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.

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.

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.


I’ve Tweaked My Camera RAW Workflow

As I have written before, I take just about every photo using the Camera RAW setting. I’ve been doing this for some time and have gotten used to the very large files and extra steps it takes to process them, in contrast to taking JPEGs.

However, the added flexibility and quality of the final result is worth it. Recently, I’ve added an extra step to my workflow. When using the Adobe Camera RAW editor, you can chose to process the image using either 8 Bits/Channel or 16 Bits/Channel. Generally, I have been using 8-Bits/Channel, especially if I was working on an image that I was going to finish up in PSE 10’s Editor, rather than Photoshop CS6. Elements can open a 16-bit image, but can’t do many things with it. For example, Layers are not supported.


So here is how to do it. While you are still in the ACR, you select 16 Bits/Channel as shown in the above figure. The adjustments you make are then done before the file is opened in the Editor. Once the file is opened in the Editor, you convert it back to 8 bits/channel via Image > Mode > 8 Bits/Channel.

Doing this conversion, allows you to take advantage of the higher bit setting to do the math in ACR, but ends up with a file that PSE can work with. In theory this should lead to less color banding, for example in skies, and in general allow you to adjust the sliders more aggressively in the ACR without the picture breaking down. This is especially important if you are using the ACR to simulate a high dynamic range (HDR) image.

Give it a try and let me know if you do/don’t see any differences in the quality of your edited camera RAW images by leaving a comment below.

Also, if you found this post helpful, please give it a high rating. Thanks for reading.

Staying Up To Date With Adobe Camera RAW

Adobe Camera RAW or ACR is the plug-in that allows Photoshop and Photoshop Elements to open, view and edit camera RAW files. I wrote an earlier post on this subject some time ago. CLICK HERE to review that article. There are two good reasons to keep Photoshop and Elements up to date in this area.

First, if you buy a new camera, you may find the the RAW files it outputs are unreadable to PSE.  As camera manufacturers release new models, they often modify the file structure of their proprietary RAW format.  As new models are introduced, Adobe rapidly comes out with a new version of the ACR to accommodate the new formats.

Secondly, on occasion new capabilities are added to the new version of ACR, or the methods used within the program to edit RAW images are improved. The updates are free, and you can have them downloaded/installed almost automatically. So there is no reason not to keep this free plug-in upgraded.

However, the latest versions are not always compatible with older versions of Photoshop Elements. Thus, if you buy a new camera, you may find that even with the latest compatible version of ACR installed, RAW image files from your new camera are not readable. Below is a limited list of the latest ACR that is compatible with more recent versions of PSE.

PSE 7 —- ACR 5.6

PSE 8 —- ACR 6.2

PSE 9 – — ACR 6.3 (It appears)

PSE 10 —-ACR 6.6 (Latest ACR)

Remember, if you are using Premiere Elements, it also needs to have the latest ACR version installed. To obtain the latest ACR version for your  PSE, go to the ACR Downloads page on the Adobe  website. From there you can search for the latest compatible ACR.