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Adobe Photoshop Elements 8

Software for image editing by Adobe.

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An indispensable software program for digital camera enthusiasts - works great on my Mac!

  • Apr 9, 2010
There are other fairly simple photo editing programs for Macs, and I've used a few of them. None are as versatile or powerful as Adobe Photoshop, and for most non-professional (and likely many professional) uses, Photoshop Elements is the ideal solution. I really like this program. It is relatively inexpensive and allows you to do practically anything you could possibly want to do with photos. Simple fixes are incredibly easy, and I've been amazed by how quickly basic flaws in a photo can be overcome. For more complicated fixes, and for trick photography, there is a bit of a learning curve and you could benefit from buying one of a few helpful "how-to" guides. More on that later. In what follows I'll refer exclusively to the Mac version of Photoshop Elements 8.

One quick point to begin with: a few other reviewers complain about PSE8 being less intuitive than other made-for-Mac programs. I mostly disagree. For basic functions and quick fixes, this is as simple to use as anything out there, with the possible exception of iPhoto. It's true that it doesn't have the same kind of simple and elegant interface that I tend to associate with Mac programs -- it feels a little "clunky." Still, for more complicated adjustments and effects it's no more difficult to use than, say, the made-for-Mac consumer video editing program Final Cut Express. What makes it seem complicated is that, like FCE, it is a sophisticated piece of software. There are so many things you can do with Photoshop Elements, and it takes some time just to become aware of all the possibilities. Mostly what you need is just to spend some time with it, working on lots of photos, and then looking at the many tutorials out there.

Organizing and Editing photos

If you're already using iPhoto on your Mac, no need to stop. It works just fine with Photoshop Elements 8. You can keep your photos organized in iPhoto, and then go into your iPhoto preferences and under the "General" tab you select "Adobe Photoshop" as your application for "Edit Photo." Then when you want to edit, right click on your photograph and select "Edit in External Application" and the photo will open in Photoshop, and changes can be saved to the original photo. (Of course, you can always open photos in Photoshop by right clicking on them anywhere and selecting "Open with Photoshop", or by dragging the photo onto the PSE8 icon).

But if you don't use iPhoto regularly, or as a helpful alternative that does most everything you can with iPhoto, Photoshop Elements also comes with Adobe Bridge, that helps to organize and find all of your photographs for use with the Photoshop Editor. I've used Bridge a bit, and find it to be a useful alternative, but still like to keep my photos organized in iPhoto.

One of the very cool features to come with Photoshop Elements 8 is the RAW editor. If you've shot your photos in the RAW format, there are a number of things that can be done quickly to recover detail in under or overexposed portions of the photo, or to correct for white balance or saturation problems. From Adobe Bridge you can right click on photos and select "Open in Camera Raw" and there are a number of quick and easy tweaks you can do to set overall optimal levels before doing more focused adjustments and effects in the Photoshop Elements editor. All of this without doing anything to lose quality in the original rich RAW file.

Easy tweaks for beginners

For new users to Photoshop, and for anyone who just wants to work fast, you can go into "Edit Quick" and "Guided Edit" mode. The "Edit Quick" mode gives several sliders that can adjust levels, and also provides some convenient editing tools like the "toothbrush" that allows you to select teeth and brighten them slightly (you can actually select anything and brighten it a bit). In "Edit Quick" mode I have it set to show me "before" and "after" photos. Easy to do. The "Guided Edit" mode is even more versatile, and gives you several options, each with enough instructions to figure out how to do most ordinary kinds of adjustments to photos such as cropping and resizing, cleaning up blemishes and fixing levels. Another easy tweak can only be done in the "Edit Full" mode but it's pretty astonishing what you can do with it. You just click on the "spot healing brush" tool (looks like a Band-Aid), and adjust its size and then "rub" it over blemishes (like zits, odd spots, etc.) and it will blend them in with their surroundings -- especially if you zoom up the size of the photo, you can really add to the overall quality of a photo. Yes, it's technically airbrushing, but digital cameras capture all kinds of details that in ordinary life we overlook, and they don't capture contrast details that we do see. There are a number of simple adjustments you can make with Photoshop Elements that can make all the difference and make photos really capture the feel and essence of a look and a place.

