Elements: A way to change the UI colors

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  • Updated 6 years ago
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  • (Edited)
Is there a way to change the Photoshop CS5 and Elements 9 user interface and application colors? With the black and dark grey colors it is extremely difficult to use. Earlier versions like Photoshop CS4 and Elements 5 have a much cleaner user interface and background colors that is so much easier to see and use. Please help, I'm going blind trying to see dark gray on black.
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Sharon G

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  • going blind

Posted 7 years ago

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PECourtejoie, Champion

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Hello, Sharon! Photoshop CS5 is not any darker than CS4, but Elements sure has a darker skin than Photoshop.
I noticed that the tool icons of Photoshop look more similar to the ones used on the video software, whose interface brightness can be adjusted, so let's hope that it is a work in progress!
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halmo1927

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Totally agree. The dark grey on black format seems to be stylish these days, but that does not in any way make it useable. The Adobe employee responses are not responsive and seem to be directed to ducking the issue instead of resolving it.
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Barbara L

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I totally agree. I was so disappointed after I purchased PSE 8 with my computer. I can barely read the user interface print because it is SO TINY. Also the color contrast is poor as others have mentioned. I also am an older user and it causes eye strain trying to read their print. With newer monitors and higher resolution available these days you'd think Adobe would have an adjustment available withing their program for UI font size and colors!!!
I'll be using Coral's Paint Shop Pro mostly until this is fixed.
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Karen Jones

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I agree also, and thank you to everyone that responded. I've had surgery on my right twice in months, and it's very difficult to see the small words, especially on the dark background. Seems like Adobe would have made the words WHITE!. I never put black on dark grey. What were they thinking!!! Would be nice if they would come up with a fix without having to upgrade.
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Susan Ruscetta

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Barbara L. has another good point--the lettering is too small, especially in a low contrast scheme. We don't all have 32" monitors!
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Danielle Talt

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I too, am very upset with the ridiculously dark work space and no way to adjust it. I just purchased the newly released "ELEMENTS 10" having upgraded from earlier Elements vs. Since this problem was called to your attention on earlier versions of Elements, why then did you not think to correct it? Does Adobe not listen to their customers? I agree with others who recommend a patch up-date! We shouldn't have to wait for another new version for the problem to be fixed. I encourage all with this problem to be sure and add your comments. I purchased from Amazon and I most certainly will mention my disappointment in the new version of Elements and the lack of support from Adobe to correct an ongoing customer complaint.
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Brett N, Official Rep

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It is not possible to change the UI colors of the current versions of Photoshop and Photoshop Elements. Some previous versions of Photoshop Elements offered limited control over the UI (allowing you to lighten or darken it).

We strive to design a UI that is universally acceptable, does not create eye strain, yet isn't too distracting or cluttered, and easy to use. We use comments and suggestions such as yours to help us reach these goals.
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Sharon G

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I hope that Adobe will consider making the UI more useable rather than just "looking good". The gray on black color scheme really doesn't work from a useability point of view. The colored icons on the left side of the screens do work because they really stand out. The buttons at the top part such as Actual Pixels, Fit Screen, Fill Screen, and Print Size don't work at all because there is just not enough Contrast. It is all about contrast. I cannot adjust the brightness or dimness of my screen to create enough contrast to read those 4 buttons without moving my head or the screen.

Take a look at the top bar of Photoshop.com and compare it to everything else on the rest of the page. It doesn't have sufficient contrast. The rest of the page stands out and is easy to read and navigate. I'm not suggesting it should always be black and white, but contrast is important.

Photoshop is used by Photographers and contrast is one of the critical elements to a photo.

As PECourtejoie pointed out "... Elements sure has a darker skin than Photoshop." If Elements were only as dark as CS5 it would be an improvement.

I don't know why the ability to lighten and darken the UI was dropped, but if the ability to lighten, darken and change the contrast of images in Photoshop was removed, the usefulness of Photoshop would be greatly diminished.

