Elements: A way to change the UI colors

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  • Idea
  • Updated 8 years ago
  • Implemented
  • (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 9 years ago

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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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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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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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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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Carolina Bitan

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Please, Brett N,
don't you understand the questions and problems of the people who post here or will you not understand them?

CRT monitors are dying.
If you have a LCD monitor you can change the resolution or increase the dpi.

You can turn off the lights or let the sun shine in.

But nothing helps, you can hardly see anything, only if you press your nose to the monitor.
I always thought PSE is the queen of graphic software, but since PSE 9 it is not.
I will further use PaintNet and will recommend this software to all my friends.
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Brett N, Official Rep

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CRT's are definitely a technology on the way out. But they are still around. They may no longer come with new computers, but not everyone can go out and get the latest and greatest. Some are stuck with the same CRT they've had for the last 10 years or more.

Which brings me to the point in asking this question. CRTs are bad, not just because they are not as good as an LCD when comparing them side-by-side brand new. CRT quality decays exponentially overtime. So, those who currently use CRT monitors have probably had them for a long time. Brightness, contrast, and color all fade and make for very poor viewing quality. For some, the loss of quality is hard to detect, unless you do perform a side-by-side comparison.

I normally sit about 4 feet from my laptop monitor. Next to it I have an external monitor. Most of the time, I have no issues reading Elements with this setup. As I write this though, it is getting dark outside. This web page is open on the external monitor, Elements Organizer is open on my laptop. I admit, the interface of Elements is becoming increasingly difficult to read. I can no longer see the Search box at the top and the other text in this top area is getting hard to make out. But I have a very bright, white background website projecting a lot of light into my face and across my line of site to my laptop. We all know that bright lights make it difficult to make out shadow detail. So it should go without saying that turning off my external monitor and letting my eyes adjust will increase my ability to see the Elements interface.

I use this example to illustrate that environmental factors will impact your experience with Elements. I do not claim that they are the source of the problem, but a bad environment certainly doesn't help. I am merely trying to gauge what the environment of others is like. The more we know, the better we can make the program.
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Barbara L

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Again, I repeat: Try using PSE 8 on an LCD monitor with a resolution of 1929x1080. Try reading those tiny, tiny fonts and icons. I could not find the tiny symbol in organizer that opens the menu items until I Googled where to find it. And I just noticed in the Editor that there is a very tiny black on grey icon in the bottom R. corner that has to do with bin choices; and that was only when I had my face about 6 inches from the monitor to see it. It does not matter what the lighting environment is!!!!!!!
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Sandy Hyman

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Brett--Are you an Adobe Employee? I know it's illegal to ask this but are you in your 20's or 30's (or even early 40's)? By your responses, if you are speaking for Adobe, then you are blind to the fact that all of your responses have hedged the REAL issue--THERE IS AN ISSUE WITH THE UI AND ADOBE MUST RESPOND OR LOSE CUSTOMERS. PERIOD!
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Sandy Hyman

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BTW, anyone who cannot afford to upgrade from a CRT to a flat panel monitor these days cannot afford to buy Adobe PS!
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nanbush5

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Brett, in response to your request for specifics: I am a long-experienced tech writer, now retired, using a 17" Toshiba laptop. The only times I experience difficulty reading the screen are with software or blogs employing a dark background and small, low-contrast fonts.

My problems with PSE 9 are exclusively with the interface: the lack of readability (grossly inadequate contrast, lightweight fonts, font sizes too small for easy visibility), the harder-to-read dark background, and the absence of user adjustments. These make the program so difficult to use that I cannot even comment on other features of this version.

Considering what I know of the demographics of the PSE customers in this thread, no one seems younger than their 40s. It seems possible that the PSE 9 design may be workable for an audience with really sharp visual acuity but is unusable otherwise. (This might help explain the incomprehension of Adobe staff in addressing the issues raised here.) I wonder if testing for the new design included older users. This would seem to be an important issue, considering the age cohort of non-professionals likely to be wanting photo editing software.

