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Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 for Windows & Mac

By September 21, 2010

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Today, Adobe announces new versions of Photoshop Elements digital photo software and Premiere Elements video editing software. Last year, I was let down by Photoshop Elements 8, primarily due to the poor Organizer performance. However, after a live briefing and spending a few hours hands-on with the software, I am encouraged that Photoshop Elements 9 could win back my love and devotion.

As I said, I've only had a few hours to spend working with the software, but I am excited about what I have seen. The Organizer performance is much improved, and Adobe seems to have taken heed of customer wishes.

I've harped about eye strain with the dark user interface since it was introduced, and with this version, they have finally made it pleasant--even though it's still dark! What they did was increase the text size and contrast while getting rid of a lot of visual clutter. I can attest that this user interface is much easier to read and use.

Version 9 has some interesting surprises, particularly for Mac users. The Photoshop Elements Organizer has finally been ported to the Macintosh platform. Now Mac users can enjoy the more seamless experience of managing photos in the Organizer instead of with Adobe Bridge, which has always been developed for the professional Creative Suite product line. That means they will get quick photo fixes, easy photo sharing, people recognition, automatic analysis, and all the other great Organizer features. I know I bashed the Organizer in my Photoshop Elements 8 review, but it seems to be performing much better in the short time I have spent with version 9.

I'm also pleased to tell you that Photoshop Elements Organizer catalogs can be moved from the Windows platform to Mac using the backup and restore feature. So if you've been holding off on switching to the Mac platform because you didn't want to lose your photo catalog, now your can. In fact, the Windows and Macintosh versions of Photoshop Elements will be shipped together in the same box.

Also coming to the Macintosh platform for the first time ever is Premiere Elements for hobbyist video editing and production. Premiere Elements is not a big focus on this site, but it is certainly noteworthy as it shares the Organizer with Photoshop Elements and it allows you to combine photos and videos in your projects. And of course, it can be purchased together with Photoshop Elements in a reduced-price bundle.

Now, before I bust at the seams... the new Photoshop Elements Editor feature I have been dying to tell everyone about... Layer Masks are no longer crippled! That's right, the full power of layer masks has been unleashed for Photoshop Elements users, so clunky workarounds like my free layer mask tool are no longer necessary. For those that don't know, layer masks are a powerful feature for editing photos non-destructively. Elements always had layer masks under the hood, but you couldn't really work with them interactively. Now you can! And I'll confess I am not sad to stop maintaining the free layer mask tool--although it will stay available for users of older versions.

These days it seems you can hardly go anywhere without hearing Facebook mentioned in conversation or on TV. Yet any kind of Facebook support has been conspicuously absent in Photoshop Elements, even though it has become a huge platform for sharing photos and videos. Well, now the Organizer makes it easy for you to post both photos and videos to Facebook, along with several other online photo and video sharing sites (SmugMug, Kodak, YouTube, Flickr, Shutterfly, and, of course, Photoshop.com).

I'll have screen shots and more details of all the new features when I post my in-depth review of Photoshop Elements, soon. For now I will wrap this up with a quick summary of some of the other new features in Photoshop Elements 9:

  • Auto-analyzer performance improvements should prevent Organizer from slowing to a crawl.
  • People recognition is more efficient and user-friendly, and far less annoying.
  • Guided Edits has a new "Fun Edits" category with the following effects: Lomo camera effect, Out of Bounds, Perfect Portrait, Pop Art, Reflection. They really are fun!
  • Healing brush now has content-aware fill so you can brush away unwanted objects fairly seamlessly.
  • Panorama stitching has content-aware fill so you'll lose less of your final picture to cropping, and it can fill in missing pieces when the panorama shots didn't capture everything.
  • A new PhotoMerge mode called Style Match where the stylistic properties of one image can be applied to another.
Pricing for Photoshop Elements, Premiere Elements, and the bundle is unchanged--US$99.99 for Photoshop Elements 9 or Premiere Elements 9 individually, or US$149.99 for the bundle. As usual, a mail-in rebate will get you US$20 back. Both products are shipping as of today, and the 30-day trial version download will also be available today.
Photoshop Elements on Adobe.com

I'll be updating my review soon, and you can post your own review after working with the 30-day trial, if you'd like. If you have questions, post them in the comments here and I'll do my best to answer what I can.

