Adobe Photoshop Elements 12 Review

Constructed from the base components of the professional Adobe Photoshop products, Adobe's Photoshop Elements 12 provides just about everything that an amateur photographer needs in one simple, straightforward package.

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The Good

Simplicity without sacrificing quality

When creating Photoshop Elements 12, Adobe basically stripped Photoshop CS and Lightroom down to their essence, added a nifty group of consumer-oriented features, and wrapped it inside a crisp interface and simple learning environment. Elements 12 includes several enhanced features to edit, create, and share your photos, and is a near complete package for amateur photographers.

Multiple program modes based on your experience

There is an extensive selection of features throughout Photoshop Elements 12 so finding exactly what you are looking for can be tricky. Thankfully, you can choose from different levels of assistance, including Quick, Guided, and Expert, which will help you through the photo editing and digital painting part of the program. If you select Quick, this mode strips the icon list to the bare essentials while simplifying and automating functionality for simple, everyday actions. Guided mode takes it a step further by removing the editing icons entirely and replacing them with general topics, such as enhance colors, perfect portrait, and vignette effects. Selecting any of these options will engage a simple tutorial that guides you through the process. Expert mode goes in the opposite direction by adding the full range of options and control. You can change modes at any time in the process, allowing you to match the program to your skills as needed.

Wide array of image sharing and publishing options

Adobe Photoshop Elements 12 has new functionality that allows you to easily view and share your photos on your smartphone or tablet. You can even sync the photos on your mobile device to your Elements album, eliminating the hassle of moving photos from one device to another. In addition, you can share a link to your Elements album, giving your family and friends access to your photo collection. In addition, you’ll be able to publish photo books, greeting cards, calendars, collages, CD/DVD jackets, slideshows, instant movies, and prints.

Impressive video tutorial library

If you are a standard amateur photographer, you often find yourself in need of some assistance. Photoshop Elements 12, beyond the guided operational mode, provides a wealth of information in the form of extensive video tutorials located on the Adobe website. They have over 40 videos dedicated to the Photoshop Elements 12 program and many others related to the larger Photoshop line of products. Each video has a run time between three and 30 minutes.

Full set of file management and image organization tools

The organizer portion of Photoshop Elements 12 has a very simple display that essentially hides many of the features, making the program appear as less than it really is. You can quickly access a full range of tools that allow you to import files, organize images, and create everything from greeting cards and contact sheets to slideshows and HTML albums. From here, it’s easy to do all of the file management and organization you need to accomplish.

Includes facial recognition tagging

Photoshop Elements 12’s facial recognition makes sorting through large numbers of photos a breeze. After a brief tutorial, where you ‘teach’ Photoshop Elements the names of people by using a small sampling of pictures, you simply process the rest and make a few adjustments, which should lessen over time. It is rare for a consumer product of this type to have such a high level feature that is this useful.

The Bad

Interface can be overly simple

With three different operational modes some features can be challenging to locate, particularly when switching between them. Also, the size of some icons may be too large for some users, which are not modifiable. These are not overwhelming concerns, but they might annoy some of the more advanced users.

Lacks video processing and editing features

While you can save slideshows as videos, this is not the same thing as having actual video processing and editing features. The fact that many mobile devices are capable of recording video gives rise for many consumers to need such functionality. Adobe offers a Premiere Elements product which includes video editing and processing, but for a significant additional price.

The Details


  • Free Trial: 30 days
  • Platform: Mac, Windows
  • Price: $98.99
  • Upgrade Cost: $79.99


Photoshop Elements 12 retails for $98.99. Adobe also offers a 30-day, full-service free trial.

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