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265 of 273 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth the upgrade
When Adobe skipped version the Mac with version 7 of Elements, I wondered if there would be another upgrade. I'm glad that 8 came out, and at the same time as the Windows version. I often wait a version or two between upgrading but there's enough here to make the new purchase worth it to me.

I'm a fan of this program. It is all that most photographers need...
Published on October 22, 2009 by Michael McKee

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104 of 113 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Caveat Emptor!!
PSE8 for Mac is great for all the reasons covered by the previous reviewers. As a long time PS2 and PSE3 user, I have used these programs to generate stunning art work, which usually begins with my own photos and then utilization of a variety of brushes, plug-ins, styles. I have a hunch there are others 'out there' who have intuitively discovered the grand set of tools...
Published on November 14, 2009 by Chip E


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265 of 273 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth the upgrade, October 22, 2009
By 
This review is from: Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 [Mac] [OLD VERSION] (DVD-ROM)
When Adobe skipped version the Mac with version 7 of Elements, I wondered if there would be another upgrade. I'm glad that 8 came out, and at the same time as the Windows version. I often wait a version or two between upgrading but there's enough here to make the new purchase worth it to me.

I'm a fan of this program. It is all that most photographers need. Actually it does much more than most people who own it ever get to. If you are not a graphic designer, Elements is great. I've said this in prior reviews of Elements but it's a much better value than the CS version of Photoshop and up to some heavy duty image editing. You won't be able to edit photos more effectively with the full version of Photoshop. I've challenged pros to do editing with Photoshop CS that I can't do with Elements and so far haven't had to eat crow. That's not saying that Elements has *all* the tools that CS does. But Photoshop has always offered multiple ways to get things done and Elements has enough tools to do the job. The photo tools are there, though.

With this version there are some compelling new features. The first I'll mention is not really emphasized in the Adobe marketing info, but is a wonderful set of tools for photo editing. That's Adobe Camera Raw 5.5 (ACR). ACR isn't actually part of Elements but included with the program. It basically gives the same editing tools available in Adobe's Lightroom. I often use ACR to edit photos and get the majority of my work done there. This is a quality addition that most people don't know about. The upgrade in ACR from version 4 which comes with Elements 6 to version 5 adds some really useful photo editing tools.

Another add on to Elements is Adobe Bridge, which a lot of pros use to sort and catalog their images and video. It's also a quality program in its own right and the center of my photo workflow. It can be well integrated with Elements and is probably worth the cost of the whole bundle on its own. It also plays nice with iPhoto if you want to keep your pictures stored there.

Now to Photoshop Elements 8. Besides the upgrade to ACR, the updates that our Windows brethren got in version 7 have been included, as well as some excellent tools for making composite photos from multiple images. They're slick and very easy to use. There are some one step editing tools that are new to the Mac version and a totally cool way to squeeze a photo into a smaller space without squashing the import parts of the picture. The photomerge can save the day with group shots. Simply take several pictures. The use Elements to switch the picture of your brother in law with his eyes closed for one where he looks awake. It's seamless and easy.

Elements makes sharing your images easier, too with streamlined web albums and slideshow capibility. There's even a send to iPhone function.

Any down sides? Well, Adobe's installer seems to take forever and it helps to have a fairly new computer with a decent amount of RAM. Elements wants some power to perform quickly. And the program is complicated. Though it is much easier to learn than Photoshop CS4. The upside is that since it's so popular there are a lot of good books, web tutorials and classes to help.

This is a solid upgrade to an already excellent program. I recommend it strongly. It's has all the editing power that most photographers need, without the price tag of the full Photoshop. I'd even go so far as to say that if you even question if it's good enough it is. Photoshop CS4 is a professional program with extra professional features, few of which are actually photo realted.
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74 of 77 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A surprisingly useful program for a serious pro photographer, November 4, 2009
By 
David Garth (San Luis Obispo, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 [Mac] [OLD VERSION] (DVD-ROM)
A am a longtime, part-time professional photographer who takes more than 10,000 images a year and sells only about a hundred a year to publishers. I need to intensively enhance some of these images to get them ready for publication. So my requirements may be different than yours. I have used Photoshop on a PC from Version 4, and I have bought every PC version through CS3. But recently I switched to a Mac Pro, and I was shocked to find out that Adobe would sock me for the full price to upgrade to the Mac version. So, I thought I would give Photoshop Elements a try.

