A Chromebook is an excellent and (often) cheap alternative to most laptops running Windows or macOS. However, given the limited storage and use of the cloud with Chrome OS, some key software platforms are often unavailable. The good news is things are slowly changing, thanks to the ability to access Android and Linux apps on Chrome OS. There is still no official way to use Photoshop on Chromebooks, but you can leverage some companion apps to edit images. And if you are willing to go the extra mile, there are some ways to get the full Photoshop version working.
How to use Photoshop on Chromebook devices:
Get Photoshop on Chromebook via the 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 if you are willing to pay for the subscription.
- Select and download the apps you want to use.
We know none of these (or the combination of them) are really equivalent to the full desktop Photoshop app, but it’s as close as you can get without much tinkering. Adobe has released a semi-full-fledged version of Photoshop for iPad, so hopes of an Android alternative coming are up. Nothing is confirmed, though. 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 original tab 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.
- Now you can access your PC from your Chromebook, and therefore, use Photoshop.
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 Windows machines 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 and rate, process raw files, convert images to black and white, retouch photos, make panoramas, heal spots, and much more. You can’t combine images, 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. Also, the app isn’t completely free. The app can be downloaded and used for free, but it won’t have some features. You must pay at least $9.99 each month or $119.88 per year to unlock all possible capabilities.
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 behind completely, but you’ll have to use the software on a PC in this case. 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.