What’s The Best Way to Buy Photoshop in 2023? (Price Guide)
If youre confused about how to buy Adobe Photoshop CC and all the various ways to get hold of it, this guide is for you.
Buying Adobe Photoshop used to be simple. Even though Adobe would come out with an update every year or two, the application remained relatively the same.
If all you wanted to do was basic image editing, you could buy Photoshop once and go years without upgrading.
Talk about the good old days! Today the options of how to buy Adobe Photoshop can be rather confusing.
Cheapest way to get Photoshop. Enough cloud storage to work on your computer, phone or iPad.
Include Adobe Lightroom (the best photo editor).
Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a Photoshop one-time purchase. (The subscription-based Photoshop pricing may put off some people. too.)
However, Adobe Photoshop remains the number one software for photo and graphics manipulation, and it keeps getting better with every update.
This guide will help you decide which version of Photoshop is the right choice for you.
How Much Does Photoshop Cost? (2023 Pricing)
You can buy Photoshop by subscribing to one of the following Adobe Creative Cloud Plans:
- RECOMMENDED: Photography Plan – US$19.99/mo – Includes Lightroom, Lightroom Classic, Photoshop on desktop and iPad, and 1TB of cloud storage – this is the lowest Adobe Photoshop price you’ll find – get it here >>
- Photoshop Plan – US$20.99/mo – Includes Photoshop on desktop and iPad and 100GB cloud storage. Comes with Adobe Fresco for drawing and painting.
- All Apps Plan – US$54.99/mo – Includes 20+ Adobe desktop and mobile apps, including Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Premiere Pro and Acrobat and 100GB of cloud storage.
With each plan, you can also choose to add a 30-day free trial of Adobe Stock.
The lowest price Adobe Photoshop is within the Photography plan, which includes Lightroom and Lightroom Classic – confusingly, if you choose to subscribe to the Photoshop plan, it’s actually more expensive.
Can you just buy Photoshop outright anymore? Unfortunately not – if you want it for home use, you’ll need to enter into a Photoshop subscription.
However, if you just need the cheapest way to get Photoshop, that’d be the Photography plan – it’s the one I use.
What’s the Best Way to Buy Photoshop for Mac or Windows in 2023?
Photoshop has been an industry standard in photo editing for decades. Despite the numerous Photoshop alternatives springing up, there’s nothing that comes close to its power or mobile app support (the Photoshop CC iPad app is simply incredible!)
Both professionals and amateurs look to purchase Photoshop for any sort of advanced photo manipulation, from combining different images as layers, to extensive retouching, warping and color editing.
(3rd party additions like Photoshop plugins can even extend its capabilities beyond image editing.)
However, since many photographers these days shoot their photos in RAW format and use a catalog-based workflow, it is not Photoshop but Adobe Lightroom that has become the initial starting point for most photo editing. Why, check out Lightroom vs Photoshop comparison guide here for detailed explanation.
Adobe now offers Photoshop as part of a monthly subscription plan, known as the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan.
The Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan comes with the following:
- Lightroom CC
- Lightroom Classic CC
- Photoshop CC
- Your own portfolio website and social media tools
- 1TB of cloud storage (about 20,000 raw DSLR images or 200,000 JPEGs)
So what about if you don’t need Lightroom, and just want Photoshop? What are your options?
1. Buy Photoshop as a Subscription
1) Photography Plan
Here’s the first confusing part of Adobe’s subscription plans that you need to be aware of, especially if you assume it might be cheaper just to get Photoshop and not Lightroom.
Simply put, Adobe has two low-cost subscription options: the Photography plan, and the Single App plan. However, the Photography plan is $19.99/mo. while the Single Apps are around $21/mo each.
This means that if you try to get Photoshop without Lightroom, you’ll end up paying about $11/mo. more!
Obviously, the best option is just to get Adobe’s Photography plan – even if you only need Photoshop, (or only need Lightroom), it’s the best value option.
2) All Apps Plan
If you’re a multi-discipline creative or production company that needs a whole arsenal of Adobe applications, the full suite of Creative Cloud apps offers it all, with the Photoshop price included in a complete plan.
(If you’re interested in a discount on the Adobe CC All Apps plan, Adobe has created an exclusive offer for Shotkit fans – click here to claim it.)
The entire collection of 20+ creative desktop and mobile apps including Photoshop CC, Lightroom CC, Illustrator CC, and XD CC, 100GB of cloud storage, your own portfolio website, premium fonts, and social media tool.
Here are some FAQs about the All Apps plan:
- Lightroom Classic
- Premiere Rush
- Premiere Pro
- After Effects
- Acrobat Pro
- Character Animator
- Media Encoder
- Fuse (Beta)
- Photoshop Mix v2
- Photoshop Fix (iOS)
- Spark Suite
- Adobe Color
For the Annual Subscription (paid monthly):
If you cancel Photoshop within 14 days of your order, you will receive a full refund.
