Version 11 of Adobe Photoshop Elements (PSE) finds Adobe once again splitting the workflow in two – the Organiser, where you import, sort and view image files, and the Photo Editor for manipulating and enhancing images. See also: Group test: what's the best photo-editing software?

A substantial redesign is evident when Organiser is opened. The Media view is where all imported files are displayed singly or in grid form, while an enhanced People tab joins new sections for Places and Events. 

While importing from files and folders, Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 will pick up on any existing keywords stored in image metadata, making cataloguing and subsequent sorting of images easier.

Metadata from cameras and smartphones is also fully exploited by the workflow.

The People tab is populated after running the Add People facial-recognition exercise. We’ve seen such facilities before such as in Google’s Picasa, but the recognition algorithm used here is obviously very powerful. It was able to pick up and associate with the correct person younger versions of faces, different hairstyles and even those distorted in an underwater shot. 

It's not always so precise – mistaking a patch of mud in a shot from a festival as a face for example – but on the whole it's a very impressive tool.

Another option prompts you to Download/Update your Facebook Friends list to help name friends.

The Places tab picks up and displays geotagged images along with location stacks on a Google map. You can also click on photos in the Media pane and Add Places in the Action bar manually. 

The Events workflow, as you might expect, lets you organise and find images by date; again there are manual routes available to apply calendar info if required.

The Photo Fix options (red eye, levels, sharpen, smart fix) in Organiser have been simplified through the use of ‘big’ icons and brought to the fore. 

These can perform an instant fix on photos, either singly or in batch mode, and the results are quite acceptable.

Full adjustments can be carried out in Photo Editor. Here you are again presented with a streamlined interface, with the Quick edit (simplified with most common tasks) and Guided edit (step-by-step) options reclothed in the new icon-driven simplicity. 

New Guided options include High Key effect to give a photo a bright, cheery, low-contrast look, or a Low Key effect to darken a photo, adding drama and contrast. 

Some tasks have been streamlined too, such as adding a vignette. This previously involved making selections, creating masks, and feathering the edges of photos. 

In version 11 of Adobe Photoshop Elements, there is a dedicated Vignette Effect Guided Edit to walk you through adding the effect to a photo and fine-tuning afterwards. There’s also a new tilt-shift effect, where the subjects appear miniature.

It doesn't quite replicate the unreal quality that’s achievable with just messing around with filters on your own, but it’s very quick and the effect can be easily edited.

Photoshop Elements lagged behind the competition in terms of image organisation in the past, but with version 11 that disparity has disappeared. On both Mac and Windows platforms Organiser was quick in response times, with Photo Editor slick in applying filters, guided edits and fixes.

NEXT PAGE: Original Macworld review >>


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