Every year, as summer fades into fall, Adobe releases a new version of its Elements software in time for those looking to ensure their holiday memories are true Hallmark moments. Its latest, Photoshop Elements 12 (available for $99 or $149 bundled with Premiere Elements), has improved integration with smartphones as well as features from its higher-end Photoshop CS6 suite. Here's why Photoshop Elements 12 retains its lead as one of the best prosumer-level photo-editing apps.
Setup and Installation
It took us 25 minutes to download the 1.4GB installer package from Adobe's Electronic Software Delivery portal onto our Dell Latitude 6430u over an Ethernet connection. Once we started installing the software, it took about 10 minutes for the process to be completed.
Adobe offers a 30-day trial of the program; new users can purchase Elements for $99, or for $149 when bundled with Premiere Elements. Current Elements users can upgrade either program for $79 or both for $119.
Photoshop Elements 12 has essentially the same look and feel as its predecessor. Adobe uses the same layout, with its hallmark shades of gray and colorful, almost cute icons, along with a rounded sans-serif font.
The Photoshop environment looks largely the same across all three modes: Quick, Guided and Expert. You switch between modes by clicking on the navigation bar at the top. A toolbox on the left shows just a handful of functions in Quick mode, such as the Quick Selection, Red Eye Removal, Whiten Teeth, Spot Healing Brush and Text tools. In the Expert environment, you get a more robust set of features in the toolbox, but these are still limited compared with what you get with a full version of Photoshop.
At the bottom of the screen is a panel of effects and settings for you to quickly edit your images and jump between Organizer and Editor. Your open files are also displayed in a photo bin just above this panel to give you a bird's-eye view of what you're working on.
Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements both have an Organizer feature that gives you an overview of your local media libraries. This year, Adobe added a Mobile Albums section to enable syncing between computers and mobile devices.
To share media between your phone and computer, you need to first install Adobe's Revel app for iOS and Windows 8 devices. (Android owners need to use the Web-based version, at least for now.) The Revel app is free for uploads of up to 50 photos or videos per month. Your files are also stored in Adobe's cloud. If you want to upload more, the unlimited version of Revel costs $4.99 a month.
When we added two new photos to our mobile album on our iPhone 4s via Revel, it took about half a minute before the photos showed up on the mobile albums on our desktop. Photos that we added through our browser appeared faster on our phone than on our desktop. Mobile Albums sync automatically by default, but you can turn that off by going into the program's settings.
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Another useful feature of Mobile Albums is that they can be shared as private Web albums on AdobeRevel.com. To do this, select your files in the album, click Share on the top right of the screen and hit Private Web Album. You will be prompted to sign in to your Revel account and authorize Elements to share on your behalf. Once that's done, you can name your Web album, choose whether visitors can download the images, and then upload your images. You will be given a link to the album that you can share with your friends. Conveniently, you can create and share a private Web album on your mobile device or computer.
Adobe also added Twitter support to its existing sharing options. This feature can be found under the Share drop-down menu in Organizer in Elements 12, and allows you to share content via Facebook, Flickr, email, SmugMug, YouTube and Vimeo.