Can You Use Photoshop on a Chromebook?

No, you cannot use the full desktop version of Photoshop on a Chromebook, but there are a few other ways you can edit images with the power of Photoshop using your Chromebook.

Most Chromebooks are lightweight, ultraportable computers that are great for web browsing, social media, and other basic computing tasks, but it’s still possible to use them to edit images. 

The Photoshop Express app and the new browser-based version known as Photoshop on the Web are great options for image editing on a Chromebook. Neither option is quite as powerful as the full desktop version of Photoshop, but they’re great for editing mobile photos or other low-resolution images that don’t need color management or advanced editing features. 

If you want to get really advanced, you can use your Chromebook’s Remote Desktop app to run Photoshop on your desktop computer while viewing and controlling it through your Chromebook. It takes a bit of work to set up, and you need to be connected to a high-speed network to make it run smoothly, but it can be done by anyone who can install and set up an app. 

Let’s take a closer look at the different ways to use Photoshop on a Chromebook!

1. Using the Android Photoshop App

Adobe has released a lightweight, pared-down version of Photoshop for mobile devices called Photoshop Express, and you can download and install it on your Chromebook directly from the Google Play store.  

Google’s ChromeOS is based on the Android operating system, and thanks to some fancy programming by Google, you can use any of the normal Android apps from the Google Play Store on your Chromebook. 

If you’re not sure how to get the Google Play Store working on your Chromebook, you can follow a very simple tutorial from Google here

Once that is sorted out, you’re good to go!

The Photoshop Express app is free to download and use, although you do need to have an Adobe account to use it, and some of the best features require a paid subscription to use. 

Even if you decide to pay, Photoshop Express still won’t have the full power of the desktop version, so I don’t recommend trying to make any serious edits with it, but it’s fine for applying quick tweaks to an image that you want to share online. 

2. Photoshop on the Web

If you don’t want to use Photoshop Express, Adobe has recently released a simplified version of Photoshop that you can access using your web browser. The app is still in beta testing, and you need to sign up for an Adobe account before you can try it, but it’s all free to use! 

There are also a few important minimum requirements that your Chromebook has to meet, so make sure that your machine has the processing power to handle it. 

  • Chromebook Production Year: 2015 or newer
  • Processor: 2 GHz or faster
  • RAM: 4 GB or more
  • Storage Space: 4 GB available
  • Browser: Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge

Compared to the desktop version of Photoshop, the browser-based version has a dramatically simplified interface, but some familiar design and layout touches will help orient users who are used to working with the full version.

Photoshop’s standard selection tools are available, including the newer automatic Select Subject and Select Background tools, and so are the ever-popular adjustment layers.

Adobe has also added a Quick Actions section in the toolbar that provides one-click adjustments for a range of basic editing tasks, such as background removal, tone correction, and color filters. 

That being said, there’s no color management support, and most filters and other resource-intensive tools are not included, but this is still a great way to use Photoshop on a Chromebook – and you sure can’t argue with the price!

3. Advanced Option: Remote Desktop

This method is the most complicated way of using Photoshop on a Chromebook, but it’s the only way that you can access the full version of the app, complete with all the bells and whistles.

You need to have access to a desktop computer with Photoshop installed on it, an active Photoshop subscription from Adobe, and a high-speed internet connection for your desktop as well as your Chromebook.

The actual setup process is fairly simple: you download and install the Remote Desktop app on your desktop computer and your Chromebook, and then it acts as a bridge between the two computers. 

You can control your desktop computer using your Chromebook, just as though you were actually sitting in front of it. You’ll have access to all the apps and files that are located on your desktop computer, although you might experience some delayed responses when performing certain tasks, depending on the quality of your internet connection. 

To learn more about how to set up Remote Desktop, check out this tutorial from Google

Why Can’t I Run Photoshop on My Chromebook?

If you’re wondering why you can’t run the desktop version of Photoshop on your Chromebook, the answer is simple: the full version of Adobe Photoshop isn’t compatible with ChromeOS because Adobe doesn’t bother to make it compatible. 

There are a couple of important reasons for this, but mostly it’s a mismatch of concepts. Chromebooks are meant to be lightweight, ultraportable machines that are great for web browsing, email, and streaming media, not resource-intensive tasks like image editing.

While there are lots of different models available, they all focus on long battery life instead of high-powered components, which means that they don’t really have the processing power or system memory to run the full version of Photoshop properly. 

A Final Word

That covers everything you need to know to use Photoshop on a Chromebook! While it’s not possible to use the full desktop version natively on ChromeOS, Photoshop Express or the browser-based Photoshop on the web should be able to provide the editing tools that you need. 

Just remember to manage your expectations! The ultraportable Chromebook is fine for making quick edits to images that will be shared on the web, but it can’t really handle high-resolution image editing – and it won’t replace your desktop workstation any time soon.

About Thomas Boldt
Thomas started his Photoshop career way back in 2000. After exploring Photoshop 5.5 in a high school computer lab, he developed an enduring passion for photography, design, and technology that carried him through a Bachelor of Design degree and into the wild world of tech startups.

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