Download Adobe Photoshop Free – The Complete Step by Step Guide

Download Adobe Photoshop Free – The Complete Step by Step Guide

on Mar 11 in Downloads, Guides and Tutorials, Photoshop by

Adobe’s Photoshop is probably the best-known image editing program in the world; so much so that people are all looking to get free copies of it. Being prohibitively priced, not many people can afford to get a full copy of the program, but that doesn’t mean you should resort to an illegal download just yet. There are, in fact, a couple of places where you can get a legal, working copy of Adobe Photoshop online.

If not a copy of Adobe Photoshop, then an alternative may prove to be useful for a new user. People who would also like to try other programs with similar capabilities will also find many free alternatives online that are great for graphic applications. If you must have a copy of Adobe’s own Photoshop, then read on; you might be surprised at where you are able to find a free, working copy of the program.

Why Get Photoshop For Free?

Photoshop is so well-known that many people have taken to using it in a sentence in nearly every form. If you would like to make Photoshopped pictures, however, you will first need a copy of the program. But why should you start with a free version, instead of coughing up the dough to buy the full version?

  • Students of photography, graphic design, digital painting, or other kinds of visual arts will eventually run into Adobe Photoshop as part of a learning curriculum. A free copy will allow students to learn the program at home, and use it for educational purposes.
  • Working professionals will also need to prove their worth in the field by constantly honing their skills when not in the workplace. Having a copy of Adobe Photoshop in handy can be good for the working visual artist, but not all of them will be able to afford the program outright.
  • Hobbyists or at-home visual artists will also find that a copy of Adobe Photoshop will help them become better at their craft. Having a day job will also mean that a hobbyist might be able to afford the real deal sooner or later.
  • Users who have misplaced or lost their copies of Photoshop may want a free copy to replace the last. Some may have simply lost the license key to their copies, which is an occurrence that happens a lot more often than most would think.

There are many more reasons why a person would need a free copy of Photoshop. Whether you are a photographer, digital painter, or somebody else who might end up using the program more often, you’re in luck; there are free copies of Adobe Photoshop online.

So Where Can I Find a Free Copy?

From the folks at — you won’t have to look far; the official Adobe website has the latest version of Photoshop available as a free download. While it does have much of the same functionality as the full version, downloaders are only allowed a trial version which is only valid for 30 days. After this trial period, a user must purchase a license key in order to continue using it.

Older versions of Adobe Photoshop are also available on the official website. Hosted on an FTP server, you may have some luck finding an older trial version of Photoshop for your image editing needs. Most hobbyists probably won’t need much of the additional functionality that newer versions of Photoshop add during every update anyway.

If you plan to buy a tablet or other kinds of imagine peripherals for your computer, then you might luck out on a free, full copy of Adobe Photoshop. For example, Wacom tablets come free with a CD that contains more than one kind of digital imaging program, and one of those is Adobe Photoshop Elements. The “Elements” edition of Photoshop does away with many of the advanced features of full Photoshop releases, and is geared towards casual users instead.

Users who don’t need the full functionality of the latest Adobe Photoshop release might also find the Photoshop Express application to be of use. Located on, this version allows a user to upload, edit, organize and publish digital photos on sort of a cloud-computing type of management system.

Safety Reminders

Okay, it may not be entirely possible to get a full, working copy of the latest and greatest Adobe Photoshop version available, unless you resort to downloading a virus-laden illegally-hacked version. That said, you are taking many risks when you choose to take a shortcut when gunning for the genuine article, whether at your own or your computer’s peril:

  • After a quick check on a search engine, you will come up with thousands upon thousands of results for a free Photoshop download. However, many, if not all of these search results (save for the official Adobe website) will often lead you to a download filled with spyware and viruses.
  • If you do manage to find a working download, then you may risk doing jail time. Intellectual property rights and laws on the internet have seen an increase in enforcement in recent years, so you may be expecting a visit from the FBI if you knowingly use an illegally downloaded copy of Photoshop.
  • Some online sellers may offer you copies of Photoshop that seem legal at first, but are actually bogus. Resellers who offer “OEM” or “Class-A” copies should be avoided at all costs, lest you want to end up with some money down the toilet.

Since you are facing many risks when you decide not to find a legal copy of this image editing software, you might as well go the free route. The free route does not even mean you should be stuck with a watered-down version of the program, too.

