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Adobe Photoshop Review & Rating

Best of the year 2018 logo smallPhotoshop started the digital image manipulation revolution, and Adobe’s groundbreaking application continues to move forward as the best photo editing software on the planet. If you need layered image editing, including typography, 3D modeling, and drawing, you need Photoshop. Designers and photographers alike will find the most and the most-advanced tools available for their crafts in this application. The latest update adds cloud syncing (including with Photoshop on iPad); updated gradients, patterns, shapes and styles; and smarter AI-based object selection. Photoshop remains PCMag’s unquestioned Editors’ Choice for professional photo editing software.

Get Going With Photoshop

To get the latest version of Photoshop, you need a Creative Cloud subscription. This means you need to sign in with an existing Adobe ID or create a new one. The Photography plan is $9.99 per month, and that also gets you Photoshop Lightroom, our Editors’ Choice for photo workflow software, and 10 Adobe Stock images.

You can no longer simply buy a one-payment license for Photoshop, which annoys some users who don’t like the software-as-a-service model. Those who feel this way may want to consider options such as Corel’s surprisingly capable PaintShop Pro, CyberLink PhotoDirector, or even Adobe’s own Photoshop Elements, all of which can be purchased outright. And if you don’t want to pay a cent, you can use the free, open-source GIMP software, though doing so is a painful, counterintuitive experience.

Creative Cloud Desktop App

To install the application, you first install the resident Creative Cloud helper program, which handles updates and syncing your files online. This is also where you can find Adobe news, stock images, and the Behance creative social community (more about this later). The helper app has been updated to offer more info and options; where it used to be a sidebar, now it’s a full window.

You should only consider installing Photoshop on a fairly powerful PC or Mac. I tested on an Asus Zen AiO Pro Z240IC running 64-bit Windows 10 (the software is compatible with Windows 7 with Service Pack 1 or later). Installation took about 10 minutes. Mac users must be running macOS 10.13 or later.

If you haven’t hopped aboard the Creative Cloud train yet and are still clinging to your ancient licensed version of Photoshop, you miss out on other recent features like Content-Aware Crop, Face-Aware Liquify, Artboards, Cloud Documents, touch and stylus input support, the Design Space view, synced libraries, a glyph panel, and lots more. Photographers and photo editors also benefit from tools for haze removal, more navigation options, and new raw camera file support.

Photoshop Interface and Help

The Photoshop Interface

Adobe keeps making the Photoshop interface more customizable. You can choose from among several targeted workspace layouts, including 3D, Graphic and Web, Motion, Painting, and Photography, or create your own custom layout of panels and windows. You can even rearrange the program’s toolbar button rail to taste. Photoshop’s icons now sport the flat, 2D, non-skeuomorphic style that the tech world has embraced.

Choosing New Documents presents a dialog offering templates such as Textured Geometric Masks, Instant Film Mockups, and Photo Collage Layouts. Filter categories across the top let you restrict the proposed templates to Photo, Print, Art & Illustration, Web, Mobile, and Film & Video.

You can pick from thumbnails of your recent files, and access presets and libraries from the start page. The page shows personalized tutorial content at the bottom. Those who’d rather stick with the legacy starting experience can switch back to it, but I find that the start page makes it much easier to get to things I’m interested in, such as recent projects.

The ever-present search magnifying glass icon at the top right lets you find program functions, your own images, tutorials, or Adobe Stock images. I think a search function in a complex desktop application is a great idea, and some big-league software developers agree: Microsoft helpfully introduced it to Office 2016, for example. For context-sensitive help, the lightbulb icon is always at the ready for quick demos of how to perform edits.

The interface also adapts to the purpose at hand. A case in point is the Select and Mask workspace, which is an available option whenever you have a selection tool active. This shows only the tools useful during selection, such as Refine Edge, Lasso, Brush, Hand, and Zoom, along with the relevant Properties panel. The interface’s color themes offer a pleasing, context-sensitive consistency, too. If you set the window borders to be light gray, all dialogs will likewise be gray.

Photoshop Object Selection

Speaking of selection tools, new for the November 2019 release is Object Select, (not to be confused with last year’s Subject Select). Both use AI (called Sensei by Adobe) to automatically determine and select the main object in an image. Object Select lives in the same toolbar button as the Quick Selection and Magic Wand tools. When either of these is active, a Select Subject button appears in the options bar across the top of the program windows. In testing, pressing this did a remarkable job of selecting people when the background was relatively uniform. More complex backgrounds left some mis-selected areas.

Photoshop is keeping up with the times in terms of touch input, for devices like the Microsoft Surface Pro, and now the Apple iPad. Not only can you use touch to pan and zoom images, but Photoshop also recognizes gestures, such as a two-finger swipe to undo and a three-finger swipe to scroll through images. Larger tabs help touch-screen users, as do soft Shift, Ctrl, and Alt buttons. You can’t yet use touch for finger painting, however. For that, you might try Adobe’s new Fresco app.

Another input option is enabled by Photoshop’s support for the Surface Dial, which offers a nifty way to adjust brush size, opacity, and more. Photoshop Surface Dial Support

Tools for Photographers

Though it’s now packed with drawing and font tools, Photoshop got its start as a photo editing and printing application, and it remains the most powerful photo editing software. Along with its completely photography-focused sibling, Lightroom, Photoshop offers the most support for raw camera files, and the most in correction and effects. From removing or adding objects with content-aware tools to lens-profile-based geometry correction to histogram adjustments to stained-glass effect filters, Photoshop has it all. It’s impossible to cover every feature here, but I’ll take a closer look at a couple of the standout tools.

New for Camera Raw in the November 2019 update is the ability to automatically fill uneven edges in panorama merges. Photoshop can now also combine panorama merge with HDR merge, as can the updated Lightroom.

Content-Aware Crop. A few years ago, an app called Anticrop (since renamed to Recrop) gained momentary celebrity in the tech world. Why? As its name suggests, it lets change you change the aspect ratio of an image by adding to the sides instead of simply cutting them off. The Photoshop tool works similarly. Just check the Content-Aware box while using the crop tool, and the app fills in anything in the crop selection that falls outside your image’s boundaries. Content-Aware Crop resembles the Content-Aware Fill tool. Like that tool, Content-Aware crop only works well with patterned image content, such as a forest, pavement, sea, or sky. It’s particularly convincing with the latter. Note in the image below all the extra clouds generated in the sky on the right to create a more spacious square composition.

Content-Aware Crop

Content-Aware Fill itself has been updated, with an interface that shows you what source content it’s using to replace the object you want to remove. You can edit the source area, but the program does a remarkable job with no help—it’s even improved over last year’s version, now identifying objects that shouldn’t be part of the fill pattern.

Content-Aware Fill

Face-Aware Liquify. Face detection has reached an increasingly high level of accuracy in recent years, to the point of recognizing individual facial features, as well as whole faces. Face-Aware Liquify resembles a feature we first saw demonstrated by Adobe at Apple’s iPad Pro launch event in the app called Adobe Fix. Face-Aware Liquify tool lets you convincingly transform facial expressions, turning, for example, an RBF into a smile.

Face-Aware Liquefy

This brilliant tool finds facial features like eyes and mouths and gives you the ability to manipulate them with sliders for resizing the eyes, nose, face width, and jawline. You can even edit the eyes independently with Face-Aware Liquify. A chain icon lets you either lock together editing of the two eyes or edit them separately.

You can apply some very flattering changes, or some ridiculously unflattering ones, as you can see in my test images. For me, the coolest part of this feature is that the resulting image still looks human. It’s not like simply smearing a portrait with the old-fashioned, non-face-aware Liquify tool. Note especially the added smile at lower left.

Camera-Shake Reduction. One of the hottest features of Photoshop is camera-shake reduction. The tool analyzes the photo to find the path of shake motion, and then aligns the shifted pixels. It sounds simple, but it’s harder to get right than it may seem. This is because the path won’t be the same everywhere in the photo unless you shook it exactly along a single plane, which is highly unlikely. You can use the tool’s best guess, or select a region (or regions) in which you want the blur trace to be estimated.

You can also adjust Blur Trace Bounds, Smoothing, and Artifact Suppression—the last two let me create a less sharpened-looking result. I’d love to see a simple effect-strength adjustment like you get with Smart Sharpen (which, by the way, has a Reduce Noise slider). Shake Reduction is not a panacea, but it’s definitely a finer effect than even the Smart Sharpen tool. If the subject is simply out of focus, it won’t help you; a simply blurry subject won’t be fixed.

Photoshop Camera Raw Profiles

Camera Raw Features. Photoshop offers several advanced capabilities in its Camera Raw module, including a geometry correction tool called Upright. This lets you fix parallel vertical and horizontal lines. Its Auto setting attempts to fix perspective errors, but you can choose to align only verticals or only horizontals, or mess with the perspective to taste with transforming sliders for pincushion and barrel distortion, vertical, horizontal, and aspect ratio.

You can even use Camera Raw as a filter, applying all its manifold photo adjustments—color temperature, exposure, geometry, all of it—to any image layer. You can apply Camera Raw adjustments to video, too, and use a noncircular healing brush. As in Lightroom, you also get a radial filter that lets you apply the adjustments to an oval shape, such as a person’s head—very useful for highlighting that bit of anatomy.

Camera Raw Profiles give you options for how Photoshop converts raw files into viewable images. The default is Adobe Color, which produces a more vivid image than the old Adobe Standard profile. You also get Landscape, Portrait, Monochrome, and Vivid Profiles, along with a selection of retro and artistic Profiles that are essentially Instagram-style effect filters. The same Profiles feature appears in Lightroom. Read my review of that application for a more in-depth look at Profiles.

