At first glance
- Now supports Apple Silicon
- New guided edits with new search tool
- Floating elements add animation to still images
- New mobile and web apps are still in beta
It remains one of the best photo editors for amateur photographers, and support for Apple Silicon will make Photoshop Elements 2023 a must-have upgrade for many users.
Price upon review
Best prices today: Adobe Photoshop Elements
Photoshop Elements isn’t the cheapest photo editor available for Mac, costing $99.99/£86.56, but it’s still good value for money as it’s able to use technology from the professional version of Photoshop to provide some really powerful tools to edit your photos and add creative effects.
However, it’s worth noting that the Mac App Store is currently still selling the 2022 edition of Photoshop Elements, so it’s probably best to buy the latest 2023 update directly from Adobe right now (plus, if you’re in the UK, is it cheaper to buy direct from Adobe UK) Adobe also sells a bundle that includes both Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements for video editing for $149.99/£130.36, which can save you even more money.
The key to Photoshop Elements’ success is its ability to combine powerful editing tools with an easy-to-use interface that makes it easy for amateur photographers to achieve impressive results. Adobe’s 2022 version (which arrived in 2021) introduced new artificial intelligence techniques—which Adobe refers to as Sensei—to automatically perform editing tasks that might normally require hours of work.
The app has always had a selection of filter effects that could make photos look like paintings using mediums like oil paint or watercolors, but Sensei introduced a new set of artistic effects that aim to mimic a number of popular artistic styles, such as cubist and post-impressionist.
These aren’t always entirely successful – I suspect Vincent Van Gogh is spinning in his grave right now – but they’re fun to experiment with. A nice touch here is that you can apply the artistic effect to the entire image or just to the subject or background, which is a great way to highlight certain aspects of an image.
If your artistic ambitions are a little more modest, you can apply some simple animated effects – known as Overlays – such as falling snowflakes or flickering flames, to your photos and then save your work as a short video clip that you can upload to social media.
One of the things that sets Photoshop Elements apart from many of its rivals is its use of guided edits, which give you step-by-step help using some of the app’s most powerful tools. A really powerful guided edit that was introduced in the 2021 update is the ability to change the aspect ratio of an image by expanding the background of an image.
If you have an image with an attractive background, such as a beach or some green trees, you can clone part of the background and use it to expand the background further – perhaps to turn a square image into a wider landscape image, or to lift a sunny blue sky higher for an upright portrait photo for social media.
And of course, no social media account is complete without some cute pet photos, so Photoshop Elements includes a guided edit specifically for enhancing photos of animals. You can adjust the lighting and color of an image, focus on either your pet or the background, or add a subtle vignette effect. It is also possible to remove stains, such as mud or dirt, and to remove glare from the pet’s eyes.
The use of Sensei artificial intelligence continues with the new Photoshop Elements 2023 (which was actually introduced in September 2022). In addition to applying animated overlays to an entire image, you can now create moving elements that animate a specific section of an image.
You can select a part of an image, such as a waterfall or a horse’s flowing mane, and animate your selection to make the image look more dynamic and eye-catching.
The program’s selection tools can help you select either the background of an image or elements in the foreground, and you can simply draw a line to indicate the direction of movement (so the waterfall flows down instead of up).
You can also adjust settings such as the motion speed and preview the animation effect before exporting the animated image file as an MP4 video clip or as an animated GIF.
The Guided Edits section of the program includes new tools to add overlays, new background images, or improve the appearance of the sky in your photos. And with so many guided edits now available, we were happy to see that there’s a new search tool that helps you quickly find the guided edits you need by searching for keywords like crop or sky.
There are also some new Connected Experience features coming soon in the form of new mobile apps for iOS and Android and a web app that runs in any browser on any device.
Mobile apps allow you to upload photos and videos from your smartphone or tablet and also give you 2GB of free online storage for your files. You can then quickly import these files into the desktop versions of Photoshop Elements or Premiere Elements and get right into your editing work.
The web app works in a similar way and also includes some simple tools to quickly create slideshows and collages without having to use the full versions of the desktop apps. The web apps are currently available as a public beta, with a beta of the iOS app also expected towards the end of the year.
But perhaps better than any of these new features is the fact that Photoshop Elements 2023 also adds full support for Apple Silicon, with Adobe claiming that the program will now run 45 percent faster on Macs that have M1 or M2 processors .
There’s also a 30-day free trial available too, so you can check out the latest version before deciding whether to buy it or upgrade from last year’s version.
In recent years, some of Photoshop Elements’ annual upgrades started to look like they were running out of ideas, but the AI features have given the app a new lease of life and confirmed Photoshop Elements as one of the best photo editors for amateur photographers .
For a selection of the best free or cheap photo editing software for Mac, see our best free and cheap photo editing tools. We also have a roundup of the best photoshop alternatives in our best professional photo editing round-up.