Alternative Programs

Whether for Windows, Mac or even Linux computers, users now find themselves with more alternatives to Adobe Photoshop than ever. Many of these programs are completely open-source, or just significantly cheaper than a copy of the newest Photoshop version available. Let’s have a look at your choices:

  • GIMP – With a learning curve nearly as steep as Adobe Photoshop’s going price, the technically-adept user will find himself with everything he needs to edit photos or paint digitally with ease. It is also available on the internet for free. That’s free, as in “free beer.”
  • ChocoFlop – Mac users aren’t out of luck when it comes to open-source image editors, either. While this particular incarnation may be discontinued, it can work with RAW photo formats, and even has many image filters found in Photoshop itself.
  • Pixia – The Japanese have always been innovators, and this free image editing software is an example of that. While localization for help tools, keyboard shortcuts and the overall coherency of the software seems to be absent, Pixia is a lightweight and fairly straightforward program capable of modifying many kinds of image formats. It even has the ability to accept Photoshop plug-ins and brushes, if you really need them.
  • Paint.NET – While MS Paint isn’t exactly the first program any self-respecting graphics professional would turn to for any serious work, Paint.NET is an entirely different beast. Layers, levels adjustments, and even special effects are all part of this lightweight program. It is also updated by the team that made it.
  • SAI Paint Tool – Only released in Japan, an unofficial, fan-translated version of this popular digital painting program is available for free download on the net. Many popular digital painters, concept artists, and even hobbyists who dabble on the tablet every now and then have come to love SAI and its intuitive, painter-oriented interface and feature list.

One, or even a combination of these free image-editing programs might help you get the same functionality as Adobe Photoshop if you take the time to learn each one of them. They may help you forget about getting Photoshop entirely!

“No! I Need Photoshop and Photoshop Alone!”

If you absolutely need to have Photoshop, then you have a better chance at scoring a discount on the full version than finding a free copy. Unless you are somehow gifted the full Adobe CS5 suite by a relative, or have come across a large sum of money to purchase the program with, then maybe you should seek a discount instead:

  • Students of all kinds of educational institutions are entitled to a discount on most Adobe products, including Photoshop. All you need to do is present proof of your education to Adobe through e-mail or phone, and you will be given a discount.
  • If you luck out on internet searches, then you can probably find a coupon code for Photoshop and other Adobe products. It might be very few and far in between, but it is always worth a try, especially if you are set on getting a copy.
  • If you already own a genuine copy of Photoshop in an earlier version, then you might be in luck; owners of certain Adobe products are entitled to a large discount when upgrading to newer versions, Photoshop included.

Hopefully, these tips should steer you in the right direction towards a more affordable version of Photoshop. Having the full, working program is indeed different than having a trial version installed on your computer. If you are a professional, or at least somebody familiar with Photoshop, then it will be immediately noticeable.

Differences Between Photoshop Versions

Somewhere down the road on your quest for a free version of Photoshop, you may come across many different variations of the program itself. The most common versions you are likely to encounter are Elements, Standard and Extended versions of Photoshop, whether in trial or full formats. Here are the primary differences:

Photoshop Elements

Photoshop Elements does not contain:

  • CYMK and LAB color modes, which are essential for print projects
  • Certain tools for 16 and 32-bit image modes
  • Channels Pallette, for in-depth color editing
  • Custom actions recording; an essential tool for batch processing
  • Quick mask modes and layer comps
  • Text formatting and certain font functionality
  • Advanced features for layer styles, color management and web features

Photoshop Standard

Photoshop Standard contains many of these aforementioned features, along with better functionality for image editors to take full advantage of:

  • 64-bit capabilities, which utilize more performance and speed out of a computer system in order to deliver up to a 10x increase in efficiency.
  • GPU acceleration, a feature which enables even more graphical capabilities, like grids and the on-screen color picker.
  • Content-Aware capabilities; a new feature in CS5 which allows things to be removed or resized from pictures with accuracy and ease.

Photoshop Extended

Photoshop Extended contains these features as a standard, but adds in a few more in order to be used in videos and 3D imagery.

  • 3D extrusions, thanks to the integrated Adobe Repoussé technology.
  • Other enhanced 3D capabilities, such as depth of field and a larger materials library.
  • Enhanced High Dynamic Range lighting using an image-based light source algorithm.
  • Context-sensitive interface elements and widgets for even more control over the Photoshop workspace.

Many have found the standard edition of Photoshop to be the best value for money one can buy, unless a person really desires enhanced 3D and video capabilities. Functionality between other Adobe products may make the Extended version more suitable for use with programs like Premiere Pro or After Effects.

“Will I Ever Find a Copy of Photoshop for Free?”

Most times, you will often have to pick one or two when finding a free copy of Photoshop online: it can never be free, fully-featured, or without risks at the same time. If this doesn’t stop you from trying to find a copy for yourself online, then at least be aware of the aforementioned risks before proceeding.

If you do manage to luck out on a totally free download of Adobe Photoshop, in physical or digital form, then may you have all the best when venturing into your visual arts field of choice.

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