Digital photography has been so popular these days that many people rely on different software to make sure that they get to post the best quality photos and graphics possible when they are curating their Instagram accounts or when they want a great logo for their business. That’s why Adobe has made it a point to step up its game and make sure that their products are improving and easy to use regardless of the user’s experience level. Photoshop Elements and Photoshop CC are two of the most popular and widely used photo editing software on the market. But, in the battle of Photoshop Elements versus Photoshop CC, which one is the better option?

Photoshop Elements is the better option for those who want to simplify things because it aims at beginner and intermediate users. Meanwhile, Photoshop CC is a bit more complicated and more advanced and is best for professional photographers and designers because of the wider range of options.

Both Photoshop Elements and Photoshop CC have their own target markets and specialties when it comes to how they are used. That’s why they were made to be different software in the first place. But if you want to know more about which between Photoshop Elements and Photoshop CC is best for you and your own preferences, let’s get to know more about them on a deeper level.

Photoshop Elements Logo

What is Photoshop Elements used for?

The smartphone’s age has become so advanced today that it is quite easy to edit and post great photos without even taking a lot of time to try to tinker with them. In some cases, you can use an Instagram or a Snapchat filter to make your photos look great in an instant without the use of any other post-processing software to enhance the quality of your photos.

They need to use photo editing software such as Adobe Photoshop, the best and most powerful graphics editing tool, which has diminished a bit. At the same time, digital photography has seen an increasing market, thanks to how those who often use Instagram need to make sure that their photos have the best quality possible to get all of those likes and follow on social media. That’s why Adobe saw a chance to make Photoshop more appealing to a larger audience with zero to no experience in using Photoshop or any other graphics editing software.

Photoshop Elements comes in as an entry-level Photoshop product that was meant primarily to be used by beginners and intermediate users due to how much easier it is to use compared to the regular Photoshop. Made for photography hobbyists and enthusiasts, Photoshop Elements has most of the Photoshop CC features. Still, it was made easier and simpler to use so that those who aren’t professionals and experienced photo editors can quickly use it.

Reduce camera shaking photoshop Elements
Shake Reduction is a really hand tool from Photoshop Elements

Throughout the years since Photoshop Elements was released, Adobe has made it a point to make this software easier and easier to use to appeal to its target market, which are users and photo editors who would want to make things simpler. As such, it has become appealing to a lot of different people such as Instagram curators and social media influencers, scrapbookers, beginner photo editors, and teachers who all want a tool that would allow them to edit and enhance photos without the need for them to have the skills necessary to use Photoshop effectively.

That’s why, when you are using Photoshop Elements, it makes things a lot simpler for you as you don’t even need to manually use the tools you prefer because the software does it for you. This allows you to retouch your photos and make cool and new effects without using up a lot of time compared to the professional version of Photoshop.

Easy Editing with Photoshop Elements

Hence, the “elements” in Photoshop Elements refers to how elementary and basic this software is to the point that even beginners can have a fun and easy time using it while getting the most out of their photos.

So, in conclusion, Photoshop Elements is best used by beginners to intermediate photo editors that still lack the experience necessary to get the most out of Photoshop truly. It is also quite appealing for those who want a quick art project done and for social media influencers who want to make their photos look good without eating up a lot of time and without taking a lot of effort in learning the ins and outs of Photoshop.

Photoshop Elements – pros and cons


Has most of the powerful tools of the Photoshop CC

The one thing that truly stands out when it comes to Photoshop Elements is that, though it is widely considered a stripped-down version of Photoshop, it isn’t far off in terms of its overall power. That means that it has most of the powerful tools you would see in the professional version of Photoshop to make Photoshop Elements just as great when it comes to editing photos using different tools.

It comes with three different modes that suit your preferences.

For those lazy or simply looking to save up a lot of time when editing photos, the quick edit mode that Photoshop Elements comes with is a godsend. Choosing this mode will allow you to just quickly edit photos almost automatically by choosing different tools that will essentially do the work for you. There is even an option where you can allow Photoshop Elements to do the quick edit to optimize the image without you doing anything on your part.

Another great advantage that Photoshop Elements comes with is its guided edit mode. This mode is different from the quick edit mode because of how it takes away most of the automated options you can choose when you are using the quick edit mode. Instead, the best thing about the guided edit mode is that it takes you through a step-by-step procedure to enhance and restore photos quickly and efficiently. Thanks to how the software guides you through the edit, you can edit photos four times faster than if you were using Photoshop CC.

