There are lots of image-editing software packages out there, but none have quite the same ‘mindshare’ as Adobe Photoshop. It’s one of the few applications famous enough to become a verb.
Assuming you’ve considered and rejected all the alternative iPad image editors, and have decided to go with Adobe, we’re here to help get Photoshop on your Apple tablet. We’ll walk you through installing the app and setting up a subscription and – best of all – we’ll explain ways to save money and even use the app for free.
If you’d like to get the same software for your MacBook or iMac, see How to get Photoshop on Mac.
Download Photoshop from the App Store
Adobe makes Photoshop available through Apple’s App Store, which means you can download the app direct to your iPad with ease. Simply open the App Store app on your iPad and search for Photoshop, or tap/click this link and you should be taken there automatically.
Tap the Get button next to the entry for Photoshop to start the download. Depending on your security settings and whether you’ve recently installed another app, you may or may not have to enter your Apple ID details and password, or use Touch ID or Face ID to verify the ‘purchase’ (even though it’s free at this point).
Wait for the app to finish downloading, then tap Open in the App Store or tap the app’s icon on the home screen to open it. You’ll immediately be confronted by a welcome page that asks you to sign up or sign in to proceed further. This is because Photoshop is based on a subscription model.
Set up a subscription via the App Store
You can’t just buy Photoshop outright from the App Store for a flat fee and use it forever. Adobe operates a subscription model: the initial app download is free but you then pay a regular fee to keep using the software.
Adobe’s Photoshop subscription is available in the App Store. If you searched for Photoshop in the App Store, you’ll probably have seen it as the second result (or third, if you see an ad first).
You can sign up for the subscription direct from the search screen. Tap the Free Trial button next to the subscription entry and you’ll see pricing details – in our case, we see “Free for 1 month, then £9.99/month after trial” – and a button labelled Install & Subscribe.
The subscription fee varies according to the type of subscription you get: it costs £9.99/$9.99 a month, or £78.99/$79.99 for a year. (Obviously the yearly sub works out cheaper per month, but gives you less flexibility when it comes to cancellation.) There’s no weekly sub.
Set up a subscription from Adobe’s website
Regular Apple users will have noticed that the company is keen to get iPad (and iPhone) owners to sign up for subscriptions via the App Store, so that it gets a share of the revenue. But it’s perfectly possible to cut out the middleman and set up a Photoshop subscription direct with Adobe.
You might think that would be cheaper, since Adobe doesn’t have to pay a cut to Apple. In fact the two options are difficult to compare because Adobe offers a range of subscription licences, many of them encompassing Photoshop on desktop as well as iPad, cloud storage and other extras.
Here are your subscription options:
If you just want the single Photoshop app, subscription prices compare poorly with what Apple is charging on the App Store. Note that this includes Photoshop on desktop too, however, and 100GB of cloud storage.
- Annual plan (paid monthly): £19.97 per month
- Annual plan (prepaid): £238.42 – works out at £19.87 per month
- Monthly plan: £30.34 per month
Sign up on Adobe’s website.
If you’re in for the long haul the Photography Plan is a better deal than grabbing Photoshop alone. It’s cheaper, despite also bundling Lightroom and Lightroom Classic (and again some cloud storage space, although this may be less than what you’d get with the single-app subscription).
The only downside is that Adobe doesn’t offer the option to subscribe for these bundles on a month-by-month basis. You’re locked in for a year, whether you choose to pay for that in a lump sum or via regular payments.
Here are the prices for the Photography Plan with 20GB of storage:
- Annual plan (paid monthly): £9.98/$9.99 per month
- Annual plan (prepaid): £119.21/$119.88 – works out at £9.93/$9.99 per month
And here are the prices if you want 1TB of storage:
- Annual plan (paid monthly): £19.97/$19.99 per month
- Annual plan (prepaid): £238.42/$239.88 – works out at £19.87/$19.99 per month
You can browse the full plan details and sign up on Adobe’s website.
Once you’ve set up an Adobe ID with a subscription that includes Photoshop, you can apply that to the Photoshop app on your iPad. Simply sign in using your Apple ID, and the software will unlock.
Apart from Adobe, you can also buy a year’s subscription from other online retailers – and sometimes these retailers have prices that outdo Adobe’s. See the best prices for the Photography Plan from all retailers in your region below. We also have a separate Creative Cloud buying guide with advice on where to get the best deals and pricing on Adobe CC software.
How to cancel a Photoshop subscription
It’s reasonably easy to cancel your Photoshop subscription. Here’s how:
- Go to the Adobe web page where plans are managed.
- Sign into your Adobe account.
- Under My Plans, select Manage Plan (or View plan).
- Now hit Cancel plan.
- Give your reason for cancellation.
- Hit Continue.
How to get Photoshop on the iPad for free
If you’re thinking in terms of very short periods of use, the free trial is your friend.
Apple’s free trial lasts for 30 days – more than enough to accomplish a stunning project without paying a penny. Adobe’s trial lasts for just 7 days, but the company will let you cancel a paid-for subscription without paying, provided you do so within 14 days of setting it up.
Indeed, by making use of various free trial offers, you may be able to spin things out for a while: 30 days with Apple, then 7 days with Adobe, then a further 14 days – or 13 to be on the safe side – before cancelling a paid-for subscription with Adobe.
Eventually, however, you will have to either pay or learn to live without Photoshop on your iPad. We’d lean towards the former, since by this point you would appear to have proven that the software is to your liking.
Photoshop Express – Another free option
If you don’t need the full suite of features available in Photoshop, consider Photoshop Express. This is a far more basic app offering basic image-editing functionality, but crucially it is free.
The barebones version of the app is free, at any rate: there are further feature unlockable via in-app purchases. But many users manage with the free version only.
We’d certainly suggest trying out Photoshop Express before moving on to the more advanced and costly Adobe products. You can download it from the App Store.