If you cancel after 14 days, your service will continue until the end of that month’s billing period, and you’ll be charged an early termination fee of 50% of your remaining contract obligation.
For example, if you have 5 months of your contract left when you cancel and you pay $20/month, you’d pay 50% of the $100 remaining balance = $50 early termination fee.
For the Annual Subscription (prepaid):
If you cancel within 14 days of your order, you will receive a full refund. If you cancel after 14 days, your payment is non-refundable and your service will continue until the end of that month’s billing period.
- Can I buy Photoshop permanently? No – you have to subscribe to it and pay either monthly or annually. There’s no such thing as owning a Photoshop license outright any more – you’re paying for the right to use Photoshop for as long as your subsctipion is active.
Remember that in all cases, it is possible to cancel your subscription within 14 days of making the purchase, to receive a full refund.
Pros of Buying Photoshop CC as a Subscription
Some photographers may be critical of Adobe’s subscription model because their revenue has increased dramatically in the years since they first debuted the CC subscription plan.
However, the main benefits of having a subscription plan, whether you have the basic Photography plan or the complete All Apps plan, is that you’ll always have the latest version of the apps, and the fact that Adobe releases major updates at a fast rate.
1) You get the fastest, most-optimized version of Photoshop
This is not critical to everyone, but it is indeed very convenient to always have the latest, greatest, and usually the fastest version of Photoshop.
If you’ve ever used Photoshop CS6 or any of the previous releases of standalone Photoshop, you’ll know that it would crash from time to time, and things would tend to slow down.
I’ve found that with Photoshop CC, things seem a lot snappier in general, probably because of the frequent updates that serve to keep everything well optimized.
If you have a modern MacBook Pro with the M1 or M2 chips, you’ll notice how much quicker Photoshop can run.
2) You get all the latest Photoshop Features
3) All of the most recent cameras are supported
If you shoot raw, (RAW, NEF, CR2, ARW…) then before you even get your images into Photoshop, you must convert them from their raw format. So, you’ll need to use either Adobe Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw, to process your raw photos. You can also use a free cr2 to jpg image converter tool.
Adobe Camera Raw, which is also the stand-alone application known as Adobe Bridge, comes with Photoshop, even if you buy Photoshop without Lightroom.
Unfortunately, Camera Raw (and Lightroom) need to be updated every time a new camera comes out, in order for the new raw file format to be supported.
This means that you won’t be able to buy an old version of Photoshop and use it to process all your raw photos. You’ll need to get a CC subscription or use Adobe’s DNG converter to make your new raw files compatible with your old raw converter.
4) You can take full advantage of Mobile Editing
While the app itself will be free to use regardless of whether you’re a subscriber or not, the full syncing capabilities will not.
In other words, if you subscribe to one of the Adobe CC Photoshop plans, you’ll be able to start off editing on your desktop, then pick up where you left off on your mobile device.
5) Your files will be backed up in the cloud
Since the Photography Plan includes 20GB of free cloud storage, all your precious Photoshop (and Lightroom CC) files are automatically backed up online.
If you’re like me and don’t want to have to remember to make manual backups, this feature alone is worth the cost of a monthly subscription.
The 20 GB of cloud storage can also be upgraded to 10 TB for power-users.
Cons of Buying Photoshop CC as a Subscription
The only real con of purchasing Photoshop CC is the cost involved. Many people simply have an issue with adding yet another monthly subscription to their already subscription-filled lives.
However, if you were the type of person who used to buy each one of the major updates to Photoshop, the cost actually evens out in the long run.
Instead of paying a few hundred dollars every few years for the latest version of Adobe Photoshop, you pay a few dollars every month.
One thing to note, however, is that if you ever stop paying for your subscription, you’ll no longer have access to the application itself – if you ever want to process old photos again, you’ll have to keep paying for the CC subscription.
2. Buy Photoshop ElementsAs of 2023, Photoshop Elements is the most simple and affordable alternative to Photoshop that Adobe offers.
(You may also be interested in this article: Photoshop Elements vs Lightroom).
Photoshop Elements is an up-to-date, “lite” version of Photoshop (see the latest price here).
If all you need to do with your images are simple tasks such as layers, brushes, or other basic adjustments, this is the most affordable way to still get (most of) the Photoshop environment, with a one-time payment.
Pros of Buying Photoshop Elements
Buying a stand-alone, perpetual license of Photoshop comes with two simple, major benefits.
1) It’s Cheaper (in the long run) than a Subscription
If you only need the basic editing features of Photoshop, why pay a monthly fee? Photoshop Elements is great value for money, and a one-off payment.