Dehaze is a Camera Raw feature also offered by Lightroom. Open any photo, even if it’s not in raw file format (I tried it on a mobile-phone JPG image), and this slider in the FX toolset does a pretty impressive job of removing—or adding—haze. Below, you can see the before and after (left to right) on a sample.

Dehaze in Photoshop

Mobile Design and Libraries

Photoshop has made great strides in the area of mobile design. Not only can you use views and tools intended to facilitate mobile and web design, such as Artboards and Design Space, but you can also install the Adobe Preview mobile app and see how your project looks on it. When I installed the app on my iPhone, I initially got a connection error. I was trying to connect by USB rather than Wi-Fi, though the Adobe documentation says both methods should work.

The Design Space workspace presents a smaller, simpler tool set, and it is geared to working with HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript. A tutorial panel helps you get started with this interface option. In Design Space, you can search and sample anything you work with, including colors, effects, fonts, layers, and your Library. What you don’t get are the standard Photoshop photo adjustments and effects, but you can easily switch back to the standard Photoshop interface from Design Space.

Adobe Photoshop CC 2015 Design Space

Artboards let you create Photoshop documents with multiple views for different device screens. An Artboard can also be thought of as a level above layers. In fact, they’re accessible from the Layers panel. It sounds a little dry, but after playing with Artboards for a while, I find it to be a useful capability.

Design Space uses Artboards by default. It also includes templates for current iPhones, iPads, Surface Pros, and other mobile-device screens. While I appreciate the thought behind these tools, I still expect it’s going to be a hard sell for designers who are used to the full Photoshop interface. It does offer a streamlined way to work with multilevel layer content, though. It also lets you manipulate multiple objects at once, or easily swap their locations.

For a few years, Adobe has offered a way to sync content across multiple installations of the Creative Cloud apps, but the current Libraries feature takes this a step farther. Libraries sync not only documents, but also brushes, font styles, and color themes. They can be created and accessed not only on the full Photoshop application, but also in mobile apps such as Capture, Hue, Photoshop Fix, Photoshop Mix, Photoshop Sketch, and Comp. The Adobe mobile apps support Libraries for acquiring, creating, or editing content. They’re all free downloads, but most require a Creative Cloud account for full functionality.

Related to Libraries are Cloud Documents. Saving your project as a Cloud Document enables you to work on it in the iPad version of Photoshop as well as on other desktops. Cloud Documents are saved instantly and will allow collaboration among multiple creators in later updates. You can also open documents in Adobe Fresco.

Adobe XD (Experience Design) lets designers prototype and design interfaces for websites and mobile apps. It uses Artboards for the various app and site functions, and its work can also be shared via Libraries.

Photoshop Libraries support Adobe Stock templates (see below) and can share read-only access to a public Library and to follow others’ Libraries. You can share a Library with anyone who has a Creative account and set permissions for collaborators, limiting them to read-only rights or granting them full edit privileges.

Adobe Stock

Adobe Stock, which emerged from Adobe’s 2015 acquisition of Fotolia, is a repository of over 40 million images, vectors, illustrations, and video clips. Non-Creative Cloud members can still buy assets from Stock. Creators can also sell their assets and get a 33 percent cut of all sales. That’s not bad, considering that the industry standard is 25 percent.

You can work within any Adobe desktop apps with Adobe Library support, including Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Premiere Pro, and After Effects. The Search Adobe Stock menu choice opens the website, on which you can search for content and either download or sync it to your Creative Cloud Library. But you can also search Stock right in the Library panel and insert it into your image, where it will be watermarked until you license it. After you license it, it retains any edits you make.

You can either pay for image licenses one at a time, at $9.99 per image ($79.99 for unlimited use, including for resale products), or get a subscription. Options include 10 images per month for $49.99 and 750 images for $199.99 per month. Creative Cloud members can get the 10-image plan for a reduced price of $29.99 per month, and unused images roll over to future months.

Font Tricks

Photoshop Font MatchPhotoshop keeps getting better at fonts. It lets you filter searches for fonts with attributes like serif, script, and blackletter, and you can even tell the program to show you fonts similar to one you’ve selected. And the Type>Match Font… tool can actually identify fonts in images and find the closest match on your system or in Adobe’s Typekit font store. Its intelligent imaging analysis isn’t yet perfect, though, especially in cases where the font is at an angle, as you can see from the screenshot. Marketplace, which arrived in 2017, lets you buy fonts from top foundries around the world.

You can also designate fonts as favorites, which is particularly handy. Another nifty touch is the ability to hover over a font choice to see it previewed in your document. As you hover the mouse cursor over typefaces in the search panel, your selected text instantly switches to that typeface. The font size dropdown menu offers a 16-point option, a size commonly used for web content. Web designers will also rejoice now that Photoshop supports SVG OpenType fonts for those wildly popular responsive designs, as well as emoji fonts.

Adobe Photoshop CC 2015 Font Search

Font fanciers who want to go even deeper than just standard typeface sets will love the Glyphs panel. This lets you substitute alternate characters, and even shows you those alternates when you select a character in a Type layer. The tool didn’t always work reliably for me, though, sometimes proposing a previous letter when I selected a new one.

A relatively new addition to Photoshop’s font capabilities is support for Variable Fonts. This is an OpenType font format that lets you play with custom attributes like weight, width, slant, and optical size using slider controls.

Tools for Artists and Designers

With higher-resolution displays becoming more common, your old images sometimes may not be good enough anymore. Photoshop’s upsampling algorithm could be a lifesaver. The upscaler shows up when you resize an image, in the form of the Preserve Details resample setting. This also offers a Reduce Noise option, since the process may introduce noise. It’s definitely clearer than the old bicubic algorithm.

Smart Objects make for nondestructive, reusable raster and vector images that update throughout your project. You can save formatting of type as styles that can be easily applied to other text later. You can also view type in a way that previews the antialiasing used in web browsers. For web designers, Photoshop can generate CSS code that produces the exact look designed in the software. Going in the other direction, the software can also import color from a website’s HTML or CSS code.

As of the November 2019 update, converting Smart Objects back to their components for editing is a simple matter of a Convert to Layers menu option. The default swatches, gradients, patterns, shapes, and styles have all been updated with more appealing options. Below you can see the new gradient panel on the right, for example.

Symmetry and Gradients in Photoshop

Photoshop offers a vast array of brushes and pencils (over 1,200). These offer stroke smoothing options, and you can organize brush presets in folders. A recent capability is the symmetry option. This works with Paint Brush, Mixer Brush, Pencil, or Eraser tools. To use it, you click the butterfly icon in the Options bar, and then choose the kind of symmetry you want: Vertical, Horizontal, Dual Axis, Diagonal, Wavy, Circle, Spiral, Parallel Lines, Radial, or Mandala.


Behance is a social network for creative professionals, offering online portfolios and connections. It’s built into all the Creative Cloud applications, letting users post projects for feedback from colleagues and clients. Users can post their files directly from Photoshop via a one-click share button. From Behance they can share and discuss the work and even connect with potential and existing clients and freelancers.

Behance’s ProSites are customizable online portfolios, which Creative Cloud subscribers can use with their own URLs. Behance’s presentation is elegant and clean, and incorporates all the essential social features du jour. I especially like that it offers statistics of your page activity. You can also export photos in Zoomify format—a powerful viewer that lets viewers zoom deep into large images. I’d like to see more sharing options, however, such as built-in email and Flickr sharing. Of course, you can do all this from Photoshop’s ancillary Bridge image organizer app.

3D Tools and Fuse

You no longer need to drop a cool grand to get Photoshop’s 3D image editing capabilities in an Extended Edition, as they come with all Creative Cloud or Photography subscription plans. Adobe has also improved Photoshop’s 3D tools, with faster performance and more realistic shadow rendering. Thankfully, Adobe offers downloadable sample 3D documents to get you started.

Working in the program’s 3D mode is not for the faint of heart: It’s practically rocket science, and indeed, you could design an actual rocket with it! The 3D Scene panel eases using it somewhat, though, as it consolidates many typical 3D design functions. You can create instances and duplicate 3D objects, which reflect any edits that you perform on the mother object.

Photoshop 3D

3D printing has become a hot topic these days, and Photoshop’s support for it continues to improve. The software can produce support beams and repair surfaces that wouldn’t print correctly without them. Photoshop even shows color-coded 3D print previews and can export 3D models as PDF or SVX files, control bump-map depth, and automatically simplify 3D meshes. It also supports 3D Manufacturing Format (3MF) files.

Video Editing

You can apply all of Photoshop’s still-image adjustments to video clips—including exposure, cropping, and filters. Photoshop is even capable of multitrack and keyframing, using the same fast rendering engine that powers Adobe’s Premiere Pro video editor. Only a few transition options are available, however, all of them variants of fades. Each video track you add becomes a Photoshop layer that can be individually adjusted.

You also get all the standard digital video editing tools, letting you join, split, and trim clips. Audio tools are minimal, but you can set an audio track’s volume percent, fade it in, fade it out, or mute it. Movie files are saved as .PSDs, but by choosing File/Export/Render Video you can create a video file with H.264, QuickTime, or DPX encoding. You also get a decent choice of resolutions targeting both big screens and mobile devices, including 720p, 1080p, and 4K options.

Export and Share

Photoshop’s Export options are richer than ever, and the performance is better, too. It now supports the operating system’s share feature. This comes in the form of an up arrow icon at the top right, which opens macOS and Windows’ built-in share targets. So on the Mac, you can use AirDrop, and on Windows, you can use My People, email, and any other Store installed apps that accept photos. The Export option replaces the tried-and-true Save for Web option (though you can still use that if you prefer). It’s faster and it delivers smaller files, especially when it comes to JPGs. You can also export and import SVG (scalable vector graphics) files, which are commonly used on websites.

