Review: Adobe Photoshop Elements 9

December 14, 2010 1:00 am

Tags: 2D, Adobe, Elements, Photography, Photoshop

file_462952.jpgProduct Review: Adobe Photoshop Elements 9

If you've always wanted to work with Adobe Photoshop, but you found it too intimidating, or if you currently don't have the cash flow to invest in the high-end version, Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 (Adobe Photoshop's little sibling), is the perfect solution. If you are currently a Photoshop Elements enthusiast, and/or a Mac user, Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 is a "must have" upgrade.

Adobe Photoshop Elements is a powerful editing tool for your photos, as well as a time-saving way to organize all of the images on your computer. Once your images are organized and edited, Photoshop Elements 9 also gives you several new options to present and share your photos and images.


Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 Welcoming Screen


Adobe Elements is divided into two parts: the Organizer and the Editor. The Organizer has always been an essential part of Photoshop Elements, and now, with version 9, Mac users can take full advantage of the Organizer. As in past versions, "tagging" is an important part of categorizing your image catalog. The tagging features allow users to identify, People, Places and Events; as well as attach star ratings to individual photos and/or image thumbnails. The Organizer then provides you with the option to choose specific tags or ratings that you wish to individually view.

Organizing your photos and images has never been easier

The Integrated Map is another feature that is not new, but is still fun. It's especially useful for taking photographs while on holiday. The Integrated Map allows you to drag a photo onto a location, where pushpins appear with thumbnails of photos taken at that location.

Within the Organizer, you can also do a minimal amount of editing, using the auto-fixing and cropping tools. Autofix does as its name indicates; automatically adjusting lighting and color (with a slider that gives you additional control of the auto function). Also, the red-eye removing tool worked well with a little tweaking. In future versions, I wish they would include a red-eye fix for animals, not just people (as well as face recognition for animals).

Within the Organizer, you can do a minimal amount of editing

The downside: organizing takes time. Not unlike cleaning a cluttered house. However, once you are organized it is a true time-saver to locate specific images, especially if you are like me and have images/photos scattered throughout your hard drive.

As computer performances rise, and prices drop, more users are working on 64-bit monster machines. Unfortunately, Elements 9 is still a 32-bit application. This can cause the Organizer to crawl, rather than race, when initially organizing your images. Yet, getting organized is a vital part of the Elements software for both Photoshop Elements 9 and Premiere Elements 9.


As in previous versions, Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 offers three edit options: Full Edit, Quick Fix, and Guided Edit.

Three edit options: Full Edit, Guided Edit and Quick Fix

One of the more exciting new features in this version is the ability to work in layers. As anyone who has ever worked in Photoshop knows, utilizing layers is an invaluable artistic tool, allowing for complex editing. Layers also provide you with the options to work and view individual layers, as you combine different elements in each layer for your final composition. Along with layers, Photoshop Elements 9 now also offers the advanced editing features of Masks.

Create Layers and Masks in "Full Edit"

New to both Photoshop CS5 and Photoshop Elements 9, is Content-aware Fill (located within the healing brush tool).With Content-aware Fill, you select an area or object within a photo that you want to remove. Then Photoshop analyzes the surrounding area, filling the missing gaps. As with all new features, a lot of practice mixed with an equal amount of patience, will garner you the perfect (or near perfect) results.

Looking for the fun factor? New to Photoshop Elements 9 is a Fun Edit library: Pop Art, Reflections, Portrait Effects, and two of my favorites: "Lomo Camera Style Photography Effect" and "Out of Bounds."

Lomo Camera Style Photography Effect created in "Guided Edit," applies an "other-worldly" effect to your image

"Out of Bounds" created in "Guided Edit," does just as its name implies. It allows the user to create an image that goes beyond the photo's original edge, utilizing Photoshop Elements 9s new Layers and Masks functions.


The Pop Art effect, created in "Guided Edit," has two options: convert image to Bitmap and add red, blue, green, yellow, or Posterize your image and add colors with a neon glow. Either conversion gives your image an Andy Warhol Pop Art effect.