In my first post a month back I wrote, "...please read up on readability. White type on dark background is known to be harder to read than dark type on a light background. This is especially true for miniscule type sizes and light weight fonts. I wear trifocals. You have no idea how impossible I am finding it to use PE 9, even five minutes at a time. The same design principle [tiny, lightweight fonts] has made me cancel my subscriptions to Wired and Fast Company--very trendy, but impossible to read. If you must do your design thing without considering readability, at least let users enable what we need in order to use the program we've paid for--at a minimum, interface color and type size.
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Danielle Talt

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Brett, like mentioned by several posters here, we like PSE. We like it so much we choose to complain instead moving on to another product. These frustrations are valid as indicated by the various users posting here. Many of the posters have years of experience working with programs of this type. Early on, the Posters clearly and politely pointed out the problems and frustrations.
You are the Adobe spokesperson for this site and with that; we expect a certain amount of professionalism. YOUR comments have elicited the anger and frustration on this site.
Comments like “I never let my son demand anything of me”, “Adobe employees feel attacked”, “Changing your monitor settings is not a ridiculous suggestion.”, and my favorite “I just wanted to point out that some comments here have become quite aggressive and rude and it is not appreciated. It's just a vicious cycle (hence the MAD reference)”.
These are not the comments of a professional and serve no purpose in this discussion. You’ve alienated people because of this. We have the right to demand, we purchased the product! Monitor settings, most of us have calibrated our monitors to our printer, etc. to get the closest matching colors for printing our photos. This is not about Monitor settings, so get over it! “Feeling attacked, mean spirited, aggressive, rude” are not the remarks of a professional.
We would appreciate a strong fair minded and reassuring approach. Perhaps you are not suited for this job. One of the first things taught when dealing with customers is DO NOT take things personally. REFRAIN from using negative language and professionally address the situation.
Because you are, “in charge” of this post, you have no one but yourself to blame for the negativity expressed here. We wouldn’t be here if we thought Adobe wouldn’t listen. Please consider this when posting to us. We truly want a change and just as importantly, we want to know that Adobe cares and is willing to acknowledge us as paying customers.
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Delina Greyling

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One more longtime user of previous versions expressing extreme frustration ... this product should be written up somewhere as making no accommodation for accessibility options. I find the user interface so obnoxiously difficult to read that I don't even want to use it ... and I used to just LOVE working in 5, from which I upgraded. I could not believe that there is no option for dark text on light background and wasted a lot of time in attempting to accomplish it, now I read here after Googling that the option does not exist! PLEASE HURRY UP and provide a patch for this, or this problem is going to become a headliner ...
The boomer generation needs enhanced visibility, NOT OBSTACLES!
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robert benigno

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Jeffery...in some of your replies you use terms like "make improvements" and "drum up".

You dont need to do any of these things...everyone here has been telling you that the earlier versions of elements like 3 and 5...didnt have these issues.

All Adobe needs to do is to go back to one of these version...make it compatible with windows 7 and mac...and give it to those of us who have paid for elements and are deeply dissatisfied.

It is also very apparent that Adobe is either not interested...or is dragging its feet in making the NECESSARY changes that would once again make the elements software the best of its type like it once was.

Keep in mind that for every individual who has logged complaints with you there may be hundreds who agree...but consider it would be futile...based on the response Adobe has not given to these issues.
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Dan Smith

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With all due respect to adobe and it's employees, this has been a complaint about the photoshop elements UI for more than six years. Ever since pse 5 started with putting the darker interface on the menu bar and just above the options bar and not a single version since then has been usable for some people or at least not enjoyable to work in.
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Vince37mr

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In fact PSE5 can be made compatible with Windows 7 32 and 64 bit versions by applying the patch available from Adobe here:
http://www.adobe.com/support/download...
Despite what it says about Vista 32bit, I have installed PSE5 and the update on WIndow7 64 bit and it is OK - so far! (Before a new PC I had it running on Windows7 32 bit).
Incidentally I've seen CS3 running on Windows7 64 bit and it seems OK.
(This is a repeat of info I posted about a week ago which is now a long way up the thread)
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robert benigno

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Before you submit your comment you should check the link that you have listed.

