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Need Photoshop? Here’s how to get it without overpaying

Image used with permission by copyright holder

As you might expect, getting your hands on a copy of Photoshop is going to cost you. But just how much Adobe’s industry-leading image editor costs depends on how you buy it. Since Adobe moved to the Creative Cloud, there are now several options for how you pay for Photoshop — and some may be more affordable than you realize.

Due to the different plans, discounts, and other variables, there’s no one-size-fits-all Photoshop plan. So, to help simplify things a bit, we’re going to break down the three main plans Adobe has that will get you access to Photoshop, as well as break down the various costs depending on how often you’d like to pay. Before that, though, here’s a brief rundown on the current state of Adobe Photoshop.

Photoshop CC

Photoshop used to be named using version numbers, like many other software programs. Since making the switch to a subscription-based service, however, Adobe has simply called it Photoshop CC (for Creative Cloud). Version numbers still exist under the hood, but it’s no longer something you need to worry about — if you have an active CC subscription, you will always have the latest version of Photoshop. Updates happen automatically and without the need for an additional purchase.

As part of the transition to a subscription service, Adobe also changed up how you go about paying for Photoshop. Now, rather than paying for a one-time perpetual license, you pay a monthly fee. This means the license expires if you cancel your subscription, but it also means you’re not faced with an initial cost of several hundred dollars.

Part of the subscription process is the option to choose a Creative Cloud plan that best fits your needs and budget. There are multiple plans to choose from, so here are the pros and cons of each.

Single app plan

The first option available is Adobe’s Single App subscription plan. As the name suggests, this plan lets you use a single app from Adobe’s Creative Cloud platform for $20 per month or $240 per year. You also get 100GB of cloud storage and access to Typekit, a massive font library, and Adobe Portfolio, an online platform for sharing your work.

If that sounds like a steep price, that’s because it is, relatively speaking. A first look, you may assume the single app plan would be the most affordable choice, but you shouldn’t follow through on that assumption. The single app plan works better for other apps in the Creative Cloud lineup, but when it comes to Photoshop, Adobe has a better options that give you far more bang for your buck.

Creative Cloud Photography plan

Simply labeled the “Photography plan,” this option includes Lightroom CC, Lightroom Classic CC, and Photoshop CC all for $10 per month or $120 per year. You also get Typekit and Portfolio access, but cloud storage starts with just 20GB.

It doesn’t take a degree in mathematics to see this offer is a much better deal than the single app plan. Not only do you get Photoshop CC, you also get access to two versions of Adobe Lightroom. Even if 20GB isn’t enough cloud storage for you, don’t fret. Adobe also offers a version of this plan with 1TB of Creative Cloud storage for $20 per month or $240 per year — again, a much better deal than the Single App plan. Cloud storage isn’t required for Photoshop, but if you want to access your assets from everywhere, and particularly if you use Lightroom CC, you may want to consider investing in the 1TB upgrade.

Creative Cloud all apps plan

If your needs go beyond what the Photography plan has to offer, your best option is to go ahead with the $50-per-month Creative Cloud All Apps plan, which gives you access to every single app in Adobe’s portfolio and 100GB of Creative Cloud storage.

You really only need this option if there are other Adobe apps you plan on using, like Premiere Pro, Illustrator, InDesign, After Effects, Audience, and so on.

Student and Teacher discounts

None of the aforementioned prices take into account the student and teacher discounts Adobe offers. Assuming you have an official affiliation with a school or institution, Adobe offers its All Apps plan for $20 per month for the first year. That’s $30 less each month that you’ll be shelling out, but do note that after your first year, you’ll be billed $30 per month as long as your affiliation remains intact. Still, not a bad deal for the entire Creative Cloud suite.

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