Can You Buy Photoshop Without Paying Monthly? – Step-by-Step Guide with FAQs

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Adobe changed its policy to buy a perpetual license that allows complete ownership over Adobe products to a subscription-based fee. 

Applications from Adobe Creative Suite (CS6) such as Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, Adobe After Effects, and Adobe Premiere Pro are no longer available on retail. 

Now the professional software is only available through a Creative Cloud Subscription. 

We understand that as an online course creator you would not want to spend too much on graphic design and photo editing software. 

Therefore, in this article, we will go through a step-by-step guide on how to buy Photoshop without paying monthly.

Subscription and License

Until 2019, the only Adobe application available for subscription as well as a perpetual license was Lightroom as part of the Adobe Creative Cloud plans. Now, Lightroom Classic and Lightroom CC are available for subscription.

bug fixes

Adobe Lightroom 6 was the last Adobe product available for sale as a perpetual license. In 2019, they discontinued Lightroom 6 and Lightroom Classic CC (version 7) took over with a subscription-only plan.

Adobe Photoshop

Although many alternatives have surfaced over the years, Adobe Photoshop has no competition with its high-quality features and mobile-app aid. 

For example:

The Photoshop CC iPad app offers features that no other iPad app can.

The Adobe software no longer offers Photoshop CS6 for sale. 

The only version available is through a paid Creative Cloud Membership. The Photography plan is the most affordable membership. 

adobe photoshop pricing

The Creative Cloud Photography plan allows you to sync all your devices, Lightroom Cloud Storage, many online services, and includes Photoshop, Lightroom, and Lightroom Classic.

At $9.99/month, this will be your smallest online course business expense. 

If you want Photoshop without Lightroom then you can choose the Single App plan for $21/month. 

However, we recommend the Photography plan since it does not make sense to pay more for a single app.

For now, the only Photoshop version for sale is the Photoshop Elements version.

Photoshop Elements

As an online course creator, the current version of Elements would be sufficient for you. It is enough for editing images and costs only $99.99. 

photoshop elements price

A ton of features from Photoshop’s latest version have been added to Elements. 

This version of Elements is quite powerful right now as compared to the older versions because it has:

  • Panorama merge
  • Hair selection
  • Healing
  • Camera shake reduction

After research, our team found a hack to get Photoshop’s full version. 

You can use a plugin called Elements+ (not an Adobe product) which unlocks almost all Photoshop features hidden in Elements. 

Both Elements and Elements+ are non-subscription plans and are affordable as well.

We think that the best part about Photoshop on mobile devices is that you can edit on the go. They vary in price and features both and you can easily find one that suits you best. 

Adobe Photoshop Express is available for iOS, Androids, and Windows phones. 

Adobe Creative Cloud Subscription 

We understand that Creative Cloud apps are extremely expensive.

However, they provide the ultimate quality features. The Adobe Creative app gives you an All-Apps Plan which is a collection of Adobe applications that work best with each other. 

The Creative Cloud subscription includes:

  • 20+ desktop and mobile apps
  • Adobe Portfolio
  • Adobe Spark
  • Adobe Fonts
  • Adobe Fresco
  • 100GB Cloud storage space

The CC subscription model involves:

  • $599.88 Pre-Paid Annual subscription 
  • $79.49 Monthly fee 
  • The annual plan paid monthly for $52.99

As an online course creator, you might only be interested in basic photo editing features. Therefore, we recommend the Photography Plan which will be a cost-effective measure to get Photoshop.

adobe creative cloud

Student Discounts

The teacher and student discount would be extremely beneficial for you as an online course business. Adobe Photoshop gives a generous 70% discount to students where it drops monthly prices from $52.99 to $15.99. 

student discount

The discount is applicable on plans of Photoshop and all Creative Cloud programs. 

You might need to clear a verification process to prove that you truly are an institution, student, school, or online course business. 

Buy Adobe PhotoShop Subscription

As an online course creator, Photoshop might not be the most cost-effective option.

You should only buy Photoshop if you are into serious creative work. Otherwise, the Photography plan is more feasible.

The Photoshop plan for subscription fee involves:

  • $239.88 Prepaid Annual Plan
  • $31.49 regular monthly plan 
  • The annual plan paid monthly for $20.99

The option to buy Photoshop outright has not been available ever since Adobe moved to the subscription version. 

However, you could probably buy Photoshop CS6 from third-party resellers who might still have some license keys available.

We must advise you against this decision because if you get Photoshop CS6 outright, you will not get the latest version. You will not get to enjoy new features and updates. 

Moreover, if you intend to buy used copies then look out for pirated copies, malware hacks, scams, and any serial number Adobe has deactivated. 

Photoshop Alternative Options 

Image editing software has attracted demand since Photoshop came out. People usually look for other software because Photoshop is very expensive. 

In this section, we will recommend some substitutes for Photoshop that we think would be beneficial for you.

If you use Mac OS, then you should consider Pixelmator, Acorn, or Polarr. However, you might miss out on features many professionals use. 

So if you want advanced features such as Camera RAW editing, ICC profile conversions, or non-RGB color editing then you should consider Affinity Photo

Affinity Products


Affinity has been the perfect affordable substitute for Adobe for a few years now. 

Affinity Designer is an incredible alternative for Adobe Illustrator and Affinity Publisher for Adobe InDesign. 

Moreover, Affinity Photo is a great alternative to Photoshop. Affinity has offered a trio of perpetual licenses that can be used as alternatives for the Adobe Creative Suite. 

Affinity has also been rumored to be designing a digital asset manager that could potentially replace Adobe Bridge or Lightroom.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How Can I Get Photoshop Without Paying?

Adobe offers a 7-day trial version. The best option for you to use Photoshop facilities cheaply is to sign-up for the trial. You can cancel right before the trial period ends and walk away with zero costs.

Why is Photoshop So Expensive?

Photoshop is the best 2D graphic design software available on the market. Its demand reaches professionals and experts. It is the most stable, high-quality graphic design tool out there.

Is There a Free Version of Photoshop?

The only free version offered of Photoshop is the free trial period that lasts 7-days. You get access to the full-feature program along with the latest updates.

Is Photoshop a One-Time Purchase? 

If you frequently require the assistance of Photoshop to edit your photos and use their graphic design tools, then we recommend you purchase the app. A one-time purchase will allow you to own the facilities and you will not have to re-subscribe every time. 

How Much Does it Cost to Download Photoshop?

You can get access to the complete full-featured version of the app for a monthly subscription of $20.99. This means you are also free to get an annual bill of $239.88 and pay once per year. This plan allows access to features, updates, and 100GB of Cloud Storage.   

We have created a VERY detailed guide for you in which we talk about every single thing you need to know about making money by creating, selling, and managing online courses.

Final Verdict

This concludes our step-to-step guide on how to buy Adobe Photoshop without paying monthly. 

The professional version of Photoshop is now subscription-based so you cannot buy Photoshop with a one-off payment. The subscription plan can be very expensive. 

As an online course business, you might not need all the features Photoshop offers. You can choose alternatives and get access to good-quality image editing software. 

The alternative that comes the closest in terms of quality and high-end features is Affinity. 

Let us know which plan you will choose.