capsule review

Adobe Photoshop Express Online Photo Editor

At a Glance

Despite its Adobe pedigree, Photoshop Express is by no means the closest thing you'll find to Photoshop on the Web. While this relative newcomer is impressive in some ways, it lacks basics that all other editors in this roundup offer.

One significant benefit that Express does deliver is a full-blown image organizer that gives you 2GB of storage and lets you create public and private albums as well as fancy 3D slide shows. While less fully evolved than photo-sharing sites such as Flickr and SmugMug, it's the best organizer of the six editors reviewed.

Express's editing interface looks nothing like Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, but it's nicely done--only Picnik's is more refined. When you choose a tool for exposure, highlighting, or sharpening, you get thumbnails that show how different variants of the effect will alter your photo. Admittedly, they were often too small to show the change well, but clicking on any of them provides an instant full-size preview. And applying Express's effects is pretty zippy, too, even when you're working with a high-resolution image.

The service's multilevel undo feature is a joy, freeing you to experiment without worrying about messing up your masterpieces. Thumbnails provide a visual history of all your changes; one click takes you back to any point in time. It's the photographic equivalent of the Time Machine backup utility in Apple's OS X 10.5 Leopard.

But Express offers only a smattering of effects, compared with the dozens found in most of the services reviewed. You can't even add text to an image, let alone frame your picture in a border. And you have no way to layer multiple photos. It feels as if Adobe has halfway completed a potentially top-notch photo editor (at this writing, Photoshop Express is still labeled as a beta).

See Photoshop Express and the other editors illustrated in our slide show.

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At a Glance
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