Photoshop Elements 4 for the Mac Looks Great

by Derrick Story

Adobe released Photoshop Elements 4 for the Mac today at PMA. I had a chance to meet with an Adobe engineer last night in Orlando to talk about Elements 4 and some of its notable features. Adobe has packed quite a bit of power in this affordable package.

First, and a bit of a surprise, Elements 4 now has a streamlined version of Bridge. So there's a fully capable file browser built right into the app. The biggest "wow" feature however, is the new "Adjust Color for Skin Tones" control that lets you click on a spot of skin, then Photoshop analyzes it and corrects the color. I saw it tested on a variety of subjects, and it worked remarkably well. Speaking of our people shots, the new red eye correction tool is the model of simplicity. You just enable it and Photoshop finds all the instances of red eye in the image and fixes them for you. The Mac version isn't able to correct red eye on import as in the Windows release, but this approach works quite well.

Adobe has included some very helpful selection tools too. The Magic Select Brush and the Magic Extractor tools speed up the tedious task of selecting an element within your picture to adjust or copy and place elsewhere. They don't achieve perfection automatically, but they do get you close enough so that with a little clean-up you're in business.

The price for Elements 4 is still $89. This a great value for a powerful image editor. Considering that it includes Bridge and the latest version of Camera Raw, this application is all most hobbyist photographers would ever need.


2006-02-27 07:01:35
So, is Elements 4 Universal Binary? I thought I'd save this one for the comments area. Here's the deal. It isn't, at least not yet. I asked why, and the company line goes something like this. Adobe is focusing on moving its pro apps over to UB asap. Lightroom Beta 2, for example is Universal Binary right now. But to release Elements 4 as UB, which is already very powerful in its current state, Adobe feels that it would undercut their efforts in the pro apps market. So, we'll see an UB version of Elements 4... when the time is right.
Tom Bridge
2006-02-27 07:55:58
I am way bummed that they chose not to go the Universal Binary route for PSE 4, it seems like such a no-brainer, and a way to get many people to shell out for their software twice in short order...I'm hopeful they figure this out soon.
2006-02-27 08:42:34
Thats a pretty lame excuse by Adobe. It's not like the two markets are the same. They probably just don't want to go thorugh the effort right now.
2006-02-27 09:19:19
So, they new since last June, they needed to do it and PSE 4 was delayed months after the Windows version and they still can't ship a UB version? I think they don't want the UB version of PSE out before the UB version of PS.
2006-02-27 13:37:35
Shipping a non universal app at this time (when MacBooks are in people's hands) is moronic. Unless they promised a free universal upgrade when it's available...
John C. Randolph
2006-02-27 13:41:56
I'm not one who's noted for defending Adobe, but in this case I will.

The long and short of it is, Adbobe's failure to ship universal binaries for all their apps is more a matter of their transition from CodeWarrior and their home-grown development environment to Xcode than any desire on their part to drag their feet. Photoshop is carrying a great burden of compatibility issues, probably moreso than any other app on the Mac. There's an enormous amount of third-party plugins, for example, that they don't have the luxury of breaking.

Lightroom is universal, because it's a Cocoa app. For Photoshop, Illustrator, and the rest of the Adobe CS, building for intel is NOT just a matter of checking the box.


Matt Joss
2006-02-27 16:18:52
Here's the reason for this. Element is based on the PhotoShop code base. The PhotoShop engineers are the ones doing the conversion of PhotoShop from using CodeWarrior to XCode as part of their next version. At the same time, they are checking in new features for the next version. The Elements team does not have the bandwidth to redo what the PhotoShop team is already doing and can't take the converted code as it contains pre-alpha code. They are basically working off the PhotoShop CS2 codebase without the ability to do the enourmous amount of work to move to XCode.
2006-03-25 07:53:55
So do we have to ALSO pay for the universal upgrade when that comes out?
2006-05-08 21:57:13
how will Missing Manuals handle Photshotp Elements 4 for Mac> Downloadable addendum chapter to Photoshop Elements 4 book I already have?