Photoshop CS6: Photoshop for Free

March 23, 2012

Photoshop CS6In what is being hailed as the biggest update to their flagship editing software in years, Adobe has begun to distribute a free beta version of their upcoming Photoshop CS6, and the internet has taken notice. In depth reviews have been springing up at major tech blogs such as Engadget, Gizmodo, and The Verge, with each site attempting to wrap their brains around the huge amount of changes that Adobe has implemented.

All of the attention might have a little something to do with the fact that for the time being, you can download and use Photoshop CS6 for free, a steep discount from the asking price of $699 for the current version of Photoshop CS5, to say the least.

As if to say “take notice, we’re serious about change,” the long-standing light grey color scheme that has been with Photoshop for several generations is no longer the default (though you can still bring it back if you’re feeling nostalgic). Instead, Adobe has darkened the colors throughout the application, bringing it more in line with the design language found in their recent foray into iPad apps like Photoshop Touch. Icons and interface elements throughout the program have been completely rehauled, undoing the messy, mismatched nature of the many disparate features that had been accumulating over the years and not always getting along.

While there are some 65 new or improved features, the most attention seems to have been paid to a few specific functions, such as the crop tool, integrated video editing and layer organization.

A new crop: You wouldn’t think that a function as basic as image cropping would need a revamp, and perhaps that’s why it got one. Nobody has so thoroughly rethought the concept in a long time, and it shows. While simple on the surface, the crop tool now feels revolutionary. Rather than working around your image, you’re able to move and reshape both your crop area and the image itself at the same time, relative to each other. Photoshop will snap and guide your moves based along editing logic inherent to the program, as well as pre-set rules that you can define, like the golden ratio. No more pulling down rulers and guides, simply draw out straight lines within the crop tool and watch the image rotate to fit your needs.

Videoshop:All of the tools you’ve been using on still photos (effects, color correction, text) can now be applied to video clips from directly within Photoshop CS6. While it won’t put Final Cut out of business, it will save a lot of DIY-ers the time of getting their hands on a free or open-source video editing solution just for some basic functions.

Layers upon Layers:As Photoshop introduced more and more tools and we all started using them, things got pretty complicated. Cut to today, when an image may include dozens if not hundreds of individual layers, each with specific rules and effects attached to it. In general, much about this process has been cleaned up, and specifically you can sort and toggle layers based on a number of different specifications (kind, color, effect, etc.) and search through your giant stack of layers with a level of efficiency that was heretofore missing.

And beyond these features, there are even more, and more, and more updates! Cursors for many of the tools have been changed and restyled, an auto-save function will now be looking out behind the scenes in case of crashes, and Photoshop’s vector tools have been overhauled to better resemble Adobe Illustrator’s much more functional format. Adobe have themselves published a 42 page PDF that goes in depth on all the changes, for those intrepid beta testers who want to jump in head first. At free, it’s definitely the right price. Happy ‘shopping!


Alexei Bochenek is a lifelong tech nerd & film buff based in Los Angeles. When he’s not playing with his phone, it’s because the movie has started. Shhhhh!

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