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Photoshop Elements interface

 


Manage colors in Photoshop Elements
Published on April 15, 2011 / Updated on October 31, 2018

 

Photoshop Elements is certainly the "amateur" version of Photoshop but does not eliminate the issue of color management. We will see on this page how to manage colors correctly with Photoshop Elements in its latest version and Camera Raw version. It is still interesting to note that PSE, by default, protects you from almost any manipulation error and considers, logically, that you will retouch your images in sRGB and it is very good like that! But it is possible to go further...


Despite the fact that Photoshop Elements is in its sixteenth version (fall 2017), color management is still very limited but the main thing is that you can work on your RAW files in sRGB or Adobe RGB, you can keep the ICC profile of an image and you can print with "real" print profiles as we will see on the next page : printing with Photoshop Elements.

 

 

Photoshop Elements Color Settings Préferences

It is possible to work in three working spaces in Photoshop Elements : Fast / Guided / Expert. Choose the Expert mode carefully because it is the only one that allows you to see in the status bar of the software (bottom left) the profile of the document in which you are working. Very practical !

   
  Choix du mode d'interface de Photoshop Elements
  In the example above, I opened an image that included a profile not recognized by Photoshop Elements (DonRGB) but as I am in "Always optimize for printing" mode, PSE opened it without modification unlike the other color preference options.
   
 

How to display the document profile in the bottom left in expert mode ? By default the menu displays the "Document size" but by clicking on the small right arrow (marked by the blue arrow above), you will have several options including "Document profile" which I now choose by default. This way, you always have at hand the ICC profile or the working space of your photo.

   
  Choix du profil du document de Photoshop Elements
   
 

Now we will adjust the color preferences of Photoshop Elements. Even if it is minimalist, color management can still be set in the "Edit > Colors > menu of Photoshop Elements''. This opens the menu below :

   
  Photoshop Elements color management options
 

1 - "Always optimize colors for computer screens"

The option "Always optimize colors for computer screens" basically means : work in sRGB as often as possible but with a minimum of common sense !

  • If the image is already in sRGB so it already contains this profile (Internet image with embedded ICC profile, Jpeg image from a digital SLR,...), it opens directly in Photoshop Elements because it "knows" then how to display its colors correctly;
  • If the image contains another icc profile, the image will automatically be opened in the original color space of the photo. Just like the sRGB image !
  • If the image contains no ICC profile, it will automatically open in sRGB, no matter what happens. The ICC sRGB profile will be automatically assigned to the image. This is not necessarily a bad choice for images likely to come from the Internet because all the others and since they come from cameras will already be tagged in sRGB.
  • A RAW file opened with Camera Raw (from PSE) will automatically be opened in sRGB.

2 - "Always optimize for printing"

The "Always optimize for printing" option is more similar to the Adobe RGB space. It is also interesting, here is why...

  • If the image already contains a profile - whatever the profile - (Internet image with profile, Jpeg image from a digital SLR,...), it opens directly in Photoshop Elements with its ICC profile because it "knows" then how to display its colors correctly;
  • If the image does not contain an ICC profile, it will automatically open in Adobe RGB, no matter what happens. The Adobe RGB ICC profile will be automatically assigned to the image.
  • In Camera Raw, the image will automatically be opened in Adobe RGB. This is the only inconvenient way to open a RAW image in this color space with Photoshop Elements.

My opinion on this option - It is essential for anyone who wants to open their RAWs in the Adobe RGB color space but it is totally useless or even detrimental when opening an image without a profile from the Internet because PSE then automatically assigns it the same Adobe RGB profile without being able to assign it another one later. In PSE you can't only do retrospective conversions or attribution.

3 - "Allow me to choose" - To be preferred although it is not ideal...

The "Allow me to choose" option is very interesting for anyone who really wants to manage colors in Photoshop Elements but still has a limit in Camera Raw, here is why...

  • In Camera Raw, the image will be automatically and only converted to sRGB, so you will have to switch back to "Always optimize for printing" mode occasionally to open your RAW in Adobe RGB.
  • If the image already contains a profile (Internet image with profile, Jpeg image from a digital SLR,...), it opens directly in Photoshop Elements because it "knows" then how to display its colors correctly;
  • The main difference is in the case where the image does not contain an ICC profile, because then a new menu opens to ask you what you want to do :
   
  Missing profile menu in Photoshop Elements
   
 

Here, you really only have two possibilities because you have everything to choose from now because when the image will be open and unlike the "real" Photoshop, you will not have any other possibilities. So if the sRGB and Adobe RGB color space is not suitable, you will not be able to assign it "its" original profile anyway. If in doubt, choose "sRGB" because it will most often be the most likely.

My opinion on this option - On paper and in many ways it is the most interesting, with the only inconvenience being that RAWs can only be opened in sRGB. You must change the option in PSE's color preferences to open them in Adobe RGB. Not practical at all !

4 - "No color management" option - To be avoided !

The option "no color management" is obviously to be avoided !

My tip to choose

  • If you are really a beginner and before you fully understand everything you are doing, I invite you to choose the first option "Always optimize colors for computer screens". This is the safest and most "logical" in your case.
  • If you want to activate color management as much as possible and use as many different ICC profiles as possible, I invite you to choose "Allow me to choose". However, if you choose this option, you may need to install the "real" Photoshop to fully manage the colors of your images !

     

     

Manage colors in Photoshop Elements

Even if it is reduced to its simplest expression, color management is still present in Photoshop Elements. It is therefore possible, as we have just seen in the paragraph above, to properly manage the profiles of the images when they are opened. Then, it is possible to convert to two color spaces : sRGB and Adobe RGB,... but no assignment.

Conversion to another color space...

To do this, you must use the menu Image > Convert Color Profile with two options :

  • Convert to sRGB
  • Convert to Adobe RGB.
   
  "Convert to Profile" menu in Photoshop Elements
   
 

I explain in detail what it is used for on pages of this color guide : converting the color profile.

Color management in Photoshop Elements Camera Raw

It is very simple and will depend on the option you have checked in the Photoshop Elements color preferences (even if it is more convenient!) :

  • If you have chosen "Always optimize for screens": all RAW files developed in Photoshop Elements Camera Raw will be automatically converted to sRGB.
  • If you have chosen "Always optimize for printing" : all RAW files developed in Photoshop Elements Camera Raw will be automatically converted to Adobe RGB.
   
  Camera Raw of Photoshop Elements
  There is no conversion profile option directly in Photoshop Elements Camera Raw. They will be converted to sRGB or Adobe RGB only depending on the option you have chosen in the software's color preferences.
 

 

Next page : printing with Photoshop Elements 

   
 
 

To be remembered !


The color management of Photoshop Elements is certainly minimalist but very effective and we find what is really necessary. So that's a good point.

 If you want to enable color management correctly, choose the "Allow me to choose" option in the color preferences (Edit Menu > Colors) of Photoshop Elements.

 
     
 
 
In these 2 pages I will share with you all my advice to manage the colors of your photos in Photoshop Elements...  
 
- Color management in PSE
  - PSE color preferences
- Color management with PSE
- To be remembered...

- Printing with Photoshop Elements

 

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