Upgrading to Photoshop Elements 11– Part 1

In an earlier post I wrote about deciding whether or not upgrading to Photoshop Elements 11 was for you. In this article, I will describe what I do when I upgrade from one version to another. In Part 2 of this mini-series, I will address the differences you will find immediately after upgrading.

In this article, I am assuming the simplest scenario. You are not changing computers and are going to install PSE 11.

First, before installing PSE 11, you want to clean up your Catalog in whatever version of Elements you are currently using. The reason for this is that when you install PSE 11, it is going to convert your existing Catalog to PSE 11 format. If you current Catalog has structural problems,they will just be carried into PSE 11 and could cause problems with the conversion.

  1. Reconnect all missing files, or as many as practical, or remove their thumbnails  from the Catalog. To do this click on File > Reconnect Missing Files.
  2. Next run the Repair Catalog command. If it comes back saying no errors were found, select Repair Anyway option.
  3. Run the Optimize Catalog command.

The PSE 10 screen shot below shows how to access these commands. Earlier versions are similar.

PSE 10 Catalog Commands

Now you are ready to install Photoshop Elements 11. During the installation it will convert your Catalog to the new internal structure.

Multiple versions of Elements can coexist on your computer. Therefore, I would not uninstall your older version until after you are sure that PSE 11 is handling your tags and other aspects of your Catalog properly.

But remember, once you start using PSE 11, your old Catalog becomes outdated and does not reflect the changes you have made to your picture collection.

In Part 2, I will cover changes you will see in PSE 11, regarding your tags, albums, etc.


I’m a Photoshop Elements User: Why do I want to learn Photoshop CS5?

So you have been using Photoshop Elements for some time and are reasonably comfortable with it, at least for the tools and techniques you routinely use.

Why would you want to learn how to use Photoshop CS5? After all, it does have a reputation of having a steep learning curve. To answer that question, here are some points to consider.

Photoshop Elements is Built With the Same Engine Beneath its Hood

Many of the commands and internal routines of Elements are based on or identical to those used in Photoshop. That means that once you get into command, say Levels, the two programs work exactly or nearly the same. A typical scenario is that Photoshop often includes additional sliders within a command to fine tune the results. The basic user interface between classic versions of Elements (pre PSE 11) is quite similar to Photoshop.

Elements and Photoshop Share  Many of  the Same Tools

The core Tools in the Tool box on the left side of the screen are essentially the same. But again, Photoshop has additional tools and some have options that Elements does not. But if you know how to use a tool in Elements, you will have little trouble adapting to its use in Photoshop.

Photoshop has a Large Number of Presets

These are easy to access and provide essentially one click fixes to the image in a similar way that Elements works. But again, there are more of them. These were added into Photoshop by Adobe, not so much as training wheels, but rather to boost the productivity of a busy photographers. So much for the steep learning curve. To use these presets requires little knowledge.

Photoshop Editing Techniques can Often be Directly Used in Elements

Since Elements supports using capabilities such as Layers, Selections, and Masks, specific techniques on learns using Photoshop, can be directly applied in Elements, or using a simple workaround for a missing command.

The Two Programs Work Well Together

If you use the Organizer in Elements, you can select a photo and send it to Photoshop directly instead of the Editor in Elements. Upon returning, you will have the edited file as part of a Version Set.

So What Does all of this mean?

I will be teaching my Photoshop CS5 and Camera RAW class at the Torrance Adult School in January on Thursday evenings. I will not be teaching the Basic Photo Editing class or the Advanced Photo Editing class using Photoshop Elements this winter.

So, if you have taken the Basic Photo Editing with Elements class and would like to learn some more advanced techniques, the Photoshop CS5 class may be what you are looking for.

Also, as a student you will be able to buy Photoshop CS6 for about $200 instead of the normal $700+.

Please leave any comments or questions you may have in the Comments section below.

My Digital Photography Classes–Winter Term

I have posted the descriptions and schedule for the classes I will be teaching during the winter term for Torrance and the South Bay Adult School. Click on the link below, and then look in the column on the left for the schools.


I am really excited about the iPad class I will be teaching at Torrance and the Photoshop Elements 11 class I will be teaching at the South Bay Adult School.

I will also be teaching additional classes for PV NET this winter. When I know more details, I’ll post them here.

Both schools should be mailing their catalogs in a couple of weeks or so. Check with the individual school for when on-line registration begins. Classes start on January 7, 2013 at both schools.

Photoshop Elements on Sale at Costco

For those of you who read my last post and are considering upgrading to PSE 11 or buying it for the first time, you may want to check out the sale price at Costco.

Between Nov 8th and Nov 25th, you can buy PSE 11 at $30 off their regular price of $79.95, or $49.95. No coupons are required.

You are not going find it at a lower price anywhere.

