How Photoshop Elements has Changed Throughout the Years

As I read the discussions in various forums and Facebook groups, it is apparent that many users continue to use older versions of Photoshop Elements. Many users are even using older versions than PSE 11, released in the Fall of 2012. This version is significant, because Adobe changed the complete look and feel of the program in that version.

One of the most commonly asked questions from users of older versions is whether or not it is worthwhile to upgrade to the then current version. The answer for a given user depends upon their circumstances. It is often driven by changes in the computer they use, its operating system, and/or the camera they use.

Today, we are probably about half way through the product life cycle of PSE 2020. If history repeats itself, PSE 2021 will be released sometime this Fall. So the question many users ask is should I upgrade to the latest version. Adobe has a excellent table that compares PSE 2020 features with previous ones going back to PSE 15. You can access it at the link below:

PSE 2020 Logo

For several years now I have maintained my own table. It is more detailed than the one in the above link and goes back to PSE 11. The link below is to my current version. It is an Excel spreadsheet. 

Feature Comparison PSE 11 Through PSE 2020

If you have been struggling to decide whether to upgrade or not, I hope you found this information helpful. If so please star-rate it or Like/Share the post. Also, I am always open to comments.

Until next time…

Addendum: Some were not able to open my spreadsheet. I have converted it to a PDF file. The link to it is below.

Photoshop Elements Feature Comparison PSE 11 through PSE 2020 PDF File.


Using the Backup Command in Photoshop Elements


How one should go about backing up their photos when using Photoshop Elements continues to be one of the most frequent questions asked by new and more experienced users of Photoshop Elements.

I have written on this subject a few times in the past on this blog. If you enter applicable keywords in the area provided at the bottom of the string of posts near the bottom of this page, you will get links to those earlier posts.

In this post, I will provide a link to a video tutorial I made some time ago, which covers both the Backup command and the Restore command in the Organizer of Photoshop Elements 6.

However, the same process and screens that are displayed when using these commands remain the same in Photoshop Elements 14. The video quality is certainly not the best, but I believe it is adequate to clearly describe the process. I plan to update the video with a better quality version soon, but in the meantime, I hope this one will help answer the many questions that keep coming up about the subject.

Click on the figure below to watch the video.

Processing RAW Images – PVNET Class Preview

The subject 5-week class will be taught at PVNET adjacent to the Rancho Palos Verdes City Hall beginning October 30th.

This YouTube video previews the class.

To register for the class, click on the following link.

Syncing Photoshop Elements Photos with Your iPad

I learned something new the other day. You can sync Photoshop Elements Albums to your iPad. Actually, you can sync all of your Albums to your iPad if you like. And by the way, this is not something new. Photoshop Elements has been able to do this for several versions now. I was just slow to learn about it.

Generally speaking, I am not interested in seeing my entire photo collection (nearing 40K now) on my iPad or iPhone. However, I would like to have a few current pictures of my family on them to show friends at times. In other words they would play a similar role the wrinkled photos in my wallet.

Here is how I did it.

  1. Make an Album in Photoshop Elements.
  2. Connect your iPad to your computer via its cable.
  3. Start iTunes on your computer.
  4. Once your iPad is recognized by iTunes, click on it as shown in the figure below.

iPad Connected iTunes

5. In iTunes, click on Photos as shown in the figure below, then…

  • Select Photoshop Elements from the drop down list.
  • Click to select Selected Albums.
  • Click on the Photoshop Elements Album made in Step 1.

6. Click on Apply. See the figure below

iTunes PSE  Photo Sync

To view the photos in the sync’d Elements Album, use the Photos App on your tripod to view the Album. This is illustrated in the figure below.

iPad Fam Photo Album

Now whenever I want to update the album on my iPad, I simply modify the applicable Photoshop elements 11 album, and sync my iPad through iTunes.

Photoshop Elements Keeps Track How You’ve Shared Your Photos

I’m sure you are aware that Photoshop Elements makes it easy for you to share your photos and videos with Facebook and other popular social networks. Most likely you have used this feature a lot. But do you know you can also see which photos you have shared and to whom?

This information is displayed in the History section of the Organizer’s Information tab as shown in the figure below. When you print, email or export a photo is also shown in this section.

For bog 5-12-13

Critical Photoshop Elements 11 Back-up Files Gone Missing

As I have stated several times in previous posts of this blog, I back up my photo and video collection using the embedded Backup command that is available in all versions of Photoshop Elements, including PSE 11.

This command and its counterpart, the Restore command, have worked well for me over the last ten-plus years or so. My Catalog currently has over 36,000 items and takes hours to back up to a USB 3.0 external drive. It is my key protection in case disaster strikes.

Back-up Folder Contents
Recently, as is my normal practice I took a quick look at my most recent back-up folder as I was preparing to do a full back-up. A back-up folder generally consists of a series of JPEG images (your photos) that have each been renamed in sequential fashion, beginning with the letter “B”. These files are your full resolution images, which can be opened by double clicking on them.

If your Catalog also includes videos and audio files they will be included in this series of renamed files. There will be most likely a series of .XMP files that contain information about the media files.

At the bottom of this list, there will be two additional files, the catalog.buc and the backup.tly file. These are extremely important. These two files are used to reconstruct your Catalog during the Restore process. Without these two files, all you have is a bunch of photo images that contain little or no information to help you identify them, other than your memory.

The figure below shows a small part of one of my back-ups.


Missing Backup.tly and Catalog.buc Files

When I looked at my last back-up folder, the backup.tly and the catalog.buc folder were not there! That full back-up would have been of little use in restoring my catalog if I had needed to do that.

I have no idea why these two files were missing. Perhaps I shut down my computer while the back-up command was being completed in the background. I had received the PSE 11 message saying my back-up had been completed successfully.

I Now Check for Them

I also looked at other full back-ups I had done with PSE 11, and they all contained these two critical files. I am confident that the program worked properly. But I have now added a new step in my back-up/restore workflow. Once I back up a Catalog, I check to see that there is indeed a .buc and a .tly file listed.

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.

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.

PV NET Class–Processing Camera RAW Images

I will be teaching a course on how to process camera RAW images at PV NET starting October 18th. In this class you will be using Photoshop Elements on either your laptop or the PV NET’s computers to process camera RAW images.

The class meets Thursdays from 10:00- Noon for 5 weeks.

To find out more and register, CLICK HERE.

So, if you want to take the images you take with your camera to the next level, this may very well be the class to help you do that.