2) It will never Expire
With a subscription model, your access ends when your subscription ends.
Suppose you want to be able to perform random edits to photos in the future without paying for a subscription or re-subscribing every time you want to edit photos.
In that case, you’ll need to buy a standalone version of Photoshop.
With Photoshop Elements, you pay once and own it forever. See our review of Photoshop Elements to learn more.
Cons of Buying Photoshop Elements
1) You won’t have all the latest features
If all you need to do is basic layer masking and other types of simple edits, then you might not need the latest features in the current CC version of Photoshop.
However, all photographers progress in their skill level over time, and eventually, they often realize that they need a certain advanced feature. Whether it’s for portrait retouching or nightscape photography compositing, you may eventually want the current version of Photoshop CC.
2) No Lightroom Classic CC
If you buy Photoshop Elements, your only way to edit raw photos will be through Bridge/Camera Raw, which is admittedly rather clunky.
You’ll be missing out on Lightroom Classic CC’s desktop and mobile applications, which offer a great cross-device workflow for performing all manner of edits.
Also, being able to cull, organize and even edit photos on a mobile or tablet (with Lr CC Mobile) is incredibly liberating, not to mention a lot of fun!
3) No Cloud Backup
With Photoshop Elements, all your files are stored locally on your computer – there’s no ‘safety net’ of a cloud backup, nor cloud syncing, like there is with a Photoshop monthly subscription.
Obviously, you can make manual backups to DropBox, or just to external hard-drives yourself, but having to think about this each time may impede your workflow.
Adobe Photoshop CC vs. Photoshop Elements
If you’re trying to decide between the subscription version of Photoshop CC, or the standalone Photoshop Elements software, this feature comparison table should help.
Creative cloud Photography Plan vs Photoshop Elements
Creative Cloud Photography plan
|Cropping and rotation|| |
|Basic black-and-white conversion|| |
|Red eye/pet eye removal|| |
|Basic filters and looks|| |
|Combine images to create new scenes|| |
|Remove or move objects|| |
|Make selections|| |
|Create panoramas|| |
|Camera Shake Reduction|| |
|Control haze in an image|| |
|Reduce image noise|| |
|Advanced black-and-white conversion|| |
|Batch editing|| |
|Create your own filters and looks|| |
|Combine images on mobile (Mix)|| |
|Retouch and restore photos on your iPad/iPhone (Fix)|| |
|Make duotones, tritones and quadtones|| |
|Perspective Warp|| |
|Auto-straighten images|| |
|Precise control of highlights/shadows|| |
|Automatic lens correction|| |
|Fine control of tones/contrast (curves)|| |
|Hardware acceleration|| |
|Fully edit preview/apply to original later|| |
|Basic organization of photos and videos|| |
|Tag and rate photos|| |
|Sort/find by people and places|| |
|Map where photos were taken|| |
|Access to photos from mobile devices|| |
|Auto-access to photos from mobile|| |
|Organize images across devices|| |
|Organize and share Smart Previews|| |
|Synchronize workspace across devices|| |
|Edit once/update everywhere|| |
|Use artboards for grouping projects|| |
|Save and apply presets across devices|| |
|Easily post photos to social media|| |
|Email photos|| |
|Create photo books|| |
|Print photos|| |
|Advanced slideshow features|| |
|Share via web galleries|| |
|Receive feedback on galleries|| |
|Integration with Adobe Voice|| |
|Integration with Adobe Slate|| |
|Photo retouching on iPhone/iPad (Fix)|| |
|Create professional HDR photos|| |
|Advanced typographic control|| |
|Define and save text styles|| |
|Open and create 3D files|| |
|Support for 3D printing|| |
|Download preset looks|| |
|Migrate Elements catalogs with data|| |
|Desktop, mobile and web support|| |
|Always up to date with the latest features|| |
|Large library of educational resources|| |
|Integration with third-party apps|| |
|Download preset looks|| |
(Correct as of Jan 2023)
Compare Adobe Photoshop products
|Product Name||Features||Target User||Price|
|Adobe Photoshop||Advanced image editing, including layers, masks, filters, brushes, and more.||Professional photographers, graphic designers, digital artists||$20.99/month (with Adobe Creative Cloud subscription)|
|Adobe Photoshop Elements||Basic image editing, including cropping, resizing, removing red-eye, and more.||Amateurs and hobbyists||$99.99 (one-time purchase)|
|Adobe Photoshop Lightroom||Organizing, editing, and sharing of photos.||Professional and amateur photographers||$9.99/month (with Adobe Creative Cloud subscription)|
How to get a Photoshop Discount
Occasionally throughout the year, Adobe gives a discount on Photoshop and its other Creative Cloud products.
If you don’t mind waiting, you can keep checking this link to see if there are any good offers.
