Kevin Reviews Photoshop Elements, Drive Genius 2 and Publisher Miracle Worker

by Kevin Slimp, May 2008

Kevin Reviews Photoshop Elements, Drive Genius 2 and Publisher Miracle Worker
Help! My desk used to be under this pile of software somewhere. I keep stacking software boxes on my desk as they arrive from vendors and I can’t put off taking a few of them for a spin any longer.

Photoshop Elements 6.0

Finally, Adobe released the Mac version of Photoshop Elements 6.0 in April. It reminds me of the early PDF days when Adobe would release the Windows version of Acrobat a few months before Mac users got their hands on a new product. Was it worth the wait? Depends.

Photoshop Elements is a solid product for photo editing novices and folks who need to adjust lighting and colors on images to be used in newsletters, flyers or to print out for keepsakes.

And, if your newspaper includes a lot of black & white photos, it does a dandy job of preparing those for print. But here’s the big drawback of Photoshop Elements: It doesn’t save images in CMYK format.

So who would use Photoshop Elements at most newspapers? If you have staff who edit photos for online editions but not print, Photoshop Elements is a great option for editing photos to be saved in RGB. If you publish black & white photos, this application does a great job with those as well. Sure you’ll miss some features of the full version of Photoshop (as hard as I tried, I couldn’t create a clipping path in Photoshop Elements), but most of Photoshop is still there.

Let me share some of what I’ve learned using Photoshop Elements 6.0:

- Users can work on RAW images, meaning you can shoot photos at the highest resolution on your SLR camera and work on the images in Elements. Again, you’ll be limited to saving them in RGB or Grayscale, but it works fine for these.

- Photoshop’s filters are still available. Go ahead. Add texture to an image or stroke it with a brush. The placement of these tools is actually a little handier in Elements.

- Tools like Shadow/Highlights, Levels and Curves are still available; you’ll just have to look in new places to find them. Shadow/Highlights and Levels are found in the Adjust Lighting submenu. Hue/Saturation and Curves are found under the Adjust Color submenu.

- Color modes are limited to Bitmap, Index Color, RGB and Grayscale.

- Several of the Automation tools found in the Bridge can be found in Photoshop Elements 6.0. A few are PDF Slideshow, Web Photo Gallery and Contact Sheet.

I decided to edit a photo using the same tools that I’ve always used in Photoshop and had good fortune. I was able to open and crop the photo, set the image size, adjust levels, sharpen the image with Unsharp Mask, then convert the image to grayscale before saving as an EPS, TIF or JPG image. I noticed there was no option to save an image in DCS, a format normally used with spot colors.

With such a discounted price, you wouldn’t expect Photoshop Elements to do everything as well as the full-feature version. But it stands up for itself very well.

Sure, you probably won’t use Elements to create your Animated GIF files (although the Help Menu insists that you can), but Elements is well worth the price for users who want to have the powerful features of Photoshop, without the need for CMYK. At $89 (US), it’s a steal. For more information, visit adobe.com

Favorite Mac Hard Drive Tool Upgraded

Is your computer running slower? Drive Genius 2 is my favorite disk utility for the Mac platform. Disk defrag, directory repair and repartition on-the-fly are only a few of the features of Drive Genius 2. I loved the original version of Drive Genius and this upgrade hasn’t disappointed me. Drive Genius 2 makes hard maintenance tasks painless, fast and easy.

Drive Genius 2 is a disk utility that features a wide array of features including directory repair, repartition on-the-fly, cloning, integrity testing, benchmarking, secure erase and several other tools to help maintain your hard drive. Data Rescue II is emergency hard drive recovery software.

It is used to recover data from a crashed, corrupted or unmountable hard drive. It also has the ability to recover deleted files.

The DVD allows you to boot directly from the DVD, so you can work directly on your main boot drive. You can run it as an application to work on other internal or external hard drives. Note that the current version of Drive Genius 2 doesn’t boot Macs using the Leopard operating system.

Drive Genius 2 lists for $99 (US). ProSoft offers an array of valuable utilities and applications for Mac users. For more information, visit prosofteng.com.

Even More Help With Those Pesky Microsoft Publisher Files

Shouts of joy could be heard throughout the publishing world when Markzware released PUB2ID, the utility that allows InDesign users to open Microsoft Publisher files. Now comes PDFOnline.com, a Web site devoted to converting Word, PowerPoint and Publisher files to PDF.

Even though it’s not the perfect solution, at least you end up with a PDF file that can be placed or opened in other applications for editing and correction. I uploaded a 12-page PowerPoint file and, in less than a minute, received a 12-page PDF. It was really quite impressive.

The service is free. Visit pdfonline.com for more details.