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How to Edit in Photoshop on an iPad

Being able to edit on the go is extremely useful, especially if you travel around a lot to get to your clients. It will help you to get more editing done in general, and when you’re using a tablet, it’s an easy way to prepare special edits for social media use. Here’s everything you need to know about using your iPad to edit photos in Photoshop – including the system requirements, and how the Photoshop app can interact with Lightroom.


System requirements

Before we get started, you’ll need to check that your device is compatible with the Photoshop app. Be sure to update your IOS to the most recent guidelines and check for any uninstalled updates you might have access to.

As for the particular device that you are using, Adobe recommends that the iPad Pro 12.9-inch is the best option. However, it will still work with the following devices: the iPad Pro 11, 10.5, or 9.7-inch; iPad 5th, 6th, or 7th generation; iPad Mini 4 or 5th generation; and the iPad Air 2 or 3rd generation.

If you are having difficulty accessing the app on any of these devices, first check that you have the right iOS version installed, and then check on Adobe’s guidelines. They may change in the future with newer versions of the app.


Workspace tools

The workspace for the iPad version of Photoshop has a lot of the tools that you will be used to in the desktop version, although the layout will be different. There are a range of buttons on each side of the screen represented by different icons. Click on one of these icons and you will find a list of options which can be accessed from this menu.

One of the most important tools is the one that allows you to open a new file to work on. Tap on the icon that looks like a picture and you’ll see several options: to import an image from your camera roll, your files, your libraries, or to take one with the iPad camera. You’ll most likely be editing shots taken with a DSLR, so you’ll want to either download these onto your iPad first or access them from your Adobe CC libraries. These are Cloud-based, so they’re super useful for taking edits from one device to another.

This tool will help you to place another image into the file, such as when you’re working on a composite (adding the Summerana fairy wings to a portrait, for example). But when you first open the app, the home screen will also give you similar options to open your base file. You can also just use the ‘create new’ button to open a blank work screen.

If you come across any problems, or you can’t find one of the tools that you are used to working with, use the ‘Learn’ option in the home screen to access tutorials and a tour of the app. It’s a good idea to take this tour before you use the app for the first time, as it will likely take care of most of your questions.


Lightroom integration

If you’re already using Lightroom on your iPad, the great news is that you can actually integrate these two apps seamlessly to streamline your editing process. The first thing you’ll want to do is to open the images in Lightroom and edit them as normal. When you’re satisfied with this first part of your edit, and want to drop them into Photoshop to go further, it’s easy to do.

With the image open in the Detail view, which is symbolised by a white box with a black frame, tap on the export icon. This is a square with an arrow pointing upwards out of it, on the top right-hand side of the screen. Tapping it will open up the export menu, and you can see the option ‘Edit in Photoshop’.

When you tap on this option, the image will automatically open in Photoshop for you. If you just want to export a lot of images to work on later, you can choose the option ‘Export to camera roll’ or ‘Export to files’ and save the image to your iPad. Using the method we outlined above, you’ll be able to open it in Photoshop later.


Touch shortcuts and gestures

One of the benefits of a tablet is being able to use your fingers to move things around, which is a lot more interactive. You can use these techniques with Photoshop to make editing easier and more intuitive.

When you use a tool, you’ll see a touch shortcut which appears on your screen in the form of a circle. You can move this circle around by dragging it to a place which is more convenient for you. When you tap this shortcut you’ll see a blue icon appear which lets you know you are using the shortcut. With most tools, you’ll want to hold your finger on that spot while you use it.

For example, let’s say you’re using the brush tool. Hold your finger on the touch shortcut and your tool becomes an eraser. This means you can easily erase any mistakes without having to select a new tool from the menu – just tap and go.

When you use the touch shortcut, you’ll also notice that the circle expands. Slide your finger across to the outer edge of the circle and you’ll see that the tool changes to the secondary action: in the case of the brush tool, it’s the eyedropper.

There are other gesture tools, too – like tapping with two fingers to undo your last action!


The easy functionality of the iPad means that you might actually end up preferring it to using Photoshop on your desktop. Make sure to make full use of the touch functionality for the best experience, and you’ll find you can edit photographs in no time at all with this version of Photoshop.

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