Cover: Photoshop Elements 2021 For Dummies by Barbara Obermeier, Ted Padova

Logo: Wiley

Photoshop® Elements 2021 For Dummies®

To view this book's Cheat Sheet, simply go to and search for “Photoshop Elements 2021 For Dummies Cheat Sheet” in the Search box.


We are now in version 19 (Photoshop Elements 2021) of Photoshop Elements. Adobe has offered yet more wonderful features and improvements to the program.

Before we delve into some of the new features added to Photoshop Elements 2021, we want to offer our readers an apology. For several past revisions of this book, we avoided some important correction features of the program and replaced them with some general information on photography. After looking over some of the reviews of our last book on Elements, we noticed a number of readers wanted more details related to adjusting brightness, contrast, and color. Therefore, we scrubbed the old Chapter 2 related to taking photos and replaced it with the completely new Chapter 7, in which we cover using the Camera Raw Editor. Again, our apologies for the oversight, and we hope this change appeals to those who wanted more related to editing photos.

About This Book

This book is an effort to provide as much of a comprehensive view of a wildly feature-rich program as we can. Additionally, this book is written for a cross-platform audience. If you’re a Mac user, you’ll find all you need to work in Elements 2021 for the Mac, exactly the same as when we refer to using Elements on Windows.

In Photoshop Elements 2021, you won’t find a huge number of new features. There are a few, but Adobe has again spent much time in this release on improvements and on additions to existing features. Adobe offers a few new Guided Edits as well as a new creation called Quote Graphic, which we cover in Chapter 17.

New Guided Edits include Moving Photos, which lets you select subjects and objects in a photo, move and resize the selection, or duplicate, move, and resize.

The other new Guided Edits include Perfect Landscape, which lets you perfect landscape photos, and the Creative Duotone effect, which lets you create true duotone (two-color) images.

There’s also a new creation added in the Create panel. The Quote Graphic item enables you to easily add quotes and phrases to images.

Adobe has included a new option in the Adjust Facial Features dialog box you access by choosing Enhance ⇒ Adjust Facial Features. The addition is the Face Tilt option, which lets you turn faces to face the cameras using some adjustment sliders.

Another new feature we’re sure many Elements users will enjoy is a more efficient way to back up catalogs. If you have a huge catalog with a lot of photos, Elements will take a long time to back up the Organizer. In many cases, you don’t need to back up photos; you may want only to back up tags, people, places, and events. Now the new Backup Catalog dialog box contains an option for backing up everything except the photos.

Throughout this book, especially in step lists, we point you to menus for keyboard commands. For accessing a menu command, you may see something like this:

Choose File ⇒ Get Photos ⇒ From Files and Folders.

You click the File menu to open its drop-down menu, click the menu command labeled Get Photos, and then choose the command From Files and Folders from the submenu that appears. It’s that simple.

We also refer to context menus, which jump up at your cursor position and show you a menu of options related to whatever you’re doing at the time. To open a context menu, just right-click the mouse, or Control-click on a Mac if you don’t have a two-button mouse.

When we mention that keys need to be pressed on your keyboard, the text looks like this:

Press Alt+Shift+Ctrl+S (Option+Shift+⌘  +S on the Mac).

In this case, you hold down the Alt key on Windows or the Option key on the Mac, then the Shift key, then the Control key on Windows or the ⌘   key on the Mac, and then press the S key. Then, release all the keys at the same time.

Icons Used in This Book

In the margins throughout this book, you see icons indicating that something is important.

New This icon informs you that this item is a new feature in Photoshop Elements 2021.

Warning Pay particular attention when you see the Warning icon. This icon indicates possible side-effects or damage to your image that you might encounter when performing certain operations in Elements.

Remember This icon is a heads-up for something you may want to commit to memory. Usually, it tells you about a shortcut for a repetitive task that can save you time.

Tip A Tip tells you about an alternative method for a procedure, giving you a shortcut, a work-around, or some other type of helpful information.

Technical stuff Elements is a computer program, after all. No matter how hard we try to simplify our explanation of features, we can’t entirely avoid some technical information. If a topic is a little on the technical side, we use this icon to alert you that we’re moving into a complex subject. You won’t see many of these icons in the book because we try our best to give you the details in nontechnical terms.

Beyond the Book

In addition to what you’re reading right now, this product also comes with a free, online Cheat Sheet that includes a detailed look at the Elements photo-editing workspace, Tool Panel shortcuts, tricks for selecting objects, and more. To get this Cheat Sheet, simply go to and type Photoshop Elements 2021 For Dummies Cheat Sheet in the Search box.

Where to Go from Here

Try to spend a little time reading through the chapters in Part 1. After you know how to edit and save photos, feel free to jump around and pay special attention to the cross-referenced chapters, in case you get stuck on a concept. After exploring the Elements Photo Editor, look over Part 2, where we talk about organizing and searching photos. When it comes to editing photos, look over Chapter 7 carefully. Everything begins with adjusting photos for brightness, contrast, and color. In Chapter 7, you learn that using the Camera Raw Editor is your first stop when editing a photo for any kind of output. If you’re ready to jump into more advanced tasks, check out Parts 3 and 4, where you learn how to make selections; layer images and effects together; add filters and type; and much, much more.

We hope you have much success and enjoyment in using Adobe Photoshop Elements 2021, and it’s our sincere wish that the pages ahead provide you with an informative and helpful view of the program.

Part 1

Getting Started with Photoshop Elements 2021


  • Open the Photo Editor and make quick and easy edits to one of your photos in Quick mode.
  • Select the best file format when you save your image.
  • Tour the Photo Editor interface so that you know how to switch among images and navigate the many panels and options.