Photoshop Elements

Photoshop Elements comes to the Mac App Store

Well, well, well.  Adobe has added Photoshop Elements 9 to the Mac App Store as a download, and what’s more, a download version without the organizer, according to the press release. (I haven’t seen it, since I’m not going to try to download anything there this morning. OS X 10.7 aka Lion also debuted there today, so things should be pretty impossible for a while.)

For all you organizer haters or users of other image management programs like iPhoto, this is verrry interesting news. Of course, the fact of the matter is that at $79, you can certainly beat the price elsewhere if you can stand to have organizer go along for the ride. Also, it might not be a bad idea to look up the history of the release dates of new versions of Elements to help you decide about purchasing it.

Here’s the press release, so you can know as much about it as I do for now.

Photoshop Elements 9.0.3

If you use Photoshop Elements 9, you’ve probably gotten a nag from the Adobe Updater to install the new 9.0.3 update. However, you may want to think twice about whether or not you want to do this. The update does include some bug fixes and supposedly some improvements for using graphics tablets with PSE, but it also brings one feature that you may not want.

If you’ve been using floating windows for your images, once you apply this update all images will now open in tabs and you’ll have to rip them loose to have them floating again. Every time. Always.

Adobe says:

“In PSE 9, by default behavior if the preference ‘Allow floating Documents in Full Edit Mode’ was checked then the files use to open as floating windows.

In PSE 9.0.3 update, we have changed the behavior that in such a settings the files will open in tabbed view but you can still grab the tab through mouse and pull it out and thus will be able to make it floating window. This was done based on some user feedback.”

So you’re warned. I myself totally don’t believe in the existence of this supposed user, and even if there were such a person (and there can’t possibly be more than one who would want this), it’s just plain silly to change program behavior that isn’t a bug with an update like this.

If you have applied the update and you want to get rid of it, you’ll need to uninstall Elements 9 (this won’t affect your catalog or your photos if you use Organizer) via Control Panel (Windows) or with the uninstaller in Applications>Adobe Photoshop Elements 9.

Then reinstall, but don’t run the update from the Adobe Updater. Instead, go here for Windows:

and here for Mac:

and install the earlier update for your operating system, then ignore the updater when it wants to bring you to 9.0.3.

EDIT 4-20-11: Adobe has set up a web page where you can weigh in with your thoughts on this change, whether you like it or hate it. Tell them here.

AutoPainter Express

If you’re interested in making your photos look like paintings, of course the long-time standard for doing this is Corel Painter, and that’s still the best way to create something that really looks painted. However, it also requires some artistic ability and a high level of skill and has quite a learning curve.

For those who prefer to let the computer do the work, by far the best solution I’ve found is Dynamic Auto Painter from MediaChance. Unfortunately, it’s only available for Windows, which has been a big disappointment to lots of Mac folks.

However, there’s good news: They’ve just come out with a sort of a kind of a version for Mac, called AutoPainter Express, as well as a version of Express for iPhone/iPod. (There’s an iPad version on the way, but it’s not out yet.)

I’m so happy to finally see a Mac version of this program, but unfortunately this one has a long way to go to get to the level of the Windows version. In Windows you have many options for customizing and controlling the result, while the Mac version is limited to four presets. You choose one, and the only other choice you have is to stop it before it’s finished, if you like your painting where it’s at right now and don’t want more work done on it. It’s not a very Mac-like application, either. For example, closing the window closes the program, just like in Windows, and there’s no way to close an image without saving it except by quitting out of the whole thing.

Still, it’s a nice start. Here are examples of what each preset came up with for this photo from a previous entry:

original photo of happyowl clutch

Using the Aquarell preset, described as “Running colors, water droplets, traces and scratches, it’s all there”:

aquarell painting of clutch
Click for larger version.

With the Benson preset, described as “a sunny palette with Mediterranean tones”:

clutch painted with benson preset
Click for larger image.