And while Photoshop Elements may have been developed and designed for beginners as an entry-level photo editor, it still comes with a mode that may be appealing for experts as the expert edit mode allows you to have more control over your edits.

Powered by Adobe Sensei, an AI that allows edits to be simple and easy

Automation is quick, simple, and easy when using Photoshop Elements thanks to its smart and clever AI called Adobe Sensei. The same AI powers the quick edit mode, especially when you want things to be automated on your part to save time and effort when you are using Photoshop Elements.

Very easy to use

It would be an understatement to say that Photoshop Elements is very easy to use because basically anyone can actually use its tools without even taking up a lot of time and effort to learn how Photoshop works. This makes it one of the most appealing photo editing tools on the market, as editing doesn’t take an expert or a seasoned editor to know how things work the moment you open Photoshop Elements.

It is more affordable in the long run

When you want to make full use of Photoshop Elements’ features, you need to pay a one-time fee of $99.99. This might seem a bit steep for some users, especially for the more casual hobbyists and photo editors who may not spend a lot of time editing photos or exploring the many different things they can do with Photoshop. However, if you think that this is a one-time-only payment, it can potentially save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in the long run, making it cheap and affordable.


It doesn’t come with all of the features of Photoshop CC

Even though Photoshop Elements is quite powerful on its own and comes with most of the features you see in Photoshop CC, the fact of the matter is that it still doesn’t come with all of the features of the more professional version of Photoshop. This means that you’d have to be more creative in your approach in finding how to make use of the tools you can get in Photoshop CC as most of such features are hidden away in simulated effects in Photoshop Elements.

It doesn’t come with Adobe CC.

If you are looking to use a wide range of Adobe products, subscribing to Adobe Creative Cloud or Adobe CC should be quite helpful to you, especially if you are using Adobe software for business. However, while Photoshop CC comes with the Adobe CC subscription, Photoshop Elements doesn’t. This means that if you want to use Photoshop Elements on top of all of the other products you can use in Adobe CC, you’d have to pay for it.

Lacks local help system

Even though Photoshop Elements is quite easy to use, there are some instances where you probably would need some help regarding certain tools and other features in the software. The problem is that you can only access the help system whenever you are connected to the internet. While it might not be difficult for most people to go online, it still is better if Photoshop Elements had a local help system that doesn’t need the internet.

It doesn’t support CMYK

Another disadvantage that comes with using Photoshop Elements is that it lacks CMYK support. That means that it cannot open CMYK files, which are used for commercial printing. That means that if you have a CMYK file sent to you, you’d have to convert it to make use of it first. But you also have to know that CMYK files are mainly used by professionals, which should be using Photoshop CC instead of Photoshop Elements.

Photoshop CC logo

What is Photoshop CC used for?

One of the most important aspects of running a business that involves graphics design, photography, and print is software that can allow you to design graphics from scratch and edit photos on a deeper and professional level. The most notable name in the industry has always been Adobe Photoshop.

Often shortened to just Photoshop, Photoshop CC is an Adobe software that is part of the Creative Cloud, hence the “CC” in the name. But it’s always been called by its more operative term of “Photoshop,” which is regarded as the professional version of Adobe’s Photoshop software lineup. It’s been around for decades and has always been the go-to photo editing software for businesses and professional photographers alike.

In that sense, Photoshop CC is best used when it comes to a more professional level of editing and graphic design because of how it actually gives you a greater degree of control over what you can do with the different tools and features offered to you.

Then again, because Photoshop CC has always been designed for those who already know what they are doing with the tools offered to them, it assumes that you already know how to operate Photoshop the moment you open the software. That only means that Photoshop CC is best used by those who already have some experience in using Photoshop and have more or less read and have gone through tutorials on how to use it.

Going by that, beginners and intermediate users might want to stay away from Photoshop CC because of how it would take time for them to learn how to use the different tools to edit a few photos. If you are only going to make a quick edit without going into the deeper details, Photoshop would be overkill for you.