If this site is all about making Photoshop better, brightening up the UI and increasing contrast would be a major step in the right direction.
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Linda Minton

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Brett N, this thread should make it very clear that your customers NEED this function that Photoshop has removed from earlier versions. Since we're unable to Comment under your fellow Employee, Jeffrey Tranberry's, remarks, I'm answering him here.

He said "We will work with the product teams to see what we could drum up for future versions but we can't comment on the timing." THIS is Adobe's idea of being responsive to customer needs? i.e., MAYBE we will see about giving you back this previously available feature at some unknowable future date, but you will have to pay for it?

Frankly, that's just B.S. This particular feature could easily be a free patch; Adobe just doesn't WANT to do it.

Thanks for your condescending offer to give me back the feature ... some day, at some additional price ... but no thanks.
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Meredith Laskow

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Linda, I agree with you 100%.
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edward.caruso

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i like the look of CS5 - definitely dont want it dark like Lightroom (that would be horrible to work with). I work in CS3 alot too - and the brighter palettes are weird compared to CS5. I just dont like the new CS5 tool icons but please dont change them again - trying to get used to them. i do think the tools and the boxes in the tool palette were much easier to see in CS3 than CS5.
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Rod3rick

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sometimes it's very annying the visual contrast produced by the interface color. Bridge does allow to change the brightness of its interface. Photshop kinda allow, changing the document window color by the shift+"color bucket"+click. but the layers and other palettes continue the same (too bright ) color. windows allows sort of change, but I think it must be independent of it.
thanks!

This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled
Photoshop: Allow customization of interface color (darker).
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Jeffrey Tranberry, Sr. Product Manager, Digital Imaging

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It's a good idea. We do hear this request fairly often.
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Judith Burkhard

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I just want my "white" background back. It is very difficult for me using the black backgroun. Even with the so called "Dark" & "Light" choice in Preferences still don't allow you to choose white.

To me is is the same thing as a text page with white letters and a black background. It makes my eyes go wonky.
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Kami Scott

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As I previously indicated, I totally agree. I also think larger tool icons and controls would be more than helpful to those of us senior with large monitors and high resolution. The photos look great in the higher resolution, so I wouldn't want to switch down.
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Roy Close

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I, too, am a long time graphics/video editor (back to Apple LC630FPU days)—now 73 years old and eyesight decreasing in accuity, not increasing! If the UI can't be made more visibly usable I am going to have to look for another app to use—after many years with Adobe (and Aldus b4 that)

Please, at least, give us the OPTION oof choosing an alternative UI color theme.
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Barbara L

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...and UI font size!!!!
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edward.caruso

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is this about photoshop CS5 or elements? I would definitely like to see better separation of the applications in this new feedback forum. They are different applications with different users.
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Rod3rick

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i startede a topic about CS5 interface. admins merged it to PS ELEMENTS forum.
my idea is to be able to change colours of all interface, not just de document window
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edward.caruso

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my issue with this feedback site is that eventhough i only follow the PS topics - lightroom, camera raw and elements topics get tagged in there. or more likely people tag PS when the are talking about these other applications. i prefer the old regular forum because it kept the applications separate without relying of the users to tag properly.
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Brett N, Official Rep

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The Adobe User-to-User forum are just as good at separating products as this site. Just as people may mis-tag topics here, people often place their forum posts in the wrong category. I spend a good deal of time moderating the forums to tell people they should be posting their topic elsewhere or just outright moving it. Nobody's perfect. :)
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Jeffrey Tranberry, Sr. Product Manager, Digital Imaging

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Overlap is going to happen on occasion. The original topic was for both Photoshop and Elements. Other products, like Photoshop, Bridge, Lightroom - and Elements all share the same raw engine so some requests will apply to all.
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Sharon G

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Hi Brett,

A simple white background with black and blue letters would be a great alternative. These are the colors on Photoshop.com. The visual contrast between Photoshop.com and Adobe.com is obvious. Please help my eyes
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James Liss

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My problem is with the top bar or drop down menus. Gray or white on black is hard to see with certain room lighting conditions. In my previous version of elements 7, you could switch black on light gray which I found easier to read and use. You dropped this feature in elements 9.
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JANET GOODRICH

