Adobe Photoshop is the world’s most popular photo editing software. It lets you perform pixel-level editing on your images.
Every day, Adobe Photoshop is used worldwide by millions of professional photographers, content creators, and even multi-media professionals.
Graphic designers and 3d animation specialists use Adobe Photoshop with other editing tools to create popular marketable content for the audience.
Over 90% of the world’s creative professionals use Adobe Photoshop. Earlier you could buy a Photoshop license and use that version for extended periods. But lately, Adobe has shifted towards a subscription model from a perpetual license.
That means Photoshop without a subscription would not be available to customers. In this post, we would go through different Photoshop subscription options and also weigh-in their pros and cons.
We’ll try to figure out if there is any Photoshop one-time purchase option provided by Adobe.
Can You Buy Photoshop Permanently?
We did some serious digging into Adobe Photoshop plans and subscription options.
Here’s all that you need to know before zeroing in on your Adobe plan/ product.
Adobe Creative Cloud subscription plans
Adobe Photoshop single app
Creative Cloud – All apps (CC)
Purchasing Photoshop Elements
When it comes to creative designing and editing, Adobe Photoshop is hands-down the best editing software package.
You can use Adobe Photoshop along with Lightroom to design your workflow and edit your images.
You can layer, retouch, warp, and even do pixel-level manipulations using Photoshop. Now by adding different Photoshop plugins, you can stretch Photoshop’s capabilities even further.
Under the Creativity Cloud subscription plans, Adobe provides you subscriptions for different software bundles.
Depending on your editing needs, you can select the right software bundle, and then opt for either a monthly or annual subscription. Currently, there’s no other alternative to buy Photoshop without a subscription.
If your line of work doesn’t require professional editing or advanced image compositions, and you are just looking for basic touching up and adjustments, then you can opt for Photoshop Elements 2021.
Photoshop Elements is a “lite” version of Adobe Photoshop. It is simple to use and unlike Adobe Photoshop it can be availed as a one-time purchase.
No subscriptions are required. If you are looking to buy Photoshop and are happy with basic editing, then Photoshop Elements is the right software for you.
So to answer your question, “Can you buy Photoshop without a subscription?”, the answer is NO! But you can download the Lite version of Photoshop, i.e. Photoshop Elements.
In the subsequent sections, we would drill down into each plan, figure out their respective prices, and weigh-in their Pros and cons.
Adobe Creative Cloud Subscription Plans
The Adobe Creative Cloud subscription brings you 3 different software subscription bundles. As the name suggests, these subscriptions are for professional photographers, content marketers, and artists.
As you would be paying for using any of these applications, I’d personally recommend you try out the Adobe Photoshop trial or any other plan that you want to opt for.
The trial gives you more confidence about the usability of the application and how likely it is to suit your editing demands. We would be discussing the features and limitations of a trial plan in the sections to come.
The Photography plan subscription allows you to edit, manage your RAW images. You can leverage Photoshop’s editing pixel-level editing to transform and add effects to your images. While using lightroom you can structure your workflow and edit pictures in bulk.
You can use the applications on either Windows, Mac, or iPad. The iPad compatibility is a huge step forward for Adobe as it makes editing on the move easy. Photoshop smartphone apps also help you to access your edits and picture on your phone, and also make tweaks.
Once you are done with the changes you can save your images/ graphic content on the cloud. The photography plan provides you 20GB of cloud storage.
For professionals or serious users, they can opt for the 1TB plan.
The photography plan with 20GB of cloud storage would cost you $9.99 for an annual plan paid monthly or $119.88 for a one-time yearly subscription.
If you want to extend the cloud storage to 1TB, you have to pay $19.99 for an annual plan paid monthly or $239.88 for a one-time yearly subscription.
The Lightroom subscription plan only includes Adobe Lightroom. With this subscription, you would be able to edit, organize and share your photos across devices. This plan provides your 1TB of cloud storage.
This a single app subscription and would cost you $9.99 for an annual plan paid monthly or $119.88 for a one-time yearly subscription. The strange thing is for the same rate you can get a much more robust software bundle if you opt for the Photography plan.
The only difference is the Photography plan’s default cloud storage capacity is 20GB, and you need to shell some extra bucks for the 1TB storage.
If the 20GB storage seems ample to you, then it makes a lot more sense to go for the Photography plan.
The Creative Cloud All Apps subscription is the mother lode. The All App subscription allows you to use over 20 different applications, which caters to all of your editing, designing, and content creation needs.
This is the most advanced and powerful subscription option provided by Adobe. With this subscription, you can edit and design on any device and share on the go.
