Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people

Home > Articles > Design > Adobe Photoshop Elements

Using Quick, Guided, and Expert Editing in Photoshop Elements 14

Scott Kelby explains the different editing modes in Elements—Quick, Guided, and Expert—and show you how to use each one.
This chapter is from the book

Click to view larger image

Photo by Scott Kelby Exposure: 1/800 sec | Focal Length: 18mm | Aperture Value: ƒ/4

Man, did I luck out on the name of this chapter: edIT. It’s actually named after the popular DJ, producer, and musician, and that right there is enough for me, especially since he gets to work with hip-hop artists and rappers. I love rappers, because they use such colorful phrases—stuff you usually only hear from fans at a Redskins football game when a receiver is wide open in the flat and drops a ball thrown right into his hands. But when the fans say it, they’re yelling, which can really get on your nerves. In a rap song, even though they’re saying the same things, since it’s set to music, it just floats by. In fact, a lot of times, when you’re listening to rap, they’ll say something and you stop and think, “Did he really just say what I thought he said?” but you try to convince yourself that’s not what you heard because nobody dropped an easy pass. I always wonder what rappers have to be so angry about. They’re rich, successful entrepreneurs, and everybody obviously wants to hang out with them and go to “da club” and drink Cristal and look thoroughly bored at all the women gesticulating around them. They should be really happy, one would think, but often they sound very grumpy, which always strikes me as odd for millionaire celebrity rappers, which I assume DJ edIT produces or mixes. By the way, a “mix,” I believe, is what you add to gin (like juice) when you’re chillin’ with your posse in your crib (which must mean you have small children sleeping in your home). Anyway, I thought I would help out by writing some positive, non-angry, upbeat lyrics that edIT can show to his rapper friends so they’ll sound more like the happy millionaire celebrities that they are. Please don’t laugh—this is my first rap for my peeps and my crew, so I’m just rappin’ lyrical for me, and one for my homies. (See, that’s rap talk, right?) Okay, here goes: “I was having lots of fun at Busch Gardens today. I rode an awesome roller coaster and didn’t have to pay. I drove there in my new limo and the driver’s real nice. And we’re listening to some snappy tunes from cool Vanilla Ice.” See? Rap can be happy and super-edgy, too! Peace out. Word. Wikki-wikki.

Photo Quick Fix in Quick Mode

Quick edit mode is kinda like a stripped down version of Expert mode. If you’re new to Elements, it’s not a bad place to start. I’m usually against “quick” modes and “auto-fix” stuff, but the way they’ve implemented this is actually really nice, and I think it works great for beginners. Plus, they’ve added some cool new features in Elements 14. (Note: We look at some other Quick mode special effects in Chapter 9.)

Step One:

Open a photo and click on Quick at the top of the Editor window. First things first: forget about the left side of the window. The tools in the Toolbox make using Quick mode too much like using Expert mode (but without all of the options that Expert mode has). So, if you find that you need the tools here, you’re better off going into Expert mode to do what you need to do.

Step Two:

In the preview area of Quick mode, you can see side-by-side, before-and-after versions of the photo you’re correcting (before on the top or left; after on the bottom or right). To see this view, from the View pop-up menu above the top left of the preview area, select Before & After (Horizontal or Vertical). In the Palette Bin on the right side of the window is a group of nested palettes offering tonal and lighting fixes you can apply to your photo. Start with the Smart Fix palette at the top. Click on the Auto button and Smart Fix will automatically analyze the photo and try to balance the overall tone (adjusting the shadows and highlights), while fixing any obvious color casts while it’s at it. In a lot of cases, this feature does a surprisingly good job. There’s also a slider within the Smart Fix palette that you can use to increase (or decrease) the effect, or you can click on the thumbnails beneath the slider.