So far I have been very happy with it. If you have experience with Photoshop you will find many of the selections in the same place. The organization and workflow of the two programs are remarkably similar. The tools that have been moved in Elements are mostly in more logical places. Many tasks have actually been made easier; I especially like the new "easy selection" feature. The editing tools that I use have all been retained in Elements. The program has performed flawlessly and fast on my quad-core Mac Pro with 8gb of memory.

Bridge and Camera Raw, two very important auxiliary programs, are identical to the Photoshop CS4 versions. Personally, I prefer Bridge to the new consumer-oriented organizer in the PC version. Frequent Camera Raw updates support the latest cameras.

What's missing? For me, the biggest loss is complete 16 bit support. As I recall, this came first in Photoshop CS, and was welcome for images that need extreme manipulations, and avoided banding (especially in skies) when there were major tonal changes made. For most images is isn't that important. I use Nikon Capture NX for those images before I import them into Elements and can do the gross changes in that program. CMYK support is also absent. In the old days that would have been important, but now almost every publisher, graphic artist or photo printer prefers Adobe RGB files, and those are supported.

In summary, I have concluded that this program offers most everything a serious photographer is likely to need--and for a bargain price.
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104 of 113 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Caveat Emptor!!, November 14, 2009
By 
Chip E (Florida, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 [Mac] [OLD VERSION] (DVD-ROM)
PSE8 for Mac is great for all the reasons covered by the previous reviewers. As a long time PS2 and PSE3 user, I have used these programs to generate stunning art work, which usually begins with my own photos and then utilization of a variety of brushes, plug-ins, styles. I have a hunch there are others 'out there' who have intuitively discovered the grand set of tools available in PS and PSE, who may appreciate the following discoveries (much to my dismay and disappointment) before making any kind of upgrade to this version. The bottom line (and this is after several correspondences with Adobe tech support) is that many of my precious plug-in's (Kai Power Tools and Xaos Terrazzo) DO NOT work with this version!! Also, although brush,shape and gradient files can be added (dropped into the appropriate folders), the styles files CANNOT be added!! Anyone who has worked extensively with styles will know how valuable they are! There is an assortment of 'canned styles' included, but if you go to the preset manager there is no longer even a drop down to select 'styles' as in other versions of PS and PSE!! If any of this is of significance to a reviewer, and helps to avoid making a hasty purchase, then I will feel a little better about my own hasty rush to upgrade. Will I use PSE8? Of course, but I will stay primarily though, with the earlier versions that allow free addition of styles and work with my precious plug-ins! I'm so disappointed, but am learning the hard lesson that newest and latest, isn't always the best choice!!
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everything 99% Will Need in a Photo Editor/Paint Program, February 24, 2010
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This review is from: Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 [Mac] [OLD VERSION] (DVD-ROM)
This review was made using PSE 8 Mac.

Unless you are a VERY serious professional (think Photoshop CS4 - $699), PSE 8 Mac has everything and more that the average user and enthusiast will ever need in a photo editor. At the same time, it contains a full blown paint program (45+ tools in the toolbox including text), a welcome feature for Mac users and the feature I use most. But first things first.

Installation: A clean installation was painless. I downloaded the free trial version, which is actually the full version good for 30 days, directly from Adobe, and therefore I had the most updated version. I purchased the boxed version from Amazon merely to obtain a user license after I was ready to purchase. With Amazon's price and $20.00 mail-in rebate from Adobe, you can save around $42.00 off the MSRP. Installed on my iMac and MacBook Pro with no problems..

Photo Editing: The program has three levels of complexity the user can choose from: Quick Edit, Guided Edit, and Full Edit. Users completely new to photo editing will probably want to start out with Quick or Guided Edit. But that's not to say that these two levels aren't quick and effective for any level of experience. More experienced users and those wanting the the whole enchilada from the start will probably want to use Full Edit mode for a more Photoshop CS4-like experience using the complete editing toolset and seemingly endless professional dark room tools, enhancements, filters, and file (image) manipulation options and combinations that are available. As you might guess, things can get quite complex at this level, if you desire.

