Photoshop is the de-facto image editor, loved by pros and consumers alike. It’s powerful, familiar and is packed with tools for doing creative and clever things with images.
There are lots of different apps called Photoshop these days, but here we’re focusing on the full version. Unfortunately it’s no longer possible to buy a copy of Photoshop and use it for years to come: it’s now part of Adobe’s Creative Cloud subscription. This is aimed at creative pros and is too expensive for most consumers.
But whether you’re a pro or home user and really want to get Photoshop without the high cost, we’ll outline all the options available right now.
One obvious option is to get Photoshop for free on a Mac or PC as a part of Adobe’s Creative Cloud trial.
But you may find that other versions of Photoshop such as the Express and Camera apps do everything you need. They’re completely free to use, with no subscription required.
If the apps are no good to use and a week-long trial isn’t enough, you can get discounts on Creative Cloud subscriptions. They’re available to students and teachers, who get an all-year discount that makes the steep price much cheaper, but Adobe also has deals where anyone can get Photoshop for less.
What you may not realise is that you can still buy Photoshop as a standalone piece of software that doesn’t force you to subscribe. It’s not full-fat Photoshop, but Photoshop Elements is relatively affordable and is aimed at home users.
How to get Adobe Photoshop for free
You candownload a free 7-day trial of Photoshop CC. This lets you try out the full version of the software with no restrictions. You’ll have to pay after the trial ends but Adobe typically offers a 14-day window (from purchase) to cancel and get a full refund.
PC users will need Windows 10 or 11 and at least 8GB RAM (though 16GB is recommended). It’s also compatible with Windows 10 ARM devices (such as the Surface Pro X) with at least 8GB RAM and 4GB of GPU RAM.
Mac users will need macOS version 10.14 (Mojave) or later, though macOS 11.0 (Big Sur) and macOS 10.15 (Catalina) are recommended. Minimum RAM requirements are 8GB , though 16GB is again recommended.
For a free app, it’s pretty good, though it bears no resemblance to the full version of Photoshop at all. It’s much more like other quick photo-editing apps such as Snapseed and the one built into Google Photos. That means you can add filters, crop, transform, adjust perspective, adjust (brightness, contrast, saturation, and more), add masks and more. You can see all Photoshop Express features here.
What you cannot do is edit specific portions of images, except when using the red-eye reduction and spot healing tools. There’s no image resizing (but you can specify the output resolution to nearest 200 pixels of width) nor any support for layers.
As it’s free, and you need only sign up for an Adobe account to use it, you may as well give it a whirl and see if it’ll do what you need it to.
Get Photoshop Camera free on Android/iOS
The Photoshop Camera app allows you to add all sorts of effects and filters directly in-camera – allowing you to effectively “Photoshop” your image as you capture it! It’s also free to use.
Get Photoshop Elements 2022
It isn’t free but the best option for those who want ‘proper’ Photoshop without the subscription costs is to buy Photoshop Elements. This is a more user-friendly version of Photoshop CC yet has many of the regularly used features and tools. In fact, for home users there’s more power on offer here than you probably need, and you certainly won’t feel constrained in terms of the tools on offer (unless you regularly use full Photoshop’s Curves tool: that’s one tool not present in Elements.)
You can a lot more than in Photoshop Express, such as building up images with various layers, resizing backgrounds without affecting the people in a photo, replacing backgrounds entirely or erasing unwanted objects. It’s simple to select objects – even people – and there are 60 Guided Edits which walk you through many of the things you might want to do to a photo including those we’ve just mentioned as well as adjusting colours, lots of artistic effects and turning a photo into a meme.
Elements also lets you create great slideshows and has a useful organiser so you can keep track of all your photos.
The Expert mode looks and works much like Photoshop CC, which is ideal for those already used to the full version.
Students and teachers can choose from two annual payment plans:
Annual prepaid: £196.30 per year (VAT included) or US$239.88 per year
Annual, paid monthly: £16.24 per month (VAT included) or US$19.99 per month
The student discount makes the entire suite’s price cheaper than the 1TB Photography Plan (£19.97/$19.99 per month, or £238.42/$239.88 per year) and the Single App Photoshop subscription plan by £68.20, annually.
You will have to prove your student eligibility or institutional affiliation to get this discount, however. You can find all the eligibility requirements here.
This not only gets you Photoshop, but an arsenal of other powerful Adobe apps such as Illustrator, Lightroom, InDesign, Premiere Pro, Acrobat Pro, Express and Adobe XD – all at a significantly reduced rate. See all the apps included with the full Creative Cloud bundle here.
A Creative Cloud subscription means you can either pay an amount every month or a lump sum cost for a year. This promises ongoing access to updates at no additional cost.
Adobe’s Photography Plan has a few options (we’ve outlined these below) depending on how much cloud storage you need.
Single App subscription price
If you want only Photoshop CC without Lightroom bundled in, opt for the Single App plan from Adobe CC. The Single App includes the latest version of Photoshop, 100GB of cloud storage, access to premium fonts, as well asAdobe Exrepss (a social media graphics creation tool) and Adobe Portfolio.