Photoshop for the Web Is More About Accessibility Than Power

Use it anywhere

Key Takeaways

  • Photoshop for the web is now available as a beta.
  • The web app will only run in Chrome and Edge browsers.
  • The emphasis is on sharing, retouching, and minor tweaking.
Adobe Photoshop for the web illustration

Adode

Adobe’s Photoshop is now a web app. It’s severely cut back, but even so, photographers and designers are excited to use it. 

The Photoshop web app works in Chrome and Microsoft Edge, and is surprisingly capable. In fact, if you have a Chromebook, and have modest needs, this could be your only image editor. But is it necessary? Everyone already has a "good-enough" photo editing app, be it Photoshop, Lightroom, Affinity Photo, or the apps built into your phone or iPad. What, then, is the point of this web-based version of Photoshop?

"Photoshop will always be my favorite way to edit images, [but] having a version on the web that I could log into from any computer would be extremely helpful," professional photographer Patrick Nugent told Lifewire via email. 

"While I have my laptop with me 95% of the time, those random times when I don’t have it for one reason or another, having the flexibility to save the day for a client from any machine is worth so much."

Democratization

Before Photoshop and Illustrator, designers and photographers had to learn how to work with paper. Then Adobe brought tools that were easier to learn and use, and often gave better, and more predictable, results. The world has since changed. 

Now, web-based collaborative tools like Canva and Crello let anyone create simple graphic assets, and the AI tools built into mobile photo apps make it easy to create professional-looking edits with almost no effort.

Using Photoshop on the web's selection tools

Adobe

"We surveyed 350-plus graphic designers on the topic of graphic design and found the most common negative response was that their skillset as an artist feels like it's becoming obsolete now that anyone can pop on Canva and create a professional YouTube video thumbnail rather than downloading, learning, launching, and exporting in Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator," former graphic designer and media professional Victoria Mendoza told Lifewire via email. 

What does this have to do with Photoshop on the web? It used to be that young designers and photographers would pirate Photoshop and learn it, then—so their justification went—pay for it when they started earning real money. Now, you can just grab a free app to get started.

Collaboration and Accessibility

There are two huge advantages of using web-based tools. One is you can sign in and use them on any computer. The other is that you can collaborate. 

Take Google Docs, for example. Despite being clunky, and frankly terrible on mobile devices, Google Docs is massive, thanks to its amazing collaboration tools. It’s the closest thing to sitting next to someone and working on the same page, but you don’t get in each other’s way. 

Sharing Photoshop document across tablet and desktop

Adobe

Photoshop for the web promises the same collaboration on images. This could be as simple as sharing the view with a client while on a phone call, so you could make requested changes in real time, instead of endless back-and-forth emailing of large image assets.

The other advantage, as Nugent said above, is access. You can log into your Adobe account from any computer and make quick edits. Or you could use it on a Chromebook. Or you could use this to run Photoshop on an unsupported platform, like Linux.

Is It Any Good?

Now we know how and why we might run Photoshop in the browser. But do we want to? Thanks to advances in web technologies, Chrome can host some impressive apps. You don’t get all of Photoshop's most advanced features, but the important basics are there, from P3 color-space support to the most essential Photoshop feature of all—keyboard shortcuts

"...having the flexibility to save the day for a client from any machine is worth so much."

You can also use "limited editing features like simple layers, selection tools, masking, and more," wrote Adobe Photoshop product manager Pam Clark in a blog post. "We are starting with workflows for retouching and adjusting images, some of the most common Photoshop use cases."

As we said, it’s severely limited, but you could also say it’s very focused on getting a few things right. If you’re already an Adobe subscriber, you can try it right now.

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