Another option is if you’re a student or a teacher (check eligibility here). If eligible, you can save up to 67% on Creative Cloud products using this link.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that you can download a free Adobe Photoshop trial or play around with any of the other Adobe products here.
If you’re interested in a discount on the Adobe CC All Apps plan, Adobe has kindly offered all Shotkit fans a 15% discount on your first year as a Creative Cloud Member – sign up for the newsletter to gain access to the code.
Do you Qualify for an Adobe Student Discount?
If you’re a student or teacher, you can take advantage of the best Photoshop discount currently available.
By using this link and selecting the ‘discount for students and teachers’ option, you could reduce the Creative Cloud All Apps plan from US$52.99 to $19.99 – a 60% saving!
Free Adobe Photoshop Download Warning
Yes, everybody knows that “pirated” versions of Photoshop exist. What people don’t realize is, these applications can potentially be quite harmful.
Any time you install illegal software, you’re putting your computer, your images, and even your personal information at risk.
In this day and age, it’s just not worth it. Just think of it like this – the price of an Adobe Photoshop/Lightroom subscription is just a few cups of coffee per month.
In return, the stable, seamless user experience and always-current update environment are benefits worth paying for.
Whether you’re a professional photographer or an enthusiast, you definitely shouldn’t be entrusting all your most precious memories to sketchy software. Anything could happen, including data corruption, and of course, you won’t have the latest version of Photoshop if you buy a new camera.
In summary, please do the right thing! Don’t take the risk! There’s simply no such thing as a ‘free Photoshop’, guys! If you plan to edit your images frequently, the Photoshop cost is more than worth it.
How to Get an Adobe Photoshop Trial
The one official way to get a ‘free’ version of Photoshop is via the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Trial, which is only available on the Adobe website here.
The only drawback is that you’ve just 7 days to play around with the software, but at least it’s a fully functional version of Photoshop CC with all the latest updates.
You can convert your trial to a paid Creative Cloud membership during the 7 day period, or after the trial expires.
The Adobe Photoshop Trial works on both MacOS and Windows – if your computer is compatible, you have nothing to lose ;-)
I recommend simply picking a week when you’ll have ample time to play around and take full advantage of the 7-day trial period.
How much is Photoshop after the free trial ends?
US$19.99/mo. This includes Photoshop on desktop and iPad, Lightroom, Lightroom Classic and 20GB of online storage.
What is the cheapest way to get Photoshop?
The cheapest way to get Photoshop is through a student or teacher subscription.
Otherwise, you should consider settling for Photoshop Elements. Although it comes with fewer features than Photoshop, you would only pay a one-time fee.
Can you buy Adobe software outright?
No, you can only use Adobe Creative Cloud software through subscription plans. However, a few Adobe products are available for a one-time purchase, like Photoshop Elements and Adobe Captivate.
How much is an Adobe license?
It depends on the payment plan you choose and the kind of user.
For individuals, Adobe offers three Creative Cloud All Apps plans. You can choose from a monthly plan for $82.49 per month, an annual plan (paid monthly) for $54.99 per month, or a prepaid annual plan for $599.88 per year.
As for students and teachers, the Creative Cloud All Apps plan costs $19.99 per month for the first year. After that, it automatically switches to $29.99 per month.
Can you buy Adobe permanently?
No, you can’t pay for a permanent version of Adobe software. You have an option to either pay for a monthly or yearly subscription.
How much is Photoshop for Mac?
When paid monthly, Adobe Photoshop costs $20.99 per month for an annual subscription. As for a prepaid yearly subscription, you pay a sum of $239.88. The monthly subscription, on the other hand, is the most expensive option with a fee of $31.49 per month.
That said, if you subscribe to the photography bundle, you can get Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop for as little as $9.99 per month.
Adobe’s switch from a one-time, own-it-for-life software business to a subscription-based business model annoyed a lot of people.
There’s no such thing as a Photoshop lifetime license price, and there’s no longer any way to purchase Photoshop outright.
However, subscriptions seem to be the new way of life for a lot of products and services, especially those that we rely on for useful updates and quality support… and that’s what Adobe offers with Photoshop CC.
At first, I must admit I was afraid that Adobe wouldn’t provide updates as regularly as they promised, and that the improvements wouldn’t be very exciting.
Thankfully though, I was wrong – everything that’s been released or updated since I became a paying subscriber in early 2018 has been useful.
As a Photoshop (and Lightroom) subscriber, I’m happy to pay for a subscription for an effortless, stress-free experience, month after month, to Photoshop pictures to my heart’s content!
I hope this article has put some things in perspective for you too. Leave me a comment with your thoughts :-)
Cheapest way to get Photoshop. Enough cloud storage to work on your computer, phone or iPad.
Include Adobe Lightroom (the best photo editor).