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Glad to know others are looking for another product - it isn't fun anymore when it is too difficult to see
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Roy Close

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I am "test-driving" GIMP—it's GNU and free at www.gimp.org... AND easy to look at :|
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saundra pummer

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My aging eyes find the dark UI to be very hard to see. It is hard to judge contrast and some of the writing is plain difficult to see also. PLEASE, please give us back the ability to adjust it to what works for us, not what is a trendy color scheme that will be out of date in a couple years. I too am going blind looking at the new UI.
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Linda Klohs

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Photoshop Elements 9 needs a usable USER Interface brightness. If there are complaints about the present one, with NO ONE defending the skin as is, you should recognize that this program needs a patch. The patch minimally should include a brightness slide as was available in previous versions. BETTER would be a choice which includes White with Black letters instead of being forced to use black with white letters which clearly is NOT GOOD for a goodly number of users. Why would you force people to quit your product over such an issue? Yet, purchasing another program is what I will be coming to if I can't find a way to see what is in YOUR program - Photoshop Elements 9. Do you not have a computer programmer in all of Adobe that can make such a patch. I find that hard to believe.
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Brett N, Official Rep

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Hello Linda, we do have engineers that could make a patch, just as we have engineers that have made all of the ever-changing interfaces Photoshop Elements has had over the years. We we want to know is "What does the perfect interface look like?" Please keep providing specific examples of how you would like it to appear (such as your comment about the color of the lettering).
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Kami Scott

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I believe I can speak for others when I say that I know what's being asked for here without a screenshot. And, as someone else said, no one here is stating a preference for the black backgrounds.
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Sharon G

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I think the Photoshop.com color scheme of this page is much more useable than the Adobe.com, Lightroom and Photoshop products color schemes. It may not look as elegant, but visually, it is superior
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Walter Graham

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Absoltely.Even on the top black menu bar, the choices are a "brighter" grey and I would add the request to up the font size more like this page if I wanted. Thanks
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Mary Craft

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Adobe should not have taken away the ability to adjust the brightness of the interface in PSE v9. It was on the right track when there was an preference to lighten and darken the UI, so why go backwards and frustrate the users. Version 8 was okay but version 7 was even better. If Adobe was really listening to its users, the control for UI should not have been taken away. Wasn't there enough complaints over version 6? My students complained. Adobe should be adding not taking away functionality!
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Marcin Lezak

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Switch between light/dark UI like in previous version - that was great idea. This current dark only scheme is ugly and horrible to work with! I'm even sometimes thinkging about changing graphics software. Removing that feature was big mistake imo. I hope Adobe will restore this switch in next version.
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didi

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It already has been improved from Version 8 to Version 9 I have seen.
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Harvey Barrison

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I actually like the UI of PSE 8 over the UI of PSE9 to the extent that there was the ability to see the photo against a pure black background to give the photo a contrasting POP.
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Braunsky

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My request for changes to PSE 9 is for options to increase the contrast between slider controls and also text against their background, either by allowing changes to brightness or different color schemes, or both. The dark gray on slightly lighter gray on black makes it hard to find controls and difficult to read text. Have pity on my overworked eyeballs.
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JEA

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Here's a perfect example of not being able to see the pse 9 interface clearly
on windows vista.

There is a Layer Mask Hide All on the top layer.
Can you see it?



For comparision, this is pse 5 on the same vista machine.



MTSTUNER
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halmo1927

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I'm impressed that you have a copy of PSE5 still working. Thanks for the screen clips - they illustrate the problem very well.
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Linda Minton

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Thank you! Anyone who can't see the clear advantage to the earlier GUI is just not paying attention.
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Meredith Laskow

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I'm so glad I didn't delete my old PSE4 when I installed 9. I can't believe how useless 9 is because it's almost impossible to read.
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Sandy Hyman

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So I have a workaround that is far from optimal but will help some who really cannot use what they purchased because of the UI font size.