With that said, Photoshop CC should be a joy to use for visual professionals, graphic designers, marketing experts, web designers, professional photographers, video editors, and other professionals who do a business out of creating, designing and editing visuals. It already assumes that you know what you are doing, so you better know and expertise if you intend to use Photoshop CC. Otherwise, for simple edits and visual enhancements for small projects, it is best to stick with Photoshop Elements.

Photoshop CC – pros and cons


There are plenty of different tools at your disposal

Photoshop CC is nothing short of complete when it comes to the different tools you can use regardless of the projects you might need them for. It doesn’t matter whether you are in web designing or into professional photography because Photoshop has all the features you need to get the most out of what you are doing.

It offers you a greater degree of control over your edits

Whether you are retouching and enhancing photos or editing videos, Photoshop CC will give you a great degree of control over your edits. This means that you are free to do what you want when you are editing your projects as long as what you want to do is within the capabilities of the tools offered to you by this software. You don’t have to be a slave to quick automatic and guided edits that tend to be limited in their capacity when you are using Photoshop CC.

It is part of the Creative Cloud

Photoshop CC is part of the Adobe Creative Cloud, which means that you are allowed to communicate with all of the other software that forms part of the Creative Cloud seamlessly. This means that you can easily transfer or import files from all of the other programs quite easily without affecting the images and videos’ quality.

It is an all-in-one software.

If you are using post-processing software for your business or profession, Photoshop CC has it all as it is all-in-one software, thanks to how large its arsenal of tools and features is. That means that you basically no longer need any other software to design graphics, enhance photos, and edit videos as Photoshop has everything you need. It simply is versatile enough to handle any visual project.

The community is large and helpful.

Because there are plenty of different Photoshop users worldwide, you can make use of how large the online community is when it comes to asking for help. You can even use the community to learn different tricks on how to use the various tools offered to you while also sharing what you know.

There are plenty of different online tools you can use to learn Photoshop

Even if you are still starting with your Photoshop journey, the very fact that Photoshop has been around for decades and has always been the leading post-processing software for experts and professionals, you have a wide range of options you can use when it comes to learning how to use Photoshop. That means that you technically don’t have to start from anything because learning how to use this software can be made easy with the different tutorials and tools you can access online.


It isn’t the best for beginners

The moment you open Photoshop CC, you will immediately realize that it was never meant to be used by beginners who know close to nothing about using this software. You will be left trying to make sense of the different tools at your disposal because Photoshop CC won’t tell you how to use them or what they are for. If you haven’t gone through a tutorial or lack the knowledge and experience in Photoshop, best stay away from Photoshop CC.

Not the best for quick edits

If you are into curating your Instagram page or if you are just simply editing photos and graphics for a small project, Photoshop CC might not be the best for quick edits because you need to take some time and effort to actually enhance your photos and graphics regardless of how small or simple the task may be.

It eats up a lot of hard disk space and memory

Photoshop CC tends to eat up a ton of disk space and memory, which should be a problem for those working on smaller and weaker computers and laptops. You might want to improve your computer specs or invest in an external hard drive to use Photoshop CC with a computer with lower specs.

The toolbar needs to be intuitive and more informative

Again, Photoshop CC assumes that you already know how to use Photoshop. That means that it doesn’t have the most intuitive or beginner-friendly toolbar. So, if you are new to Photoshop, you will have a hard time getting to know the different tools the moment you open the software on top of how complex its interface is.

Its learning curve is steep

If you are not using any manual or have not gone through a tutorial, the learning curve when using Photoshop CC tends to be steep. Basically speaking, you have to invest a lot of time and effort to learn how to use it because of how advanced and complex a software it is. But we recommend that you take a shortcut instead by going through a tutorial to make the learning curve a bit flatter.

Quite pricey

Unlike Photoshop Elements, Photoshop CC requires a monthly subscription for you to use it, and the price is going to be more expensive if you subscribe to Adobe CC’s full suite of software. While the price might not break the bank at first, you are going to eventually notice how expensive Photoshop CC is the longer you hold on to your subscription. That’s why it might be best for you to subscribe to Photoshop if you are using it to make money, or else you will end up with a dead weight that’s going to hurt your monthly budget.

Is Photoshop CC the same as Photoshop Elements?

Now that you know more about Photoshop CC and Photoshop Elements, you might be wondering if they are the same. Well, for starters, Photoshop CC is not the same as Photoshop Elements because both software is entirely different when it comes to user interface and how you use them.

