Adobe Photoshop is widely used software, with the majority of those using it being professionals. It has become the go-to for graphic design and professional photo editing.

In fact, it is an industry standard program required for many jobs, especially those in the creative field. 

Even though it is so commonly used, can you buy it outright rather than taking out a subscription?

This article tells you all you need to know about purchasing Adobe Photoshop, and whether there are better alternatives out there for those who aren’t professionals.

So, without further ado, let’s get to it!

Can You Buy Photoshop Outright?

You might remember the days before streaming and subscriptions services took over, when you could bulk out a massive payment and own Adobe Photoshop.

Sadly, this is no longer the case. Since they did a complete overhaul of their services, Adobe no longer lets anyone buy Photoshop as a one off.

In fact, if you want to use Photoshop, then you will need to pay for one of their many subscription services.

This means either going for something like Adobe Photoshop on its own which starts at $20.99 a month, or something like the Creative Cloud package which starts at $54.99 each month.

But provides you with many of their creative apps.

For the hobbyist, this may seem quite a lot to pay. This is especially true if you just plan to use Photoshop here and there for creative purposes only.

Unless you have a lot of disposable income to hand, then you may want to look for an alternative. Fortunately for you, we’ve got you covered!

Photoshop Elements Is A Good Alternative

If you are only planning to use Photoshop to edit a few pictures, then the full Photoshop experience probably isn’t suited to you anyway.

A cheaper and better alternative is Adobe Photoshop Elements. Whilst it is a much, much watered down version of Photoshop, you can buy it outright to install on your computer.

This means a one off payment with absolutely no subscriptions fees – hooray!

In fact, you can purchase it as a digital code straight off Amazon.

If a download code isn’t your thing, then you will be happy to know that you can still do it the old fashioned way by using an installation CD. 

Whilst an Adobe account may be needed to activate the software, you won’t have to part with extra cash as no further payments are needed.

The only downside is that you may not be able to upgrade your Photoshop Elements. To do so, you will have to buy a new version. 

Photoshop Elements Vs Photoshop

The biggest difference between them both is that one you can buy as a standalone, whilst the other can only be purchased via a subscription.

There are ways to have a cheaper subscription to Photoshop however, such as being a student – though obviously this doesn’t apply to everyone!

Photoshop is an all round creative program that allows for so much more than photo editing.

It can be used to create a number of projects to a high standard, and has many professional tools for airbrushing photographs, or to create a shop’s billboard advertisement.

The possibilities are endless with something like Photoshop, and is a must-have program for the professional photographer or graphic designer.

In fact, if you are working in the industry, then something like the full Adobe Cloud of apps would be more suited to you.

This includes other apps such as Adobe Lightroom and Illustrator. The good thing about Adobe is that you can tailor the subscription to meet your needs.

Once you have purchased Elements, then there isn’t as much flexibility.

Speaking of Elements, it can be very restrictive if you want a do-it-all program. It is highly suited to those who want to fix and edit photos, and do small projects.

Whilst it has a lot going for it, and is a suitable choice for non-professionals, you can edit photographs to a professional standard.

However, the added tools in Photoshop make it a better choice for those who need it for work.

Elements is the better choice, and much cheaper option, for those who are creative for hobby reasons.

So, Which One Should You Buy?

So, Which One Should You Buy?

As mentioned above, both Adobe Photoshop and Photoshop Elements have their positives depending on what you plan to use the creative program for. 

If you are a professional photographer or graphic designer, then it only makes sense to take out an Adobe subscription.

This way you can also up the price and pick other Adobe programs to suit the work you do.

Photoshop Elements on the other hand is perfect and a much cheaper option for those who only need the editing software on occasion.

This could be because you are only editing red-eye from a family photo, or take photos in your spare time as a hobby, rather than as a professional freelancer. 

If you keep both of these reasons in mind, then you should be able to tell which one is best suited for you. 

Pros And Cons Photoshop

Here are the pros and cons of Photoshop:


  • Professional
  • Extra tools
  • Industry standard
  • Free updates to the latest version


  • Expensive
  • Can only get via a subscription
  • Difficult to use

Pros And Cons Photoshop Elements

Here are the pros and cons of Photoshop Elements:


  • Great for hobbyists
  • Easy to use
  • One time purchase


  • Limited tools
  • Best for hobbyists only
  • Cannot update meaning will have to repurchase the latest version

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, you cannot buy Adobe Photoshop as a one-time purchase. Instead, you must buy it as a subscription via Adobe. This can be done as a single subscription, or alongside other apps. 

Another option is to invest in Photoshop Elements. Whilst not as advanced as Photoshop, it can be bought standalone, and is used to edit photos, as well as simple graphics projects.

This makes it more suited to the hobbyist, rather than the professional.