With the Cezanne preset, described as “warm reds and yellows with quick brush layers and chalk”:

clutch painted with Cezanne preset
Click for larger image.

And finally with the Van Gogh preset, “inspired by the Starry Night painting”:

clutch painted with the Van Gogh preset
Click for larger image.

There’s really quite a lot of detail in the full resolution images afterwards (WordPress won’t accept files that large), and it runs pretty quickly, even on my old C2D iMac.

Are any of these going to deceive people into thinking that you’re a brilliant painter? No, of course not, but they’re handy for created a quick illustrated look. The results vary a lot, depending on the  source image, but with fussier, more detailed images you’ll often get better results if you run the photo through something like Topaz Simplify first.

While it’s a little disappointing that this app is so basic compared to the Windows version, hopefully this is just the beginning and it won’t be long before there’s parity between the two.

Available in the Mac App Store for $7.99.

Using Bridge with Photoshop Elements 9

A lot of Mac folks are unhappy about Adobe’s decision to include Organizer with Elements 9 in place of Adobe Bridge, which came with previous Mac versions. (The Organizer used to be just for Windows.) If you have an older version of PSE that included Bridge, you can still use it with Elements 9, although there’s one big issue with doing so. More on that in a bit.

One thing that’s going to be different is navigation. Obviously you can’t launch Bridge from  the handy button in the PSE editor’s interface anymore. So just go into your Applications folder, find the Adobe Bridge folder for your version of Bridge, find the Adobe Bridge application itself, and launch it. Then go over to the Dock, and click-hold its icon->Options->Keep in Dock. From now on use the Dock icon to launch Bridge or make it the front application when it’s running.

Choose to keep Bridge in the Dock

If you left your old version of Elements installed when you installed Elements 9, Bridge should work just the same way it always did. As a matter of fact, if you upgraded from PSE 8, Bridge CS4 should automatically choose PSE 9 instead of PSE 8 for all the file formats you had it set to open in Elements.

If for some reason that doesn’t happen, it’s easy to fix: Go to the Bridge preferences:

Location of Bridge preferences menu option

and then choose File Type Associations. Go through and find the various file types you want Bridge to automatically send to Elements, then choose Elements 9 from the pulldown menu to the right of the file name:

choose Elements 9 as the application to open a file type from Bridge
Click for larger image

That’s all there is to it. You can continue to use Bridge just the way you always did.

Now as for the one big issue: The big problem with continuing to use your old copy of Bridge is that you can no longer updater the Bridge version of the raw converter. If you get a new model camera, you won’t see thumbnails for your raw files, only the image names, and you can’t use the Bridge version of the raw converter with those images. But you can still send them to Elements to work on them with the PSE version of the raw converter. (If your PSE 9 raw converter isn’t up to date, just go to Help->Updates and Elements should update it automatically. This is a change from earlier versions of Elements, where you had to install raw converter updates manually.)

If you’d already uninstalled Elements 6 or 8 and you’d still like to use Bridge, just reinstall the older version of Elements and follow the steps above.

If you have Windows and you happen to have Adobe Bridge (maybe you have Illustrator, for example), then you can do more or less the same thing, adjusting for the system differences (no Dock, for instance).

Adobe Patches PSE 9 for Macs

If you have Photoshop Elements 9 for Mac and saw the mysterious Adobe logo in your OS X menubar today, here’s what’s going on: Adobe has issued a patch for Elements 9 for Macs, to fix the problems with using the Organizer’s Import from iPhoto command with the latest version of iPhoto (iLife 11). It’s also supposed to facilitate smoother Organizer imports from iPhoto 09.

Download the update from the link in the menubar, or by launching Elements. If the Adobe Application Manager doesn’t appear automatically, then go to Help>Updates, or you can download it here and install it manually:

If you don’t like having the Adobe notification in your menubar, here’s how to get rid of it. Go ahead and run the update, then click Preferences button at the upper right of the Application Manager screen, and turn off this checkbox:

From now on, you’ll only get nagged about updates when you actually launch Elements.