Documentation/Manual: I have to say this first - after reading about 15 of the newest reviews for this product, I have to conclude that either: A) the Windows version is completely different from the Mac version in this respect, or B) some of these people are completely blind (not good for photo editing). There are several methods that you can choose from to get help using this software, and you'll want to be on-line to access most of them. I'll start with the manual. The program comes with a 304 page, alpha-to-omega, color PDF manual that you can download (through the "Help" menu), and save to your hard drive if you want. Its very thorough (too thorough for me actually) and covers everything you can find in PSE 8, so it can be sort of text book-ish after a while. Even has a glossary at the end. But I guess if its in PSE 8, its in the manual somewhere. For the most part, the manual is in plain English but some concepts may seem strange or confusing at first if you are new to this. Heck, I'm not new to this and some of it is still difficult for me to grasp.

Help: Its everywhere and since clicking on the Help menu is always a good place to look for it, I'll start there. You have several options after opening the Help menu:

- You can type a word or words into the "Search" box which will give you a list of menu items related to your search, if there are any. Mousing over an item in the list will interactively open the drop-down menu for that item with a really big blue arrow pointing to the item. To return to the Help menu drop-down list, click the little x inside the "Search" box.

- Clicking on "Photoshop Elements Help...", will open Adobe's 'Using Adobe PSE 8" web page. From here you can do several things; type a word or phrase in the "Search" box and PSE 8 will list the search results from all of Adobe's sources including the knowledge base, user forums (Essentials Village etc.), the manual, product centers, tutorials on-line, and whatever; e.g. enter "draw circle" and you'll get a bunch of links related to that. Of course, search result links from user forums are interactive if you want. Also on the opening page are quick links to topics from the user manual, Adobe's Help and Support Center for PSE 8 (tips, tuorials, etc), and downloading Adobe Help Viewer (free). BTW, the PDF icon near the top-left that says "View PDF Help (25MB)" is the link to your user manual. Click on it to open it (will take a few seconds to DL) and from there you can open it in Preview and save a copy of it.

- Adobe's On-Line Support Center. Has lots of links to tutorials, tips, videos, PSE 8 forums, updates, customer support, etc. Go to [...], click on Support, click on PSE 8

- Adobe Support Programs. These are pay-for programs for direct personal support form Adobe. Note that Adobe only provides free one-on-one support for sales, installation, and registration problems. I highly DON'T recommend these because they are expensive and more oriented to users such as developers, corporate users, or really advanced users with highly technical questions. Us regular humans will find sufficient support for free using the resources listed above or you can always use third party books, magazines, web sites etc.

Input and Devices: Mouse, keyboard, and full pen tablet support. Since the pen tablet is supported, I would recommend using one to maximize your experience and for ease of use. A Wacom Bamboo Pen ($53 Amazon) will do nicely to get started if you don't already have a pen tablet. The program comes with a generous set of customizable brushes and as already mentioned, a fully stocked toolset. The Adobe Color Picker and six customizable color watches come preinstalled. Of course on a Mac, the Apple Color Picker is also available and can be set to the default instead of Adobe's. Since I personally prefer Apple's, I appreciate that Adobe doesn't force their's down your throat.

Candy and Fluff: The usual suspects are included here in the "Create" and "Share" modes - Photo Book, Greeting Card, Photo Prints, Photo Collage, Web Photo Gallery, PDF Slide Show, CD/DVD Jackets or Labels, share to e-mail, cd/dvd, PDF etc.

Bottom Line: You'd have to pay a lot more than the $57.00 net I payed to get more bang for your buck for a photo editor/paint program. Is it a perfect dream come true? No. Sometimes relatively simple tasks seem unnecessarily complicated or unintuitive, but then some more complex tasks are surprisingly easy. Speed is OK, but not notable. Interface has a little too much of a Windows feel, i.e. they need to cut down and streamline the user interface in a more sensible Mac-like manner, especially the bloated drop-down menus. It might be more than some users need, but for $57.00, one can use the Quick and Guided editing modes and grow into the rest, which in the long run might be cheaper than buying a lower-priced product now and then upgrading to something more later.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth every penny, December 5, 2009
This review is from: Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 [Mac] [OLD VERSION] (DVD-ROM)
I have used Elements since version 2 and this version replaced version 4 for me. Unlike 3 and 4, I found version 5 was a step backwards and 6 worse. When Adobe skipped 7 I was afraid 8 would be a step backwards too. It isnt. After just 3 days I was happy to remove my copy of PSE4. Even without the rebate, this version for Mac is worth every dime.

