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If Premiere Elements 4 is now well on its way to being entirely separated from its professional namesake, Photoshop Elements 6 has gone even further. There is still plenty of big brother Photoshop's editing power available, but with the sixth iteration the interface is even more streamlined for the new user than before. Like Premiere Elements 4, tasks have been simplified into categories represented by colourful buttons - with four options in the Organizer and three in the Editor. But a wizard-based Guided editing system is also available to take you through many of the more complicated tasks.
The Organizer can import meta data with images, such as those created by your digital camera, and use this to create a Smart Album. This happens automatically, so you don't need to do your own tagging to find photos taken with a specific camera or after a certain date. You can perform more image editing tasks within the Organizer itself now, too. On top of all the automatic photo enhancement filters added in previous versions of Elements, you can crop your images, saving you the time required to load them into the Editor.
When you do load the Editor, however, you will find some very handy and powerful new capabilities. A common problem for anyone who takes a lot of group portraits is when you shoot a series of photos, but none of them are perfect. Someone has been caught in mid blink in one picture, but someone else looked away from the camera in another. Photoshop Elements 6 borrows the Photomerge ability added to Photoshop CS3, so you can group similar photos together, line them up, then rub out part of the top one to reveal the one beneath - taking the best of each one and blending them. Carrying on this theme, the same Photomerge tool can be used to line up faces and blend features from one onto the other.
Both these are powered by Photoshop Elements' Guided editing mode, which makes complex tasks like this easy to complete, so long as you follow the instructions closely. Photomerge has one other trick up its sleeve, although this one isn't available in Guided editing mode. The same engine is used for creating panoramas from multiple shots. Although the ability to make panoramas isn't new to Elements, the enhanced underlying engine means photos can be merged vertically as well as horizontally, or indeed in any direction.