And once again, if you got the Missing Manual in black and white from amazon, contact them for a real copy, please.

Got the Missing Manual in Black and White?

If you bought Photoshop Elements 9: The Missing Manual from Amazon recently and got a black and white copy, please contact them.Photoshop Elements 9 Missing Manual

Someone messed up and somehow put it into their print-on-demand program instead of shipping the copies from O’Reilly. If you got one of these, get in touch with them and they’ll send you a real copy as a replacement. The book should be in color.

Using Photoshop Elements 9 with iPhoto

Now that Adobe is including the Organizer with the Mac version of Photoshop Elements, I’m hearing from a lot of people who think that means you have to use the Organizer. You don’t at all, unless you want to use it. If you’ve been using iPhoto to organize your photos, you can continue to use it if you’d rather do that.

Warning: Never try to open files in the iPhoto library from outside iPhoto, and never try to save back into the library from outside iPhoto. This is the shortest route to corrupting your library file and possibly losing all your photos. That library file is for iphoto’s own use only. It’s like touching a gardenia petal: It may seem fine right after you brush against it, but  eventually the whole thing turns brown and dies. Don’t do it. Use one of the methods described here instead.

There are two main ways to get your images from iPhoto in Elements. Each has its pros and cons.

Set Elements as your external editor

If you send your photos from iPhoto to the Elements Editor by making Elements your external editor, iPhoto will remember your original photo and your latest saved, edited version. (If you save again, iPhoto replaces your previous edited version with the new one. It only remembers the very last version.) It’s very simple to set this up:

1. Go to the iPhoto menu ->Preferences->General->Edit Photos. From the pulldown menu, choose In application:

iphoto external editor preference
These screenshots are from iPhoto 09, but it works the same way with any version of iPhoto.

2. In the window that opens, choose Photoshop Elements as your editor. This step is a bit trickier in Elements 9 than in earlier versions of Elements, since there are two files that look very much alike, and lots of people choose the wrong one. You want this one:

elements editor
Use this one.

Notice that it’s  the upper of the two files that have the blue PSE logo icon to the left of their names. Also note that it’s the one that doesn’t include the version number in the file’s name, and the one without the little curved arrow on the icon. (The lower file is actually an alias that launches the Welcome Screen. If you choose this one by mistake, the Welcome Screen opens, but your photo never makes the trip over to Elements. If that happens, go back and choose the other one.)

3. Decide how to send your photos. Once you’ve set your external editor, you have two choices for how to send the files to Elements. You can go back to the iPhoto preferences window and click this radio button:

double click preference

and then double-clicking a photo’s thumbnail will send it to Elements. If you’d rather keep the double-click for enlarging your view of the photo, just right-click/control-click the photo thumbnail and choose Edit in External Editor and send it that way.

3. Set your Save preference in Elements. You may not need to do this but if you find you’re getting the Save As window in Elements when you save, you need to go to Photoshop Elements->Preferences->Saving Files, and set On First Save to Save Over Current File:

PSE saving files preferences

Then iPhoto will import your changes and create a proper version, as long as you don’t change the name or the format of the file. If you want to see your original again, right-click (control-click) its thumbnail in iPhoto and choose Revert to Original.

(Note that there’s a bug in Elements 9: If you open the Saving Files part of the preferences, Elements will stop attaching file extensions to your photos, so if you open an image into Elements from outside iPhoto, you need to add the file extension–.jpg, .psd, whatever–manually if you save into another format.

Also, if you have iPhoto 11, the duplication of your original is normal; it remains to be seen whether or not Apple considers it a bug, as many iPhoto owners do.)

Another Way

If you like to keep lots of different versions of your photos around, or if you need to make copies in different formats, there’s another way to get them from iPhoto to Elements.