The link takes you to a page that says "Sorry this page is unavailable".
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Jeffrey Tranberry, Sr. Product Manager, Digital Imaging

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Vince is probably referring to the product updates pages:

http://www.adobe.com/support/download...

http://www.adobe.com/support/download...

http://www.adobe.com/support/download...

Though, in most cases, it's easiest to choose Help>Updates... from the product rather than hunting and pecking through the downloads list.
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Vince37mr

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Sorry about that. I'd posted the link once before and in copying it I missed off the end portion which isn't visible in the post. The full link goes straight to the PSE 5.0.2 update download page.Here is the full version (which I have checked):
http://www.adobe.com/support/download...
The end portion after support/ is
downloads/detail.jsp?ftpID=3569
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Vince37mr

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I agree about a general trend to poor readability all over the place. Grey on white, pale blue on white, beige on white, green on grey etc. It seems as if there are too many 25 year olds with 20-20 vision and giant screens in darkened rooms designing this stuff. Gmail's 'new look' has well-nigh invisible checkboxes,
Even this site comment and good point links are grey on white which is difficult to read until mouse over goes to black on white. You need to read the stuff BEFORE you select it, not after.
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Adrienne Adams

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Mr. Cox,

Your response above is quite enlightening.

"It could mean that the user exaggerates,"
Translation: "The user's experience is unreliable, which isn't our problem."

"[I]t could mean that they don't like the dark colors in Elements,"
Translation: "It's a matter of the user's taste, which isn't our problem."

"[T]hat they have trouble with their vision,"
Translation: "The user's eyes are bad, which isn't our problem."

"[T]hat they have a display too dense for them to see normal controls, etc."
What on earth does this mean? "Too dense?" "normal controls?"

"That's why we need specifics. Other users have been specific about the issues, and we've said that we're working on it."
I'm very happy to provide specifics. I will do so in a separate post.

"We do care about visiblity of the UI, but we can't respond to generic complaints without any specific details about what is going on."
Most of these post have been quite specific. Again, I will provide more specifics on my own "complaints" in a separate post.

"And complaints about a lack of features that already exist,"
Translation: "You can increase the text size, except when you can't."

"[O]r about non-problems, really don't help."
Translation: "We don't think your problem is a problem, so please stop bothering us."

"Then asking for things that are counter productive (like bright colored icons), well, that's not helping either."
I am not "asking" for brightly colored icons. I was contrasting the resolution and visibility of icons in Photoshop and another application. I apologize for providing an example that could be misinterpreted as a feature request, and for not being helpful.

"But people may not understand why it's a horribly bad idea, so I need to explain from the perspective of someone who studies user interfaces and human vision."
I am glad that you study user interfaces. I would be very interested to see references to interface design guidelines that indicate that colored icons are a "horribly bad idea."

Mr. Cox, as you also study human vision, you are doubtless aware that "the retina of a typical 60-year-old receives only about one-third of the light that the retina of a typical 20-year-old receives;" and "that [visual] acuity among healthy older adults (but not younger adults) drops precipitously for low luminance and/or low contrast stimuli." (References available upon request.)

As a layperson, I would conclude that these facts indicate that older people don't see as well as younger people. People who are not old might also have trouble seeing things well. There is a possibility that some of these people might, actually, have difficulty with using Photoshop and/or Photoshop Elements due to the design of the user interface.
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Chris Cox

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You have already gotten somewhere - PLEASE read the official response at the top of this topic (that was answered 9 months ago).
And all I've been doing is correcting mistakes and asking for more specific, useful input. How is that defensive?
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halmo1927

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I read the "official response" several times, including tonight. All it tells me is that Adobe hasn't fixed this problem in 9 months, hasn't given us any firm commitment to do anything, and released a new PSE version during that time. And how about a response from the Project Manager? As to "defensive," I don't have time or inclination to go back through old posts to defend that description other than to say that suggestions to calibrate our monitors, for example, has to be defensive as it does nothing to correct the fundamental problem of nearly unreadable gray on dark gray text like the Reset Panels, Undo, Redo, etc area of PSE 9, for example.