Windows 7 has a magnifier. If you turn it on (it's under accessibility in the Control Panel), and either set it so it runs full page or with a magnifying window that follows the cursor, you can then set the ideal magnification level, and there is a shortcut key assignment to turn this on and off. It's a pain in the tuchas, but the only way to use the current UI. I still suggest you try PaintShop Pro. X4 version (new) strives to be more PS-like, so I still have a hard time reading parts of it, but they are very responsive to customer input and I have already let them know that the entire user interface should be customizable. It's a shame that so many Adobe customers are now forced either to use the Windows magnifier or to use some other software after having purchased Adobe PS & PSE.
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PECourtejoie, Champion

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FYI, on a Mac, one can hold the Control key and use the scroll wheel to magnify the screen, might be useful for vision-impaired users, or users of very high ppi screens.
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Sharon G

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Hi MTSTUNER,

Thanks for sharing your example. PSE 5 has a much better UI and color scheme than PSE 9. I hope that Adobe will put a high priority on fixing this problem and the entire UI interface and color scheme.
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Jeffrey Tranberry, Sr. Product Manager, Digital Imaging

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Thanks for the feedback everyone.

I've marked this thread as "Under Consideration" - for both Photoshop Elements and Photoshop.

We have have heard from users that they prefer options to control the brightness of their UI's when editing their images.

The amount of conversation that this thread has generated among Elements customers was unanticipated. Feedback like this is one of the reasons that we have this site as a resource for our customers. We appreciate everyone's insight and specific examples provided on this topic. We will work with the product teams to see what we could drum up for future versions but we can't comment on the timing.
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Blaine Byers

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Are there really such laws that forbid manufacturers to improve their products? - seems unlikely to me. Many software products have large numbers of version updates before a completely new release. Take Microsoft with Windows and Internet Explorer - there are many improvements being released all the time. And if it is true, why couldn't a plug-in be released because that is done with many programs to improve performance and add new features. Why would Elements 9 be any different? Also if your comment about Elements 10 is true, that would mean no improvements would be forthcoming until Elements 11 or later. I also do not think you can say "Adobe" has understood the issue - a few Adobe employees that monitor this thread have indicated they understand and have recommended a change to the product development team (and we greatly appreciate this). There is no indication that anyone in the Adobe organization with the power to initiate the changes we requested has acted to do so.

Incidentally, the trial version of Elements 10 is now available. I downloaded it last week to compare it with Elements 9 - the UI looks essentially the same, and there were no options to customize the colors or fonts. Will I anxiously await Elements 11? I don't think so!! In the same vein, I am now starting to realize that much of the newer software seems to be trending toward this gray on gray UI. Adobe is not the only one that is doing this so it appears that all of us who dislike this trend are in for a bad time with our computers. Too bad!!

PS - Anyone reading this thread needs to read the 2 comments before this one to understand. I also see now that the writer of the previous thread that I commented on resides in Belgium - there is no doubt the laws are different in Europe.
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Philip Goddard

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I have to say, it does not seem credible to me that there are any laws that prevent one from ADDING a feature to IMPROVE a particular version. I can understand that there might be a law that forbids taking something useful away or changing a feature in such a way that it would effectively be taking away functionality or usability for some users - but simply adding an option to an existing version surely cannot have any legal contra-indication. I suspect I can smell a little corporate BS floating around here...

Actually PaintShop Pro X4, although at the moment with the same execrable UI colour scheme as PSE 9 and 10, is due for the addition of an alternative "light theme' via the forthcoming Service Pack 1 for that version. If Corel can do it, why not Adobe???! -- I found that out by having correspondence with Corel's very helpful and communicative product specialist for PaintShop Pro in Europe.