You can export at multiple sizes simultaneously, convert to the sRGB color space, and export a single layer or Artboard. You can also set up a Quick Export option from the File menu to use the format of your choice. Finally, you can add metadata, such as copyright information, at export.

Beyond Mere Photoshopping

Photoshop makes it ever easier do amazing things with digital images. Integrated stock photography, advanced type tools, and organizational and syncing features, such as Cloud Documents and Libraries, are unique to the application. Beyond photography, you won’t find a better, more complete, or more precise tool for drawing and typography, both of which keep improving. Adobe understands the move toward mobile and web-focused design, along with the need for 3D tools. Photoshop’s position as the preeminent image editing tool remains secure. It earns a rare five-star rating and is the PCMag Editors’ Choice for image editing software.

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Adobe Dreamweaver CC Review & Rating

You can build websites using any of dozens of tools—some that run online, some that run on your local computer, some that run partly online, partly on your machine—but Adobe Dreamweaver 2020 stands alone as the only site-building app that’s just as suitable for individual designers as it for enterprise-scale projects. It’s just as helpful when you build a site by writing actual code as it is when work in WYSIWYG graphic layout that hides all the code until you need it. The app gets the job done for individual users or teams where different team members have different levels of freedom to add or change content, and of course it works smoothly with Adobe’s arsenal of graphics apps and web services.

Like all other Adobe apps, it comes in virtually identical Mac and Windows versions, and it’s available either through a Dreamweaver-only paid subscription ($20.99 per month with 1-year commitment, $31.49 month-by-month, or $239.88 for one year prepaid) or as part of the full Creative Cloud suite ($52.99 per month), which gets you Photoshop, Illustrator, and all the other creative software and apps. Both the individual app and the full suite subscription come with 100GB of cloud storage.

Responsive Site Design

Dreamweaver excels at creating multiplatform (responsive) websites that work equally well on a phone, tablet, or computer. Any private or corporate web designer looking to replace an ancient desktop- or laptop-style website with a modern multiplatform site will find Dreamweaver the obvious first choice. I’ll describe some alternatives later in this story, but none of them comes close to Dreamweaver in terms of power and ease.

After more than 20 years of evolution, Dreamweaver still has some awkward spots where it can’t decide whether it’s a tool for advanced coders or for visually oriented designers, but these are easy for serious users to work around—and Adobe’s subscription pricing means that only serious users are likely to have it. Dreamweaver isn’t cheap, but for professional-level web design, it repays the price in power and convenience. Adobe’s subscription model means you get periodic feature updates at no extra cost.

Adobe wants you to work with Adobe tools, so it’s easy to use Photoshop and Illustrator to edit images or Premiere Pro and Audition for video and sound files. You can also use Photoshop to create a mock-up of what you want your site to look like and then use Dreamweaver’s Extract menu to drag elements from the Photoshop file into your web pages. But Dreamweaver also works with just about any third-party site-building tool that you might want to use. For example, you can use Dreamweaver to design and edit sites managed by WordPress, Joomla!, or Drupal, or you can create a Git repository and use it keep track of changes in your site.

Dreamweaver uses the Bootstrap framework for responsive sites, and by default uses the latest Bootstrap version, 4.3.1, though the earlier 3.4.1 version is still built-in if you want to continue using that. Dreamweaver guides you through upgrading sites based on the earlier version and tries to resolve incompatiblity hiccups by creating new CSS and JavaScript files that use the latest standard. Bootstrap’s responsive sites are mobile-first, meaning that the Bootstrap framework is mostly optimized for phones or tablets, but Adobe’s built-in Bootstrap templates are well-engineered enough to look equally good on desktops and phones.

Adobe Dreamweaver 2020 CSS properties

The Dreamweaver Experience

First-time users face a steep learning curve, but if you’re familiar with Photoshop or Illustrator, you should be able to climb it fairly quickly. If like me, you get bewildered searching for some obscure feature, the Help menu can guide you to exactly the menu item you need, even when it’s deep in the menu structure. Dreamweaver uses the standard Adobe interface, a main editing window surrounded by a toolbar on the left and multi-tabbed information panels on the right. Unless you’re an expert coder who won’t need all the onscreen tools and panels, don’t even think of using Dreamweaver on a small laptop. This app needs all the screen real-estate you can give it.

When editing a typical, relatively simple website, you have at least four document tabs open, one for the current page, the others for JavaScript and CSS files, and an information panel with at least seven tabs, showing files, Creative Cloud libraries, HTML tags that you can drag into a file, a complex set of CSS controls, a Document Object Model (DOM) tree, a list of assets (sorted into URLs, images, media, and more), and a long list of prebuilt and custom-built snippets. Add to this a customizable toolbar at the left and a densely populated menu at the top, and you’ve got one of the most complex interfaces ever built into app, rivaled only by other development software such as Microsoft Visual Studio.

Fortunately, if you’re expert at coding, or if you want the most spacious possible WYSIWYG view, you can hide everything but Dreamweaver’s main editing window. And that window is a chameleon-like marvel of flexibility. The window’s viewing options include an all-code view with the typical coding-window indentation and color-coding to make the structure of your project visible.

You can choose between two kinds of WYSIWYG views. One is a Live view that approximates what you would see in a browser, except with page elements outlined for clarity and with buttons that let you modify the tags for individual elements simply by clicking on the element. The other is a Design view that shows all design elements on a page, including the ones that might be invisible in a browser until a user clicks on them. Finally, you can split the window to show code in one pane and either Live or Design view in the other—or with code in both panes so that you can view and edit two different parts of the code at the same time. Advanced options let you sync the changes you make on your desktop with the code on your remote web server.

Adobe Dreamweaver 2020 edit live code

New Features

The just-released Dreamweaver 2020 looks and acts almost exactly like last year’s Dreamweaver 2019. Adobe mentions only three new features: simplified click-to-edit in Live view, so you can edit text, not just tags, in Live view simply by clicking on a text element; new default settings for Japanese fonts; and improved code-hinting popups. There’s no new learning curve, and the interface and other features haven’t changed. One minor potential gotcha in the enhanced Live view editing feature is that some keystrokes don’t act as you might expect. For example, you can split a paragraph by pressing Enter in some text in Live view, but Backspace won’t recombine the split paragraphs—you’ll have to switch into code view and remove the tag for the new paragraph.

Web editors have always had a feature that previews their web page in a desktop browser. Dreamweaver goes one better by adding live previews on mobile devices—an essential feature when you’re designing a responsive page that must work on multiple platforms. You click a preview icon at the lower right of the editing window, use your phone or tablet to scan a QR code that appears on the preview icon’s popup menu, enter your Adobe password on your device. After this, you can preview your code in the default browser on your device, with the changes you make on the desktop appearing immediately. You don’t need to install any new apps on your phone or tablet.

Should you buy a subscription to Dreamweaver? If you already use Photoshop or Illustrator or if you’re building a corporate or design-heavy site, Dreamweaver is an obvious choice. If you’re averse to coding, then you can do what half the online world seems to do, and use WordPress to build your site by choosing a visual theme and using or modifying it from simple menus. You’ll need some technical knowledge, but you can get by with almost none.

If you don’t want to think about coding at all, then use a hosting service that offers Wix or Weebly or any other fully visual site-building environment that doesn’t require any coding. Be warned that you’ll sacrifice some customizability and control, however. Weebly lets you change themes at any time, but gives you limited options for text formatting. Both offer paid e-commerce options. You can also try a free version of the enterprise-oriented CKEditor system, which offers advanced features like collaborative editing, WYSIWYG editing and full control over your site’s code.

Adobe Dreamweaver 2020 preview on device

For smaller websites designed mostly for laptop and desktop browsers, you can use any of dozens of traditional web page editors like RapidWeaver or Coda on the Mac—but you won’t get true WYSIWYG editing as you do in Dreamweaver or browser-based systems like WordPress or Wix. Many traditional web page editors offer preview modes, and some (like Adobe’s terrific and free Brackets editor) offer real-time preview in your browser, but that’s not the same as editing entirely in WYSIWYG mode as in Dreamweaver’s Live-editing mode.

My favorite quick-and-clean WYSIWYG web editor for simple sites is Microsoft’s free, Windows-only Expression Web, formerly a high-priced app, but now a free download, because Microsoft stopped updating it after Visual Studio provided more advanced site-building tools. Expression Web hasn’t been updated since 2011, but its feature set still gets the job done for basic websites, and you can’t argue with the price.

Dreamweaver can seem slightly cranky at times. For example, if you click in the wrong place, the screen layout can suddenly change in ways that can be hard to recover from without resetting the screen layout to the default. The Undo feature works perfectly when you’re working in the code window, but doesn’t work in all contexts—for example, when you’re dragging assets into a window using the feature that extracts page elements from a Photoshop file.

Still Excellent

Despite some minor quibbles, Adobe Dreamweaver 2020 is mostly built like a battleship, and it has the best combination of flexibility, power, and ease of any instrument ever invented for building websites. Dreamweaver has no real competition, and no serious web designer should be without it. Dreamweaver is the PCMag Editors’ Choice for website-development programs.

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Adobe Illustrator Review & Rating

Adobe Illustrator has reigned over vector drawing applications since its release in 1987, quickly becoming one of Adobe’s trifecta of industry-standard graphic design tools alongside Photoshop and InDesign. Adding to the software’s already-excellent collection of capabilities, Adobe’s continues to introduce new features and enhancements sure to delight creatives. Recent highlights include path simplification, spell check, the improved Properties panel, the Puppet Warp tool, custom sizing for anchor points, and performance improvements.

