Last year's Photoshop Album debut was less than thrilling. While the software skillfully sorted images, performance problems bogged it down. But for version 2.0, Adobe cleared out the junk to deliver a much better program for organizing and sharing digital photos and video clips.
Just as before, Photoshop Album automatically nabs all the shots on your hard drive and organizes them chronologically. It can also create and track proxy thumbnails of pictures stored on removable media, such as CDs. You can browse your library by clicking a month in the Timeline or sifting through the revamped Calendar. Album also records your management actions and lets you search by events in your photos' history. For example, to call up everything you've sent to a Web photofinisher, you simply select Find > By History > Items Ordered Online.
To help you track down photos, Album remembers how you use them. Check out all the options in the Find menu.
For more precise sorting, Adobe's tagging system lets you enter detailed information about your shots. For example, let's say you've just uploaded a bunch of pictures from your son Charlie's birthday party. To make them all easily identifiable, you can create the new keywords Charlie and birthday, then drag them onto the whole batch. New to version 2.0 is the ability to e-mail tags along with photos, so your friends and family can benefit from all your hard organizational work.
All of the first version's basic editing tools remain in Album 2.0. Newbies who aren't sure how to correct bad pictures can quickly clean them up with one-click fixes for lighting, color, and focus. But if you want to make more-complicated edits, you're out of luck. Album 2.0 is an organizer--not an editor. On the plus side, Adobe does allow you to export a photo to the image editor of your choice and import it back in a flash, so you can make your tweaks without mucking up your organization.
Once you've cleaned up your shots, you have plenty of ways to share them. With the Creations Wizard, just a few clicks can produce a video CD, a greeting card, an e-card, a calendar, or a Web-friendly gallery. Mobile phones, Palm OS handhelds, and compatible TiVo digital video recorders can now accept your Album pictures. Adobe also added more templates and bumped up the maximum resolution for video CDs. And should your computer crash, Album's built-in backup function will safeguard you from losing everything.
While the improvements aren't mind-blowing, they're incredibly thoughtful and well executed. With its more streamlined interface, Album is now a tight ship. For digital-photo enthusiasts, Album 2.0 is a welcome productivity boon: a tool that both organizes images and maximizes the options for enjoying them.