However, before anyone rushes off to get PSPX4, I must warn that at the moment it does not save IPTC metadata - so for the time being it would be useless to me and I'm stuck with PSE9.
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Richard Weatherby

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I think the Law we are talking about is Americans with Disabilities Act. Discrimination against the visually impaired. That is why crosswalk areas and dangerous areas have tactile surfaces and signs are required to have braille and high contrast. There is nothing to prevent improvements, but when it is detriment, that IS NOT an improvement. Does anyone consider this gray on black an improvement?
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Chris Cox

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Look up FASB and revenue recognition rules.
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Barbara L

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Let's not get hung up on what is or what is not legal. The bottom line is there are a good number of people who are unhappy about the poor contrast and way too small fonts in the UI of Photoshop Elements. This software program is for USERS, and if there are sufficient numbers of us who are unhapppy with a feature of the software, any responsible company who cares about the quality of their products and the satisfaction of their customers would work to correct the problem. There are some friends of mine who also own later versions of PSE who don't post here but have the same complaint. Adobe, why don't you do a really good survey and find out how many people would like the ability to change the UI fonts and colors!
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Kami Scott

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Thank you. I'm very glad that so many others share this issue.
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Louise Perry

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I can't wait for a fix in a future version of Photoshop Elements. I recently purchased PSE 9 and need a patch to fix it. I have wasted my money on a program I can't use because I can't see the icons or read the letters. Bummer.
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Ken

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MTSTUNER: I can see the mask just fine on my notebook with my old eyes....

I think the UI of PSE9 is outstanding. The dark colours properly recede into the background and do not distract from the image. Applications which use a white background and brighter colours for items of secondary importance (like menu bars, etc.) are very wearying to use for extended periods of time.

It's great that PSE9 follows good design principles for its UI, and I would hate to return to the bad old days of circus interfaces. I'm hoping that PS CS6 will follow PSE9's UI design even more closely!
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Ken

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If options become available, as long as there's a pre-built one for the current PSE9 UI scheme, I'll be happy....
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Louise Perry

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I am happy for Ken that he has good enough eyes to use PSE9. My old "cataracticated" 76 year old eyes can't. Good for him, bad for me.
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Vince37mr

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It's not the colours so much as the size of the menu text etc. White on a darkish background is fine if it is large enough to be read - it can be less trying than black on a bright white background. See my comments an visual acuity above.
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Linda Klohs

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Ken, I hope you got the program for free for making these supporting comments, because free is the only price I would deem reasonable for a program that is virtually unusable. I would love to see a graph that shows on a scale of 1 (bad) to 10 (outstanding) how users would rate the change of the user Interface from the lighter older versions to this black background PS Elements 9. It would be enlightening not only for me but for those who might understand the need to create a patch to give those who are extremely frustrated a chance to enjoy what could be such a fine program.
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Blaine Byers

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Lucky for Ken, but I can't see it even if I get to the absolute near point of my vision. Besides, we are not asking for black text on a very bright white background - just black on light gray like in PSE 5. After 10 years and 10 versions I am beginning to think Adobe puts out a new version and makes minor changes every year just to make customers think they are getting something new. (Not really beginning - I've been thinking that for years. I've only bought 3 of those versions and PSE 9 will probably be my last since it is my understanding that version 10 has the same gray on gray small font UI.
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Bitte

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I still go on with Photoshop Elements 5 - which i love depending on the bright color.

It's very annoying not being able to buy the newer version just because PSE must be so modern with darker look.
Now I got tired and started looking for another program than PSE.

I wonder how many buyers Adobe lose out because of this.
Think of all the users and makes it possible with a version similar to PES 5
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Linda Klohs

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I second this entire set of comments. Furthermore, I would like to add that many of the versions of both PS Elements and PS full versions in previous iterations had BEAUTIFUL and easily viewable user interfaces. Any of these previous versions could be an alternative to the useless black screen of PS Elements 9.
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Bitte

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Sorry for all my replies.
Something went wrong for me - now it is OK.
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Braunsky

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Again, the dark gray/black background is not the problem. It can be easier on the eyes than a light/bright background, photos show up well, there may be some improvement in color perception.... The problems are small dirty white text, and only slightly lighter grey controls that are nearly impossible to see. The problem is size of text and lack of contrast. PSE / PRE 9 is a wonderful program, but going blind and fumbling around for controls sucks the joy out of using it. (I'd also like a 64 bit version, with a solid utility for importing older projects, but that's getting greedy.)