.
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Chris Cox

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The response says that we heard the feedback and are taking it into consideration. That's all we can legally say.

PSE10 didn't have time to overhaul their UI after hearing about the problem -- that's not something that can just change overnight.
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didi

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Ten months time isn't enough? Sounds like socialist Russia...
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Jonathan Graef

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This stuff doesn't just happen overnight. Give Adobe some time.

That said, y'all had better be working on this...
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Len Welch

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Poor guy! I'm sorry to have to be one of the one to tell you this, but apparently (just read this thread) Adobe is either not able or not interested in improving the UI of this product!

Even their tutorials on it are unreadable, because the drop-down menus in them show the ugly UI! PSE has become a joke among once-interested/potential users.

And they've had a year to get it fixed!
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Len Welch

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one of the ones
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halmo1927

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over a year!!
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Joan Lyle

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Come on, Adobe! Fix this problem! I am returning the new Elements 10 I bought because of the unreadable UI. LISTEN TO YOUR CUSTOMERS!
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Gene Moore

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I've been in the commercial software business for 40 years and I know when a client is being shined on.

What you are NOT doing is treating this as a bug. While it's ostensibly a design error rather than a bug, the end result is the same, unhappy users.

It should be treated as a separate item, a fix generated and made available to those who have the problem. They should NOT have to wait until the next release and pay for something that you should have fixed immediately. When it was first reported, fixes should have been generated for Version 9 (and Version 10, immediately after release).

This is poor customer service, and while I can't speak for the others, you are very close to losing me as a clinet. For the Record, I have three licenses for In-Design, 2 licenses for PSE 10 and have been a loyal Adobe customer for years, going back to the PageMaker days. This is really bad....
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Gene Moore

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What I understand is that if it took two actual year just to change a UI, it has major design flaws. No matter, I've filed a complaint. I don't need the 'tude I get from you.
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Chris Cox

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That is not a design flaw, just a large, complex system.

Again, it really sounds like you do not understand the scope of the problem in such a large, professional application. I have been trying to explain that scope so you can understand why these things do not change quickly.

We are responding to your request/complaints -- but you continue to expect results on an unrealistic timetable.
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Gene Moore

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It IS a design flaw, or you wouldn't have so many complaints about it.

The longer you talk "down" to me and others, the more complaints you will get.

Again, if your product manager is satisfied with it taking two "real" years to just change the UI (and we're only talking about colors, not content), he or she needs a lesson in project management. You have to be able to react to market pressures, and this is a horrible timeline. As a customer, my timetable isn't unrealistic. I've purchased two copies of a product that is practically unusable, and Adobe doesn't care. They want me to purchase an upgrade to fix it. THAT'S unrealistic.. It isn't my problem that you guys can't make a simple change because of the way the product is designed. It's yours.

The "scope" of the problem is entirely of your own making, and using it as an excuse to not provide customer service is rather sad.
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Chris Cox

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I am sorry that you do not understand the complexity of the problem or why it takes longer than you expected.

Again: we have heard you, we are working on solutions. We have shown that we do care, but have also shown why we cannot make such major changes quickly.
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Gene Moore

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Again, talking "down" may make you feel superior, but it will hurt Adobe in the marketplace. Nobody needs that or has to put up with it.
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Gene Moore

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Really? Changing background colors is complex? You may need a new tool. I can do it in my software by changing one variable. Granted, yours is a LOT more complex than mine, but I would hope you use tables and common routines for such things, and not re-do it for every screen. GUI standards have been around for a long time

Doesn't matter. You have convinced me that Adobe has adopted a management attitude that doesn't favor the client. The technical discussion will always favor you, because we, as users, don't have access to the code. The rest of this is academic and won't solve anything.