What's new

The most obvious change is the interface color. Matching Lightroom and bridge, you now work on black. I have been using Lightroom for a while so it was not a big change for me. A side effect of this is to make the color tools stand out far more and tools that were previously B&W are now color. That took longer to get used to and it is probably the most "disturbing" of the interface changes.

Unlike the Windows version, PSE 8 for Mac includes a full copy of Adobe Bridge CS4. The version of Bridge in PSE 4 never worked on any of my Macs but CS4 is rock stable. Bridge is completely integrated with PSE 8 if you want it to but you are not forced to use it. If you are already using Lightoom or Aperture, Bridge is probably redundant. If you are using iPhoto and shooting a lot of RAW, Bridge will probably be very useful. I personally found RAW processing in iPhoto very frustrating and iPhoto really bogs down when you start adding lots of 16MB files. I have no uses for Faces or Places in iPhoto and got tired of waiting for Faces to run.

Editing now has three options - Full, Quick and Guided. Guided is like a Q&A session. I wont ever use it and I doubt anyone will use it very long. Quick resembles Lightroom's editing options in the Library view with basic lighting, color and sharpness adjustments. Quick also includes tools to automatically whiten teeth, make skies blue, remove redeye and convert to B&W. Full has the full range of tools you would expect from PSE.

Two new tools are the Recompose tool and Magic Extractor. Used together, they allow you to radically change photographs quickly and easily. Magic Extractor does exactly what you would think - lets you remove just about anything from a picture. Using colored brushes you tell PSE what you want out and what you want left alone. You preview the results and if they work, hit ok. The most obvious application is to remove unwanted people or things from a picture and the results are excellent. Its not really magic, just automation of the laborious process of selecting and then removing that you have always been able to do. What is magical is the Recompose tool. If that person you removed happened to be in the middle of the picture, even replacing them with blue sky can make the image look "Photoshoped." Recompose can "squish" the picture together while keeping the rest of the picture normal. Have too much sky between your subject and that beautiful orange sun? Move it down. Ex-Boyfriends or embarrassing aunts will never ruin a photo again!!

Improved

Lots of things have been improved but a few stand out. Sharpening is now available as in the Enhance menu as well as filters. Same tool, just in a second, more logical, place. The new "Convert to B&W" tool is a combination of remove color, brightness and contrast, levels and hue/saturation. Healing Brush and Spot Healing brush are much improved with Spot Healing now my preferred way to remove blemishes on faces. The awful stand alone help program has been replaced by web based help. True it wont work if you are not on the net but I found the Help in version 4 so bad I relied on the web anyway. Create and Share have new ways to make things with your pictures but I dont use either so I dont know how good they are.

Under the hood

I appreciate all the new tools and the new interface but the single biggest change is the in the core of the program. PSE 8 requires a multi-core Intel processor and while that may seem like a bad thing, it isnt. Getting rid of the legacy code for PPC processors and older versions of OSX has made PSE 8 faster, smaller and far more stable. No more emulation, no more Universal Binary fat. Its not often that a newer program runs better on older hardware but in this case, it absolutely does. I have an original Intel MacBookPro (2006) and the difference is HUGE. If you own an Intel Mac and are using any older version of PSE, you will absolutely notice the improvement in speed and how well it gets along with other programs.

Bottom Line

I use PSE every day and I was very disappointed in both version 5 and 6. Adobe has more than made up for it with version 8. This is the biggest and best upgrade since v2-v3 and the first to ever use fewer resources than the previous version (as long as you have an Intel Mac). I was debating the big jump to full PS CS4 (student cost is very reasonable) but didnt want to sacrifice the speed and compactness that PSE offers on my older system. Next year is "Desktop Upgrade" year and I will wait until then to get CS4 but even then, I dont see PSE coming off my laptop (or my wife's). Highly recommended.
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49 of 57 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not Happy, December 15, 2009
By 
D. Eby (Marblehead OH USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 [Mac] [OLD VERSION] (DVD-ROM)
I have now spent 9 continuous hours trying to install this program on my laptop and desktop. My initial attempts on either computer got me to a screen that said words to the effect of "preparing to install" and just sat there. I finally called support which eventually got me to a human that spoke barely understandable English. After spending over an hour on the phone with him trying all the things I'd already tried, he suggested I download the program (over 1.2 GB) from their website and try to install that. After another totally useless followup question where he told me Intel processors were only for Windows machines and then changed his mind when I challenged him I suggested we terminate the call as it was going to take almost an hour to download the file.
After the file was downloaded I tried to install it and got the same stall as hours earlier.