In previous updates, Adobe has improved interoperability between the program’s desktop and mobile siblings with shared Libraries. The company also recently integrated and updated Adobe Stock, which now includes design templates as well as vector illustration and photographs. Despite some competition in the vector-based graphics space—Concept Draw Pro, Affinity Designer, CorelDraw, Sketch, and InkPad, to name a few—Illustrator remains the market-leading vector drawing software thanks to its unrivaled toolset, sweeping capabilities, and integration with the Creative Cloud Suite. Note that the apps in the suite no longer include CC as part of their names, however.

What’s New in Illustrator for 2020?

The November 2019 Illustrator updates are not quite as plentiful as what we saw last year but will be welcome to designers, nevertheless. Here’s a quick rundown.

  • Path simplification makes working with paths easier by reducing unnecessarily large numbers of anchor points.
  • Auto spell-check highlights errors as you type—a boon to designers who aren’t also editors.
  • Background save lets you move on to other tasks and export more quickly than before.
  • Faster rendering of drop shadow, blur, and glow effects.
  • More accessible troubleshooting when opening or saving files.
  • New guidance in the form of tutorials and help resources in the Home and Learn tab.

As a refresher, here are the most compelling highlights from the 2018 release, some of which merit further discussion later in this review:

  • The Properties Panel gives context-sensitive info and options about the currently selected object.
  • You can increase the size of on-screen controls, including anchor points, handles, and bounding boxes, which makes them a lot easier to adjust.
  • For users who have ever wanted to tweak or rotate a portion of an illustration without distorting the whole thing, the Puppet Warp tool gives you the power to do so in an intuitive and natural-looking way.
  • Move over PostScript (PS): Multiple Master (MM), TrueType (TT), OpenType (OT), and Variable (var) fonts are here!
  • The app now supports Microsoft’s Surface Dial.
  • It also adds support for CSV and XML in the Variables Panel.
  • You can now import multipage PDFs in one operation.
  • You can use the software to browse Dropbox files without downloading them.

Price and System Requirements

Adobe Illustrator Premiere Pro, and the rest, costs $49.99 per month. A free seven-day trial lets you test the software out with no commitment (and requires no credit card information).

Adobe Illustrator CC - Welcome

Illustrator is compatible with both Windows (7 SP1, 8.1, and Windows 10) and macOS (10.11 and later). For either platform, you need a reliable internet connection to download and register the programs. You can work offline, but you need an internet connection for membership validation and access to some online services. You can find a complete list of the system requirements for Adobe Illustrator on Adobe’s site.

If you’re thinking of leaving Adobe behind because it has gotten rid of the single perpetual license option, CorelDraw Graphics Suite ($499; or $198 per year for a subscription) is the alternative to explore. It’s for Windows only, though. For that price, you get six pieces: CorelDraw, Photo-Paint, PowerTrace, Connect, Website Creator, and Capture. CorelDRAW and Photo-Paint are the two primary applications. The first is a vector and illustration program. The second is an image-editing program. The other pieces are essentially utilities. Corel still offers a shrink-wrapped product, which is preferable for anyone with a spotty internet connection. You can also buy a perpetual single license and download a local copy of CorelDraw.

Is Creative Cloud a Good Deal?

All things considered Creative Cloud is an excellent deal. While I understand the reluctance to getting locked into software subscriptions, there is no denying that membership has its advantages. In return for your annual payment for full Creative Cloud, you get access to all Adobe’s ever-expanding collection of pro applications (and even some betas). This inspires me to keep up my knowledge of emerging trends, technology, and capabilities.

Even if some apps included with my subscription are built for work (and play) outside my expertise, I get to fool around and discover fascinating new tools. With nearly 30 apps for video, audio and motion graphics, web design, 2- and 3-D compositing, game design, and the new UI/UX prototype and design tool called Adobe XD, there is plenty to sate the most curious explorer. Plus, as soon as Adobe releases them, instant updates are yours with just a click. There’s no more agonizing between saving money but falling behind on the latest features and being wiped out by an annual thousand-dollar purchase that allows you to stay current.

Vector vs. Raster

For the uninitiated, let’s identify the key differences between vector and raster graphics. Vector graphics, defined by points, lines, and Boolean curves, are advantageous in that you can enlarge them infinitely without loss of resolution. This is key when you are designing a huge billboard or other large graphics where scalability is a requisite for success. A second advantage of designing with vectors is that files tend to be much smaller than their raster counterparts.

Vector vs. Raster
Vector graphics (left) are defined by lines and curves, while raster graphics (right) are defined by pixels.
Conversely, raster-based artwork like that created in Photoshop is defined by pixels. When you enlarge or zoom in on raster art, the pixels enlarge too, resulting in visible pixelation, or chunkiness with ragged edges. Also, large raster artwork produces enormous files.

When your work includes logo design, typography, or illustration, Adobe Illustrator is a must in your arsenal. It’s the tool for creating simple drawings, maps, complex technical illustrations, iconography, interesting charts and diagrams, information graphics, fine typography—and even business card or invitation layouts and mechanical art. What’s more, you can export your files in a variety of formats intended for use in print, web, mobile, interactive, app design, and video projects.

Workspace and Tools

If you have worked with InDesign or Photoshop, Illustrator’s environment (robust toolbars and panels, and contextual menus) should be reasonably familiar. You can customize the recently modernized, flattened interface with options from dark to light gray. Palettes and menus snap to any configuration that pleases you. When you have your screen perfectly composed with your favorite preferences, defaults, menu organization, and positions, it’s good to know that you can save your workspace and later clean up palette clutter by returning to that exact configuration whenever you like.

Adobe Illustrator CC - Workspace

I appreciate that the software lets you assign custom key commands, which allows you to further optimize your workflow for any kind of project. In fact, Illustrator ships with customized workspace options specifically suited to disciplines such as layout, printing and proofing, typography and web, and an Essentials space that highlights new enhancements and additions. Fear not, you can still access the previous Essentials setup.

Illustrator supports multiple, repositionable pages, called artboards. You can size these using Illustrator’s myriad presets, cut them down to size with the Crop tool, or define the width and height values yourself. Artboard control has improved, with enhancements to positioning and arranging, as well as an increase in the maximum number of boards allowed.

Appearance and Properties Panels

Although it’s mixed in with other less powerful tools, the unassuming Appearance panel constitutes the Illustrator CC - Properties Panelbackbone and muscle of your workspace. Appearance is arguably the most underappreciated of Illustrator’s default panels—but I consider this tool my information control tower. With the Appearance Panel, you have full command over every aspect of an object’s or group’s attributes including basic fills, stroke color and size, opacity, and blending mode. But where the panel really impresses is when you work with complex operations like creating multiple strokes, adjusting Illustrator Effects (such as glows, feathers, and drop shadows), and reordering or toggling effects layers.

The Properties Panel appears in the Essentials workspace and when you choose Properties from the Window menu. It shows frequently needed tools based on the current context, meaning it changes what it displays depending on what you select. It’s a nice touch, and I could see it being useful for designers, but if you would rather stick with your tried and true approach, you can switch back to the Essentials Classic workspace.

Toolsets Panel

In addition to the Appearance panel, Adobe has stocked the tools panel with everything you expect in a professional drawing application, as well as some unique goodies. If that just isn’t enough for you, there are some extraordinary, high-quality plugin packages built specifically for Illustrator—and updated regularly. Check out Astute Graphics’ jaw-dropping lineup or C.Valley’s versatile sets, FILTERiT 5 and XTream Path 2. If you really want to get your design geek on, know that Illustrator can run custom scripts—you can use the ones installed with the program, code some yourself (in Microsoft Visual Basic, AppleScript, JavaScript, and ExtendScript), or you can scout around online and find plenty of intriguing automation and function-adding scripts.

Adobe Illustrator CC - Puppet Warp

Illustrator’s eight tool categories allow you to get the job done, and they inspire exploration, too. I recommend beginners do just that—explore the tools and their submenus before embarking on a project that’s due tomorrow. This many specialty tools and subtools can be daunting at first glance.

By default, Illustrator shows five selection tools, each designed to choose specific types of objects, groups, paths, and points—and you can get even more precise control via the Preferences menu. A dream-come-true for hard-working eyeballs is the preferences addition of custom sizing for anchor points and handles. Until now, no matter how high you magnified your view, the anchor points remained painfully small.

Reduce Anchor Points

A related feature that arrived in the November 2019 update is the Object > Path > Simplify tool. This can remove unecessary anchor points, especially important for paths created by tracing or with mobile apps. The tool keeps the path essentially the same as it does this, but you can adjust the number of anchor points with the Reduce Anchor Point Slider. Getting even further into the weeds, you can open the Simplify dialog to specify the Corner Point Angle Threshold.

The program’s 18 drawing tools are sure to satisfy. Among them is the invaluable Pixel Perfect tool which aids in creating crisp web-destined graphics with pixels that align along a grid. The Puppet Warp tool gives you a way to make minor adjustments without having to select lots of points and move each separately. The tool allows for more holistic complex-shape editing by creating a triangulated mesh envelope around your selection that allows you to lock certain zones while manipulating adjacent areas, rather than having to do so point by point.

Working with complex typography is a pleasure with six type tools, including the revolutionary Touch Type tool, which allows repositioning, rotation, and scaling of individual letters within live text blocks. Now typographers can assign OpenType alternate styles to a text block.

Artists will enjoy playing with eight paint tools, including the Live Paint tool, which fills the need for the current coloring book craze by allowing users to color fill shapes simply by clicking in them. The Brush tool allows you to create custom brushes (Pattern, Art, Scatter, Calligraphic or Bristle), a feature that becomes even more awesome when you realize that you can create unexpected shapes by replacing polygon and ellipse strokes with a custom brush.

Related to the paint tools is the delightful Symbol Sprayer tool with its seven variants. You can assign a symbol you created—let’s use a star for this example—to become the paint, and the tool sprays stars. With the Sprayer’s sub-tools you can control the density of spray, randomness, color variation, size variation, and individual rotation of the stars with the aptly named Styler, Shifter, Scruncher, Screener, Sizer, Spinner, and Stain tools.

