If you’re here, you’re probably searching for an easy way to use Photoshop for free. That’s getting harder to find: Whether you’re editing a fantastic meme or trying to get professional work done for a client, Photoshop is almost entirely a subscription service these days with periodic updates, and the old methods of using a past version of the software don’t really function anymore.
So let’s talk about the best way to experience Photoshop for free, and the rare cases in which old downloads may be the best option for you. You may also want to check out other free photo-editing software available online, or look for the best photo editing apps for iOS or Android if you prefer to work on mobile. But for the best results, you will probably want a great photo editing monitor to work on.
Download your free trial
Right now, the top way to use Photoshop without paying anything is to sign up for the free trial, and then cancel before that trial ends. Adobe offers a free seven-day trial of the latest version of Photoshop, which you can start whenever you want.
Step 1: First, navigate over to the Adobe website where they offer the Adobe Photoshop CC Free Trial. Check out the FAQs to learn more, and select “Start your free trial” when you are ready to begin.
Step 2: Choose what free trial plan you are interested in. The Photography Plan offers you Photoshop, Lightroom, and Lightroom Classic, plus a choice between 20GB and 1TB of cloud storage. With the 20GB option, this costs $10 after the free trial. The Photoshop CC Plan just offers Photoshop CC, but you get 100GB of cloud storage for the deal, and after the trial the price jumps to $21 per month. Finally, the All Apps Plan gives you access to all of Adobe’s 20-something apps and 100 GB of cloud storage, which costs $53 per month after the trial. For the fastest download, the Photoshop-only option is probably best. Select it and enter your email if necessary.
Step 3: The download should automatically begin. This download will work with both MacOS and Windows 10 as long as you have around 4GB of storage space for the app to fit into. You cannot download it on mobile devices. Follow the on-screen instructions for completing the process.
Step 4: If necessary, you will now need to fill out a few quick questions and sign in with an Adobe Account or create a new account. Note that this is now the same thing as a Creative Cloud membership, which you have to pay for as part of Adobe’s subscription service. You have to transition to Creative Cloud to make your free trial permanent, but this is not required for the free trial itself.
Step 5: You can now use Photoshop for seven days, which starts on the day that you download the free trial. Make sure you cancel the trial and avoid signing up for Creative Cloud so that you don’t start paying for anything!
Adobe makes it very difficult for you to sign up for an additional free trial after your first, and keeps a record of the downloads that have been made on your computer. If you fully delete Photoshop or use a different computer—and sign in with a new Adobe account—you may be able to get another free trial, but it doesn’t always work.
Using Photoshop CS2
Once, Photoshop CS2 (Creative Suite 2) was available for a free download if you had purchased this old version of Photoshop sometime in the past. Since many people looking for a free Photoshop app just want the options that CS2 provides, this worked out well for many long time Photoshop users who didn’t want to use a subscription service or download new versions.
Unfortunately, there are now huge caveats with this process that make it largely unworkable for most users. These include:
- Adobe has disabled activation servers for CS2 and Acrobat 7 due to issues with their age (both around 7 years old). They are neither supported nor updated.
- An original serial number from a past purchase was required to download and use CS2. This is no longer the case—now you can only use the specialized version of CS2 with a single serial number provided by Adobe (see below). Your original software is no longer supported.
- Windows 10 has had growing problems trying to use Photoshop CS2 due to outdated compatibility. It is now quite difficult to get the software running on Windows.
- MacOS has not been compatible with CS2 since OS X 10.7 Mountain Lion, and current versions of MacOS can no longer support it.
Basically, the only reason you should consider CS2 now is if you had previously bought that version of Photoshop, use it on a Mac, and are willing to keep that Mac at a much earlier version of MacOS—prior to OS X 10.7 Mountain Lion.
Unfortunately, keeping your operating system rolled back to this extent (MacOS is now one 10.14 Mojave) can open up your Mac to security dangers, and may make other apps or features incompatible, and will become increasingly unusable in the future. We only suggest this option if you desperately need to use Photoshop for a task, and have a dedicated Mac that you can keep rolled back for this project, but don’t use for sensitive information.
If this in the case, then head to the Adobe download webpage and select “CS2.” Adobe will then have you say “I accept” to various warnings about disabled servers and outdated software. Then you can check out the CS2 and Acrobat 7 (both are required) system requirements, choose a language for downloading, and then start downloading the proper files for the right operating system. Note the serial number on the right that you must use. Good luck!