Then, on my iMac, I tried manually removing every Adobe piece of program data I could find, rebuilt the directory with Disk Warrior, ran Cocktail Pilot to clean up any last problems and rebooted. I tried to install on the iMac and it worked! Hooray. Now just go through the same steps on the MacBookPro. I did that and after all that work Photoshop install still hung on the same screen. I give! I'm not about to spend another useless hiour on the phone with India.

Other issues - many instructions found on Adobe's website directly conflicted with the written ones included with the DVD. Install instructions said insert the DVD and follow the instructions --- there were no instructions. You had to figure out which app to start -- very un Mac-like. The support website is almost useless for Mac users.

ADDENDUM 24 hours later: I finally got APS8 installed on my MacBookPro by booting off an external drive and installing off the DVD. However now that it's installed it will start once. The second start it starts to load and shuts down. The third time it says there's a licensing problem. A visit to Adobe's support site reveals numerous things to try to get around this licensing problem. (Obviously it's been encountered before.) They even offer a separate download program to repair things. Unfortunately it crashes. And yes, I checked the EULA and I'm allowed two installs - desktop and portable. This is the biggest POS I've encountered in 25 years of computing.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well Worth an Upgrade, October 31, 2009
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 [Mac] [OLD VERSION] (DVD-ROM)
Curious about an upgrade from PSE 3.0, the $[...] rebate enticed me enough to order this software. I was using another panorama software item on my older Power PC Mac, and wished to start creating panoramas from my newest Mac.

Was this a great call! The descriptions aren't too clear about the Photomerge feature, saying it is better, as I had disappointing results from my Photomerge in 3.0. It was a really great surprise that the 8.0 panoramas satisfied me entirely!

It took about 20 minutes to install, and all went fine. My usual glee on discovering the excellent work done by this new addition to my computer was well merited. For panoramas, it seems to do the job so well, and much better than all of my older software. This alone is worth the price, for me.

It cannot work directly from iPhoto, though, and I keep a separate picture folder exported from iPhoto to make it easier to browse and select images. It starts up quicker than my PSE 3.0, and Adobe Bridge is fine for a photo browser. I like the interface, and it seems the usual superb photo editing is as expected.

Hoping to find and use the other new features, I recommend this buy or upgrade for any serious photographer that can't afford the full Photoshop software. It truly enhances the image editing experience, with a better Auto Smart Fix than iPhoto's Enhance, by my first tries, and I expect many more wonders as I use this.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lots of room to grow., November 27, 2009
By 
Personne (Rocky Mountain West) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 [Mac] [OLD VERSION] (DVD-ROM)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Elements 8 is a lion in sheep's clothing. It's sold as a starter program, but you'll find it's lacking very little. I've spent a few years tweaking photos with the full version of Photoshop, and that's what I use in most cases. But full Photoshop can be awfully daunting, and sometimes its raw power can give you too many choices if you're just starting out. I decided to see what Elements brought to the table.

It brings an awful lot to the table, indeed. You can import shots in whatever form your camera or scanner provides, including RAW. You can start with an inexpensive point-and-shoot and grow your way into a DSLR, all the time using the same powerful tool to enhance and clean up your shots.

Among the most important tools included here are tools to correct basic problems with your shot. You can correct perspective (notice how big the feet of that statue were when you stood at the bottom and shot up toward the head?). You can correct barrel and pincushion distortion, shrinking the nose of that person who was a little close to the camera. If the camera was tilted, you can easily fix the angle. If you have vignetting issues (illumination around the edges) those are easy to fix. This is grown-up stuff, but it's easy to do.

