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.
• 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.