The Mac is a hot seller these days. Maybe that’s why Adobe Software finally came out with Photoshop Elements 6 for Mac users. Maybe.
The new Elements looks and feels an awful lot like the Windows version, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. At least Mac users have some semblance of parity with Windows users.
After all, Adobe skipped Elements 5 for the Mac altogether, folding features from the Windows version into an Mac version which runs well on both older Macs and Intel Macs.
I’ve skipped a few versions of Photoshop Creative Suite upgrades waiting for a new Elements. It’s here and it’s wonderful, but in a Windows kinda way. Why do I say that? Elements 6 looks and smells like a Windows application in the same way that Firefox 2.x for Mac looks and smells like Firefox on Windows.
Both work just fine but the experience is somewhat foreign for the rest of us. Still, I like what I see. Once installed you’ll find Photoshop Elements and Bridge in your Mac’s applications folder, along with some extra folders inside your Documents folder.
Adobe is pushing AdobeStockPhotos onto Mac users as well as the Windows experience. Elements 6 sports bins and floating palettes everywhere and seemingly all the time, even hogging the entire screen in maximized view. Is Adobe no longer a good Mac citizen?
I say that because Elements sports non-standard Mac scroll bars, a translucent charcoal user interface, and bins are everywhere. Sigh.
Photoshop Elements is the somewhat skinny version of Photoshop, is far less expensive, and comes with more consumer-oriented features, most of which are easy to use, and logically, if not sophomorically, arranged.
Opening Elements 6 on your Mac gets you three basic choices for editing an image. The Full mode has everything, every tool you can think of, all placed neatly into—you guessed it—a bin. Quick mode will be familiar to Elements 4 users which limits the number of visible tools to the truly consumer level.
If Quick mode is too difficult to handle, Adobe dropped in a Guided mode which asks you questions about what you want to do and walks you through the steps.
My first thought here was that Adobe is being far too simplistic and thinks Mac users are very slow to grasp the basics. Then I remembered all the people taking Apple’s new user classes at the Apple Store and I realize that the Mac has many new converts and they’ve lived for years under the inane complexity and discomfort of Windows and need to be retrained. From the beginning.
If it were not for iPhoto, I would like Adobe’s Bridge, which is included with Elements 6. Bridge is where you go to manage all your photos except it doesn’t work with OS X’s iPhoto which is what most Mac users use. Come on, Adobe. Wise up.
Photoshop is a huge, massive, complex application, Mac or Windows. Photoshop Elements gives users similar tools and capabilities, but done up in a somewhat more elegant and simplistic way. Can you say “consumerish?” That’s alright by me, because learning the intricacies of Photoshop is hard work.
Elements 6 provides more than a handful of professional features, such as PhotoMerge, a technology which actually makes it easy to blend photos. Assume you have three or four shots of family members, but each one has someone blinking, snorting, coughing, turning the wrong way.
PhotoMerge lets you pull together the best face shots into a single photo image. That’s cool. I just can’t see my mother and father using it, but it’s still cool.
Everything Apple these days is about sharing, and Elements 6 doesn’t disappoint. Except for not sharing anything with iPhoto (it’s the other way around). Create web galleries from a bunch of photos using Adobe Flash.
Scrapbook pages, CD and DVD labels, greeting cards are all nice touches not found in an easy-to-use manner in the full version of Photoshop.
I’m particularly impressed with Elements ability to fix photos, historically limited to color saturation, sharpness, or red-eye removal. Elements does a decent job of correcting low light photos, adding contrast, even adjusting lighting and shadows.
Photos can also be enhanced with other included filters. Create black and white versions, add drop shadows, glows, and other so-called artistic effects by using the layers feature in Elements. The Filter Gallery is one of my favorite functions.
Even crummy digital photos can be enhanced and improved using the special effects and filters.
Some new features appear to have been lifted straight from the more expensive version of Photoshop.
The Correct Camera Distortion filter, Quick Selection tool, the Refine Edge tool will take average photos and make them look more professional.
Elements 6 is at once bewildering and welcome. The Guided mode will help newcomers to digital photography as it walks neatly through steps to photo enhancing. Elements is also bewildering as the choices and options go far beyond what is found in Apple’s iPhoto.
The Adjust Color Curves command is probably best used by near professionals or photo hobbyists, as is the Unsharp Mask tool. Plenty of digital cameras provide Raw support these days, and Elements 6 doesn’t disappoint with an updated version of Adobe’s Raw converter.
Yet, Elements has similar characteristics to Apple’s iPhoto. Create photo books with just clicks, then order online just as you would in iPhoto. The themed layouts are attractive and professional yet differ from those found in iPhoto.
Adobe Photoshop Elements 6 for Mac retails at $89.99 for the full version, and $69.99 for the upgrade version. A discount on the full version is available from the Mac360 Store (it’s really Amazon), but you can also download the entire application from Adobe. The Mac trial version is not yet ready for download.
I’ll give Elements 6 two thumbs up, despite the Windows-like look and feel. Adobe has managed to take a massively complex application with many professional level features and make it somewhat easy for the average Mac user to tolerate, at a wonderful price. It’s not perfect, but it’s a true value.
If you’re not a professional photographer but you’re serious about digital photos, share your experience, your image enhancing needs and tools, in the Mac360 Comments section below.