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Straightening Photos with the Straighten Tool

In Elements 4.0 there's a new way to straighten photos, but it's knowing how to set the options for the tool that makes your job dramatically easier. Here's how it's done:

Step One

Open the photo that needs straightening. The photo shown here looks like the building is tipping to the left.

Step Two

Choose the Straighten tool from the Toolbox (or just press the P key).

Step Three

Take the Straighten tool and drag it along an edge in the photo that you think should be perfectly horizontal, like a horizon line (although in this case, we dragged out the tool along the top of the step).

Step Four

When you release the mouse button, the image is straightened, but as you can see here, the straightening created a problem of its own—the photo now has to be re-cropped because the edges are showing a white background (as the image was rotated until it was straight). That's where the options (which I mentioned in the intro to this technique) come in. You see, the default setting does just what you see here—it rotates the image and leaves it up to you to crop away the mess. However, you can have Elements do the work for you (as you'll see in the next step).

Step Five

Once you click on the Straighten tool, go up to the Options Bar, and in the Canvas Options pop-up menu, choose Crop to Remove Background.

Step Six

Now when you drag out the tool and release the mouse, not only is the photo straightened, but the annoying white background is automatically cropped away, giving you the clean result you see here.

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