Should You Upgrade to Photoshop Elements 11?

PSE 11 Welcome Screen

Since Photoshop Elements 11 (PSE 11) has been released I have posted videos overviewing the new look of the Organizer and the Editor. I also posted a video that described its new features.

If you are currently using an older version of Elements, should you update to the new version? If you have never invested in Photoshop Elements is this the time to take the plunge?

What follows is basically what I’ve been telling my students when asked. My thoughts have not changed much since learning that I will be teaching PSE 11 at the South Bay Adult School beginning in January. Upgrading to PSE 11 may not be for everyone.

Also, if you decide to sit this upgrade out or upgrade to PSE 10 to stay with the classic look, you may find my ebook, Photoshop Elements: The Organizer to be a very useful reference. It’s available on Amazon for the iPad or Kindle Fire.

You are Brand New to Photoshop Elements

If this is you, and you want to begin using Elements, buying PSE 11 is definitely the way to go. There is no doubt that this is the future direction of the program. Since Adobe put a lot of effort into the layout and workflows to make the program easier to use, you most likely will find coming up to speed easier than if you had purchased PSE 10 a year ago.

You Bought PSE 10 and are Actively Using it

Historically Adobe releases a new upgrade to Elements every fall. This has been their practice for the past many years. Unless you are like me, and strive to have the latest version of the prime programs you use frequently, my usual advice is to think about upgrading every couple of years. Generally, the added features and correction of existing bugs warrant spending another $80 or so.

Converting your Catalog to a new version is basically automatic. You should have no problems, as long as your Catalog on the older version is in good shape with no photo disconnect issues etc.

So if you are using PSE 10, you could skip this release and wait for PSE 12, but this time things are different. In previous years, to help people decide whether or not to upgrade to the very next version, my advice was to suggest that they review the new features to see if one or more of them was something they would really benefit from.

Generally speaking, the older the version you are using, the more you will benefit from upgrading. For example, let’s assume that you are actively using PSE 6, and are comfortable with the program and what it does for you and have no desire or time to learn a new program. If that is you, I would upgrade now to PSE 10, before you can no longer find it in stores or from reparable dealers on the internet. In fact I would do this regardless of what version I was currently using, including PSE 9, if I did not want to go the new look and feel in PSE 11.

You have Elements But Have Never Really Used It

If this is your case, you probably never became comfortable with it or spent the time to learn it. Maybe its user interface looked too complicated or your first efforts to use it were frustrating. You do not have much or invested in the program. In my opinion, if you still have a need to protect and keep track of all of those photos from your digital camera, upgrading to PSE 11 is a good move, regardless of what previous version of PSE you own. Again the new look and feel may be just what you need.

You Are a Heavy User of Elements With a Large Catalog of Photos

This is certainly my situation. I have over 35K images and videos in my Catalog that I have imported over the past ten years or so. During that entire time, the look and the feel of the program was pretty much the same. Being a volunteer beta tester for Adobe, I had the opportunity to work with PSE 11 for the past many months as it evolved into what was finally released in October.

Frankly coming up to speed was difficult for me. Old habits and workflows die hard. I converted my existing Catalog to PSE 11 a few months ago. I have had to do a lot of relearning, but the effort has been worth it. I still do not know how to take full advantage of every feature now included in the Organizer, but as I use it, I like it more and more.

What really helped me come up to speed with the PSE 11’s Organizer was Adobe provided the appropriate capabilities that allow me to ease in to the new way of doing things.

I took the plunge. This path may not b for you. That is a question only you can answer.

Final Thoughts for Now

Almost everything above focuses on the Organizer. But remember, PSE also consists of the Photo Editor mode as well.

It too has undergone a major redesign and sports a new and presumably easier to use interface. However, I personally did not have much trouble adapting to the Editor in PSE 11. I had to look for buttons in different places and things of that nature, but the commands themselves and their dialogs pretty much stayed the same. I was able to concentrate on using its new features.

So, I have told you what I think. Leave a comment, and let me know your thoughts regarding upgrading to PSE 11. Are you planning to do so? What version are you using now? Is it easier to use? How easy has it been to adapt to the new look?

Also, if you found my comments helpful, let me know that too.

SBAS to Offer Photoshop Elements 11 Class This Winter


I just received confirmation that the South Bay Adult School has purchased Adobe’s just released Photoshop Elements 11 program. I am very excited about this. SBAS is the only adult education facility in the South Bay able to offer classes on how to use this new version.

I will be teaching an eight-week class at SBAS this winter called “Organizing Your Digital Photos Using Photoshop Elements 11”. It will be offered on Tuesdays from 5-7 pm, beginning January 15, 2013.

Watch my blog, website, and your email inbox (if you are on my email distribution list)for more details in the coming days.