Web sites

Photoshop becomes free to paint on the web

Photoshop could finally be as accessible as its many alternatives. Adobe has made its existing web version of Photoshop free – or, well, freemium – in Canada and will hopefully expand availability in the near future. Adobe’s vice president of digital imaging, Maria Yap, didn’t say when it would happen, but said she wanted to see it “meet users where they are right now” in an interview with The Verge (opens in a new tab).

To access it, you need a free Adobe account (opens in a new tab) and use a link on this page (which you will only see if you are currently in Canada) to open it.

The web version of Photoshop isn’t as robust as the software that costs you at least $10 a month through Adobe’s Creative Cloud subscription, but it has the features needed to perform most simple tasks. You can use hotkeys, crop images, switch between layers, create masks, add adjustment layers, and use the healing brush. Crucially, you can’t turn images into smart objects, which means that when you resize them multiple times, they won’t retain the correct resolution.

Photoshop for the web can’t really compete with other popular free photo editing tools like Photopea, GIMP, and Paint.NET. Photopea, for example, offers image filters, layer blending, and layer styles. It has most of the great Photoshop features and an almost identical user interface. Surprisingly, Photoshop on the web isn’t as close to its desktop version, perhaps in an attempt to make it more accessible to new users. The goal is to trick you into paying for a Creative Cloud membership or some other unadvertised form of monetization to unlock more features. It’s pretty straightforward if you intend to use it for more than basic editing, like creating memes or just quick image editing.

This free trial format for Adobe applications is not new. The company already offers several free apps on mobile, including Adobe Premiere Rush, Adobe Fresco, and Adobe Express. Photoshop on the web is the first time one of its most popular software will be available this way, and it could be very useful if you don’t have a powerful laptop or tablet.