Mindblowing fixes and effects

One very cool thing you can do with "Guided Edit" is take a few group photos and then select the best faces from everyone. Someone was looking away or not smiling in one shot? If you have another photo with a good look on that person, you can add just the face from the one shot to the otherwise best photo. You can also do things like merge photos for best exposure - as when one photograph is mostly underexposed but some element is just right (say, a view from a window) and another photograph is mostly right but has an overexposed element, you can quickly "blend" them together, telling Photoshop which elements from which photo to keep. Another fantastic trick is the "Recompose" tool. For example if you've taken a photo of some of your kids on the beach and a stranger wanders between them, you can actually bring your kids closer together and eliminate the stranger!

Photoshop has a very precise and versatile selection tool, that allows you to, say, get rid of the background (or other unwanted elements) of a photo and replace it with another - almost as if you had shot the original photo in front of a greenscreen. If you actually do shoot in front of a green screen, the tools photoshop gives you are very forgiving. In most programs I've worked with, you have to get the lighting just right, making sure that the greenscreen is uniformly lit and there are no shadows cast from the subject or it's a real bear to get rid of the green. With Photoshop Elements it is very easy.

One of the reasons these tools exist is to allow you almost complete freedom and creative control with your images -- you can mix and match elements from different photos, paint on photos, adjust coloring and feel with a wide range of tools. To know what's possible, though, it helps to have a guide. I've always found the "Missing Manual" series to be helpful, and their Photoshop Elements 8 book is almost indispensable for just getting used to this versatile tool and its many possibilities. For more advanced work, I like this book, aimed mostly to show how you can tweak this consumer model of Adobe Photoshop into something that can do pro work; and for digital tricks with Photoshop Elements How to Cheat in Photoshop Elements 8 has been mind-opening and helpful. There are lots of useful video tutorials, too, if you do a simple search on the web.


I know that a few people have complained about installation difficulties. I didn't have any problems, but it should be noted that for PSE8 the minimum requirements for Macs are an Intel Dual Core processor, Mac OS 10.4.11 (I have 10.6.3), 64MB of video RAM, and ideally at least a gig of ordinary RAM.

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August 11, 2010
Nice and thorough review.
More Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 reviews
review by . October 22, 2009
When Adobe skipped version the Mac with version 7 of Elements, I wondered if there would be another upgrade. I'm glad that 8 came out, and at the same time as the Windows version. I often wait a version or two between upgrading but there's enough here to make the new purchase worth it to me.    I'm a fan of this program. It is all that most photographers need. Actually it does much more than most people who own it ever get to. If you are not a graphic designer, Elements is great. …
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Nathan Andersen ()
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I teach philosophy at Eckerd College, in Saint Petersburg, Florida.      I run an award-winning International Cinema series in Tampa Bay (, and am co-director of … more
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The newest version of the #1 selling consumer photo-editing software, Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 combines power and simplicity so you can easily go beyond the basics to tell great stories with your photos. Bring all your photos and video clips together in one convenient place where you can easily find, view, and manage them. Make your photos look extraordinary with editing options that let you whiten teeth and make skies bluer in one step; recompose photos to any size without distortion; quickly remove unwanted photo elements; combine multiple exposures into a single, perfectly lit shot; and more. And share your stories in unique photo books, scrapbook pages, web galleries, and more. Photoshop Elements works great with iPhoto!

A complete solution for photos.

Extraordinary photos. Amazing stories. Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 software for Mac offers a complete solution for photos:
  • Make your photos look extraordinary with easy-to-use editing options.
  • Share your stories in beautiful, personalized print creations and on web galleries.
  • Easily manage all your photos and video clips from one convenient place.
Top reasons to buy Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 for Mac

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Quickly recompose your photos to any size. Click to enlarge.

Clean up and create composites with Photomerge. Click to enlarge.

Do it all with one powerful yet easy-to-use product
Use Photoshop Elements 8 for all your photo needs. Edit and enhance photos, make unique photo creations, ...

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