Chromebooks are amazing and (often) affordable alternatives to Windows and macOS computers. They come with some sacrifices, though, and one of the main ones is software availability. These machines weren’t made with intensive tasks in mind, so you might struggle to run powerful apps like Photoshop on Chromebook laptops.
Chromebooks have become more powerful in recent years, though, and while you still can’t run the desktop version of Photoshop in one of them, there are some workarounds for editing on Chrome OS. Especially now that Chromebooks have access to Android and Linux apps.
How to use Photoshop on Chromebook devices:
Get Photoshop on Chromebook via the Google Play Store
Thanks to Android app support through the Google Play Store, Chromebooks have access to millions of apps previously reserved for smartphones and tablets. This means Chromebooks also have access to all the Adobe Photoshop apps available on the Play Store.
How to get Photoshop apps from the Play Store:
- Click the circle on the bottom left of the desktop navigation area or press the magnifying glass key on the keyboard.
- Look for and open the Google Play Store.
- In the Search for apps & games search bar, search for “Photoshop.”
- Results should include Photoshop Express, Photoshop Mix, Photoshop Fix, and Photoshop Sketch. There’s also the Lightroom app, which might be a better alternative for a mobile-centric computer like a Chromebook.
- Select and download the apps you want to use.
We know none of these (or the combination of them) are equivalent to the full desktop Photoshop program, but it’s as close as you can get without much tinkering. Adobe has released a semi-full-fledged version of Photoshop for iPad, but an Android version is still just a hope, and nothing is confirmed. And since Android tablets aren’t as popular, we wouldn’t hold our breath on an official Photoshop app coming to Android tablets or Chromebooks.
Stream to your Chromebook
If you aren’t happy using Android apps, another option is to run Photoshop on a PC and stream it to your Chromebook. Before you start, make sure you have Photoshop and Google Chrome installed on your PC. Also, make sure you have a stable internet connection on both your PC and Chromebook.
How to stream Photoshop on Chromebook:
- In Chrome on your PC, visit the Chrome Remote Desktop website.
- Click the Set up remote access option.
- Install the Chrome Remote Desktop extension on your PC.
- Return to the Chrome Remote Desktop website on your PC and name your computer.
- Click Next and create a PIN with at least six digits.
- If prompted, enter the PIN you created on your PC.
- Go back to your Chromebook and download the Chrome Remote Desktop app for Android.
- Open the Chrome Remote Desktop app and log in.
- Now you can access your PC from your Chromebook, and therefore, use Photoshop.
- If your Chromebook doesn’t run Android apps, you can also use the Chrome Remote Desktop website to access your PC remotely.
This isn’t ideal for using Photoshop on a Chromebook, but it works in a pinch. Also, all Chrome Remote Desktop sessions are encrypted for protection. Just remember that it may be easier to use Photoshop on the PC you’re streaming from instead of jumping through all of these hoops.
You could also use a PC cloud service like Shadow. This company offers a Windows machine that can be accessed remotely through any compatible device. Supported operating systems include Windows, macOS, Ubuntu, Android, and iOS. You don’t see Chrome OS on the list, but remember, Chromebooks can run Android apps! Once set up, you could install Photoshop on your remote Windows machine and stream it. Just keep in mind Shadow isn’t exactly cheap! It currently costs $29.99 per month.
Use the web version of Lightroom
If you’re not a fan of Android apps or don’t want to stream Photoshop, why not give the web version of Photoshop Lightroom a shot?
It’s not the full Photoshop, but Photoshop Lightroom lets you crop, rotate, straighten, organize images, tag, rate, process raw files, convert images to black and white, retouch photos, make panoramas, heal spots, and much more. You can’t combine pictures, manage layers, isolate objects, or remove elements, but many of you don’t need that much complexity for editing your images. In fact, many professionals can get away with using Lightroom and ditching Photoshop!
How to use Photoshop Lightroom on the web:
- Go to the Photoshop Lightroom website.
- Sign in to your Adobe account.
Make sure you’re connected to the internet if you want to use the web version of Lightroom. Also, this service isn’t free. You have to get an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription to access Lightroom through the web, and prices start at $9.99 a month.
Find alternative apps
The lack of a proper app for Photoshop on Chromebooks is unfortunate, but there are a few great alternatives available you can check out. One of our favorites is Pixlr Editor, a web app with many Photoshop features available for free. You can even load .psd files if you don’t want to leave Photoshop altogether. Other alternatives include Fotor, and Snapseed. Remember there are also some Linux options, including GIMP. Check the post linked below to learn more about them.
Check out the links below to learn more about using Chromebooks and which Chromebooks are worth your money.