You want to buy Photoshop, Adobe’s best-selling image editing and graphic design program. And you are wondering if you can make a one-time payment for it, or if you’ll have to sign up for a subscription and pay for using the software every month.
Well, to make a long story short:
You can’t buy Adobe Photoshop with a one-time payment. These days, Photoshop is only available by subscription. This has been the case since Adobe launched Photoshop CC and stopped selling and supporting Photoshop CS.
There are several subscriptions to choose from, and you can pay monthly or annually. At $9.99/month, the Photography plan is the cheapest option. This gets you Lightroom for desktop and mobile, Lightroom Classic, Photoshop on desktop and iPad, and 20 gigabytes of storage space in the cloud.
(Note: If you save your files on the computer, they won’t take up space in the cloud. If you prefer to save your files in the cloud but run out of space, you can top up your existing subscription with additional storage space without having to switch to another plan.)
The Difference Between Photoshop and Photoshop CC
Many, many years ago, software wasn’t licensed and sold on a subscription basis. Instead, computer programs were sold on CDs or as digital downloads that you only had to pay for once and could keep using forever.
That was also the case with Photoshop. I still remember getting my first licensed version of Adobe Photoshop in the mail on a CD, and having to wait forever for it to install on my Windows XP computer.
But as the Internet got faster and faster, and web servers got more and more computing power, the cloud became a thing. And with the cloud came the concept of subscription-based software, where computer programs were licensed on a monthly or annual basis, rather than with one-time payments.
In 2013, Adobe released a new and improved version of Photoshop called Photoshop CC (the “CC” stands for “Creative Cloud”). As the name implies, this was the first version of Photoshop that was partly powered by computers in the cloud and that you had to license with a subscription.
Adobe eventually stopped selling and supporting Photoshop CS—the very last version of the graphics editing application that you could license with a one-time payment and install on your computer with a license key. Photographers, designers, and hobbyists subscribed to Photoshop CC because it was the only way to keep getting the latest and greatest features from Adobe, and that continues to be the case to this day.
So, Can’t You Just Buy and Use the Old Photoshop?
Technically, you can.
There are probably software resellers who still sell licensed copies of Adobe CS. And even if not, you can probably find someone selling their old Photoshop CD on eBay.
The thing is, Photoshop CS6, the last version of the graphics editing app before Photoshop CC, was released in May 2012. Adobe stopped supporting it in 2017, and you may not be able to get it to work on a modern machine running the latest version of Windows or Mac.
So you’re probably better off subscribing to Photoshop.
- No, you can’t buy Adobe Photoshop without a subscription. To use the latest version of Photoshop, you have to sign up for one of Adobe’s subscription plans.
- The cheapest subscription plan for Adobe Photoshop, the Photography plan, costs $9.99/month and gets you Lightroom, Photoshop, and 20 gigabytes in the cloud.