Illustrator promises power and the reshaping and transformation tools feel quite satisfying as you manipulate your work in every way imaginable, like shape blending, morphing, warping, twisting, shearing, tweaking, puckering, and bloating. With five slicing and cutting tools, you get ultra-fine control over lines and shapes with the Pathfinder tab, which performs operations like unite, exclude, intersect, merge, and divide. Try experimenting with these different functions for often-unexpected results.

Graphing in Adobe Illustrator

Considering the popularity of data visualization and information graphics, Illustrator satisfies with nine graphing tools that allow you to get down to business. It lets you transform your data with an adequate variety of graph types, including the more common bar and pie charts, and also scatter and radar charts. I’m eager to see if anyone comes up with scripts to help create unconventional graphs like tree maps, network diagrams or bubble maps, which are more adept at displaying complex data.

Hottest Features for Work, Fun, and Experimentation

Precision Drawing. Illustrator was born for this more than for its other abilities. Amenities like perspective grids scaffold the foundation of perspective drawing and create dimensional lettering effects, while axonometric angle constraints save time and minimize frustration. Layers help organize and isolate components of your illustration for easy access when making edits or for variable overlays. Finally, although it takes a bit of practice to master, the Pen tool is your go-to for creating beautiful vector paths, Bezier curves, defining anchor points, and coaxing handles.

Copy & Paste and File Export. With so many potential asset destinations within each project, you only get the best final product if you supply the optimum file type to your colleagues and vendors. Of course, with other Creative Cloud apps on your desktop, you can copy and paste into and out of Illustrator—or even drag. But I enjoy being able to trust Illustrator’s wide range of file type conversions which include export for print, web, and mobile in formats such as AutoCAD, BMP, CSS, JPEG, PDF, PNG, SVG, TIFF, and more.

Type Wrangling. As a typographer, I find a lot to love when working with type in Illustrator—especially now that Adobe has not only integrated InDesign’s easy OpenType glyph chooser pop-down. You can now assign alternates to entire text blocks rather than having to assign glyphs one character at a time. All you do is highlight a character and select from the alternates options pop-down. For example, if you highlight the numeral 5 (depending on the typeface), you can choose from superscript, subscript, tabular, old style, denominator, numerator, case sensitive, small caps, and other alternates.

Illustrator also borrows from InDesign’s professional character and paragraph formatting options. The addition of Touch Type tool, described above, a Glyphs window and support for Asian (horizontal and vertical), Indic, Arabic, and Hebrew languages makes working with type in Illustrator a stellar experience. Thankfully, the formerly anemic spellchecker has been revamped so that it’s now actually helpful.

Variable type resembles a smart build-out of Adobe’s Multiple Master technology of yore. Six typefaces in the new OpenType var format come preinstalled: Acumin, Minion, Myriad, Source code, Source Sans, and Source Serif. What’s great about variable fonts is that in Illustrator, you can precisely control width (condensed or extended), weight (thin to black) and slant with the software’s sliders—it’s like getting 30 fonts in one typeface. Something to note here is that the slant is like an oblique, and is not a true italic.

Automation. Graphic Styles in Illustrator are akin to Photoshop’s Styles—they are one-click mechanisms that automate the application of attributes to an object or type in a single step. In Illustrator, these attributes can be something as simple as a slight drop shadow or as complex as a seven-layer stroke with offsets, feathering and an inner glow, for example. Note that in Illustrator, shadows and glows are made from stepped gradations of solid colors that simulate a blur.

A great way to understand building and using Graphic Styles is to select an object with a Graphic Style applied to it and examine the Appearance Panel. There you will see each of the attribute layers that combine to generate the Graphic Style’s effect. To further automate your process, you can deploy a bounty of Photoshop-style Action presets or make your own.

In terms of convenience, automatically having assets wherever you need them is great. In Creative Cloud Libraries, users now have access to their palettes, styles, and even blocks of copy from whichever application they are using.

Libraries and Mobile Apps

Creative Cloud Libraries keep your project assets from desktop apps and mobile apps at your fingertips for easy integration between the apps. You also have the ability to keep handy often-used text blocks like taglines or disclaimers in your Libraries.

Adobe Illustrator CC - Libraries

Integration with Adobe mobile App cousins—including Capture, Fresco, Illustrator Draw, Sketch—is a treat. These iOS apps are surprisingly simple to use, and worth a serious look. For instance, you can be on the train to work and create a custom brush on your iPhone by taking a snap of anything interesting and let Capture do its magic. Once you get to work and open Illustrator on your desktop, that brush you made on the train awaits in your CC Library—ready to use in any project.

Everyone benefits from a streamlined professional process; with Creative Cloud, collaboration with team members and clients is easy with shared and private assets and libraries.

Also with your subscription comes Typekit, Adobe’s well-populated library of typeface families for print and web. Just choose your fonts and sync to your desktop (or grab code for your site). The only drawback here is that when you collect for output, Illustrator does not copy Typekit fonts in the packaged folder—your printer or service bureau must have a CC subscription too. Of course, if you don’t have a type-heavy, multipage document, you can go ahead and convert type to outline to get around the problem.

In addition to the goodies above, with Creative Cloud for Teams, your enterprise gets a team website, premium fonts, 100 GB of cloud storage for collaboration, dedicated 24/7 technical support, shared Adobe Stock plans, streamlined management, the ability to reassign licenses (this is fantastic for dynamic staffing situations), a web-based admin console, consolidated billing, and purchase orders. There are also targeted plans for students, teachers, schools, and universities.

Design Wish List

No software is perfect—and even the beloved Adobe Illustrator has some fans hoping for a variety of new or enhanced features. Here are some of my wishes for built-in features (a few of which are met by the plugins mentioned above):

• Numeric handle adjustments would be a nice touch, along with the ability to symmetrically synchronize movement of more than two point handles.

• Having a hybrid rotate-and-reflect tool with a variable axis number would be awesome for making interesting patterns and shapes including mandalas, snowflakes, and interlocking shape rotation like those you see in many Japanese family crests. Taking the rotate-and-reflect idea a little further, for complex geometric pattern making (think of the stunning Islamic tessellations), a way to draw precise complex geometric multi-symmetries and polygons with user-determined angle measurements. These features could be part of a new, more robust pattern-making tool that incorporates the 17 types of symmetry!

• As I mentioned, with the popularity of graphing big data, we are seeing many interesting new ways to visualize information. But big data requires the big computing power of algorithms. At the least, I’d like a more flexible tool for making inventive graphs and data images.

• A lot of folks would be pleased to have uniform key commands for Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator. And speaking of Photoshop, it would be great if Illustrator had a similar history panel that allowed you to hop back to a certain state.

Queen of the Vector

Adobe Illustrator is essential for any serious designer or artist’s software collection—with it you can create vector solutions for any challenge. What’s more, by being curious and taking advantage of Illustrator’s generous expansion capability, you can turn the application into a personalized digital dreamworld. With steady use and inquisitive inspection, the multitude of tools, menus, palettes, pull-downs, and features become second nature and Illustrator feels like an unconscious extension of your mind. Adobe Illustrator is the clear PCMag Editors’ Choice for vector graphics design.

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You Can Now Download Adobe Photoshop for iPad

Adobe has finally released Photoshop for iPad. It may have taken a while to arrive, but Photoshop is finally available on iPadOS a year after it was first announced. Which means you can now download Adobe Photoshop onto your iPad.

In October 2018, Adobe showed off a preview of Photoshop for iPad. The company promised a new UI designed just for tablets, and most of the same features beloved by users of the desktop version. And now, in November 2019, Photoshop for iPad has arrived.

What to Expect From Adobe Photoshop for iPad

Adobe announced the release of Photoshop for iPad in a post on the Adobe Blog. Adobe has labelled this Photoshop for iPad Version 1.0, stating that “this is just the beginning of our journey to expand Photoshop to devices”.

At launch, Photoshop for iPad is “focused on compositing, basic retouching, and masking, common tasks and workflows that we know will be useful for most Photoshop users.” The new cloud documents system lets you “open and edit your PSDs anytime, anywhere.”

Photoshop for iPad is “built using the same code base as Photoshop on the desktop.” However, it has been “optimized for pencil and touch on a smaller screen.” The toolbar is on the left, layers are on the right, and everything is automatically saved to the cloud.

This is clearly just a starting point, with Adobe promising to “add more capabilities and workflows as we learn more about how customers use Photoshop on a mobile device.” Features such as rotate canvas, select subject, and refine edge are already on their way.

Download: Adobe Photoshop on iPadOS

Desktop Users Need Photoshop Keyboard Shortcuts

Photoshop for iPad should prove useful for everyone who uses an iPad regularly. And if you already have a Creative Cloud subscription it’s a no-brainer. If you’re more likely to use photoshop on desktop, check out our Adobe Photoshop keyboard shortcuts 101

Adobe Photoshop Keyboard Shortcuts 101

Adobe Photoshop Keyboard Shortcuts 101

Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, these Adobe Photoshop keyboard shortcuts will save you hours of time.
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Adobe Photoshop comes to iPad (Illustrator in 2020)

The list of things iPads can’t do shrank dramatically at Adobe Max when Photoshop finally became available for iPad.

Adobe also confirmed that another key creative industry tool, Adobe Illustrator, will ship for the Apple tablet in 2020.

The do-anything iPad

Introducing the apps, Adobe VP Creative Cloud Services & Strategy, Simon Longbottom confirmed Adobe will continue to improve these products, aiming to deliver something like feature parity across all its supported platforms.

“We are launching the first version on the iPad, starting with Photoshop’s top workflows, compositing, masking and retouching, with more to come,” the company said.

