How to Use Adobe Photoshop Express to Edit Photos Online
Online Photo Editing
The free Adobe Photoshop Express online editor is a tool for improving a photo and for altering it with special effects. It doesn't have the wide range of photo editing tools that some of the other versions of Photoshop have, but it's fine for basic jobs and is fun to use. It may be the only image editing program that many people need.
The online version of the editor lets a user import one of their own photos, correct flaws in the photo, and add a few special effects via filters if desired. The user can save their edited photo on their hard drive or portable device.
The Adobe Photoshop Express app is also free to use. It must be downloaded from the Adobe website, but as in the case of the editor the user must be online in order to use the app. The application has additional features compared to those of the online editor. I find it very useful, especially on my iPad. The app also runs on Windows and the Android system.
In July 2020, a new version of the online photo editor replaced the previous Flash-based one and is shown above. In this article, I discuss two versions of Adobe Photoshop Express, which I refer to as the online editor (or simply the editor) and the app.
Accessing the Editor and Getting Started
The online editor must be accessed from the photoshop.com/en/tools web page. Once a person goes to the page and clicks on "Get Started", the "Select a Photo to Edit" screen appears. This screen enables a person to upload one of their own photos stored on their computer or use a sample photo provided by Adobe.
When the image loads, five tabs appear on the left of the image, as follows.
- Spot healing
- Crop and straighten
- Resize image
- Adjust image
- Remove background
When a tab is clicked, new choices appear on the right of the image, as shown in the screenshot above.
It's a good idea to practice using the program with an unimportant photo to begin with. Once you've discovered how to use the tools, you'll be able to work efficiently with the actual photo that you want to modify.
The Editing Tools
As might be expected, the tools in the online editor are not as advanced as those in other versions of Photoshop, but they can still be useful. The effects of some of the photo filters can be combined. Each filter has a control bar, allowing the user to strengthen or weaken the effect. The program provides undo and redo tools so that decisions can be reversed.
- The spot healing tool enables a person to click on a spot in the photo and allow the program to change the appearance of that spot. The size of the clicked area can be changed. The tool enables blemishes or defects to be removed.
- The crop tool enables the photo to be rotated, flipped, and cropped. (Cropping removes the outer portion of the image.) Automatic settings to crop photos to specific dimensions or for different social media sites are included.
- The resize image tool enables a person to change the size of the photo to specific dimensions (without cropping it). The required dimensions for photos of different qualities are shown.
- The adjust image tool provides some interesting filters and allows for some creativity. The color and tone of the photo can be changed, the contrast and detail can be adjusted, and vignetting can be added. The user can preview the effect before choosing it by clicking and holding on the photo.
- A person needs to log into their Adobe account in order to use the remove background tool. (This tool is not available on all of the screens in the program.) All of the other tools can be used without logging in. If the user does log in, they'll find that the remove background tool has some interesting abilities. It automatically removes the background, as its name suggests. It also blurs the background and allows the user to choose the degree of blur.
- The editor provides the ability to zoom the image up to 800%. This can be useful, but I find it hard to work with the highest magnification on my Windows system.
- Even without the user being logged in, the program "knows" that the person didn't finish editing a photo on a previous occasion and offers to load the partially edited photo.
- The online editor and the app work with JPG and PNG files.
- The final image can be downloaded and saved on the user's device.
Advantages of the Online Photo Editor
The online editor is a useful program and is easy to use. It's helpful for someone who doesn't have much disk space to store image editing software. It's also helpful for someone who needs an image editor and can't afford one or doesn't want to buy one. A person who doesn't own their own camera and would like to edit the copyright-free photos that are available at various websites should also find the program useful.
Yet another advantage of the online editor is that it can be used when a person needs to edit a photo while they are away from their home or office. If the computer that they're using doesn't have an image editor installed, they can use the free online version of Photoshop Express (as long as the computer has Internet access).
The images below show some effects that I created with the previous version of the online editor. The Photoshop Express app provides some of the functions that the editor once supplied but no longer does and that are shown in the photos below.
Limitations of the Online Editor
The online editor is useful, but it's missing some tools that were present in the previous Flash-based version of the editor and that I found helpful or fun. The old version provided dodge, burn, white balance, sharpen, and blur tools. It also allowed users to remove the red eye effect from their photos. In addition, it enabled people to decorate their photo in various ways and to add text to the photos. The new version has a limited version of tools and filters, at least at the moment. I preferred the old version of the editor.
It's possible that the online editor will be improved. It's already better than the version that was available before the previous editor was removed. People can get some of missing features (plus new ones) by using the Photoshop Express app, which like the online editor is free. A person must download the app and then sign into the Adobe site whenever they want to use it (or stay signed in while they do other things). I review the app below.
Although the Photoshop Express app must be downloaded from Adobe, it could be viewed as a type of online editor because it doesn't run without an Internet connection. The user must be signed into the Adobe website directly or via a social media account in order to use the app.
An App for Computers, Tablets, and Phones
The Photoshop Express app is available for the iOS, Android, and Windows operating systems. For a long time, I was able to use the iOS version of the app like any other application on my iPad. Currently, however, a user must sign into a free Adobe account or sign in with Facebook or Google if they want to use the app. The same condition applies on a Windows computer and probably on an Android device, too, which I haven't tried.
The sidebar menu in the Windows version of the app provides the following tools and abilities.
- Looks: change the appearance of a photo via a large group of filters (including a pop color one resembling the one found in the old online editor)
- Crop: rotate or flip the image and crop to different sizes (including the specific sizes required by social media sites)
- Corrections: control exposure, contrast, highlights, sharpness, and color
- Spot Heal: remove blemishes
- Fix Red Eye: improve eye appearance in people and pets
- Borders: add edges and frames
The app contains more filters than the online editor, and the filters have more settings. The strength of many of the filters can be changed. The Auto Enhance tool in the top menu is useful. The top menu also contains the Undo and Redo tools.
The "Settings" button in the Windows app tells the user that information about how they use the app is sent to Adobe in order to provide "a more personalized experience" and "to improve product features." The ability to track the user's actions can be turned off.
Different Versions of the App
Text and stickers can be added to a photo in the Photoshop Express app, but only in the iOS version. Collages can also be created in the iOS version of the app, which has additional features compared to the Windows one. According to the Adobe website, the latest version of the iOS app can edit RAW images and add watermarks.
I don't have the latest version of the app on my iPad. I do have an older version of the application, however. It's not so old that it isn't useful. In addition to being useful, it's fun to use. Like many of today's programs, it's easy to use the app as soon as it's open, but a period of exploration and practice is needed to use it to best effect.
Purchased Programs Versus Free Ones
Adobe sells other image editors that have more and better features than their online program or their downloadable app. These editors are suitable for professionals, semi-professionals, and advanced amateurs. Another advantage of the programs besides their capabilities is that software that is paid for tends to be updated more often than free software. As far as I could tell, the old version of the online photo editor wasn't updated for several years.
The free programs may be all that many people need. They are for me. They're fun to play with, and they do useful jobs as well, especially in the case of the app. I think it's definitely worth experimenting with free software before purchasing an image editing program, especially when the program is expensive.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
Does the Adobe Photoshop app create cartoon pictures?
No, it doesn't at the moment. It's meant for photo editing and can create some interesting effects, but it doesn't create cartoon pictures. I don't know whether there are plans to eventually integrate this ability into the online app. I doubt it, because the app is free. I expect it will stick to some useful but relatively basic features.
© 2013 Linda Crampton