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How to get Photoshop on a Chromebook
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 These machines weren’t originally made with intensive tasks in mind, so you might struggle to run powerful apps like Photoshop on Chromebook laptops.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 on one of them, there are some workarounds for editing on Chrome OS. Especially now that Chromebooks have access to Android and Linux apps.
You can get the full version of Photoshop on a Chromebook, at least natively. There are some ways to use it by streaming a full Windows PC to your Chromebook, though. There are also very good alternatives you can use, including Android and web apps.
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Editor’s note: We will regularly update this post with new information as other solutions emerge.
Get Photoshop on Chromebook via the Google Play Store
Thanks to Chrome OS 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 download Photoshop apps from the Google Play Store:
- Launch the Google Play Store.
- Search for “Photoshop.”
- Your first result should be Photoshop Express Photo Editor. Click on it.
- Select Install.
There’s also the Lightroom app, which might be a better alternative for a mobile-centric computer like a Chromebook.
Obviously, none of these 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, ensure you have a stable internet connection on your PC and Chromebook.
How to set up Chrome Remote Desktop:
- In Chrome on your PC, visit the Chrome Remote Desktop website. Sign in.
- Under the Set up remote access option, select Turn on.
- 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. Click Start.
- Install the Chrome Remote Desktop extension 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 can also try cloud computing
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 can install Photoshop on your remote Windows machine and stream it. Just keep in mind Shadow isn’t cheap — it currently starts at $32.99 monthly.
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.
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 will 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 free web app with many Photoshop features. You can even load Photoshop files if you don’t want to leave Photoshop altogether.
Other alternatives include Fotor and Snapseed. There are also some Linux options, including GIMP. We have a dedicated guide on how to edit photos and videos using a Chromebook, if you want more recommendations.
There is no official native, web, or Android Photoshop app available to Chromebooks. You will have to find other workarounds to use it, or opt for alternatives.
Even though there is a Photoshop app for iPads already, Adobe has mentioned to plans to bring the popular photo editor to Android.
iPadOS users can use an official tablet version of Photoshop. You must sign up for an Adobe Creative Cloud plan to use it, though.
If you’ve decided a Chromebook can get the job done for all your Photoshop needs, look at our list of the best Chromebooks to find the right tool. Alternatively, you can save yourself some headaches and enjoy the real Photoshop by getting one of the best laptops.