How to Use Adobe Photoshop Express to Edit Photos Online

My flower photo before being edited
My flower photo before being edited | Source

Online Photo Editing

Many online programs are very helpful tools for accomplishing a task on a computer. They often have good functionality and are frequently free to use. The Adobe Photoshop Express Editor is one of these useful and free programs.

Photoshop Express is a tool for improving a photo and for altering it with special effects. It doesn't have the wide range of photo editing tools that some of the other versions of Photoshop have, but it's fine for basic jobs and is fun to use. It may be the only image editing program that many people need.

The online version of the editor lets a user import one of their own photos, correct flaws in the photo and add a few special effects via filters if desired. Other possible additions to the photo include text, fancy shapes, clip art, and frames. The user can save their edited photo on their hard drive or portable device.

My photo loaded into Photoshop Express and ready to edit
My photo loaded into Photoshop Express and ready to edit

The Adobe Photoshop Express Editor (the full name of the online program) requires Flash in order to run. If a computer or device is unable to run Flash, the editor can't be used. A free Photoshop Express app is available for mobile devices, however. More information about this app is given below.

Getting Started

The editor is accessed from the photoshop.com/tools website. Once a person goes to the website and clicks on "Start the Editor", the "Select a Photo to Edit" screen appears. This screen enables a person to upload one of their own photos stored on their computer. The photo must be in the JPEG format and must be no more than 16 megapixels in resolution.

When the image loads, two tabs appear on the left of the image—"Edit" and "Decorate". The names of the tabs change from white to blue when they're clicked and the appropriate menu appears below the tab.

The Edit menu lists the names of the Basic, Adjustments and Effects tools. To choose a tool its name needs to be clicked. The Decorate menu lists the names of Graphics tools. Once again, a tool is chosen by being clicked.

A picture created with the Distort filter
A picture created with the Distort filter

Using Photoshop Express Online

The online version of Photoshop Express has the tools that would be expected in an image editing program. It works well for people who want to improve a photo and for those who would like to play with special effects and create digital art.

The editing tools operate in two ways. Some show a series of mini-photos (thumbnails) representing the different effects of the tool. The user clicks on a photo to choose the effect. Other tools operate via a slider, which lets the user choose the strength of the chosen effect.

The image can be zoomed up to 800% as a person works. There are multiple levels of undo and redo. The undo tab lets the user work backwards through their changes one step at a time, canceling each change. The redo tab works in the opposite direction, redoing each undo. There is also a Reset tab at the bottom of the screen that lets the user return to the version of the photo that was first uploaded. When the mouse is clicked on the View Original tab, the original photo is temporarily visible.

The flower photo edited with the Pop Color filter
The flower photo edited with the Pop Color filter

Basic Editing Tools

The Basic tools allow the user to accomplish the following:

  • crop an image (remove the outer portion)
  • rotate an image
  • resize the image
  • tell the program to auto-correct the image
  • alter the exposure by making the photo darker or lighter
  • remove red-eye by clicking on the center of the affected eye
  • remove a small blemish in the photo via the touchup tool (which lets someone copy part of the image and paste it over the blemish)
  • increase the color saturation

Tips appear when the mouse is hovered over a tool. In most cases, instructions for using a tool appear at the top of the screen when the tool is chosen.

How to Crop and Resize a Photo in Photoshop Express Editor

The Touchup Tool in the Edit Menu

Using the touchup tool effectively requires a little practice. The steps in using the tool are as follows.

  • Drag a circle over the area that needs to be retouched. This circle is green in color.
  • A red circle appears next to the green circle.
  • Drag the red circle to the image area which you want the program to copy.
  • When the mouse is released, the copied section of the image is pasted over the area that needs to be retouched.

Changing the white balance
Changing the white balance

Adjustments Editing Tools

The Adjustments tools allow a person to make further changes to a photo and do the following jobs.

  • Shift colors or remove a color cast with the white balance tool.
  • Add light via the highlight or fill light tools.
  • Make a section lighter by clicking and dragging over the section using the dodge tool.
  • Make a section darker by clicking and dragging over the section using the burn tool.
  • Sharpen the photo.
  • Blur the photo by using the soft focus tool.

The photo edited with the Crystallize filter and a frame decoration
The photo edited with the Crystallize filter and a frame decoration

Creating Special Effects

The special effects filters in the online editor are somewhat limited, but it's fun to experiment with the ones that are included. It's also fun to combine different filters.

The Crystallize and Pixelate filters provide texture by giving the photo a blocky or a speckled appearance. Pop Color, Hue, Black and White, and Tint change the colors. The Sketch filter doesn't really make the photo look like a sketch but can produce an interesting effect. The Distort filter stretches and swirls the area that is chosen.

The photo edited with a Frame decoration, the Pop Color filter and the Sketch filter
The photo edited with a Frame decoration, the Pop Color filter and the Sketch filter

The Decorate Menu

I find the text tool the most useful part of the Decorate section of the image editor, although it's not very versatile. There are only nine fonts to choose from. The text color, opacity, and alignment can be altered. The angle and size of the text can be changed with controls on the text box. A drop shadow can be chosen to make the text stand out slightly, but the amount of shadow can't be increased. Text can also be added to a photo in a bubble or on a sticky.

