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, especially with the new ability to access Android apps on Chrome OS. There is still no full version of Photoshop for Chromebooks, but there are some ways to edit images using companion apps. With some effort and technical know-how, you could even find a way to use the desktop app. Let’s show you how it’s done.
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.
It’s not exactly convenient to need so many apps in order to reach feature parity with the desktop version of Photoshop. Compounding matters are the premium features only accessible through in-app purchases. Still, this is the most straightforward method if you want some form of Photoshop on Chromebooks.
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.
This isn’t the most ideal way to use Photoshop on a Chromebook, but it works in a pinch. Also, all Chrome Remote Desktop sessions are encrypted for protection.
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 at least $11.99 per month.
Just remember that it may be easier to simply use Photoshop on the PC that you’re streaming from instead of jumping through all of these hoops.
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, and 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 don’t need that much complexity from their editing software. 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 completely leave Photoshop behind, but you’ll have to use the software on a PC in this case. Other alternatives include Fotor, GIMP Online, and Polarr Photo Editor.
In addition, Chromebooks now have access to some Linux apps. Check our dedicated post to see if your device can take advantage of these.
Check out the links below to learn more about using Chromebooks and which Chromebooks are worth your money.