The long-awaited update to Photoshop Elements 5.0 successfully incorporates Photoshop CS3 tools into Adobe's consumer photo-editing tool.

Perhaps the hardest part of early 2008 wasn’t waiting for the cold, icy fingers of winter to release their grip – it was waiting for Adobe to release Photoshop Elements 6.0. And now the wait is over.

Adobe promised to make photo editing easier than ever, and, boy, it delivered. Brimming with new features such as a Guided Edit mode, an amazing PhotoMerge Group Shot feature, and a slew of tools snatched from Photoshop CS3 tucked inside brand-new workspaces, Photoshop Elements 6.0 makes photo editing for amateur photographers, hobbyists, and scrapbookers more accessible – and more fun – than ever before.

Right off the bat, you’ll notice a sparkling new Welcome screen prompting you to start a photo-editing project from scratch, browse with Adobe Bridge (nearly the full version from Photoshop CS3), import pictures from your digital camera or scanner, or open a recently viewed image.

Once Photoshop Elements 6.0 loads you’re greeted with a charcoal gray interface that’s easier on the eyes than the superbright interface of old. Although the new interface certainly makes photos “pop” on screen, we did find some dialogue boxes difficult to read.

Included in Photoshop Elements 6.0 is the Adobe Bridge photo-management program, which lets users view, sort, and organise their ever-expanding photo collections.

By viewing a photo’s metadata, for example, you can learn which aperture, shutter-speed, and ISO settings worked and which did not. Such information is crucial for both learning and experimentation.

Within Bridge, you can use the Loupe tool to inspect a photo pixel by pixel without ever opening the image file. You can select multiple photos and compare them, side-by-side, in the preview area; you can apply keywords, descriptions, and ratings to your photos and then use Bridge’s filtering capabilities to find photos more efficiently; plus, you can rearrange the wealth of viewable information and customise the Bridge workspace, then save it for future use.

Of course, you don’t have to use Bridge to use Photoshop Elements 6.0.

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