The other Decorate tools are fun to play with but may not be necessary, unless someone wants to create an entertaining image for a special event. The decorations aren't suitable for business or professional use and are mostly clip art and cartoon-type images. There are a few picture frames that may be useful, however.

Once the user is satisfied with the look of their photo, they need to click the "Done" tab. The user is then prompted to save the edited photo. The photo can be saved on the user's computer or on a device recognized by the computer.

An abstract picture with a text bubble
An abstract picture with a text bubble

Advantages of the Online Photo Editor

The online editor is a useful program and is fun and easy to use. It's helpful for someone who doesn't have much disk space to store image editing software. It's also helpful for someone who needs an image editor and can't afford one or doesn't want to buy one. A person who doesn't own their own camera and would like to edit the copyright-free photos that are available at various websites should also find the program useful.

Yet another advantage of the online editor is it can be used when a person needs to edit a photo while they are away from their home or office. If the computer that they're using doesn't have an image editor installed, they can use the free online version of Photoshop Express (as long as the computer has Internet access).

A tint and a frame
A tint and a frame

An App for Tablets and Smart Phones

Photoshop Express Editor won't run on mobile devices unless they have a browser that incorporates a Flash player. I've found that even then the program may not work properly. One solution for this problem is to download the free Photoshop Express App. The app is available for the iOS, Android, and Windows Phone operating systems.

I use the iOS version of the app. The version that I have on my iPad provides utilitarian and artistic filters, frames, and borders. It also provides. cropping, resizing, rotating, blemish removal, and red eye detection tools. Extra features are available for download. These used to cost money, but they can now be downloaded for free if someone has an Adobe ID, which is also free.

Review of the Photoshop Express App

Purchased Versus Free Programs

Adobe sells other image editors that are much more capable than their online program or app. These are suitable for professionals, semi-professionals, and advanced amateurs. Another advantage of the programs besides their capabilities is that software that is paid for tends to be updated more often than free software. As far as I can tell, the online photo editor hasn't been updated for several years. Nevertheless, the free programs are all that many people need. They're fun to play with and do useful jobs as well. It's certainly worth experimenting with free software before purchasing an image editing program.

© 2013 Linda Crampton

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Comments 22 comments

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Vickiw 4 years ago

Great Hub Alicia! You've explained it so well, and this is really useful for a computer challenged person like me!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank very much, Vicki! I appreciate your visit and your kind comment.


Robie Benve profile image

Robie Benve 4 years ago from Ohio

Great hub, informative and well explained.

I did not know about this free editor, it's bookmarked now! :) Voted up and awesome.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you for the comment and the votes, Robie. Photoshop Express is a useful program - and it's great that it's free to use!


donnah75 profile image

donnah75 4 years ago from Upstate New York

I had no idea that there was a free photoshop editor online! I used to drag my school laptop home on weekends to use the software. This could be life changing...thanks! Voted up and pinning. This is an excellent and comprehensive hub.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thanks, donnah75. I appreciate the vote and the pin very much!


Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 4 years ago from San Francisco

Thank you for this. Great info.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you for the visit and the comment, Martin.


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida

Bookmarked and voted Up, of course, Alicia. Thanks for your time and effort creating this easy to understand explanation.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you for the comment and the vote, drbj. Photoshop Express is a nice program, and it's fun to use.


rosika profile image

rosika 4 years ago

I use photoshop to edit all my photos.....this article is very detailed and useful for anyone who is looking to use editing softwares for their photos..Voted up and useful!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you very much, rosika. I appreciate the votes!


Vector design profile image

Vector design 3 years ago from California

Really nice share. i like this hub, you explain in detail how to edit photo in Photoshop. Very informative article. i vote for the useful and awesome.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you very much for the comment and the votes, Vector design.


Rolly A Chabot profile image

Rolly A Chabot 3 years ago from Alberta Canada

Hi AliciaC... I have many of the Adobe products and love using them. For most people I think it is a rather daunting task to discover the program that works for them. I find Photoshop Elements 10 works well for me and I have just started to use the online tools and find the fascinating.

This is s avery timely article and thanks for all the work you have put into it.

Hugs from Canada


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Hi, Rolly. Thanks for the comment. I enjoy using Adobe products too. I agree with you - the cheaper and simpler versions of Photoshop, like Photoshop Elements and Photoshop Express, are certainly easier to use effectively than the full version!


Sufia Honey profile image

Sufia Honey 3 years ago from Virginia Beach, Virginia

Very nice article.

Thank you.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you for the comment, Sufia Honey!


kerlund74 profile image

kerlund74 3 years ago from Sweden

Great hub. Like this information and I also like to see what's possible to do:)


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you, kerlund74. I appreciate your comment!


Kalmiya profile image

Kalmiya 2 years ago from North America

I hope to advance to using Photoshop at some point so thanks for the tips in your hub! These photo editors make our visual world


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Hi, Kalmiya. Thanks for the comment. Photo editors do create lovely images. They're fun to use, too!

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