Review: Adobe Photoshop goes online with Photoshop Express

Photoshop Express featured Adobe has finally opened up the beta of Photoshop Express, the long-awaited online version of Adobe Photoshop. I’ve just finished running it through it’s paces and I am impressed.

Photoshop express requires registration to use. You get access to the online editing tool and a relatively meager 2 GB of space for photos at a custom URL which you can organize into a slick public gallery and slideshows. It won’t replace dedicated photo sharing like Flickr (no comments, limited interaction) but for casual users just being able to share a few albums and slideshows may be enough. By default, photos you upload to the service are private until you move them into your public gallery.

Photoshop Express

The interface should be immediately familiar to anyone who has used Adobe Lightroom. The default view of your photos mimics Lightroom’s browse mode and even includes the ability to rate and caption your uploads. Unfortunately it does not support RAW editing. That would have been killer.

Editing is also very much like Lightroom. Unlike Photoshop, it does not support layers, masking, or really any of the features that make Photoshop, well, Photoshop. It does provide easy, one-click access to the most used functions for everyday usage: cropping, red-eye removal, saturation, white balance, sharpening, etc. It also provides a version of the healing brush and highlight and fill light correction. Effects include black and white conversion, cutouts, color adjustments, sketch filter, and distortion.

Undo works similarly to Picasa where you can undo a specific effect or action. As you make changes, checkboxes appear next to the tool you used that allow you to toggle the change on or off. It’s not quite “undo” but it works well enough.

Photoshop Express edit screen

Adding photos to the service is easy. You can upload from your own computer or pull photos from your Facebook, Photobucket, or Picasa account. Flickr was conspicuously missing. Only JPG photos are supported.

Overall, Photoshop Express is an impressive and polished service. It is positioned to become the “gateway drug” to the entire family of Photoshop products. It won’t replace Photoshop, and it would have been more appropriate to name it Lightroom Express, but it does most things that casual users need. Only time will tell if it can succeed against competitors like Picnik and Picasa.

Related: Review of Picnik

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By John Watson

John Watson is the original founder of Photodoto. If you're interested in what John has been up to, you can browse his personal blog.


  1. looks great… but have you read this:

    Taken from “Adobe Photoshop Express – General Terms” (

    ” […]
    8. Use of Your Content.

    a. Adobe does not claim ownership of Your Content. However, with respect to Your Content that you submit or make available for inclusion on publicly accessible areas of the Services, you grant Adobe a worldwide, royalty-free, nonexclusive, perpetual, irrevocable, and fully sublicensable license to use, distribute, derive revenue or other remuneration from, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, publicly perform and publicly display such Content (in whole or in part) and to incorporate such Content into other Materials or works in any format or medium now known or later developed.

    b. […]”

  2. Yah, that seems bad. I suppose it’s because they’re a commercial service and they need relicensing rights in order to put your photos in public galleries and on the Express home page. The clause doesn’t affect you if you don’t share your photos in a public Gallery. It’d be nice if they were more up front about it though. Flickr has a similar clause but specifically excludes photos. I’m no lawyer so I don’t understand why one service needs it and the other doesn’t. Different lawyers.

    It comes down to how much you trust Adobe, I guess. I’m pretty confident they’re not going to take my photos and sell prints to people without my permission.

  3. just had a look at flickr’s tos but couldn’t find any clause similar to this one…

    Regarding “I’m pretty confident they’re not going to take my photos and sell prints to people without my permission.” At least you allow them to do so by accepting those terms…

  4. You’re right, Flickr specifically excludes photos and videos from their clause (I updated my comment). It’s in the Yahoo terms which the Flickr terms are a supplement to.

  5. for photos (and other media) submitted to other services than yahoo groups yahoo’s tos say that the license granted only includes use etc “solely for the purpose for which such Content was submitted or made available.” (yahoo tos 9. b.)

    that’s by far not what is granted to adobe when accepting their tos (“… and to incorporate such Content into other Materials or works in any format or medium now known or later developed.”, end of 8. a.)

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