More Information:
Photoshop Elements Main Index
Review of Photoshop Elements 8 for Windows
Review of Photoshop Elements 8 for Mac

September 21, 2010 at 9:39 am
(1) Lyn says:

I appreciate your preview of PSE 9 but perhaps the program isn’t yet ready for Prime Time. I needed five attempts to get the download underway and once it started I received an e-mail from Adobe thanking me for downloading PSE Version 8! Once the program completes downloading, I’ll give it a spin, and I look forward to your comments on the full program when you run the full review.

September 22, 2010 at 12:00 am
(2) cybersparkle says:

Thanks for the review! I use your layer mask in my old PSE 4 and am happy to see masks in PSE 9. I have just purchased a 64 bit windows 7 professional and I have lots of free and paid plug-ins that I would like to transfer to PSE 9- should I decide to buy it.
The plugins are 32 bit (I think, I am assuming PSE 4 is 32 bit) and my question is- will the 32 bit plug ins automatically function in PSE 9? I use PSE 4 in xp mode/virtual pc and would prefer to use the PSE 9 in win 7 rather than xp mode, however I’ll have to use xp mode if my plugins will not transfer to PSE 9. Thanks again & looking forward to your full review.

September 22, 2010 at 11:36 am
(3) Sue says:

@cybersparkle:Yes, Photoshop Elements 9 is still 32-bit. Your plug-ins should work in it, although you may have to reinstall them. To be absolutely sure, though, I would check with the plugin publishers if they are very important to you.

@Lyn: That must have been frustrating! I hope you have better luck running the program than you did downloading it. Let us know how it goes.

September 23, 2010 at 12:04 am
(4) Dennis says:

Have to say that I downloaded and installed with no problems. Converted one of my 3 catalogs (which I copied out first!) — again no problems.

I have not done much yet, but I did walk through the organizer and a simple edit session — again with no problems.

Thoughts? (I am coming from PSE7) …
– hard to find version sets now, no nice frame on them
Used this quite a bit as I only print edited photos
– the colours are not bad, but would have liked
the adjustable (I LIKED the darker colours :( )
– nothing more yet, its bedtime

September 23, 2010 at 10:19 am
(5) Irene says:

What does “Premiere” do? It is worthwhile buying the bundle?

September 23, 2010 at 10:52 am
(6) Sue Chastain says:

Irene: Premiere Elements is for video editing and making DVDs, etc. I have tried it a few times, but found it way more complicated than Windows Live Movie Maker, which I’m used to. But Movie Maker doesn’t work with the files from my new camera so I may take another stab at Premiere. If you have a video camera or a digital that takes good video and you like to do fun stuff with your video clips, it’s probably worth getting the bundle.

September 23, 2010 at 2:06 pm
(7) John E Helbok says:

Glad to see your review of PSE9. Will buy as soon as I evaluate editing in 9.

DISAPPOINTMENT: I use RAW inside PSE8, and hoped PSE9 would allow using brush masking when RAW 6.2 is used.

September 23, 2010 at 4:49 pm
(8) Nancy says:

I use PS Elements and Premiere and purchased PS8 with Premiere. The Premiere would not make DVDs with my computer and after several hours with Adobe, they confirmed that this was a problem and refunded my purchase. Untill I know they have perfected this flaw, I don’t want to go through this frustration again. I use a 64 bit Vista HP computer. If you get a chance to check this out, I’d sure appreciate it as I love PS and Premiere. It is not difficult until you run into a glitch like I did. Thank you. Nancy

September 23, 2010 at 8:51 pm
(9) RSPetersen says:

I only purchased PSE8 a month ago. I went to the Adobe website to see how to upgrade to PSE9, but found nothing. Do you know if there is an upgrade available? Surely you don’t have to pay the full price for an upgrade, yes?

Thanks for your help.

September 23, 2010 at 10:22 pm
(10) Sue Chastain says:

If it was under a month, you could contact Adobe and they would more than likely upgrade you for free. They don’t usually do an upgrade price on Elements–just the mail-in rebate.

September 24, 2010 at 4:39 pm
(11) Chris Nicola says:

Sue, thanks for this informative review. I wonder if the print window in PSE9 is improved and is at least as functional as versions 6 and 7. Version 8 had a crippled print window that couldn’t do page margins and you couldn’t move the image around on the page like versions 6 and 7 which was very disappointing. I never printed with PSE8 for this reason.

