Adobe Photoshop Elements 2023 review

With Adobe Photoshop Elements 2023 you can fix your photos and create eye-catching social media content with help from Guided Edits

Photoshop Elements 2023
(Image: © George Cairns)

Digital Camera World Verdict

Photoshop Elements 2023 provides all the organizing and fixing tools that the average photographer requires, plus it gives you in-app guidance on how to develop new creative image-adjusting skills. It may not be an essential upgrade if you already own Elements 2022 though the new Moving Elements command does create eye-catching social media content that should generate some extra likes on your Twitter or Instagram feeds.

Pros

  • +

    New guided edits

  • +

    Add motion to stills

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    Extra collage templates

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    Automated selection tools

  • +

    No monthly subscription

Cons

  • -

    Dated looking interface

  • -

    Limited RAW editing tools

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The full version of Photoshop - Adobe Photoshop CC (opens in new tab) - is like a capital city, in that it would take a lifetime to explore every street. Photoshop Elements 2023 is more like a village. It takes much less time to explore and it even has a guide to its key areas.

Unlike the monthly subscription required for the full Photoshop CC, Photoshop Elements 2023 is available for a one-off purchase and you can upgrade the app to future versions for a discount price. Photoshop Elements 2023 is designed to help photographers create eye-catching images with minimum time and effort. 

It focuses on overcoming common photo problems such as revealing missing tonal detail or removing unwanted objects. Thanks to machine learning features such as Adobe Sensei AI it also enables you to give your images a creative makeover without requiring years of experience using the full version of Photoshop.

Interface

Unlike the black and dark grey panels of the best photo editing software (opens in new tab) (including the full version of Photoshop CC (opens in new tab)), Photoshop Elements 2023 still sports the light grey workspace that it has worn for many years, giving it a dated look. The large icons and buttons belong in an app aimed at children rather than adults, but this could be reassuring for newcomers to photo editing and manipulation.  The lack of a workspace design change may also encourage regular Photoshop Elements users to update to the latest version as they won’t need to spend time adapting to a new look or layout.  

As with previous incarnations, the Photoshop Elements 2023 workspace is divided into three sections - Quick, Guided and Expert. The Quick workspace features an Adjustments panel that lets you fix Exposure, Color and Sharpen problems in seconds by clicking on preview thumbnails. You can then fine-tune the adjustments with a slider. The Guided Edit workspace helps newcomers to perform a range of practical or creative edits by taking them step-by-step through a range of creative techniques such as how to animate parts of a photo using the new Moving Elements command – more on that in the Features section below. 

Once you’ve created a composite image using a Guided Edit you have the option of fine-tuning it in the Expert editing mode which gives you access to extra features such as layers and masks. 

Key features

In this section, we’ll concentrate here on the new additions to Photoshop Elements 2023 toolset so you can decide whether it’s worth a purchase (or upgrade) over Elements 2022 (opens in new tab).

Guided Edits have always been one of Photoshop Element’s strong points and the latest version features a welcome new addition called Peek-Through Overlay. This enables you to enhance a photo by adding assets such as Autumnal leaves to the foreground of the image.  You can blur these foreground objects to create a shallow depth of field that helps focus the eye on the main object.  

The new Moving Elements menu command isn’t available in the Guided Edit workspace but it does provide step-by-step instructions on how to select part of a photo (such as the steam from a vintage engine) and animate it. This enables you to create a .gif or .mp4 movie that features steam billowing from the funnel of the train (see our accompanying video). You could also create a .gif that features moving clouds or flowing water in a few clicks. Moving Elements is the most ‘showy’ of Photoshop Elements 2023’s new features.

Photoshop Elements 2023

The new Moving Elements command enables you make areas such as clouds or water move in precise speeds and directions to create animated .gifs (Image credit: George Cairns)

Existing Guided Edits such as Perfect Landscape have been upgraded, so you now have 36 skies to add to a shot instead of the 12 that shipped with Photoshop Elements 2022. It’s now even easier to replace a landscape’s bland sky with a stunning sunset (or you can even add an elusive Aurora Borealis to your landscapes in a few clicks.)  You can also use the Perfect Landscape Guided Edit’s brush-based tools to fine-tune where the new sky joins your landscape's horizon without needing to access and edit a layer mask directly in the Expert workspace. 

When it comes to sharing your favorite shots you can take advantage of an update to the Photo Collage menu. You can now combine a series of shots in more creative ways thanks to a new series of contemporary templates. You can browse various square, vertical, horizontal and panoramic collage templates to suit a variety of social media or print destinations 

Photoshop Elements 2023

The updated Perfect Landscape Guided Edit boasts 36 replacement skies (compared to the 12 featured in PSE 2022.) (Image credit: George Cairns)

Photoshop Elements 2023

The new Peak-Through Overlay Guided Edit enables you to add foreground interest for a more effective composition (Image credit: George Cairns)

Quality of results

Photoshop Elements 2023 can also work with high-quality RAW files including digital negative (.dng) files created by devices such as the iPhone 14 Pro (opens in new tab). These files open in a separate plug-in workspace - Camera Raw 14.4.0 - which you can download from the Help menu’s Updates section. This powerful digital darkroom places the most useful photo-fixing tools close to hand, enabling you to selectively boost weaker colors and lighten under-exposed shadows for example.  

It also displays a handy histogram graph that enables you to understand (and correct) your shot’s exposure. As you’d expect, Element’s Camera Raw editor lacks some of the more advanced tools found in the full version of Photoshop, such as the ability to make selective adjustments using gradient and brush-based tools for example. However, it will still enable you to produce high-quality results compared to editing compressed .jpeg files in the Quick, Guided or Expert workspaces. 

If you’re editing on the best iMac or MacBook (opens in new tab) then you’ll notice speed and performance improvements as Photoshop Elements supports the M1 chip. You can download a trial version of Photoshop Elements 2023 which gives you 30 days of full access to the app, enabling you to put it through its photo-fixing paces.

Photoshop Elements 2023

The cut down Camera Raw editor enables you to make selective adjustments to colour and tone but it lacks the powerful masking tools of Photoshop CC’s full Camera Raw editor (Image credit: George Cairns)

Verdict

Photoshop Elements 2023 provides quick and easy access to key photo-fixing and creative tools. Its one-off price should make it an attractive alternative to Photoshop CC’s monthly subscription costs.  You’ll still receive the option to update the app when Adobe releases new features.  

Novices can develop their photo-fixing muscles with help from Guided Edits and then flex those muscles in the Expert workspace. Access to the Camera Raw workspace enables you to produce high quality results with a minimum of compression artifacts, though you will need Lightroom or Photoshop CC for a full suite of Raw processing tools.

You might also like the best laptops for photo editing and the best monitors for photography, plus the best cameras for beginners if you're new to photography.

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George has been freelancing as a photo fixing and creative tutorial writer since 2002, working for award winning titles such as Digital Camera, PhotoPlus, N-Photo and Practical Photoshop. He's expert in communicating the ins and outs of Photoshop and Lightroom, as well as producing video production tutorials on Final Cut Pro and iMovie for magazines such as iCreate and Mac Format. He also produces regular and exclusive Photoshop CC tutorials for his YouTube channel.