How to Get Photoshop for Free

Adobe Photoshop is widely regarded as the industry-standard image editor, used by artists, photographers, pre-press editors, and just about anyone else who needs powerful and precise image editing capabilities. 

As a result of this worldwide acclaim, Photoshop is the go-to choice for new editors looking to sharpen their skills, but it can seem expensive to new users who want to test it out. 

Many new users look for a way to get Photoshop for free, but that’s much easier to search for than it is to actually accomplish. 

Warning: Many sites around the web promise to give you the full version of Photoshop for free permanently. This is 100% illegal and neither I nor anyone at PhotoshopBuzz will help you break the law. 

The only legal ways to get Photoshop for free are listed below, and they don’t last forever. 

1. Download a Free Trial Of Photoshop

The best way to get Photoshop for free is to sign up for a free trial. Adobe offers a completely unrestricted 7-day free trial of the full version of Photoshop, and all you have to do is sign up for a free Adobe account! 

The sign-up process does require a credit card or other payment method to be associated with your account, but if you cancel your free trial before the 7-day test period has elapsed, you won’t be charged at all. 

That being said, if you do decide to continue using Photoshop after the free trial period ends, you will be automatically signed up for an expensive Photoshop plan but there is a much better way! 

Instead of paying for Photoshop as part of a single-app subscription which costs $19.99 USD per month, I strongly recommend that you switch to the Creative Cloud Photography Plan which only costs $9.99 USD per month.

Not only will you get access to the latest version of Photoshop for your desktop, but you’ll also get Lightroom CC, Lightroom Classic CC, Photoshop for iPad, and 20 GB of online storage. 

I know that Adobe is a business and wants to maximize profits, but it does seem like a slightly sneaky way to get users to pay more than they have to. I’m happy to pay for a high-quality program like Photoshop, but I don’t want to pay more than I have to – and I bet you’re the same!

2. Advanced Trick: Adobe’s Customer Retention Plan

This trick may stop working at some point, but I discovered it a year or two ago when I was considering canceling my Creative Cloud plan. I can’t promise that it will work for you, and you won’t get Photoshop for free forever, but it’s worth a try! Here’s how it works. 

Many large companies spend a great deal of money to acquire new customers. To help keep these costs down, they go out of their way to hang on to their existing customers using what are known as ‘customer retention’ plans.

In other words, Adobe wants you to stay a subscriber so badly that they’re willing to give you a huge discount on your Creative Cloud subscription as long as you agree to stay a member. 

As a result, I managed to get my entire expensive Creative Cloud all-apps subscription (including Photoshop) for free for three months, which saved me over $200. 

To give it a try, visit the Adobe Creative Cloud website and log in to your Creative Cloud account. Once you’re logged in, look for the Manage Account link. 

If you’re browsing on a desktop, it should be located in the top right corner of the website, but it may display differently if you’re using a smartphone or tablet. 

Before you go any further, you may want to make sure that you’ve made a backup of any files that are stored in your personal Creative Cloud storage, as you may lose access to them if Adobe has changed its approach to customer retention and you actually cancel your account (even if it’s only temporarily). 

Click the Manage Account link, and you’ll be taken to your Adobe Account dashboard. In the Your Plan section of the page, look for the button labeled Manage plan

Click it, and a new popup will appear showing some stats about your current plan, as well as a few actions that you can take. 

The very last action on the list should be End Your Service. You may have to sign in again after clicking the Cancel Your Plan button, but the next screen should display Adobe’s last-ditch effort to keep you as a subscriber: three months of Photoshop for free!

We can’t accept any responsibility for lost files or other issues that arise from trying this trick, so use it at your own risk! 

Of course, if it doesn’t work and you still need to use Photoshop, you can simply reactivate your plan. It’s a bit of a hassle, but it’s the only legal way I know of to get Photoshop for free. 

3. Get Photoshop for Free on Your Smartphone

If you don’t want to use Photoshop on your desktop, you can get Photoshop Express for free on your smartphone! While it’s obviously not as powerful as the desktop version of Photoshop, you can do some impressive edits using your smartphone or tablet.

Photoshop Express is available free on the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store. It’s a relatively big app at approximately 300 megabytes in size, so you’ll probably want to download it over a WiFi connection so that you don’t use up too much of your precious mobile data. 

Beware of Scams and Pirated Software

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, there are many websites that promise to give you huge discounts on Adobe software, or even to give it to you for free. There’s no legal way to get Photoshop for free forever, so don’t even bother to try.

Adobe has a long history of fighting counterfeit and pirated software, and they’ve got a lot of incentive to make sure that everyone who uses their software has paid for it. 

Adobe uses sophisticated license verification software to ensure that pirated copies of Photoshop are detected and blocked, so don’t be tempted!

However, they also accept that many users who have been the victim of a scammer or unauthorized reseller aren’t even aware that they’re using pirated software, so they’ve begun to use a slightly different approach with these users, as you can see below. 

Source: quora.com user Tim Yoshiharu (link)

While they don’t get too specific about the sort of discounts that they offer to people who have been detected using counterfeit software, I don’t think that it’s worth the risk! 

A Final Word

I realize that Photoshop can seem expensive, especially since Adobe has moved to a monthly subscription model instead of the single-purchase model they used in earlier decades. 

But the methods listed above are the only legal ways to get Photoshop for free, so make sure that you don’t fall into the trap of counterfeit or pirated software. 

Happy Photoshopping!

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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