Everyone has faced the situation of taking a picture with too much illumination behind the subject. There may be a lot more detail in the image than is obvious. The useful shadow/highlight tool can brighten up those faces and darken the lights in the background. There are of course sharpening tools (use carefully), along with tools to correct red-eye and color balance issues from flash photography. Many of these are pretty obvious to use, but there is considerable help only a mouse-click away.

As you get better at editing photographs, you'll appreciate the value of good selection tools. Most of the time, you only want to work on a portion of an image--sharpening here, desaturating there. Elements provides pretty much the entire suite of Photoshop selectors, including the magic wand (which selects by color attributes). You can grow, shrink, smooth and feather your selections with ease. You will also appreciate the fact that you can see and edit EXIF data. This includes the data provided by your camera, including focal length, exposure, aperture, and ISO). I have learned so much from studying that information. You can also work in layers--tremendously useful if you want to apply different processing to different parts of the image or if you want to combine images. And finally, your files are compatible with full Photoshop.

There are creative tools as well. You can draw (and drawing is pressure-sensitive, in case you're using a tablet). There are filters to create painterly effects and distortions such as glass or paper. There are tools for combining and recompositing images, too.

I've included a brief series of images in the image gallery for Elements 8, illustrating my steps through processing a single image. Perhaps you'll find it helpful. All in all, I find Elements 8 to be a flexible and powerful program that you could use to do quality work for years.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Won't Load--User Support terrible, March 26, 2010
By 
John Goodwin (Southern California) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 [Mac] [OLD VERSION] (DVD-ROM)
I cannot talk the S/W but I sure can talk support, or problems. I have spend over 25 hours on the phone trying to contact Adobe support on my install problems. Takes over an hour just to get connected to someone and three times so far I was disconnected.Sent me a new disk, no install. Sent me e-mail to uninstall but the uninstall file is NOT on my computer or visible on either of the disks that I have.

I want to return the product but it's NOT available on the Amazon return listings. Adobe has caused me to go beyond the '30' day return.

It is VERY frustrating to pay as much for Adobe s/w and get poor solution(s)!!!!!!!!!
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An indispensable software program for digital camera enthusiasts - works great on my Mac!, April 9, 2010
This review is from: Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 [Mac] [OLD VERSION] (DVD-ROM)
There are other fairly simple photo editing programs for Macs, and I've used a few of them. None are as versatile or powerful as Adobe Photoshop, and for most non-professional (and likely many professional) uses, Photoshop Elements is the ideal solution. I really like this program. It is relatively inexpensive and allows you to do practically anything you could possibly want to do with photos. Simple fixes are incredibly easy, and I've been amazed by how quickly basic flaws in a photo can be overcome. For more complicated fixes, and for trick photography, there is a bit of a learning curve and you could benefit from buying one of a few helpful "how-to" guides. More on that later. In what follows I'll refer exclusively to the Mac version of Photoshop Elements 8.

One quick point to begin with: a few other reviewers complain about PSE8 being less intuitive than other made-for-Mac programs. I mostly disagree. For basic functions and quick fixes, this is as simple to use as anything out there, with the possible exception of iPhoto. It's true that it doesn't have the same kind of simple and elegant interface that I tend to associate with Mac programs -- it feels a little "clunky." Still, for more complicated adjustments and effects it's no more difficult to use than, say, the made-for-Mac consumer video editing program Final Cut Express. What makes it seem complicated is that, like FCE, it is a sophisticated piece of software. There are so many things you can do with Photoshop Elements, and it takes some time just to become aware of all the possibilities. Mostly what you need is just to spend some time with it, working on lots of photos, and then looking at the many tutorials out there.

Organizing and Editing photos

If you're already using iPhoto on your Mac, no need to stop. It works just fine with Photoshop Elements 8. You can keep your photos organized in iPhoto, and then go into your iPhoto preferences and under the "General" tab you select "Adobe Photoshop" as your application for "Edit Photo." Then when you want to edit, right click on your photograph and select "Edit in External Application" and the photo will open in Photoshop, and changes can be saved to the original photo. (Of course, you can always open photos in Photoshop by right clicking on them anywhere and selecting "Open with Photoshop", or by dragging the photo onto the PSE8 icon).

