Photoshop works on the iPad

Photoshop on the iPad: This is how the app works on the tablet

The popular image editing program Photoshop has been available on the iPad for some time. Although the range of functions is not comparable to that of the desktop version, the iPad version is more than sufficient for simpler tasks. Here you can find out what Photoshop can do for the iPad - and how to use the app.

At the end of 2019, Adobe released Photoshop for the iPad. This is a paid version that only users of a valid Creative Cloud subscription can use. There is no one-time payment option.

You can download the Photoshop app for the iPad as normal from the App Store. After the download you have to log in with your Adobe account in order to be able to use the image editing software.

Familiar at first glance: the Photoshop interface on the iPad. Image: © Screenshot TURN ON / Apple 2021

Although the iPad offshoot is still clearly different from the desktop version, it does contain some important core features. This includes the following functions.

These Photoshop features are available on the iPad

  • Levels: Photoshop without layers would be unthinkable, and on the iPad you can also use layers for your image processing, create masks or adjust the opacity of individual layers. Of course, you can also delete layers again, but layer effects and smart filters are not yet available. In addition to the detailed layer view, there is also a compressed view on the iPad, the use of which may seem a bit unusual at first.
  • Adjustment levels: In addition to the regular layers, you can also use the adjustment layers to create masks for adjustments such as brightness, hue and balance.
  • selection: Photoshop on the iPad enables easy selection using a touchscreen display, which offers advantages compared to mouse operation. So you can make selections using the lasso, quick selection or with the selection rectangle or with the selection ellipse. The magnetic lasso tool is unfortunately not yet included in the iPad version.
  • Retouch: You can also access numerous retouching tools with the iPad version. More complex tools for professionals, such as frequency separation, are still a long time coming.
  • Basic tools: Features such as the fill tool, cropping, transforming or even color gradients have also been available since the iPad app was launched.
Layers are also available for more complex image processing. Image: © Screenshot TURN ON / Apple 2021

If you've been using Photoshop on your computer before, the iPad version will immediately look familiar - the basic look and feel is almost identical. On the left side you will find your tools for editing, on the right side you will find properties and layers. But: Of course, the layout is adapted to the smaller iPad screen, which is why you don't get a 1: 1 implementation. Operation with fingers instead of a mouse and keyboard can also take getting used to.

Tools, gestures and shortcuts

Tools and tool options

  • To select a tool on the toolbar, all you have to do is tap it. If advanced options are available, the associated options bar opens automatically.
  • By dragging the option bar by its handle, you can move the bar to any position on the work surface. Docking on the toolbar is also possible.
  • To show alternative tools, tap and hold or double-tap certain tools.
  • Select the foreground / background swatches on the toolbar to set a color using the selector.
  • To switch between colors, simply swipe up or down on the color fields.
Tapping once is enough to show further options. Image: © Screenshot TURN ON / Apple 2021


  • You can operate Photoshop on the iPad using various gestures. To do this, tap on the question mark to display the available gestures.
  • You can zoom in by pulling two fingers apart and together.
  • To undo an action, just tap with two fingers.
  • To restore something, tap with three fingers.
  • To pan, simply drag with two fingers.


The touch shortcut is located at the bottom left of the screen - for quick access to additional functions. This is especially useful if you are using Photoshop on the iPad without a keyboard. If you tap on the question mark next to "Show touch shortcuts", you will get an overview of the possible shortcuts. Here are some examples:

  • Tap the move tool.
  • Then select the touch shortcut and hold it down while you drag the image. In this case, the function is changed and the direction of movement is restricted to horizontal, vertical or diagonal.
  • Tap the touch shortcut and move your finger to the outer edge of the icon, then hold down your finger as you drag the image. In this case you are duplicating the selected layer.