Photoshop Elements vs. Photoshop (2021)

Photoshop Elements vs Photoshop
Photoshop Elements vs. Photoshop

Photoshop and Elements are two similar apps from Adobe. Although the names are identical, their functions are a bit different. So, how would you compare the two? The article covers Photoshop Elements vs. Photoshop (2021).

Disclaimer: Some are affiliate links, but the article is fully researched.

Main difference

Let’s start with the main difference. Both are photo-editing applications available on multiple platforms. Photoshop Elements is a cloud-based tool for simple photo editing, especially for social media. It is easier to use than Photoshop.

Photoshop, on the contrary, is a rich and heavy photo editing tool. It comes with many features that half of the options don’t even are in use for many people. With its rich editing tools, it comes with a mystified interface, which takes time to learn.

Furthermore, because Photoshop is a heavy tool, you need a good computer with a supported graphics card to run the program smoothly. Features such as 3D text may not work on computers with minimum system requirements.


There are particular tools that both support. Photoshop comes with almost all the tools that Elements offers. The problem is the complexity of using those tools. Photoshop Elements is designed to make all the available tools easily reachable by offering quick settings to apply to photos.

With Photoshop, using some of the tools may be challenging at first. Here is the list of features that you find in both programs:

  • Layers
  • PSD File
  • Crop tool
  • Healing brush
  • Text
  • Smart brush
  • Blur
  • Pencil
  • Recompose
  • Straighten tool
  • Effects
  • Gradients
  • Custom shape
  • Filters
  • Image and canvas size

Those options are more than enough to make easy to complex changes to your images. Some options are special to both software packages. Some main tools of Photoshop Elements are:

  • Moving photos with some built-in animations
  • Adjust facial features with advanced options
  • Duotone effect
  • Colourise photos
  • Eye fix tool

Other than that, you get a few quick editing options, such as photo collage, slideshow, photo book, and greeting card.

Photoshop, in comparison, comes with a handful of tools that you don’t find on Elements. Some of those include:

  • Lasso (includes the magnetic lasso tool)
  • Magic eraser
  • Magic wand
  • Clone
  • Masking
  • 3D text support
  • Layer options
  • Blending
  • Subject selection
  • Dodge tool

These tools make Photoshop a professional photo editor.

Related: Photoshop Express vs. Lightroom

Supported files

File Formats in Photoshop
File Formats in Photoshop

The next topic of Photoshop Elements vs. Photoshop is the supported file formats. Both support the common file types, including JPG, PNG, TIFF, and PDF. Photoshop Elements supports a limited number of RAW formats, while Photoshop has an edge in that area. The same goes with the vector files, where Photoshop Elements completely lacks this support, while Photoshop does not.

Moreover, you can also open a file in Photoshop edited in Photoshop Elements because of the same file format.

In terms of exporting, Photoshop is full of file formats. From PDF to IFF to BMP, you find over 20 types of formats. Elements does not support that many. It only supports the most common ones.

Ease of use

Workspaces in Photoshop Elements

As discussed, Photoshop Elements is easier to use. The tool separates the workspace into Quick, Guided, and Expert. The quick option comes with simple tools, while on the guided screen, you see the guided tutorial separated into categories.

The expert mode is where you take complete control and do everything by yourself. The workspace is a bit challenging, but you get all the tools available in Photoshop Elements.

Photoshop, on the other hand, is crowded. The toolbox is on the left, while the colour, swatches, patterns, etc., are to the right. The window menu on the top shows all the sections available in Photoshop.

Mobile apps

This round goes to Photoshop because it offers a mobile app for Android and iOS devices. You can sign in with your subscription account to get the premium tools. The iOS (iPhone and iPad) app is much more advanced than Android, but some features are only available in the subscription.

The Android app does not come with any advanced tools, but the app is free to use.

Related: Canva vs. Adobe InDesign (2021)

Pricing and plans

Both use different pricing models. Photoshop Elements is a tool that upgrades yearly. It costs a one-time fee of $100, but you won’t get any updates. If you purchase the 2021 version, you will not be eligible for the 2022 version. You will need to pay some (less than $100) money to upgrade. You can also try it for 30 days without paying for it.

The tool also comes in the Elements family package, which also includes Premiere Elements. The family package costs $150 in total. Students and educators can save big on the family plan.

Photoshop, on the contrary, uses the subscription (SaaS) model where you pay monthly or yearly and get all the updates as they are released. You can own the app for $10 a month, but it is also available in the Photography plan and Creative Cloud subscription.

Comparison video

Still not sure about the two? Watch the Photoshop Elements vs. Photoshop video below and see both in action.

Photoshop Comparison with Photoshop Elements

Which one should you choose?

Elements is for users who like to edit photos and upload them to social media platforms. Photoshop is for those who want total control and turn photography and photo editing into their careers. If you are starting, I suggest signing up for the free trial and experience both yourself.

Related: Adobe Premiere Rush vs. Elements 2021

Photoshop vs. Elements: Site links


Both are great, but if you don’t need unnecessary options, Elements is the right choice. But if you believe that you will be using the tool for a long time, Photoshop is the one to pick.

All right, with all being covered, it’s time to finish this photoshop Elements vs. Photoshop article. I hope it helped you choose the ideal program. If possible, please leave your thoughts down below so others can benefit.

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