February 23, 2002 9:00 PM PST

Picture this: Photoshop on Mac OS X

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Adobe Systems on Sunday plans to announce a new version of its Photoshop image-editing application that supports the latest Mac and Windows operating systems and includes new digital photography tools.

Version 7.0 of Photoshop will go on sale in April, the company said in a statement, with versions tailored for Windows XP and Mac OS X.

OS X support is seen as crucial for both Adobe and Apple. Photoshop is one of the leading software tools for graphics professionals, one of Apple's key markets.

"If you look at Apple's core market of content-creation professionals, Apple and Adobe have gone hand in hand in that segment for a long time," said Technology Business Research analyst Tim Deal. "I think it's very important that Adobe is finally coming out with a core product that supports OS X."

Earlier versions of Photoshop have to be used on OS X's "Classic" compatibility mode.

Deal said he didn't expect the new Photoshop to inspire a great wave of upgrades to OS X, which Apple released last March, but the application should help boost confidence in the operating system.

"It's another step in the right direction," he said. "It certainly legitimizes and adds value to OS X."

Photoshop 7.0 screenshot Photoshop 7 will include a number of new tools intended to make it easier to manipulate and manage digital photographs.

Healing Brush, for example, is a photo-retouching tool that interprets detailed data from the area surrounding the portion of the photo being altered, allowing for smoother touch-ups, said Kevin Connor, director of product management for Adobe's digital imaging division. The File Browser tool will provide thumbnail images and detailed information on all images in a given folder, making it easier for people to find the image they want.

"One of the things we found as we looked at digital photography is that there's been a proliferation of images," Connor said. "There's no extra cost to taking photos with a digital camera, so you take a lot, and you end up having all these files to sort through on your hard drive."

Other new features in Photoshop 7 will include:

 A revamped painting engine that simulates effects such as pastel or watercolor and allows software users to define and save brushstroke attributes.

 A patch tool that automatically fixes scratches and other flaws in scanned images.

 Support for XMP, the open standard developed by Adobe for displaying information about an image's attributes.

 Integration with AlterCast, Adobe's new networked image-management program.

 Expanded ImageReady tools for creating and manipulating Web page elements.

Photoshop 7 will sell for $609. An upgrade from a previous version will cost $149, or $499 for those upgrading from Photoshop Elements or Photoshop LE, stripped-down versions of the program mainly intended for photography hobbyists.

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