Hands off: Adobe Elements 2018 has new tools that automate photo and video editing

Adobe’s pared-down versions of the popular photo and video editing programs are getting even more advanced — without dropping the simplified user interface. On October 4, Adobe announced Adobe Elements 2018, which includes Adobe Elements Organizer 2018, Photoshop Elements 2018 and Premiere Elements 2018. The list of updates includes an auto curate option to select the best shots, new auto select tools, and several other new features.

With Adobe Elements 2018, the basic software suite moves from a version number to a year number format, joining the same nomenclature as the fully-fledged programs like Photoshop 2017. Moving forward, Adobe says future updates will also use the new naming structure.

A tool to eliminate the tedious task of turning hundreds of images into a dozen of the best shots headlines the list of new features, an option available in Elements Organizer. Adobe says the new feature will automatically pick the best shot, using factors such as quality, faces and the subject.

adobe elements 2018 new auto tools organizer
Adobe Elements Organizer Adobe

Choosing the best shots is a completely new idea, but one that lives largely in photo apps and not desktop software. EyeEm and Google Photos, for example, include artificial intelligence that automatically rates photos, while Everypixel Aesthetic is a platform dedicated entirely to the task of determining just how good a shot is. Even Adobe’s more advanced photo organizer, Lightroom 2017, does not have an auto curate feature.

A similar idea applies to the second new feature to Elements Organizer, with a one-click option to put those best photos into a slideshow.

Photoshop Elements is also gaining a number of new automated edits, included an Automatic Selection tool. Adobe says the tool allows users to click and drag and the program will automatically refine the edge to select an object.

A second update makes those group photo blinks not such a big deal. The auto fix opens closed eyes, but in order for the tool to work, users need a second image with the eyes opened. The tool is designed for editing group photos and fixing a shot where everyone looks great except for a blink or two. Using data from a second eyes-open photo, Photoshop Elements will automatically blend them into the edited photo.

The automatic curation and blink fix follows the previous version’s addition of tools to automatically correct a smile with facial recognition features and intelligent search options.

Adobe’s basic video editor, Premiere Elements, also sees a few new tools, including a “Candid Moments” tool that allows users to grab a still photo from the video footage, choosing the peak moment. Automatic edits also come into video with a Smart Trim tool, an auto option for trimming footage to the best shots. Adobe says the trim mode makes choices based on the “style” of the video, but that users can also customize the parameters to tweak what the software selects automatically.

The updates also come with eight new guided edits, in-app tutorials that walk users through the process of creating a specific look. New options include guides for swapping backgrounds, creating double exposures, adding overlays and creating a watercolor look. For video, Elements will now guide users through those bounce-back GIFs where an action is played back and forth on a loop. Freeze frames with titles, action camera fixes and animated social media posts bring the total number of Elements guides to 67.

Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements retail for a $99 one-time download, or $150 for both programs. Elements Organizer is included with both Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements. Users of previous Elements programs can upgrade for $80 each or $120 combined.