It is perhaps worth noting that Photoshop on iPad is already a beast, capable of handling 500 layers in a single image, and capable of ingesting and working with 1GB image files.

That’s significant, but it’s probably equally important to note that Photoshop for iPad is compatible with any iOS 13 iPad – which means you can use it on older iPad minis.

Of course, the industry continues to move on and it is arguable that Adobe no longer enjoys the same level of industry dominance it once held.

Sure, Photoshop remains a key industry tool, but now faces stiff competition from the likes of Affinity Photo and Pixelmator.

All the same, backwards compatibility and previous investments in creating creative assets using the company’s creative tools mean most of the world’s largest graphics-related companies still need to make use of Photoshop, if only to take a look at PSD files.

That they can now create new assets with these tools will help Adobe retain relevance in competitive age. Making or editing images is now as easy as pulling out your iPad.

Adobe Photoshop on iPad is available to all Creative Cloud customers subscribed to Photoshop, or as a fee-based app at the App Store.

Illustrator is coming in 2020

Adobe confirmed plans to introduce Illustrator for iPad in 2020.

Compatible with Apple Pencil, the company says its “reimagined” app “brings the precision and versatility of the desktop experience to the tablet.”

You can watch a video of the new app in action here.

As you’ll see, it turns your iPad into a powerful tool for vector-based illustration and uses an ‘iPad-ified’ user interface.

The iPad is a connected product, so it lets you work with the same documents across all your devices, and provides access to all Adobe’s cloud-based products including stock mages and fonts.

The implication is clear:

The raft of iPad enhancements Apple introduced in iPad OS had already moved the platform forward as a productivity device.

Adobe’s decision to make two of the world’s most veteran creative apps available as apps for those systems serves to drive the point home: The iPad is a viable PC replacement.

You can sign up to a beta version of Illustrator on iPad here and decide to just what extent this is the case.

Going with the flow: AR and AI

Adobe Aero is also interesting. The company is quite clearly climbing aboard the Augmented Reality (AR) wagon with the release that Longbottom promises will let you “build AR experiences with no coding skills”.

The app essentially allows you to create layered PSD files, combining various imaging assets (and Adobe’s own libraries of creative assets) in order to build AR experiences using graphics tools, rather than needing to code.

Adobe is also exploring the use of machine intelligence in its creative apps: The introduction of its all-new Photoshop Camera app combines some of the features of Photoshop within an app that allows users to apply industry-standard imaging effects when taking a picture.

The app includes a library of unique lenses and effects from leading artists, the company said. Adobe has also put more AI inside the desktop version of Photoshop in the form of Sensei AI.

Up next:

The direction of travel for Adobe is clear enough:

The company has looked at the evolution of mobile devices and recognizes that its solutions must shift with that tide – particularly now high-end mobile devices (well, Apple’s at any rate) are powerful enough to run complex applications such as these.

For Apple, the fact that two of the world’s most important apps, (and they are, I can recall devoting entire magazines to these creative solutions back in the day), now run on an iPad is a testament to its multi-year effort to ensure its mobile devices carry the kind of punch such high-end solutions need.

There’s a way to go, of course, but the validation of Steve Jobs’ claim that “PCs will become trucks” rings loud and clear. This is exactly what is happening.

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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7 Reasons to Start Using Adobe Premiere Elements

When choosing the best video editing software, huge feature lists can be daunting. Maybe you just want a program that will help you edit your videos without any fuss. If so, then look no further than Adobe Premiere Elements.

Adobe Premiere Elements offers what you need and more to produce the best video content possible. And all without over-complicating matters. Here are our reasons to start using Adobe Premiere Elements for your video editing.

1. Fix Lighting Issues With a Simple Effect

For anyone that has ever dealt with poor lighting while shooting video, you know how much it can ruin the best moments. With Premiere Elements, the hassle of dealing with overly grainy and speckled videos disappears via a very simple process.

Once you have dragged-and-dropped your video file to the program’s timeline, simply select Video Effects > Reduce Noise to clean it up.

Adobe Premiere Elements Reduce Noise Effect
Image Credit: Adobe

If you want a little more control over the process, you can tweak the quality settings. Rather than leaving it as the default option, you can also opt for a moderate or high-quality conversion. Then say goodbye to the need to only shoot in ideal lighting.

2. Organize Your Video Collection Automatically

Do you take a lot of videos and need help sorting them? Those with extensive collections can get help sorting through their video pile by utilizing both Smart Tags and facial recognition.

Using an automatic feature detection system, Smart Tags will automatically try to detect distinct items such as a beach, house, ocean, mountain, sunset, family, and more. Similarly, Adobe’s facial recognition system will detect by facial features and create an unnamed stack of videos focused around them. You can then mark faces to have them remembered for all future videos.

Adobe Premiere Elements Smart Tags
Image Credit: Adobe

For anyone that remembers creating folders upon folders to sort their videos, an in-built and searchable system provides welcome relief.

3. Remove Black Bars to Make Your Videos Immersive

While the automated functions help a little, Element’s guided edits also deserve special mention. If you’ve ever shot a vertical video with a smartphone then you’re familiar with those black bars visible when viewing it horizontally. Eliminating these with the new Fill Frame Guided Edit allows for a much more fluid watching experience.

Whether the bars are on the top and bottom or on the sides, your videos will now have their frames filled to match. Your vertical videos can transition easily into horizontal videos with a simple drag. Similarly, horizontal video shots can become fully vertical.

Adobe Premiere Elements Fill Frame Guided Edit
Image Credit: Adobe

As another simple video touch-up, you can flexibly make more immersive and seamless transitions between videos. We have covered video transitions more fully in a previous article, so if you’re interested be sure to look over our list of Adobe Premiere transitions to liven up your videos

10 Adobe Premiere Transitions That’ll Liven Up Your Videos

10 Adobe Premiere Transitions That’ll Liven Up Your Videos

Adobe Premiere transitions can improve any video, no matter how bland the subject matter. In this article, we look at some of the best Premiere Pro transitions everyone should be using.
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4. Create More Lively, Colorful Photos

The next guided edit offers a simple solution to make your photos feel more alive. Rather than leave your skies as a non-moving image, the Animated Sky Guided Edit creates a colorful alternative. This provides a welcome change for anyone that takes shots in a very unchanging environment.

While not the flashiest of edits, the applications can be almost endless. If you have a favorite picture at home, you can use this edit to transform it into a fun desktop wallpaper. An outdoor slideshow can become an amazing sequence of vibrant skyscapes. If you need to just give your YouTube video some added visual spice, consider using this edit too.

Adobe Premiere Elements Animated Skies Guided Edit
Image Credit: Adobe

5. Create Time Lapses Easily Using Your Collection

The timelapse feature comes as the last guided edit to Premiere Elements. If you want to recreate an experience and have a large sequential stack of photos or videos, you can bring the moment back to life.

Imagine speeding up shots to show a dynamic sunrise or recreating the illusionary passing by of clouds. Simply upload your media, sort by its creation date, and adjust the time stretch based on whether you’re dealing with photos or videos to create a previewable timelapse. Utilize titles, text, and audio as well for added personalization.

Adobe Premiere Edits Time Lapse Guided Edit
Image Credit: Adobe

With a bit of ingenuity, you can continue to create immersive vignettes of the world.

6. Use the Newest File Formats

One less acknowledged element of any video editing suite comes in the form of new file support. New file formats and compression types arise regularly, and you want to make sure you can use it when it’s relevant. Thankfully, Premiere Elements stays on top of the game with each update.

With a new update, the ability to import and edit HEIF photo files and HEVC video files for both macOS and Windows come into play. If you’re a quality buff, these high-efficiency types allow for some extra oomph before getting into editing.

For a bit of added clarity, note that HEIF uses a 16-bit color versus the 8-bit of JPEG files. Doubling the file quality can play a pivotal part when working with new features like the Timelapse Guided Edit.

7. You Can Try Adobe Premiere Elements for Free

When looking at software that updates on a yearly basis, it’s worth questioning whether it’s value for money. You don’t want to waste money on a program that doesn’t have the features you need. Adobe, with its brand reliability, always makes sure to offer deals to its loyal consumers.

If you’re unsure about paying towards an upgrade or the full version, Adobe offers a free 30-day trial to test the update and experience the new features. The need to have an Adobe account is the only prerequisite. After the quick registration or log-in, you’ll be able to begin sampling and creating without committing.

Download: Adobe Premiere Elements ($99.99, With Free Trial Available)

Adobe Premiere Elements Is a Solid Video Editor

Adobe Premiere Elements stands above the competition when considering the slew of easy editing options, video sorting, and regular updates. For easy entry-level video editing with plenty of options to master, consider giving it a shot.

And if you’re ready to take advantage of Adobe Premiere Pro for even more powerful video editing, consider looking at these Adobe Premiere Pro video-editing tips

10 Tips to Edit Videos Faster in Adobe Premiere Pro

10 Tips to Edit Videos Faster in Adobe Premiere Pro

Video editing can be hard work. Thankfully, there are a number of tips and tricks you can use to edit video faster using Adobe Premiere Pro.
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How to Create 3D Buttons Using Adobe Photoshop

There are a lot of amazing things you can create in Adobe Photoshop that are useful online, ranging from simple picture frames to complex UIs. One of the most useful things you can create in Photoshop are 3D buttons, which will come in handy if you run a blog or website with a custom interface.

In this article we will show you how to create 3D buttons using Photoshop, along with visual “up” and “down” states, so you can animate them. (We won’t be covering animation itself in this article.)

Step 1: Prepare Your Document

Set up Your 3D Buttons File in Photoshop

While 3D buttons pop up most frequently on websites, it’s important to note that there are other applications for them, such as animated GIFs, mock-up product displays, and mobile games. Depending on what you’re creating this button for, your final file format and the dimensions of it may vary.

