Old Reliable: The annual Photoshop Elements update

True to its annual, autumnal form, Adobe today announced Photoshop Elements 2018, the latest version of the company’s image editing and organizational software for photographers, hobbyists, and, in Adobe’s parlance, “memory keepers.” As is the case with most of the yearly Elements updates, the new version doesn’t offer a ton of new features, but mostly adds new components to the Organizer and the Guided Edit modes in the product. (It also benefits from enhancements to the Photoshop engine found at the core of Elements.) Here are a few of the highlights in Elements 2018:

  • The Organizer adds a few new features designed to help folks work through large photo collections, including an Auto-Curate feature that automatically selects your best photos based on composition, faces, and “quality.” Like most machine-based tools, it will be hit or miss, but I found it fairly good in its execution.
  • The selection tools have been improved, making it much easier to create complex masks.
  • An ‘Open Closed Eyes’ feature can automatically copy the open eyes from one portrait and blend them  seamlessly into a second one.
  • New Guided Edit options, including background replacement, double exposure creation, and a number of additional artistic effects.
  • Additional (and improved) options in the project creation module, including more powerful slideshows, expanded print-at-home projects, and more.

While Adobe puts a bit of annoying ‘chrome’ around the interface in places, Photoshop Elements remains a surprisingly powerful program, built as it is on the back of the subscription-only Photoshop. As such, it can perform most, if not all, of the photo-editing tasks we do in post-production with ease. (It includes the full version of Adobe Camera Raw.)

The look of the Photoshop Elements editor is a bit different than Photoshop, but most of that program’s editing tools and features are present in Elements 2018, making it a surprisingly capable photo tool for people who don’t want to live in the world of subscription software.

At $100 ($80 for owners of previous versions) Photoshop Elements also remains the sole Adobe photo-editing product that continues to be readily available as a single purchase (Lightroom 6 hasn’t been updated in years at this point, and is increasingly hard to find). For that reason alone, we regularly recommend Photoshop Elements as a tool for photographers who don’t want to pay for a Creative Cloud subscription. You get full raw editing, selections, layers and blending, and plug-in support. Also, while we still find the Organizer a bit of an overdone mess in places, it does provide some decent features for getting to your photos.

UPDATE: Liz has posted a first look at some of the new features.

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