, Adjust and Edit tabs.

Of these, it’s the Manage tab that hosts the main new features, and the first concerns the introduction of face recognition (at last). We found this very quick at scanning through our library of photos, but isn’t as spookily effective as Google Picasa’s face recognition, marking all sorts of odd items as faces (including the top of the BT Tower), however, there’s one area where it has an advantage – the ability to import profile pictures from Facebook and use this information to pre-tag photos before they’re uploaded.

Corel PaintShop Pro X5 Ultimate - geotagging

The next new feature on Corel’s long list of new things is geotagging, which picks up on embedded tags in photos, allowing you to organise your photo library by geographical location. The application’s map view uses an embedded Google map to display your photos, allowing you to tag photos from cameras without GPS. Photo locations are also displayed in a collapsible tree view in PaintShop Pro’s Smart Collections on the left of the screen, providing a handy way to drill down on your photo collection by country, region, city and even street name.

PaintShop Pro takes tagging a step further too. Once you’ve tagged your images, its “Share My Trip” function allows you to publish an HTML-based slideshow to your public Dropbox folder – a simple way of quickly sharing holiday snaps with friends and relatives.

The rest of PaintShop Pro’s enhancements come in shape of editing tools and effects. The HDR tools from the previous version have been enhanced, allowing the processing of multiple and single raw files. The Adjust module benefits from more editing power, too, with a selection of preset “Instant Effects” introduced in a panel on the right-hand side.

These range from film-style retro and quick black-and-white conversions to creative, artistic treatments. This is all welcome, but the Adjust panel remains a destructive editing environment. You can revert to the original once you’ve saved your changes, but you can’t go back and tweak what you’ve done without starting all over again.


Software subcategoryPhoto editing software

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported?yes
Operating system Windows XP supported?yes
Operating system Linux supported?no
Operating system Mac OS X supported?no

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