Kind Regards


September 26, 2010 at 6:28 am
(12) terry says:

I downloaded the elements 9 trial but couldn’t see a way to import from my scanner on my Mac. this is easy using Elements 8 and Bridge

September 27, 2010 at 3:48 pm
(13) Rick says:

I am trying Elements out a an IMac and so far have mainly been using the Organizer. I am finding that I am getting error messages when I try to create instant albums, followed by a program crash. I am also finding that it is painfully slow. I certainly won’t be using the Organizer unless it speeds up. Granted I have a large photo library, but I find that IPhoto handles it with no problem yet Elements 9 Organizer almost grinds to a halt.

October 13, 2010 at 12:18 pm
(14) Sue Chastain says:

Chris: regarding your print question… Yes, it is improved. See this post in the discussion forum: http://forums.about.com/n/pfx/forum.aspx?tsn=5&nav=messages&webtag=ab-graphicssoft&tid=10302

November 15, 2010 at 10:46 pm
(15) Caro Henauw-Stout says:

I just purchased Elements 9 and I noticed it has a disc for Mac and one for Windows. Do you know if you could install both (one on a Mac, the other on a PC) or do you have to choose? Thanks.

November 16, 2010 at 10:58 am
(16) Sue Chastain says:

Caro: I don’t see why not, as long as you are using it according to the terms of the EULA. You can find Adobe’s EULAs here.

November 17, 2010 at 8:42 pm
(17) Grumpymagz says:

I just made the switch from Elements 8 for Windows to Elements 9 for the Mac. It was a pretty straight forward process and I did not encounter any significant errors (I have over 30,000 photos cataloged in the organizer).

All in all, the Macintosh version is almost identical but there is one very significant feature missing, something that I use all the time in the windows version. That function is the EXPORT feature (menu File->Export). Quite often after having completed editing a batch of photos, I would select those photos in the organizer and then export them for the web. As far as I can tell, there is no comparable feature in the Mac version.

November 27, 2010 at 10:09 am
(18) Annie C says:

can you go into more details on “They don’t usually do an upgrade price on Elements–just the mail-in rebate.”

i never heard of if before. I am looking to upgrade from PSE 7.

The tool i’m most interested about is the spot healing brush. I am super jealous of the content awareness feature in the new CS5 but can’t afford it. What is your opinion on how well it works in PSE 9?

November 27, 2010 at 11:13 am
(19) Sue Chastain says:

Annie, You can find the $30 rebate terms here: http://store.adobe.com/store/en_us/popup/software/pse9/rebateterms.html

Yes, the content-aware fill in the spot healing brush works well in PSE9.

December 5, 2010 at 10:28 pm
(20) Lolli says:

I just installed Elements 9 and it is very pushy about creating an Adobe ID. Do I want to do that or is it a promotional gimmick?

December 5, 2010 at 10:47 pm
(21) Lolli says:

Re Comments 15 & 16, checking the EULA it seems you cannot use both OS disks. See below. Seems unfair since you can normally install a copy on your desktop and your portable computers, but I have a desktop MAC and an older laptop PC and so that’s not allowed.

2.11 Dual Boot Platform. Except as expressly set forth in Section 16.17 below with respect to Elements Software (as defined in Section 16.17), the Software is licensed for use on a specific operating system platform. Except as expressly stated in Section 16.17 below with respect to Elements Software, you must purchase a separate license for use of the Software on each operating system platform. By way of example, if you desire to install the Software on both the Mac OS and Windows operating system platforms on a device that runs both of those platforms (i.e., a dual boot machine), then you must first obtain two separate licenses for the Software. This is true even if two versions of the Software, each designed for a different operating system platform, are delivered to you on the same media.

December 6, 2010 at 2:57 pm
(22) Sue says:

Lolli: The Adobe ID is required is you want to utilize your free 2GB of storage on Photoshop.com for backup or sharing photos. It also gives you access to extra content and tutorials. I’m not sure how annoying it is if you decide not to create one… perhaps others can chime in on that.

On the EULA… I think the part you quoted is regarding running two versions on the same machine (a dual boot machine; for instance, a Mac that runs Windows in a virtual machine or boot camp) but then if you go down to section 16.17, they say it is allowed.

I’m not a lawyer, but my interpretation is that as long as both versions are not running at the same time, you are allowed to install it on Mac and Windows, whether it is two separate computers, or a dual boot machine. I don’t think there is any activation in Elements to prevent it, allowed or not.