To create a 3D button in Photoshop, you’ll need to create a custom document for it. To do this, open Photoshop, and click on Create New > Custom. Start typing in your values.

To create a 3D button, you’re going to want a horizontal document. For ours, we used:

  • 900 x 300 pixels high
  • 300 Pixels/Inch
  • RGB Color Mode

While these specs are definitely not a hard and fast rule, this will ensure that you have more than enough room to work with, and the ability to scale your button size up and down as needed.

Step 2: Set Up Your Rectangle for Your 3D Button

Use Your Rounded Rectangle Button to Create a Button in Photoshop

After you set up the specs for your file, you’ll be brought into your workspace. You’re going to have a horizontal white canvas in a single layer, and this is where you’ll start building your button.

To build your 3D button, click on the Rounded Rectangle Tool on the left-hand side of your screen, seen here in red. You can also use the shortcut U to access it.

Adjusting Settings for Rounded Rectangle Tool in Photoshop

Click once on your white layer: this will automatically bring up your Create Rounded Rectangle box. You will be using this box to specify the dimensions of your rectangle.

For our button, we went with:

  • 300 pixels wide
  • 75 pixels high

We also made sure that the corners were rounded by 10 pixels. Not too high, and not too low, either. Then we pressed OK.

Note: Buttons vary by size and shape, so don’t feel like you have to use these exact dimensions. Additionally, if you’re looking for more info on shortcuts, here are some of the most useful Photoshop keyboard commands.

Change Color of Rectangle in Photoshop

When you press OK, Photoshop will create a rounded rectangle with these dimensions inside your layer. You can change its Fill and Stroke colors by using the dropdown menus in the top left-hand corner of your screen.

For the purpose of this tutorial—and to illustrate what an “up” and “down” button might look like—we’re going to make our “down” button red.

Step 3: Make Your Button 3D

Bevel and Emboss Rectangle in Photoshop

After you create your basic button and choose its color, you’re going to want to adjust it in the Layer Style dialog box. This is to make it look more 3D.

To access your Layer Style dialog box, you can go Layer > Layer Style from the top menu. You can also double-click on the layer that contains your button, to bring it up automatically. This way is much quicker and we personally prefer it.

Once your Layer Style box is up, go to the option Bevel & Emboss. Turn it on.

This is a quick and easy way to give the edges of your button a more raised, “3D” look. For this tutorial, these are the settings we used:


  • Style: Inner Bevel
  • Technique: Chisel Soft
  • Depth: 605
  • Direction: Up
  • Size: 5
  • Soften: 1


  • Angle: 90
  • Altitude: 37
  • Highlight Mode: Color Dodge, 55% Opacity
  • Shadow Mode: Multiple, 25% Opacity

The trick is to make the settings high enough that you can see some difference, but not so strong that it’s overwhelming.

Contour Rectangle in Photoshop

After we finished with Bevel & Emboss, we went to Contour and turned that on, too. Contour makes the definition of Bevel & Emboss a little bit stronger, and for this tutorial we chose the setting Cone – Inverted.

Apply Gradient Overlay to Rectangle in Photoshop

Next, turn on Gradient overlay. This is what gives a button that rounded, slightly “glossy” look. The settings are as follows:

  • Blend Mode: Overlay
  • Opacity: 90
  • Style: Linear
  • Angle: 90
  • Scale: 100

Apply Drop Shadow to Rectangle in Photoshop

Finally, we turned on Drop Shadow, to make the button look a bit “raised” from the white background of a website or blog. Again, here are the settings:


  • Blend Mode: Multiple
  • Opacity: 35
  • Angle: 90
  • Distance: 2
  • Spread: 6
  • Size: 8


  • Contour: Linear
  • Noise: 0
  • Layer Knocks Out Drop Shadow: On

Now it’s time to save these specs as a Layer Style.

Step 4: Save as a Layer Style

Save New Layer Style in Photoshop

Once you finish with your button’s settings, it will begin to look 3D. Because the chances are high that you’ll be creating more than one 3D button, we need to find a quick and easy way to do this.

Here’s how.

Before clicking OK in the Layer Style dialog box, click on New Style. When you do, Photoshop will save this layer style that you’ve made for your button.

If you’re using Photoshop CC, this new style will be saved to your Libraries section, as you can see above. It’s very quick and easy to access.

Step 5: How to Use a Saved Layer Style

Create a New Button With a Layer Style in Photoshop

Now that you’ve designed your button and you’ve saved it as a Layer Style, let’s see it in action for your “up” state. No word of a lie, this will cut your working time in half.

First, let’s create another button directly above the red button layer, like so. Let’s make it green, for emphasis.

Apply Layer Style to 3D Button

Next—instead of double-clicking on the layer itself to bring up the Layer Styles dialog box—double-click on the layer style in your Libraries panel.

When you do, Photoshop will automatically apply your saved style to your new button layer, while keeping its new color and shape. You now have two buttons—one in an up state, and one in a down—and it’s so simple to do. I love this shortcut.

Step 6: Add Text to Your Button

Add Text to Your 3D Button

Next, we’re going to add text to the button.

To add text, create a new layer above your two button layers. Click the Type tool to begin typing.

For this tutorial, we’re going to write the word “subscribe” because it’s something you see quite often on websites and social media platforms.

We’re also going to use a san serif web-safe font. The final choice of which one you use for your own button is up to you. Montserrat, Proxima Nova, Arial, and Verdana are all widely-used alternatives, and safe for the web.

Add Inner Shadow to Text on 3D Button in Photoshop

After this is done, however, there’s still a few more subtle changes that you need to make in order to get this text to “pop.”

First, double-click on the layer that contains your text so you can bring it up in your Layer Style dialog box.

Next, click on Inner Shadow, to add a bit of a depression (or sunken area) to your text. This makes it look like the letters have been engraved into the button. The exact settings that we used for this tutorial are below.


  • Blend Mode: Multiply
  • Opacity: 35
  • Angle: 90
  • Distance: 2
  • Choke: 4
  • Size: 1


Add Gradient Overlay to Text on 3D Button in Photoshop

Next, apply a Gradient Overlay to those letters, to make them blend more easily into the button without appearing flat. Again, the settings for ours are:

  • Blend Mode: Color Burn
  • Opacity: 90
  • Style: Linear
  • Angle: 90
  • Scale: 100

Step 7: Finishing Up

Save Text as a Layer Style in Photoshop

After you create this text style—especially if you want to use it again—go to New Style and save it before you click OK.

With that wrapped up, you can quickly switch back and forth on the visibility between your two button layers, to see what the “up” and “down” states look like.

Create a 3D Button in Photoshop

Pretty cool, huh? To save your file, go File > Save As, and save it as the proper file format for whatever project you may be working on.

Customize Your Blog With 3D Buttons and Widgets

Now that you know how to create 3D buttons in Photoshop, you can get creative with it, designing your own 3D buttons to suit your needs. And with these skills in your arsenal you can make a product that is not only professional, but personal-looking, too.

Want to know about other things that you can do with this program? Here’s how to remove a background in Photoshop

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Adobe Photoshop Keyboard Shortcuts 101

You can always tell a Photoshop professional by how little they touch their mouse. You may know everything there is to know about Photoshop’s UI. Yet, if you’re not at least a little familiar with the hundreds of Photoshop keyboard commands sitting just beyond your fingertips, you’ll always fall short.

The following is a list of Photoshop keyboard commands you absolutely have to know. No one’s saying you have to memorize all of the Photoshop hotkeys, mind you. Practice regularly and you’ll learn them faster. And bookmark this page so you can always come back quickly when you need a refresher.

What follows are the Adobe Photoshop keyboard shortcuts you need to know.

Basic Command Shortcuts for Adobe Photoshop

essential adobe photoshop keyboard shortcuts

Basic commands allow users to fix simple mistakes quickly.

To undo a single action within your project:

  • Ctrl + Z (Windows)
  • Cmd + Z (macOS)

essential adobe photoshop keyboard shortcuts

To undo multiple actions within your project:

  • Ctrl + Alt + Z (Windows)
  • Cmd + Z repeatedly (macOS)

Z: Access the Zoom tool by using the Photoshop Zoom shortcut.

To deselect a Photoshop selection:

  • Ctrl + D (Windows)
  • Cmd + D (macOS)

UI Command Shortcuts for Adobe Photoshop

essential adobe photoshop keyboard shortcuts

User interface (UI) commands affect Photoshop’s interface and window listing. To remove all dialog boxes from your Photoshop window:

  • Tab (Windows)
  • Tab (macOS)

You can also toggle between different screen sizes by pressing the F key on both macOS and Windows.

Right-click [workspace background]: This changes the default workspace background on both macOS and Windows. Right-click the background and select one of the options that follow (Dark Gray is the default).

essential adobe photoshop keyboard shortcuts

In a dialog window, holding down Alt will change your Cancel option to a Reset option on Windows. On macOS, holding down Option will do the same thing.

Click on the Reset option to reset any changes you made within the window.

essential adobe photoshop keyboard shortcuts

To quickly select an item from a tool submenu on your toolbar (i.e. Eraser vs. Background Eraser), hold Shift and press a tool’s hotkey on either Windows or macOS.

essential adobe photoshop keyboard shortcuts

To scroll left on your art board:

  • Hold down Ctrl + Scroll Up [mouse wheel] for Windows.
  • Hold down Cmd + Scroll Up [mouse wheel] for macOS.

To scroll right on your art board:

  • Hold down Ctrl + Scroll Down [mouse wheel] for Windows.
  • Hold down Cmd + Scroll Down [mouse wheel] for macOS.

essential adobe photoshop keyboard shortcuts

Ctrl + Tab: This command cycles through tabs from left to right for both Windows or macOS.

essential adobe photoshop keyboard shortcuts

To cycle right-to-left, press Ctrl + Shift + Tab on either Windows or macOS. It’s just like moving between tabs in your browser.

