Like many people, I find that managing my collection of digital images is almost as big a job as editing them. New versions of two popular imaging applications–Corel’s Paint Shop Pro Photo XI and Adobe’s Photoshop Elements 5–promise to help you deal with photo glut, but only one of them delivers. Excellent editing tools and advances in the importing and sharing of photos put Photoshop Elements a big step ahead of Paint Shop Pro.
Both programs feature photo-downloading utilities that help you organize new images. The downloader in the latest version of Elements has received an impressive overhaul: When it recognizes that you’ve connected your digital camera to your PC or inserted a memory card into a reader, it can batch-rename all of the images in a variety of formats, remove red eye (though that feature isn’t new), put the pictures in a new subfolder, and delete them from your memory card when it’s done–all without any intervention on your part, if you choose to set it up that way.
Corel’s photo downloader dumps images into SnapFire, its new ad-supported application. (The program disc includes the app, but you must install it separately.) The SnapFire downloader detects memory cards and CDs–any CD. In fact, when I inserted Adobe’s Elements CD to install the application, Corel’s downloader tried to bring up the images from that disc. SnapFire allows you to create a custom folder using the download date or a custom name, but it will not rename individual photos–a big disadvantage compared with Elements. Corel says it’s considering adding that capability as an advanced feature in subsequent versions.
Oddly, Paint Shop Pro includes another organizer that’s accessible from within the program. This organizer, which uses the same database as SnapFire, lets you very quickly search images by date, size, tag, or rating; still, I’d have preferred to see Corel consolidate the best features of the two organizers into one.
In Elements, the process of tagging photos so you can find them fast later hasn’t changed–it’s still exceptionally easy and intuitive. In Paint Shop Pro, unfortunately, tagging doesn’t get the same priority: You must dig through menus to find tags, and when you do find them, they’re tiny. Also, searching by multiple tags requires using a dialog box, whereas in Elements, you simply check off boxes in a prominent tagging palette.