Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 Review

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  • Pros

    • Simple interface
    • Affordable
    • Great content-aware tool
  • Cons

    • No GPU acceleration
    • User interface very different from Photoshop CS5

Quick Take

Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 is exactly what it should be - an easy-to-use, straightforward alternative to CS5 for the casual photographer.

Photoshop Elements has long been synonymous with image editing on PCs and Macs. In fact, if you ask most average consumers, they’ll say they use “Photoshop” on their computers, when what they really mean is Photoshop Elements. Adobe launched a refresh of the software late last year with new features for Photoshop Elements 9 ($79.99). Let’s take a closer look at this latest update.



Despite the affordable price, Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 is a surprisingly complete photo editing solution with a number of new features to help spark your creativity. The new, easy-to-use interface and tools promise to make your life easier whether you’re performing a complex photo edit or simply sharing your family photos on Facebook. Here is a quick overview of the newest features:

  • New Organizer makes it easy to manage all of your photos in one place, find specific people with the “People Recognition” tool, apply tags to help you organize your photos, or share both photos and videos together.
  • Enhanced Spot Healing Brush makes it easier to remove unwanted objects from your photos or repair damage to old photos.
  • New “Guided Edits” walk you through the step-by-step process of editing your photos with short video tutorials.
  • New Layer Masks (previously only available in Photoshop CS) prevent sections of a layer, or an entire layer, from being visible. You use the mask to show or hide sections of an image or an effect.
  • New “Photomerge Style Match” lets you quickly edit a photo to have the same “look” as another image.
  • New Photomerge Panorama helps create more accurate panoramas with less work.
  • New Facebook, Flickr and SmugMug integration makes it easier than ever to quickly share photos and videos online.

Organizer and Content-Aware Fill
For starters, the new Organizer application truly is a major part of what sells Photoshop Elements 9. The old, cumbersome photo browsing and cataloguing tools in Adobe Bridge have finally been replaced with a simple user interface. You can add keywords (tags) to your photos to make searching for images easier, you can create albums and even locate all photos with a specific person in them thanks to the new facial recognition software that Adobe calls “People Recognition.”

Photoshop Elements 9

The newest version of Photoshop Elements genuinely seems to be aware of everything in your photo library. Not only does the Organizer make it easy to locate the photos you want, but the updated Spot Healing Brush now takes full advantage of Adobe’s new content-aware technology (formerly seen in Photoshop CS5). The old Spot Healing Brush did an okay job of covering blemishes or fixing dust spots, but the new content-aware Spot Healing Brush fills in the area with matching details, textures, and colors from the surrounding area.

As you can see in the images below, the content-aware fill sometimes has a hard time perfectly matching a complex background when filling a large area, but it does a surprisingly good job and you can always use the clone stamp tool to massage the final details when you fill in a giant area of your photo.  Bottom line, Elements 9 is great for removing telephone wires, blotting out bystanders, or simply erasing any unwanted objects from your photos as if they were never there.

Photoshop Elements 9

Photoshop Elements 9
After content-aware fill

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