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Want Photoshop for free? You can have it, but there's a catch

Adobe Photoshop is the go-to photo-editing program for many, but membership can be expensive. Here's the one (and only) way to use the service for free.
Written by Christina Darby, Associate Editor
The Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Ultra running Adobe Photoshop.
June Wan/ZDNET

There's a reason why most photography buffs and 90% of professional creatives gravitate toward Adobe Photoshop. The application allows users to make flexible changes to their imagery, from cropping or rotating a photo to touching up blemishes and imperfections. You can also correct lighting, make the red of an apple pop even more, and see what you would look like with blonde hair before you make the mistake of dying it. 

Also: How to use DALL-E 2 to turn your creative visions into AI-generated art

With its slew of photo-editing tools, Photoshop charges a pretty penny to reap the benefits. Whether you're a student, an aspiring graphics designer, or just wanting to avoid Adobe's $21 monthly tax, the one and only way to use the professional service at no cost is through its free 7-day trial.

Sorry, we're also anxiously hoping for Adobe to finally announce a free version, even if it came with fewer features. For now, here's how you can enroll in a free 7-day trial of Photoshop, with no commitments required. 

1. Go to the Adobe website

First, open up the Adobe Photoshop landing page from your web browser. Then, click the button labelled "Free trial." 

Adobe Photoshop sign-up page.
Screenshot by June Wan/ZDNET

2. Select your package

You'll now be prompted to select which package you want to experiment with, and if you were to stick to using Photoshop as your photo-editing software, eventually buy. Adobe offers three packages for you to choose from. 

If you're not sure how to decide, here's a breakdown of each package's key features: 

  • The Photoshop package: This is the most basic option and includes service access via your desktop, tablet, or mobile device, Adobe Fresco (including fonts), step-by-step tutorials, and 100GB of cloud storage. After your free download and trial, this will convert into a $20.99/month subscription.
  • The Photography package: If you're more of a photography and photo-editing buff, you may want to try the Photography package which includes Photoshop and Lightroom for desktop and mobile and also features Adobe Fonts as well as step-by-step tutorials. Note that this option only has 20GB of cloud storage but is less expensive at $9.99 per month after the trial. 
  • Creative Cloud All Apps package: If you're looking for the full experience across all the Adobe Creative Cloud platforms (20+ applications including Photoshop, Illustrator, Adobe Express, Premiere Pro, and Acrobat Pro), this may be the best option for you. The all-in-one bundle Includes 100GB of cloud storage and is valued at $54.99 per month post-trial. 

After you've chosen your trial package, select the "Continue" button at the bottom of the screen. 

select photoshop package
Screenshot by Christina Darby/ZDNET

3. Checkout

You may be asking now, "Wait, why is Adobe asking for my credit card?". Keep in mind that because this is a free trial you're enrolling into, you will automatically be charged either monthly or annually (prepaid or paid monthly) once the time expires. 

When you're ready to check out, you should see a "Due now" note at the bottom of your receipt that's valued at $0.00.

Also: How to use Photoshop: 5 basic steps to edit a photo

Note: If you don't cancel the subscription after 14 days (or 7 days after your full trial), you will not be eligible for a full refund and charged for the selected package.

4. Download and Install

After checking out, a download process for your trial package, along with Adobe Creative Cloud, should begin automatically. 

Once completed, you can open Photoshop and begin your photo-editing endeavors.

How to cancel your free trial 

If you decide at the end of your seven days that the Photoshop experience wasn't a good fit, you can cancel the free trial to avoid any extra charges. Here's how: 

1. Sign in to your Adobe account

First, sign into your Adobe account using the credentials associated with your trial order. If you don't remember the login information, try searching through your primary email for the order receipt.

2. Go to the "Plans and payments" tab

At the top of the website, select the "Plans and Payment" tab. A drop-down menu will appear and you will see a button that says "Manage plan". Click the button and then select "Cancel your plan". Adobe will ask you for the cancellation reason but the feedback is completely optional.

If you don't see the "Cancel your plan" option, reach out to an Adobe customer agent for assistance.  


Can I use Adobe Photoshop on my phone?

If you also want to access Photoshop from your mobile device and edit on the go, download the Photoshop app from the App store and sign in using your credentials. The app will recognize your account and sync your projects, so you can work from anywhere. 

Also: How to use Photoshop on your iPhone

Can I get a second free trial if I cancel and re-download?

Long answer short, no. At least not from an existing Adobe account. Adobe tracks and records all computer downloads and also has a record of your account and cancellation history. You could try, however, creating a new Adobe account with a different email. 

How much does Photoshop cost?

A Photoshop subscription could cost anywhere from $9.99 per month to $54.99 per month, depending on if you get the standalone service or bundled subscription. 

Does Photoshop have a student discount?

Adobe Creative Cloud, which includes Photoshop and 20+ other creative apps, offers up to 60% off for students and teachers. You can also get a free trial with this plan. If you're a student who's 13 or older or a teacher, you can qualify for Adobe's Creative Cloud service for only $19.99 per month. 

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