It might be true that most of the tools that Photoshop CC is present in Photoshop Elements but there are stark differences when it comes to the way you use these products and what they offer you.

Target audience

As we previously mentioned, both Photoshop CC and Photoshop Elements have entirely different target audiences, making them so unique from one another. Photoshop CC tends to be better off for the more experienced users who already know how to use Photoshop and those who use the tools for expert edits and professional purposes. Meanwhile, Photoshop Elements is better off for those who are simply looking to make quick, simple, and casual edits for everyday purposes and small school and personal projects.

User interface

The user interface of Photoshop CC cannot be any more different from that of the one that Photoshop Elements sports.

In Photoshop CC, every tool and feature can be accessed in one window when you open the software. You can also make use of the workspaces feature that will allow you to single out the different tools you would need for certain projects instead of having all of the tools in one window at the same time.

Meanwhile, in Photoshop Elements, the user interface introduces you to three modes (which we previously discussed): quick edit, guided edit, and expert edit. All three different modes have their own way of helping you edit your photos and graphics, depending on the level of guidance and control you want over your project. The expert edit mode is as close to Photoshop CC as possible. However, it still lacks the degree of control and the multitude of different tools that the professional variant of Photoshop offers.

Learning curve

Another huge difference between Photoshop CC and Photoshop Elements is the learning curve since they are both very different in terms of user interface and intuitive approach.

For one, the learning curve with Photoshop CC is very steep as you would need to invest a lot of hours and efforts tinkering through the software or going through different tutorials you can find online.

On the other hand, Photoshop Elements is quite interactive and intuitive in its approach as you wouldn’t need to spend a lot of time learning how to use it. It even has a guided approach that lets you work your way through edits.

File format supported

Photoshop CC supports just about any visual file format out there and may even support some video and audio formats. This means that you can work your way through any file without a problem, as Photoshop CC allows you to edit them without the need for you to reformat the files.

However, Photoshop Elements tends to be limited in terms of the files it supports. On top of how it doesn’t support CMYK, Photoshop Elements only supports PSD, BMP, GIF, JPEG, PSE, PDF, PXR, PNG, TIFF all Camera RAW formats.

Photoshop on laptop with a cat


Even though Photoshop CC and Photoshop Elements are similar in their end goals, which is to create, edit, and enhance photos, graphics, and other visual arts, they are not the same in terms of what they can do and how you use them.

Photoshop Elements has most of the powerful tools you can find in Photoshop CC, but you won’t have the same degree and depth in your control over your tools.

Meanwhile, Photoshop CC may be considered the more advanced of the two but, because of how advanced and complex it is, it doesn’t have the same ease of use and quick edit features that Photoshop Elements has.

Therefore, it is needless to say that both Photoshop CC and Photoshop Elements are different from one another and serve their own niche markets.

Which one is better for you, Photoshop Elements or Photoshop CC?

Finally, when you are deciding which between Photoshop Elements and Photoshop CC is better for you, you have to take a lot of factors into consideration because of how different these two products are from one another and how you might end up hurting your budget if you intend on getting both of them.

Photoshop Elements is the better option if you are into casual and quick edits that don’t require you to go into the deeper editing levels. That’s why it is best for those who love to curate their Instagram profiles or those into simple visual arts online or in real life. Students, teachers, and social media personalities will love using Photoshop Elements.

On the other hand, Photoshop CC, due to how expensive it is and how it requires you to have the skill and knowledge in Photoshop, should be better off for expert-level visual and graphic designers and professional photographers and video editors. And the fact that you need a monthly subscription for Photoshop CC should mean that you should be making money off of it, or else it would just end up becoming a constant expense that really won’t bring in any profit.

However, if you like the best of both worlds and you have more than enough money to afford both Photoshop Elements and Photoshop CC, it wouldn’t hurt to use both of them. For quick edits, you can simply use Photoshop Elements. But if you want to go for a more professional approach, Photoshop CC should be a gem to use. Of course, that is if you have the money and the hardware that can handle both software.

About the Author Betchphoto

Captivated by the digital world and particularly attracted by everything related to creativity, Martin is an amateur photographer and digital marketer who has more than 10 years of experience with Adobe Photoshop. Check his about page here

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