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Understanding Adobe Photoshop Versions

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› Understanding Adobe Photoshop Versions
  • Published on October 9, 2015

There are many different versions of Photoshop, and this guide helps you to understand which version is right for your needs. There are different versions of Photoshop for professional artists, casual photographers, graphic designers, and individuals who simply need to clean-up a selfie or other image captured on a mobile phone or tablet. Some Photoshop versions are free, while others require a monthly or annual subscription. The versions of Photoshop are listed below:

Photoshop CC is the version that started the Photoshop franchise. It is used by professional retouchers who perfect the models and products that you see in most advertisements. Designers of all types, working across a wide range of fields all use this version of Photoshop. From graphic design and web design, to product design and package design, this version of Photoshop contains the tools needed by creative professionals. This is the original version of Photoshop and runs on either Mac OS or Windows computers, but not on phones or tablets as there are specific versions of the app designed for mobile use. The Photoshop CC version is available as a subscription directly from Adobe on either a monthly or annual basis.

Photoshop Elements is the version of Photoshop for amateur photographers, consumers, and small businesses that are not dedicated graphic design professionals. It provides many of the same image correction capabilities of Photoshop, and includes image management through a cataloging function, making it easier to find and organize large numbers of photographs. Most graphics and design professionals will outgrow the limitations of the Elements Version of Photoshop, but this version is perfectly suited for most marketing departments or smaller businesses that need to perform only basic edits to photos. Photoshop Elements is available as a one-time purchase, with no monthly subscription required.

Photoshop Lightroom is the version of Photoshop used by professional photographers who are more interested in color correction and image adjustments, especially over a large catalog of similar images. For example, a photographer with 50 images that have similar lighting and need nearly identical corrections is a good candidate for this version of Photoshop. Photoshop Lightroom is for those who are less interested in design and merging multiple images together, and are more focused on the needs of a photographer. Photoshop Lightroom is available on the Mac and Windows operating systems, also as a subscription. An iOS version which run on the iPhone or iPad is also available. The iOS version of Photoshop Lightroom does not include all the capabilities of the desktop version of the app, but it is available at no cost, while the desktop version has a monthly or annual fee.

Photoshop Fix is the latest addition by Adobe to the three other versions of Photoshop. The Photoshop Fix version is available at no cost for mobile platforms, such as the iPhone and iPad. It includes capabilities that automatically recognize portions of a face, and corrections can be made to these areas of an image. Standard color correction features are included, as is the ability to remove unwanted items from a portion of an image, such as items in the background that may need to be removed.

Photoshop Mix is another no-cost version of Photoshop which is mobile-only, and does not run on either Windows or Mac OS computers, only on Android or iOS. The primary purpose of Photoshop Mix is to combine images together, or remove a portion of an image. It has only a small overlap with Photoshop Fix. If you are looking to edit images on a mobile device, Photoshop Fix is the better version, while if you want to combine images together, Photoshop Mix is the better version. If you want all the capabilities in a single app, look at either the Photoshop CC or Photoshop Elements versions.

The versions of Photoshop are different enough that there are separate Photoshop training classes for Elements, Lightroom, and CC. Each has different capabilities and is generally used by a unique segment of users. The decision of which version to use is based upon the type of work being performed, and whether you will work entirely on mobile or on a desktop device.

About the author

 is a user experience designer, Photoshop expert, educator and author based in Boston. She is the author of more than 20 books on design tools and processes, including Adobe Creative Cloud for Dummies, Adobe Creative Cloud Digital Classroom, and Photoshop Digital Classroom. She has been awarded a Microsoft MVP three times for her work with user experience design in creating apps for touch, desktop, and mobile devices.

Jennifer delivers UX training and UX consulting for large Fortune 100 companies, small start-ups, and independent software vendors. She has been hired by Adobe and Microsoft to deliver training workshops to their staff, and has traveled to Asia, Europe, India, the Middle East, and across the U.S. to deliver courses and assist on UX design projects. She has extensive knowledge of modern Windows UX Design, having worked closely with the Windows team to create educational material and deliver UX workshops to key partners globally on behalf of Microsoft. Jennifer works with a wide range of prototyping tools including Fireworks, Photoshop, Illustrator, Blend for Visual Studio, and Balsamiq.