Step Three:

If you’re not happy with the Smart Fix results, don’t try to stack more “fixes” on top of it. Instead, click the Reset Image icon (the curved arrow above a straight line that appears above the top right of the Palette Bin) to reset the photo to how it looked when you first entered Quick mode. Now, let’s take a look at each setting individually: First, click on Exposure to open its palette. The Exposure setting is like the heavy hitter—if the whole photo is too dark or too bright, then this is where to go. You’ll see its palette also has a slider and thumbnails right below it. They’re different ways of doing the same thing. If you like using the thumbnails, just click on the one that looks closest to how bright or dark you’d like your photo to be. As you do that, you’ll see the slider move each time. Usually, though, I just drag the slider (as shown here) until I’m happy with the overall exposure.

Step Four:

More often than not, just adjusting the exposure won’t fix the whole photo. You’ll usually end up in the next palette, which is Lighting. Here you can choose to work on the shadows, midtones, or highlights separately. The Shadows slider is particularly helpful because we tend to lose a lot of detail in the shadows. Drag it to the right a little bit, and watch how it opens up the dark shadow areas in your photo (mainly the detail in the darker areas of the buildings in this photo). The Highlights slider will add some detail back to the sky here, as well. For this one, I increased the Shadows slider to 7, the Midtones slider to 11, and the Highlights slider to 13. I tend to stay away from the Auto Levels and Auto Contrast buttons, because chances are, if Smart Fix didn’t work well, then neither will they.

Step Five:

The next palette down, Color, has only really one setting that I think is worthwhile. You’ll see at the top of the palette you can control the Saturation, Hue, and Vibrance. The Saturation adjustment adds or removes color saturation in the whole photo. It’s worth trying out and maybe even clicking the Auto button. Sometimes the photo looks good, but most of the time, the Vibrance setting is the most useful here. While Saturation adds color to everything in the photo, Vibrance tends to only add color saturation to the colors that need it, while leaving the other colors alone, so you don’t get that fakey look. It’s also great on portraits because it tends to leave skin tones alone and only adds color saturation to everything else.

Step Six:

While the Color palette helps us fix the overall color saturation in a photo, the Balance palette right below helps remove color casts (like when an indoor photo looks really yellow). It’s pretty simple to use to control the temperature and the tint in the photo. I’ll warn you ahead of time, though, small adjustments here make big changes, so be careful. The Temperature adjustment lets you add more blue or more yellow/red to a photo. Basically, adding blue removes yellow and adding more yellow removes blue. Photos taken indoors at night are perfect candidates for this since they tend to look really yellow, so dragging the slider toward blue helps balance (hence the name of this palette) the photo. You can also control the Tint (greens and magentas), but honestly, you won’t notice much of a problem there in most cases. But if you do, it works the same—adding more green removes magenta, and adding more magenta removes a greenish color cast.

Step Seven:

The final step here is to sharpen your photo. I always click on the Zoom tool in the Toolbox, and zoom in a little further, so I can see the details. Then, just click the Auto button in the Sharpen palette and watch the results. If the photo isn’t sharp enough for you, drag the slider to the right to increase the amount of sharpening. But, be careful, because oversharpening can ruin the photo by becoming too obvious, and it can introduce color shifts and halos around objects.

Step Eight:

There are a couple other things you can do while you’re here in Quick mode (basically, think of this as a “one-stop shop” for quickly fixing images). Below the preview area is an icon you can click on to rotate your photo (this photo doesn’t need to be rotated, but hey, ya never know). And, I know I told you to forget about the Toolbox on the left, but there is a Crop tool there, so if you need to do a quick crop, you can do it here.

Step Nine:

Okay, so you’ve color corrected, fixed the contrast, sharpened your image, and even cropped it down to size (if it needed it). So, how do you leave Quick mode and return to Expert mode? Just click on Expert at the top of the window (the same place you went to, to get into Quick mode). It basically applies all the changes to your photo and returns you to the normal Expert editing mode.

Peachpit Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Peachpit and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Peachpit products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Adobe Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive:

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020