Brush Command Shortcuts for Adobe Photoshop

essential adobe photoshop keyboard shortcuts

Brush commands allow users to modify various brush aspects quickly. Don’t forget that you can create your own Photoshop brushes

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too, for maximum customizability.

[ or ]: Shrinks or enlarges brush size with the brush size shortcut (Windows or macOS).

essential adobe photoshop keyboard shortcuts

{ or }: Increases or decreases brush hardness for both Windows or macOS.

essential adobe photoshop keyboard shortcuts

Caps Lock: Using this command on Windows or macOS will change your brush’s cursor from a brush preview to a crosshair.

Color Command Shortcuts for Adobe Photoshop

essential adobe photoshop keyboard shortcuts

Color commands allow users to implement colors into their artwork using their keyboards.

D: Sets the foreground and background colors to default (black and white) on either Windows or macOS.

essential adobe photoshop keyboard shortcuts

To fill selections or a layer with a foreground color:

  • Alt + Backspace (Windows)
  • Option + Delete (macOS)

essential adobe photoshop keyboard shortcuts

To fill selections or a layer with a background color:

  • Ctrl + Backspace (Windows)
  • Cmd + Delete (macOS)

essential adobe photoshop keyboard shortcuts

X (Windows or macOS): Switches between foreground and background colors.

Layer Command Shortcuts for Adobe Photoshop

essential adobe photoshop keyboard shortcuts

Layering is one of the most important—if not the most important—aspect of Photoshop. Which is why these Photoshop keyboard shortcuts are some of the most useful.

Number keys (1, 2, 3…): Selecting a particular layer and pressing a number button (either on Windows or macOS) will automatically adjust the opacity of that layer. So “1” = 10% opacity, “2” = 20%, “3” = 30%, and so on.

Quickly selecting two numbers will change a layer’s opacity to the percentage pressed (3 and 4 will give you an opacity of 34%).

Shift + Click [Layers panel]: To select multiple layers in your Layers panel (either on Windows or macOS), select a single layer, hold the Shift key, and select another layer.

This “select all command” will select every layer in between the first and second layers selected.

essential adobe photoshop keyboard shortcuts

To select more than one layer in your Layers panel, but not all of them:

  • Press and hold the Ctrl key while clicking individual layers on Windows.
  • Press and hold the Cmd key while clicking individual layers on macOS.

essential adobe photoshop keyboard shortcuts

To duplicate a layer in your Layers panel:

  • Select the layer and press Ctrl + J on your keyboard for Windows.
  • Select the layer and press Cmd + J on your keyboard for macOS.

essential adobe photoshop keyboard shortcuts

To add a new layer in Photoshop underneath the currently selected layer:

  • Hold Ctrl and click on your New Layer button on Windows.
  • Hold Cmd and click on your New Layer button on macOS.

essential adobe photoshop keyboard shortcuts

To add a new layer above the currently selected layer, hold Shift and click on your New Layer button on both macOS and Windows.

essential adobe photoshop keyboard shortcuts

To copy and paste all visible elements on your art board into a new layer:

  • Ctrl + Shift + Alt + E (Windows)
  • Cmd + Shift + Option + E (macOS)

essential adobe photoshop keyboard shortcuts

To select a layer’s borders automatically:

  • Hold Ctrl and click on a layer’s thumbnail in your Layers panel on Windows.
  • Hold Cmd and click on a layer’s thumbnail in your Layers panel on macOS.

essential adobe photoshop keyboard shortcuts

Shift + “+” or “-” [Layers Panel]: This toggles through blending modes in your Layers Panel for both Windows and macOS.

Transform Command Shortcuts for Adobe Photoshop

essential adobe photoshop keyboard shortcuts

The transform tool allows users to resize and skew layers at will.

To select your layer image and allow you to resize your image:

  • Ctrl + T on Windows.
  • Cmd + T on macOS.

To distort instead of resize, hold down Ctrl (Windows) or Cmd (macOS) after your image has been selected. Drag the encircling square markers.

essential adobe photoshop keyboard shortcuts

To resize an image while centered:

  • Alt + Shift + Drag (Windows)
  • Option + Shift + Drag (macOS)

essential adobe photoshop keyboard shortcuts

To resize an image with preserved size ratio:

  • Shift + Drag [Transform tool] on Windows.
  • Option + Drag [Transform tool] on macOS.

Photoshop Keyboard Shortcuts Give You the Power

Practice these Photoshop keyboard shortcuts once, then again, then again. That’s the only way you’ll remember them all (and start to understand the basics of Photoshop

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). This is just a small selection of the available shortcuts—check the official Adobe Photoshop keyboard shortcuts if you don’t believe us.

The best thing about working through these Photoshop keyboard shortcuts though is that because Adobe software works in tandem with one another, you’ll be able to use most of these keyboard commands (where they apply) with other Adobe software.

There’s almost no limit to what you can do with Photoshop

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. Even if you’ve mastered multiple tutorials, learning Photoshop’s keyboard shortcuts will save you time. Better yet, it’ll save you from having to find your way around Photoshop’s cavernous UI. Try these out, and give your mouse a break.

Image Credit: Yaruta/Depositphotos

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How to Play Adobe Flash SWF Files Outside Your Web Browser

Adobe Flash Player on Windows showing the Trogdor Flash game from Homestar Runner

Web browsers are dropping support for Flash, but what if you have an SWF file to open? Never fear: Adobe offers a hidden Flash Player download for Windows, Mac, and Linux. You can open an SWF file outside your browser.

Adobe hides the standalone Flash Player very well. It’s actually called the “Flash Player content debugger” on Adobe’s website.

To get it, visit the Debug Downloads page on Adobe’s Flash Player website. Click the “Download the Flash Player projector content debugger” link under Windows, Mac, or Linux, depending on which operating system you’re using.

Downloading the standalone Flash Player from Adobe's website

On Windows, you’ll have an EXE file that needs no installation. Just double-click it to run it.

Running the standalone Flash Player EXE file

You’ll get a simple Adobe Flash Player window. To open an SWF file, either drag and drop it to the window or click File > Open. You can browse to an SWF file on your local system or enter a path to an SWF file on the web.

Opening a Flash file from the web in the standalone Adobe Flash Player

Resize the window to zoom in if the Flash object appears too tiny. Now, you can watch and interact with the SWF file as you usually would.

You can right-click the Flash object or use the menu bar to control standard options like zoom settings, image quality, and toggling the full-screen mode off and on.

Trogdor game splash screen in the standalone Adobe Flash Player on Windows

The best part: This Flash Player will keep working in the future, even after web browsers ax Flash completely. It’s not just a debug tool for developers; it’s an extremely useful compatibility solution for anyone that needs Flash.

RELATED: How to Enable Adobe Flash in Google Chrome 76+

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How to Use Adobe Flash on Your iPhone or iPad

Flash Icon Shown on an iPhone Screen
Khamosh Pathak

Growing up, you might have come across Flash while playing a game or using an interactive site. But Adobe Flash never officially made it to iOS devices. Here’s the only way to access Adobe Flash sites on your iPhone and iPad.

What Is Adobe Flash?

Once upon a time, Adobe Flash was the de-facto standard for delivering video, audio, animation, and interactive elements across the web. But then, thankfully, open standards like HTML 5, CSS, and JavaScript came along. Adobe Flash was proprietary, slow, and consumed a lot of battery. It just didn’t work well on mobile devices.

By 2011, Adobe had already ended mobile development of Flash.

Since then, the mobile web has thrived. Adobe is scheduled to officially sunset the Adobe Flash product in 2020. Major desktop browsers are now discontinuing support for Adobe Flash, although you can manually re-enable Flash in Google Chrome.

Why Flash Isn’t Supported on iOS and iPadOS Devices

Apple devices like iPhone and iPad never officially supported Adobe Flash. In 2010, Steve Jobs wrote an open letter called Thoughts on Flash (which still makes for a good read). In it, he outlined the reasons for not implementing Adobe Flash in Apple devices.

Jobs had a couple of arguments: Adobe Flash was not an open platform; the open H.264 video format was much better at delivering video than Flash; and when it came to games, there was the App Store. He also pointed out the issues with security, reliability, and performance.

The biggest reason, though, was that Flash just did not work well with touchscreens.

RELATED: How to Install and Update Flash on Your Mac

How to Use Adobe Flash on iPhone and iPad

If you need to access an Adobe Flash site on your iPhone or iPad, you have only one option. The third-party Puffin Web Browser comes with out-of-box support for Adobe Flash.

Open the App Store, search for “Puffin Web Browser,” and tap on the “Get” button to download the free browser.

Once downloaded, open the browser and tap on the URL bar.

The web browser Puffin's Home Screen

Here, enter the web address of the Flash site you want to visit. Tap on the “Go” button to open the website.

Enter the URL of the Flash site in URL bar

The Flash site will now open, with all its components. You can tap on the Flash player part and then select “Fullscreen” to open the game or the player in the fullscreen view.

Tap on Fullscreen Button in Player to Go Full Screen

If you’re using an iPhone, you should switch to the landscape view as Flash player usually works in a landscape widescreen format.

Once you enter the fullscreen view, you’ll see two buttons on either side of the player. On the left is a button to access the keyboard. On the right is the menu button.

Tap on Menu Button To Get Flash Player Options

The menu includes options to change the Flash quality and to enable the on-screen mouse and the gamepad.

Trackpad and Gamepad Shown Overlaid on Flash Player

To exit the fullscreen view, tap on the “Menu” button and select “Exit.”

Options for Trackpad and Gamepad in Menu

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