What is Photoshop?

Get a handle on Adobe Photoshop basics

Adobe Photoshop Welcome Screen

What is Photoshop? It's one of the most popular and well-known photo and graphics editing software out there. Officially called Adobe Photoshop, it was developed in 1988 and has since become a mainstay for many people who want to edit their existing photos or even create their own images and graphics.

Adobe Photoshop uses the PSD file extension for all its files.

Who Is Adobe Photoshop Aimed At?

Adobe Photoshop and its spin-off software are aimed at mostly everyone, and it's as complicated as you need it to be. You can use it to simply remove blemishes on an old photograph, or you can get far more involved and mix and match images together to achieve your desired results. 

The core software, Adobe Photoshop, is available via the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription plan, but you can also purchase individual parts of the package like Adobe Photoshop Elements, Photoshop Lightroom, and Photoshop Express.

If you'd prefer to use a free Adobe Photoshop alternative, many different apps are available.

How Can I Use Photoshop?

Adobe Photoshop is available for PC and Mac with a Creative Cloud subscription plan covering both operating systems. You can also use it on your mobile device via the Adobe Photoshop Express and Adobe Lightroom apps available for iOS and Android. 

Photoshop Elements vs Express vs Lightroom

Adobe Photoshop is the gold standard of photo and graphics editing software, but that doesn't mean that there aren't plenty of great uses for the others.

Adobe Photoshop Elements

Adobe Photoshop Elements is considered an entry-level graphics editor. It's typically cheaper to purchase than Adobe Photoshop, but offers few features. 

Those features are still useful, though; Elements focuses on providing photo editing tools that are simpler than the main software, but still convenient. You can use it to remove red-eye effect quickly, change skin tone, or remove blemishes. However, it has limited support for Photoshop plugins and it's not much use for graphic designers. 

Adobe Lightroom

Adobe Lightroom is designed for photographers who may wish to organize and lightly manipulate their photo collection. You can't doctor images like you can with Photoshop, but you can lighten up images at the touch of a button, as well as tweak colors and enhance or sharpen digital photos. Lightroom is there to make your snaps look better before arranging them as part of an extensive photo collection. 

Adobe Photoshop Express

Adobe Photoshop Express is the mobile version of Photoshop, although it's also available for Windows 8 and above. That means it's far simpler, providing a basic range of image editing functions like contrast and exposure tweaks, and blemish removal. It's also possible to add text to images. 

Adobe Photoshop isn't cheap and it's quite overwhelming for some users. If you just want to edit a photo occasionally, then something like Photoshop Elements or Photoshop Express will be more than enough for your needs. 

Adobe Photoshop for Beginners

There's a lot to take in when learning Adobe Photoshop. It's worth prioritizing learning how to use the magnetic lasso tool to cut out images easily, using the clone stamp tool to copy one area to another, and the various keyboard shortcuts.

It's also possible to install filters, plugins, new brushes and textures, and other useful extras to Photoshop.

Experimentation is a great way to learn more, too, as you get to grips with how Adobe Photoshop works.