Getting Started with the Camera RAW Editor

This is the first video in a series of nine videos on the Camera RAW Editor in Photoshop Elements.

The Camera RAW Editor is an amazing one-stop general editor for RAW files – and JPGs, too. The Camera RAW Editor in Photoshop Elements is the same editor that is at the heart of Adobe Lightroom and in Photoshop CC. The Photoshop Elements version has fewer features, but the ones that it has work exactly the same.

In this video, I explain about Camera RAW files and show you how to open and save them in the Camera RAW Editor. We look at the Camera RAW Editor interface, too.

Note: To share or print your image, you must open it in the Photoshop Elements Editor from the Camera RAW Editor. Then, you can save it as a JPG file for sharing online or printing.

Open a File in Camera Raw

Photoshop Elements automatically opens Camera RAW files in the Camera RAW Editor.

To open a Camera RAW file:

  1. Open Photoshop Elements.
  2. From the File menu, select Open.
  3. Select the file you want to open and click Open. The image opens in the Camera RAW Editor.

You can also open JPG, TIFF and PSD files in the Camera RAW Editor. To open a JPG file in the Camera RAW Editor,  from the File menu, select Open in Camera RAW.

We’ll look more closely at editing JPGs in another video in the series. 

The Interface

At the top of the Camera RAW window, you can view the version of Camera RAW and the camera that took the photo.

The name of the file appears underneath the image in the editing workspace.

Along the bottom of the window are buttons to access Help and Save your image after editing.


Full Screen Mode

Open the editor in full screen mode. Press F to toggle this mode on and off.

Zoom Tool 

Zoom in and out. Click and drag to zoom in to a particular area.

Hand Tool

Click and drag to move the image in the window. Double-click to make the image fit the screen.

Crop Tool

Click and drag a rectangle to crop an image.

Straighten Tool

Click and drag along a line to straighten an image.

Red Eye Removal Tool

Click and drag around an eye to remove red eye.


Open a Camera RAW Preferences dialog box.

Rotate or Flip

Click to rotate 90 degrees.

Press Alt or Opt and click to flip vertically or horizontally.


The panels at the right of the image are where the bulk of your edits take place. We will be looking at some of these panels in more detail in other videos.

Basic Panel

The Basic Panel is where you adjust brightness, color and contrast in your image. In this single panel, you can accomplish edits that take several dialog boxes or adjustment layers in the main Photoshop Elements editor. 

To make changes, select an option from a drop-down list or click and drag the slider heads. 

    • To reset a single slider, double-click on the slider head.
    • To reset all sliders, click Default.
  • Press Ctrl+Z or Cmd+Z to undo your last edit.

Click Auto to let the Camera RAW Editor decide how to fix your photo.

Detail Panel 

The Detail panel is where you sharpen your image or reduce digital noise.  Notice that the Camera RAW Editor has automatically added some sharpness and noise reduction to your image. 

Calibration Panel

Shows the version of the Camera RAW interface that was used to edit this image. All new images will show the current version. Older images may show a previous version. Older versions may have different sliders than the current version. 

Preview Your Image

To see before and after versions of your edits, you can use the Preview tools at the bottom right of the image.

Keyboard shortcuts make previews quick and easy.

Press P to toggle between before and after views of an image in Single View.

Press Q to show before and after views in a variety of ways. Save the Image

Save Your Image

Save Image…

Opens up a dialog box to convert a proprietary RAW image to a Digital Negative (DNG) file and save it. A DNG file is a special archiving version of Camera RAW from Adobe. When you create the DNG file, your edits are saved in the DNG file and your original RAW file remains unchanged. 


If you press Done, your edits are saved in a special sidecar file with a file extension of XMP. The next time you open your original RAW file, the Camera RAW Editor will also open the XMP file and show your edits. 

If you are editing a DNG file, the changes are saved in the DNG file and no XMP file is created.

Open Image

Press Open Image to save your edits and open the image in the Photoshop Elements Editor.

Press Alt + Open Image to open a copy of your image in the Photoshop Elements Editor without saving your changes.

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