Adobe wants to make Photoshop free – but there's a huge catch

Adobe Photoshop In A Browser
Adobe Photoshop In A Browser (Image credit: Adobe)

What you need to know

  • Adobe is trying a freemium approach for the web-based version of Photoshop.
  • Those in Canada can now use some more advanced Photoshop features in a web browser for free.
  • Some future features will be placed behind a paywall, but it isn't clear which, or when.

Adobe has begun testing a free version of its Photoshop image editor, but there's a big catch — it's the web-based version and it's only available in Canada right now.

The company is now testing a freemium model for the web-based Photoshop for anyone in Canada so long as they have a free Adobe account. The plan seems to be to put some features behind a subscription at some point, however, with The Verge noting that Adobe itself uses the "freemium" name. However, it also notes that Adobe will be making enough of the core Photoshop tools available for free that the web-based app will still be of use to people.

"We want to make [Photoshop] more accessible and easier for more people to try it out and experience the product," Maria Yap, Adobe's VP of digital imaging told the outlet. Adobe first released a web-based version of Photoshop late last year but it could only do a handful of the most basic Photoshop things. That's all changing, however, and while we don't yet know when those outside of Canada will be able to get in on the act, we do know that more advanced tools are being added.

Adobe didn't provide a timeline on when the freemium version would launch more widely. In the meantime, the company is continuing to update Photoshop for web with more tools, including refine edge, curves, the doge and burn tools, and the ability to convert Smart Objects. The web version is also getting mobile support for reviewing and commenting on images.

Putting Photoshop into a web browser has various benefits, not least the fact that it should run perfectly well on a relatively modest Mac or PC, something that can't normally be said for Photoshop proper. It'll also save on the storage space normally associated with such a large app, too.

This isn't the only big news to come out of Adobe today, with a new version of Lightroom letting users edit videos and offering more presets than previously available.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.