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The new Quick Selection Tool takes the abilities of Magic Extractor and makes them available within the main Elements interface without having to resort to a separate dialog. You simply click and drag over the areas you want, then press the Alt key and drag over areas you don't. For those who don't have a steady enough hand - or the time - to marquee a selection manually, the Quick Selection Tool gets the job done fast. We found it much easier to use than the Magic Extractor, even if the underlying engine is essentially the same.
The output options have been enhanced, too. The Create stage found in both the Organizer and Editor leads you through wizards which help put together Photo Books, Calendars, Collages, Online Galleries and Slide Shows. In each case, tools, instructions and assets appear to guide you through the process, and your chosen images are lined up in a project bin along the bottom, ready for inclusion.
Creating an interactive gallery from multiple photos now takes full advantage of Flash empowerment. The gallery templates include animations, such as planes flying across and photos sliding in, and some user customisation if available. You can then burn the results to CD or DVD (if you have Premiere Elements 4 as well), or upload them to your website or the Photoshop Showcase service.
The Share section in the Organizer provides another route to all the various output options, including putting a Gallery online, emailing photos as attachments, or using Photo Mail, which fires up a built-in mail client for Windows Mail or Adobe's own mail service. The Share area is also where you can Order Prints online via Kodak EasyShare, or burn to optical disc.
Overall, Photoshop Elements 6 doesn't feel like a huge upgrade. But it does have plenty of useful new tools and a more streamlined interface for the new user - which is clearly Adobe's theme for its Elements products. The Photomerge facilities and Quick Selection Tool could sell you the upgrade on their own, though.
Although you can buy both of these applications separately, the savings of buying the two together have meant that Adobe traditionally sells many more of the bundle than either one on its own. Of the two, Photoshop Elements has more new and enhanced features, although both are even easier for the newcomer to get to grips with than their predecessors. Neither app feels like a huge update compared to the last versions, but we still expect Adobe to sell heaps of copies of this bundle. If you don't have decent photo or video editing software, or you have an Elements bundle a few versions old, there is plenty here to tempt you.