Adobe's consumer-level, hobbyist-targeted image editor, Photoshop Elements, has long been a great next step for those who've outgrown iPhoto. It's great for beginners, yet it gives your skills room to grow--plus it plays nicely with Photoshop Lightroom and is available with a perpetual license.
Elements 13 isn't the most feature-packed upgrade ever, but it's now Retina display-happy and it's got some timely new stuff for beginners: creating a personalized Facebook Cover image, crop suggestions, variations on Quick mode's effects, a new selection refinement tool, three Guided Edits for converting photos to black and white, plus tutorials that are more easily discoverable. There's even a new Photomerge Compose command that steps you through copying an item in one photo and pasting it into another, with matching lighting, to boot! However, the only offering for experts is the Fill dialog's new Content Aware option--lovingly lifted from big brother Photoshop CC--that, with the right image, can make removing objects a snap.
Elements 13 is now optimized so that its interface and your photos are much sharper on Retina displays. If you use it to import and manage photos, the first noticeable changes are in the Organizer. An eLive button gives you access to online tutorials and photographic inspiration (the button's available in the Editor, too), as well as a direct link to the Adobe Elements online support page. Media view now displays photos flush against each other in a grid, sans image details (ratings, capture date, etc.) or the Organizer's gray background. Albums and folders sport their own tabs, enabling you to view them separately. Opening the Tags panel--to add keywords, face, place, and event info--reveals checkboxes to each tag's left, making them easier to apply. Slideshow creation was also simplified, and you can now use any email program to send photos from Elements.
Facebook Cover images
In the Elements 13 Editor, you'll find a Facebook Cover command in the Create menu that summons a variety of photo themes you can use to create a custom Facebook page cover and profile image. Clicking a theme downloads it from Adobe's servers, enabling them to add new ones. Once you pick a theme, Elements opens it in a new, correctly-sized document and plops open photos into the template's image slots. You can drag to reposition photos within frames or rearrange them from one frame to another, and a handy slider lets you change a photo's zoom level.
You can edit any text the template includes or add your own, and you can take control of the design by using the Graphics panel or by entering Advanced Mode, which reveals Expert mode's Layers and Tools panels. Click the Upload button and Elements sends the imagery to your Facebook album and plays a video instructing you on how to apply the imagery. Unfortunately, there's no API that lets Elements tunnel into Facebook and change profile and cover images. In comparison, iPhoto can change your profile image, but not your cover image, nor can you create the latter in iPhoto.
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