1. Export your photos from iPhoto. In iPhoto, select the photo(s) you want to edit, then go to File->Export to send copies of your photos to the desktop. Put those copies where you can easily find them.

2. In Elements, use File->Open to open the copy for editing, then make as many changes to the name, file format, or whatever and save the edited images where you can find them. (With this method, many people like to rename files as a matter of course, so they can be sure later on which are the edited files.)

3. In iPhoto, go to File->Import to Library and import your edited files as new images.

The disadvantage of this method is that you don’t have neat iphoto versions, but with this method you can save as many different states of your photo as you like. A lot of experienced Elements folks prefer this to the external editor method, because it’s more flexible.

Moving a Catalog from Windows to Mac

Now that Photoshop Elements 9 for Mac includes the Organizer, lots of people are wondering how to get their photos and their catalogs from the Windows version of the Organizer onto their Macs. You can do this, but there are a few caveats. The basic process is pretty simple:

Photoshop Elements 9 Windows Organizer
The Windows Organizer

1. Install Photoshop Elements 9 in Windows. You have to do this because the Mac version can pick up a Windows catalog, but only if it’s a version 9 catalog, so update your catalog to version 9. If Elements 9 doesn’t find your catalog automatically, in the Organizer go to File->Catalog->Open and find it in the list of catalogs. Check for disconnected files and be sure your catalog is in top-notch shape by going to File->Catalog->Repair, and then choose Optimize in the same window.

2. Back up your catalog to a removable drive. It can even be something like a thumb drive, if your photos will fit. It can’t be a network drive, though. Adobe says you can use a backup to disc, as well, but I’ve never been able to make this work, so I don’t recommend it.  To start your backup, in the Organizer go to File->Back up Catalog to CD, DVD, or Hard Drive, and follow the instructions in the window that appears. Once it’s done disconnect the drive from the Windows computer.

3. Install Elements 9 on your Mac, then connect the drive.

4. Launch the Mac Organizer, then go to File->Restore Catalog from Hard Drive. Under Restore From, click the Browse button next to Locate the Backup File, and find your backup. Then under “Restore Files and Catalog to”, choose New Location, click the Browse button to specify where you want to put everything, and turn on the checkbox for Restore Original Folder Structure if you want to keep the same folder organization you had in Windows. Otherwise everything will be dumped into the top level of the destination folder you chose, and the original folder structure and subfolders will be gone. I’d also suggest creating a new folder for the restore, no matter where you decide to put it. Click Restore.

Photoshop Elements 9 Mac Restore

That’s all there is to it, pretty much. Just remember that the Mac Organizer is still pretty much of a version 1.0 product, so you won’t find all the features you had in Windows. No Slide Show Editor, no Watched Folders, no Export command, no Yahoo maps, for example. But having the Organizer for Mac greatly simplifies life if you need to move your photos from Windows to the Mac.

Photoshop Elements 9 Mac Organizer
The Mac Organizer with the restored catalog. Looks just the same as it did in Windows.

If you’re done with Elements 9 in Windows, you can uninstall it. Before you do, don’t forget to go to the Editor->Help->Deactivate so that you don’t waste one of your two permitted installations.

This is the file you want the restore to use.

EDIT If you find that your restore consistently fails, try pointing the restore to the file Backup.tly inside the backup folder, instead of to the folder itself.  You’ll find it down towards the bottom of the list of contents. (Thanks to jazzfisher from the Elements Village forum for figuring this out.)

Introducing Photoshop Elements 9

Today’s the day! Photoshop Elements 9 is here, and there are a lot of major new features, so let’s take a look:

Organizer for Mac. People have been begging for this for a long time, and if you’re a Windows switcher, or if you have a household where people are using both Windows computers and Macs, this is going to be really, really helpful.