Along with the awesome spread of software, this plan includes 100GB of cloud storage and access to premium fonts and social media tools.
With Lightroom and Photoshop, you can edit and recreate images. But if you are required to edit videos and create custom graphics and animation, then Creative Cloud All Apps is a necessity for you.
This is the most popular and widely used subscription plan amongst professionals. It would cost you $52.99 for an annual plan paid monthly or $599.88 for a one-time yearly subscription.
For short-term gigs/ projects, you can also go for a monthly plan of $79.49, which is a bit steeper than the rest of the variants.
The subscription structure can be a burden for novice photographers and content creators.
However, from the utility point of view and cross-compatibility on different platforms, Adobe subscriptions are here to stay. Here are a few advantages and disadvantages associated with Creative Cloud subscription.
Latest features and updates – With any Adobe Creative Cloud subscription, you would always have the latest features and updates handy with you. This was something you couldn’t expect out of the previous standalone Photoshop versions.
Once you buy a Photoshop subscription all updates would be readily available to you. You need not pay any extra charges for the updates. With such frequent updates, your Photoshop or other Creative Cloud software bundles are less likely to crash or malfunction.
Demos to get you started – Adobe Photoshop and other Creative Cloud software provide you a rich user interface to edit and retouch your images. To be well-versed with all the features, you must know the tools and the right way to tweak your images.
The in-app feature demos provide you a detailed walkthrough of the tools. And you can implement these new features on your project without even leaving the application.
Compatibility with cameras – Professional photographers tend to capture images in RAW to get the most out of post-processing. While shooting in RAW, the camera captures all the information from the camera sensor and doesn’t compress the image in any way. But before importing your images into Photoshop you must convert them from RAW.
To convert your RAW images, you can either use Adobe Lightroom or Adobe Bridge. Adobe Bridge comes with Photoshop and you would not require any additional software to import your RAW images.
However, with the launch of any new camera model, there are chances of a new format for capturing RAW images.
So Adobe would monitor any new upcoming image formats and would roll out an update that supports the new version. The Creative Cloud subscription keeps such unsupported file extension errors at bay.
Mobile editing – Image editing and designing require a lot of computing power. That’s why earlier Photoshop and other editing software bundles were only available on Windows and Mac. But now you can edit your images and create those trippy designs, and high-quality animations even on your iPad.
Mobile editing has allowed designers and artists to design and do post-processing while on the move.
Cloud storage – Adobe Creative Cloud gives you a minimum of 20GB of cloud storage which can be extended to 1TB. With such storage space, you need not feel guilty storing RAW images and high-resolution images.
Cloud storage is synced across devices. So, you can start editing your images on your desktop and then finish it off on your iPad. There’s no need to transfer images to devices or import them every time you switch machines.
Offline Editing – Even though cloud storage helps you sync your work across platforms, you become dependent on an internet connection. In case of a faulty connection or while traveling to a place with poor reception, offline editing can help you get the ball rolling.
To enable offline editing, just download the item you are editing and you can work on it even without a stable internet connection. And once connectivity is restored you can re-sync your project and upload your images back on the cloud.
Expandable storage – While subscribing to your plan you can either go for a 20GB cloud storage or pay a bit more for a 1TB cloud storage.
In case even 1TB proves to be inadequate, then you can contact Adobe to top-up your cloud storage to 10TB.
Portfolio website and social media tools – With every Adobe Creative Cloud subscription, you get your portfolio website and tools for creating social media posts.
You get Adobe Portfolio with every CC subscription. You can use the portfolio website to showcase your creation to your audience or clients.
With the social media tools, you can create social media graphics in minutes. You can choose from a lot of different templates and then edit them as per your requirements. The social media tools are a great addition and can help create attractive infographics.
It is really difficult to dig up dirt on Adobe Creative Cloud subscription plans. Especially when the software does everything it is expected of, and then some more. The cons are not about the software, rather how the package is being marketed to the customers.
Expensive plans – The Adobe Creative Cloud subscriptions are relatively expensive. And even when you do pay for a subscription of your choice, once your plan gets over you won’t have the rights to use any of the software from your CC plan.
Another way of putting it is, you are paying Adobe to work with the application, and not to own it.
No perpetual plan – As you don’t own the software, any images that you have stored on the cloud won’t be accessible if not downloaded on your device.
Also once the subscription expires you won’t be able to work on existing images.
Adobe Photoshop Elements 2021: A Simpler Photoshop Alternative That You Can Buy
If you don’t want to enroll for a recurring Photoshop subscription and are good with basic editing then you can go for Photoshop Elements 2021.
