Photoshop for the masses (for free!)

Adobe recently released a beta version of Photoshop Express, more about a free online photo editor. I created an account today, and I’m impressed. I think in terms of features, it is comparable to Google’s Picasa program, but it doesn’t require you to download any software. Adobe is providing 2GB of storage space, so you can store and display your images online. One of my favorite features is Photoshop Express’s integration with Photobucket, Picasa Web Albums, and Facebook. If you have an account with any of these third-party providers, you can log in from Photoshop Express, and open and edit your photos from the other sites.  That is cool.

To get started, go to and create an account. You’ll have to activate the account by clicking on a link they send you by e-mail. (They are saying it may take up to an hour to get your confirmation e-mail, but mine came in less than one minute.)

Once you log in, you can upload photos, or use the navigation on the left to log in to your Facebook (or other 3rd party) account. When you upload images, you can highlight multiple images (use Ctrl + click or Shift + click to select multiple images) to upload, which is a very nice feature. You can work on another browser tab or window while the files upload.

Hover over an image in the library, and you’ll see a drop-down list of options. If the photo is one you  uploaded, you have more options than if the image is one hosted on a third-party server. (Rotating and e-mailing photos can’t be done for third-party images, and album options are only available for images you can display in an album, which are photos you’ve uploaded to Photoshop Express.) When you edit an image that is stored on a third-party server and save it, a new image is uploaded to the service; so you aren’t changing the images you’ve already added to the service, you’re modifying a copy of the image.  When you edit an image that you are storing on the Adobe servers and you save it, the image saves over the old one, but you can always revert the image to its  original state.

Photoshop Express works with all the big browsers, including Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer. This is a great option for basic photo fixes, and works especially well if you already have a lot of images on Picasa Web Albums, Photobucket, or Facebook, because you can use Photoshop to edit those images and have the edited versions automatically added back to your other accounts.

There is even a nifty full-screen feature that allows you to see the site without the browser frame; it really gives the feel of a desktop application (except that in full-screen mode, you can’t use your keyboard at all; that is kind of weird).

It’s great for photo touch ups and gives you quite a bit of power without a lot of complexity. Your photos are then available to you on any computer connected to the Internet (which is a strength and a weakness, as storage space is limited to 2GB, so I can’t store ALL my pictures on the site). Google Picasa, on the other hand, works on your hard drive, so your space is only limited to your available disc space, and then you just upload those images that you want to share or store on Google’s site. But I’ve found that I quickly ran out of space on Picasa’s servers.

As for me, I won’t be abandoning my copy of Photoshop CS2 any time soon, but I may be using Photoshop to touch up some of my family pictures that I display on the web, as it seems perfect for that kind of thing.

Check it out! I think you’ll like it.

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