Mac Organizer
The Organizer for Mac

However, it was evidently a big project to get the Organizer ported over to OS X, so this time around the Mac version is lacking a lot of the favorite features in the Windows version, like the Slide Show Editor, Watched Folders, and Yahoo Maps, for instance. Still, if you’re moving from Windows to Mac, it’s a big help.

To convert your Windows catalog, install Elements 9 on your Windows computer and upgrade your catalog, then back up to a removable hard drive (even a thumb drive, if it will hold your catalog and photos) and then install Elements on your Mac and restore the catalog there. (If you won’t need Elements 9 on the Windows computer anymore, deactivate it and uninstall it once you’ve got everything transferred over, so you won’t be using one of your two activations needlessly.)

Cross Platform. When you buy Elements 9, you get both platform versions (Windows and Mac) on the same disk, so you can install it on two Macs, two Windows computers or one of each. No need to buy the program again to install it on the other platform.

EDIT: Adobe says that you only get a serial number that works with both versions with the boxed version, not the download. They suggest that if you need PSE right away, order the boxed version, then install both trials and enter the serial number from the disc version into the trials once you get it. Also, the boxed version includes two discs, one for each platform.

Layer Masks. If you’ve used Elements before, you know that this is probably THE most requested feature that Elements has been missing since version 1.

layers panel with mask
The blown out sky is masked out, ready for a replacement

Adobe finally listened, and brought them to Elements 9. If you haven’t used Elements before, you won’t understand yet all that this means, but for now suffice it to say that it’s going to make following tutorials written for full Photoshop a whole lot easier, as well as giving you a lot more options for changing your mind about your edits later on. If you’ve used one of the add-on tools to add masks to an earlier version of Elements, you’ll love how much easier it is when they’re built right into the program.

Tip: Elements doesn’t have the Quick Mask, but you can get pretty much the same effect by painting a mask with the Selection brush in Mask mode.

Fun Edits. This is one of my favorite things in the new mobile mifi 2200 Now Guided Edit walks you through creating an Apple style reflection like you see everywhere in ads these days, a Lomo effect, Out of Bounds (where the subject appears to be leaping or moving out of the photo), and a 60s Warhol-style pop art portrait. These are really fun, even for advanced Elements folks.

Content Aware Fill. This was the biggy in Photoshop CS5, and it comes to Elements too, sort of. In Elements it’s only in the Spot Healing Brush and as an option for filling in the edges of a panorama, but at least it’s here.

Style Matching. Did you ever spend hours creating a special look for one of your photos and then wish you could just copy it over to another image? Elements 9 includes a new style merge, which lets you crib the overall look from one image and copy it to another. The results can be pretty unpredictable, but that’s part of the fun.

Getting Social. Finally–finally!–you can upload photos direct to Facebook from Elements. (That sure took long enough!)

New Creations. The whole Create process (for photobooks, cards, collages, etc.) got a major makeover this time. It’s a tad confusing the first time, but now you can do almost anything you can do in Elements as you create a new project, and there’s a heap of new graphics, backgrounds and so on to help you do it, too.

Move that Photo. If you’ve been driven batty by the Elements 8 Print Window, you’ll be happy to know that Elements 9 lets you put your photo where you want it on the page.

So that’s what’s hot in Elements 9. What’s not? Well, if you hate the dark color scheme, you won’t be much happier with Elements 9. Dark again, and no option to change it, although they did work on improving the contrast over Elements 7 and 8. Some old bugs got fixed (you can finally set the frame rate for an animated gif in the Mac version this time, but you can’t edit an existing animated gif), but there are some new ones to make up for it. Each version of Elements seems to make more demands on your operating system, and Elements 9 is no exception. (EDIT Alas, it appears the frame rate problem is back in the version of PSE 9 for Mac that got shipped out. It was fixed at one point.)

So if you have Elements, should you upgrade? For a lot of people Layer Masks alone will be worth it, aside from the other new features, but I’d always suggest downloading the trial version first and giving that a good hard test drive to see if it’s worth it for you and if it runs well on your computer.