But if you don't use iPhoto regularly, or as a helpful alternative that does most everything you can with iPhoto, Photoshop Elements also comes with Adobe Bridge, that helps to organize and find all of your photographs for use with the Photoshop Editor. I've used Bridge a bit, and find it to be a useful alternative, but still like to keep my photos organized in iPhoto.

One of the very cool features to come with Photoshop Elements 8 is the RAW editor. If you've shot your photos in the RAW format, there are a number of things that can be done quickly to recover detail in under or overexposed portions of the photo, or to correct for white balance or saturation problems. From Adobe Bridge you can right click on photos and select "Open in Camera Raw" and there are a number of quick and easy tweaks you can do to set overall optimal levels before doing more focused adjustments and effects in the Photoshop Elements editor. All of this without doing anything to lose quality in the original rich RAW file.

Easy tweaks for beginners

For new users to Photoshop, and for anyone who just wants to work fast, you can go into "Edit Quick" and "Guided Edit" mode. The "Edit Quick" mode gives several sliders that can adjust levels, and also provides some convenient editing tools like the "toothbrush" that allows you to select teeth and brighten them slightly (you can actually select anything and brighten it a bit). In "Edit Quick" mode I have it set to show me "before" and "after" photos. Easy to do. The "Guided Edit" mode is even more versatile, and gives you several options, each with enough instructions to figure out how to do most ordinary kinds of adjustments to photos such as cropping and resizing, cleaning up blemishes and fixing levels. Another easy tweak can only be done in the "Edit Full" mode but it's pretty astonishing what you can do with it. You just click on the "spot healing brush" tool (looks like a Band-Aid), and adjust its size and then "rub" it over blemishes (like zits, odd spots, etc.) and it will blend them in with their surroundings -- especially if you zoom up the size of the photo, you can really add to the overall quality of a photo. Yes, it's technically airbrushing, but digital cameras capture all kinds of details that in ordinary life we overlook, and they don't capture contrast details that we do see. There are a number of simple adjustments you can make with Photoshop Elements that can make all the difference and make photos really capture the feel and essence of a look and a place.

Mindblowing fixes and effects

One very cool thing you can do with "Guided Edit" is take a few group photos and then select the best faces from everyone. Someone was looking away or not smiling in one shot? If you have another photo with a good look on that person, you can add just the face from the one shot to the otherwise best photo. You can also do things like merge photos for best exposure - as when one photograph is mostly underexposed but some element is just right (say, a view from a window) and another photograph is mostly right but has an overexposed element, you can quickly "blend" them together, telling Photoshop which elements from which photo to keep. Another fantastic trick is the "Recompose" tool. For example if you've taken a photo of some of your kids on the beach and a stranger wanders between them, you can actually bring your kids closer together and eliminate the stranger!

Photoshop has a very precise and versatile selection tool, that allows you to, say, get rid of the background (or other unwanted elements) of a photo and replace it with another - almost as if you had shot the original photo in front of a greenscreen. If you actually do shoot in front of a green screen, the tools photoshop gives you are very forgiving. In most programs I've worked with, you have to get the lighting just right, making sure that the greenscreen is uniformly lit and there are no shadows cast from the subject or it's a real bear to get rid of the green. With Photoshop Elements it is very easy.

One of the reasons these tools exist is to allow you almost complete freedom and creative control with your images -- you can mix and match elements from different photos, paint on photos, adjust coloring and feel with a wide range of tools. To know what's possible, though, it helps to have a guide. I've always found the "Missing Manual" series to be helpful, and their Photoshop Elements 8 book is almost indispensable for just getting used to this versatile tool and its many possibilities. For more advanced work, I like this book, aimed mostly to show how you can tweak this consumer model of Adobe Photoshop into something that can do pro work; and for digital tricks with Photoshop Elements How to Cheat in Photoshop Elements 8 has been mind-opening and helpful. There are lots of useful video tutorials, too, if you do a simple search on the web.

Requirements

I know that a few people have complained about installation difficulties. I didn't have any problems, but it should be noted that for PSE8 the minimum requirements for Macs are an Intel Dual Core processor, Mac OS 10.4.11 (I have 10.6.3), 64MB of video RAM, and ideally at least a gig of ordinary RAM.
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Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 [Mac] [OLD VERSION]
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