The Reflection effect, created in "Guided Edit," allows you to create a variety of mirror reflective effects.


On their surface, each of the above Fun Edits appears to be nothing more than a quick and easy, point and click function. However, if you open the finished image into Full Edit and click on the layers functions, you may be surprised to see just how complicated, and how many layers and masks were applied to each image.

Although it is not a new feature, Photomerge (another one of my favorite features) has been enhanced. Photomerge allows for seamless merging of elements within a photograph, as well as adjusting the varying exposures within the photo, or combination of photos. Photomerge also allows you to match a style of your favorite artist, and apply that style to your photograph.

Of course, anyone who has ever tried to take "the perfect group shot," will appreciate Photomerge, as it can replace a smile on a grumpy face, or open closed eyes. For family gatherings, this feature alone would make Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 an essential tool for your digital editing arsenal.

Presenting and Sharing

Now that you have organized and edited your photographs, you may wonder, what now? Adobe answers that question with not only a reasonable answer, but a fun one as well. Within Photoshop Elements' grab bag of goodies, you'll discover easy and fun ways to unleash your creative side with a variety of templates for: calendars, greeting cards, collages, stamps, slide shows, video CDs, online albums, photo books, photo layouts and scrapbook pages.

My favorite option is the Photo Book creator. Once you have composed your photos in book format, you can then easily and conveniently upload your composition to be bond and printed into a professional book format. This is an excellent idea for gift giving.


Once your creative side has been satisfied, you can then export your creations instantly from within Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 to a plethora of social media outlets (Facebook, Flicker, etc.).


Also, don't overlook the option of storing your photos on, with its 2GB of free online storage (additional storage is also available at a reasonable yearly rate).

In Conclusion

Compared to past versions, there are not a lot of new bells and whistles in version 9, but the new and enhanced features are well worth the upgrade. If you are new to Adobe Photoshop Elements, you won't be disappointed. Many of the editing features that are within Adobe Photoshop, are also included within Photoshop Elements 9 (plus some features that are unique to Elements 9) making this a must have editing software for your creative library.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 produces professional results, even for the novice photographer or scrapbooking enthusiast. Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 is the little program with a big heart; and reasonably priced to meet any budding artist's budget.

New and Enhanced Features

  • Organizer now available for Mac users
  • Instantly un-clutter and repair photos
  • In Organizer, enhanced performance of the auto-analyzer and people recognition features
  • Layers and Masks
  • New Guided Edits (Lomo, Out of Bounds, Perfect Portrait, Pop Art, Reflection)
  • Content-aware Fill, Panorama PhotoMerge, Photomerge Style Match
  • Basic and Advanced modes for creations
  • Editing raw image files for highest quality
  • Additional printing options
  • New direct-share options for your photos and videos (Facebook, Flickr, YouTube etc.)
  • Print a variety of items with your home printer
  • Additional help menus and tutorials

Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 Plus

  • Automatic online backup
  • 20GB of online photo and video storage
  • Exclusive tutorials, tips and tricks delivered regularly to your software
  • Exclusive artwork, templates, and Online Albums delivered regularly to your software
  • Automatic syncing of your photos and video clips on multiple computers
  • Access to your photos and videos online at
  • A personal access URL for sharing your photo and video albums

OS Compatibility Windows Vista, Windows XP, Mac OS, Windows 7

Retail Price:

  • Full Version: $99.99
  • Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 Plus: $119.99
  • Bundle with Adobe Premiere Elements: $139.99
  • 30-day Trial Version: Free

We invite you to explore:

Adobe Photoshop Elements 9
Review of Adobe Photoshop Elements 8


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December 13, 2010

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Article Comments

danob ( posted at 4:21PM Wed, 15 December 2010

A very concise and well written review Dee-Marie I am sure many will find this very helpful..

nickcharles ( posted at 2:33AM Tue, 21 December 2010

Excellent review, Dee! The Elements package certainly continues to get better, while still remaining very affordable.

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