December 7, 2010 at 10:26 am
(23) Ira says:

Is Photoshop Elements 9 a stand-alone version or do I need a previous version to run it?

December 7, 2010 at 10:52 am
(24) Sue Chastain says:

You don’t need any previous version to run Photoshop Elements 9 (or any version). I don’t know of hardly any software that has to have a previous version installed nowadays.

December 8, 2010 at 8:51 am
(25) Mark says:

I installed PSE9 on my PC and iMac over the weekend. I backed up the PC’s photo catalog to my NAS, but was not able to import this catalog from the NAS to the Mac. I eventually just copied the backup folder from the NAS to the Mac, and then the import worked fine.

Interestingly, I receive an error message (no valid photo selected, or something like that) when trying to share some photos on Facebook. This error only occurs when trying to share photos from the imported catalog. The few photos I have imported from my camera since installing PSE9 on the Mac can be shared on Facebook without an error message.

I have not tried this on the PC version, so it is possible this only effects the Mac version. Perhaps I am doing (or did) something wrong?

December 30, 2010 at 8:27 am
(26) Mike says:

Thanks Sue. The clone stamp tool on my Mac version (PSE9) behaves different then it did on my windows PSE 8 version. The area being cloned does not fill the brush as it did in my windows version and is not as nice to work with. Do I have an installation problem? Is there a fix for this?

January 2, 2011 at 10:22 am
(27) Mike says:

OK here is the answer to my previous unanswered question. Unlike in windows if you change the mouse size (arrow cursor) to see it better for non Photoshop applications you mess up the brush sizes. You need to leave the cursor size at normal to have the brushes work correctly.

January 9, 2011 at 4:18 pm
(28) Craig says:

Your earlier comment is the first time I have been able to find that Elements 9 is still 32 bit. I have been trying to find that info since I purchased the program to install on my 64 bit Win 7 system and, of course, it doesn’t load. There should be lots more info on the site making it obvious that it won’t install on 64 bit systems. I am out money for a program that won’t work. *sigh* I really HATE having the 64 bit system…

January 9, 2011 at 4:45 pm
(29) Sue Chastain says:

Craig: Yes, Elements 9 is still 32-bit, but it is supported and installs and works fine in a 64-bit system. I use it myself in Windows 7 64-bit and that is how I evaluated it for my review. I love my 64-bit system, wouldn’t ever want to give up having 8 GB RAM, and have encountered very few issues with things relating to running a 64-bit OS. Perhaps if you post the details about your issues in the discussion forum, we can help you figure them out.

March 4, 2011 at 7:32 pm
(30) Ellea Peagee says:

I am frustrated like one of the previous commentators. I have purchased a new Mac and was trying to move my photoshop elements catalog from my Windows version elements 7 to the Mac. I followed the directions….converted to 9 on the windows computer, backed up to an external hard drive (I have 50,000) photos) then tried to restore to the Mac. I get an error message…The disk in drive (external hard drive) does not contain a valid backup. It is there. I can see it but the mac won’t read it. I have to keep my catalog on an external hard drive because it is so large. I would appreciate any suggestions. I am frustrated.

March 9, 2011 at 10:48 am
(31) Mike says:

Here is a brain twister for you Sue. I have images on a Windows version of elements 8 thatI burned onto a CD and imported to my Mac version of elements 9. If I edit an image and save in a version set the time the image was taken goes back exactly 1 hour- both the original and the edited version. What gives?

March 9, 2011 at 12:15 pm
(32) Sue Chastain says:

Never heard of that one, Mike. Must be due to some daylight saving time shenanigans.

Ellea: I would probably start with a brand new full backup and try it again. If you still have problems, post in the discussion forum which is a better format for helping out with your issue. http://forums.about.com/ab-graphicssoft/

June 21, 2012 at 4:55 pm
(33) Bernie Castleman says:

I have a request. How does one print two different photos on the same page? I’m using elements 9 for Mac. Thanks

June 25, 2012 at 10:27 am
(34) Sue Chastain says:
November 3, 2012 at 11:58 am
(35) Mary says:

I just got a new Epson printer 2000…after editing photos using adobe elements 9, they will not print from my MAC to my new epson although i have not problems printing from my IPHOTO library. i need the editing power of Adobe Elements . I have no other copies of Adobe elements to fall back on to see if it is the program that is the problem but I do not think that is what it is. suggestions welcome.

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