You can consider Photoshop Elements to be a “lite” version of photoshop.
It is available for Windows and Mac platforms and you can own it for a one-time price of $69.9.
Even though it is not as powerful as Lightroom or Adobe Photoshop, with Elements you can still organize, edit, layer, and perform different brush operations on your images.
Photoshop Elements 2021 Pros and Cons
Affordable than subscription – As you can own Photoshop Elements 2021 after paying a one-time cost, it is anytime cheaper than a long-time subscription plan. You should go for Elements if your editing needs are simple and don’t want to be tied to a recurring plan.
You own the software – As you are purchasing the software itself, you need not worry about any expiration date. You can use Photoshop elements for an extended period. All your works would be available to you on your machine and you can re-edit them anytime you want.
No scope for updates – When you buy Photoshop Elements 2021, you are paying for a specific version of the software. Shortly when a new version with more advanced features gets launched, you won’t be able to get the updates for free. The only option would be to opt for a Creative Cloud subscription or buy the latest version of Photoshop Elements.
Not compatible with tablets/smartphones – Photoshop Elements is only available on desktop platforms. So you can’t edit your images using your iPad or smartphone.
No option for cloud backup – Without cloud backup all you work only resides on your machine and won’t be automatically synced. So in case you want to migrate to a new machine you have to manually transfer and import all your projects into the new machine. The unavailability of cloud backup can be quite cumbersome in the long run.
How to get a Photoshop discount?
Adobe provides attractive Photoshop discounts for students for their Creative Cloud All Apps plan. That’s not all, depending on your region you can get an exclusive discount around the year.
Let’s discuss the student and seasonal discount in detail.
Student & teacher discount – You can go for a student discount and get over 60% discount on Creative Cloud All Apps subscription.
Under student discount, you can get an annual subscription paid monthly for $19.99 per month for the first year and then $29.99 for subsequent years.
Without the discount, the same plan would have cost you $52.99 per month paid annually. While the annual prepaid subscription can be availed at $239.88 for the first year and $359.88 after that.
To get the discount, you must clear the eligibility criteria of a student. You must be over 13 years of age and must be enrolled in a school, college or university. You can use your school-issued email id and other school identity proof to get this offer.
Seasonal discounts – Seasonal offers a great way of getting cheap Photoshop subscriptions. To know about such discounts, keep an open eye on deals.
Mostly, Photoshop discount is given by Adobe during the Black Friday sale season. And as such discounts are short-lived I’d request you to check every other week for discounts on CC or individual plans.
PRO TIP: You can change your region/ country from the Adobe website to check if Adobe is providing discounts in other regions.
Can you get Photoshop for free?
All Adobe plans come with a 7 day trial period. During the Adobe Photoshop Trial period, you can use all features provided in the plan. After the trial period expires you have to pay for your subscription if you want to continue using your applications.
Using the trial period you can figure out which plan suits your requirements. You can subscribe to a plan within the trial period or after it.
Once you subscribe to a plan you can access all your cloud backup from your trial period.
Adobe Photoshop and Creative Cloud will always be aces in my book. If I have to judge from a utility point of view, I don’t think I was ever disappointed in any of its features. That is one of the reasons why Adobe pushed for a subscription model so that it caters to all the needs of serious professional users.
Access to flexible cloud storage helps you access your projects anywhere. You are not restricted to your workstation and can edit your images on the go.
To make sure that Adobe doesn’t overwhelm starters and students, they have Photoshop Elements available so that users need not have to worry about recurring subscriptions.
While for students they are giving away a mammoth discount of over 60% to exempt them from steep subscription charges.
While getting started, you can make the most of the trial period to get a feel of the application. But a 7-day window is quite less given the plethora of features Creative Cloud possesses.
Can I Cancel My Adobe Creative Cloud Subscription?
Yes, you can cancel your ongoing subscription from the Adobe accounts page at the click of a button. If you cancel your subscription within 14 days, you would get a full refund.
After 14 days a cancellation charge would be levied on you which would be deducted from your subscription charge and the rest would be refunded back to you. You can get further details about CC cancellation, here.
Can I use Photoshop after canceling my subscription?
After cancellation, you can’t access your Creative Cloud applications or services. You won’t be able to access your cloud backup after the subscription expires.
Can I turn off auto-renewal?
You can edit your plan setting from the “My Plans” section. Your auto-renewal date would be visible on this page, and also you would be getting an email notification before the plan renews itself. You can either cancel before the renewal cycle, or within 14 after renewal. For the latter, you would be getting a refund of the auto-deducted amount.