I'll be looking at new places for my solutions from now on. I want solutions that will help me and my clients, and a vendor that cares, and does something about it when they make a mistake. Apparently, Adobe no longer cares. Too bad..

Good luck to the rest of you.
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HateBadDesign

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Indeed, it's something that should be changeable in less than an hour (being generous, it should probably take 5 minutes)
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Chris Cox

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Please read the previous posts. Changing the UI in Photoshop took closer to 2 years. It is a much more complex task than you imagine.
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Mike Chamberlain

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Chris, the point you're missing is that if it really does take Adobe two years to change the background colour of a program, then there's something seriously wrong with the way Adobe is doing things. It's pointless just telling us that the product is too complex, or the programmers can't work any harder, or you don't have enough staff, or the design is too inflexible: those are all things which are ultimately under Adobe's control and clearly need to be addressed. You seem to be claiming that these are all immutable facts of life: they are not.

It's pretty clear from what everyone here has been saying that a lot of people, myself included, find the Elements UI difficult or impossible to read. I'd wager that a majority of your users in the 40+ age group find it difficult, although obviously only a minority will actually bother to comment on this forum. It is well known scientific fact that as you get older, it becomes harder to read low-contrast, low-brightness text. Adobe SHOULD HAVE KNOWN THAT when they designed this ridiculous UI. You're supposed to be experts at this field, and you should have made allowances for people with less than 20/20 vision in the first place, by giving users the ability to choose the text size and colours.

Defending that omission by banging on ad nauseam about how long it takes your programmers to make a change is really a bit lame. I'm sure a company like Adobe doesn't lack the necessary resources: it is just a question of priorities.
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Chris Cox

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You might want to check what the SEC allows publicly traded companies to say about future products and actions.
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Linda Minton

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Publicly traded companies make announcements about future products all the time.
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Gene Moore

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Oh my !!!!! Let's see what else will stick to the wall. I'm going to go get my boots....
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Gene Moore

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Linda, he isn't even pretending to be factual now. He's just making stuff up...
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Daniel G Newell

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Customer interaction and the manner in which the company is represented in the course of that interaction is also *part of the product* and this *can* be changed quickly -- IN A SINGLE DAY, and there no excuse for why it has not been.
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Glammis

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I feel I wasted my money on PSE 10 due to the UI issue. I just posted a comment to that effect on cnet.com. Other potential purchasers need to know what they are getting into. They also need to know that Adobe is unlikely to provide a fix to those who purchased a program they cannot use.
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Gene Moore

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Agreed. While two of us are stuck for the moment, I will be finding a replacement product. This just sucks productivity out of the user and is actually unpleasant to use. They'll never get anothr dime of my money for this mess..
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Gene Moore

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For those that want to complain beyond this forum, the EMail for Adobe customer complaints is:

adobecustomerservice@adobe.com

That's what the help desk told me. Since there isn't a lot of postive vibes coming from this forum, you may want to try that approach. I did, and if enough people complain, it may get some results. We'll see..
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halmo1927

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PSE version 11 just came out. Downloaded and installed the 30 day Trial version this morning. WOW! What a difference. I can actually read everything on the user interface without squinting. The layout has been changed quite a bit and will require some getting used to, but at first glance and doing a trial edit of a couple of pictures, it all looks pretty logical. Tentatively, it looks like most of the problems raised in this forum have been solved. However, I resent having to pay about $80 for the upgrade which should have been a patch to the miserable interface of versions 9 and 10. How about increasing the upgrade discount to about $50, resulting in an upgrade being about $50. At that price I would buy the upgrade immediately. What say, Adobe.
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Roy Close

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I guess being human nobody can please everybody, but...I have been a desperate pleader for a better UI for—well, ever since PSE9, having been a CS3/PhotoShop user for years. Now in PSE11 I believe I have found my ideal: I CAN change the background once I have a file opened. Right click in the background and, voila! what color would I like? Also the whole layout is great now—at least for me! My only lament (as with many others) having to pay $80 to get what I originally paid for!