4 Reasons Why Photoshop is so Hard to Use

Photoshop is a popular program that is used primarily for editing photos but does have other design elements that allow for the creation of graphics such as logos, icons, and so on. While it is an industry staple and many professional photographers, as well as designers, use this program on the regular, it has had its fair share of complaints.

The chief complaint of Photoshop is that it is too hard to use. The program itself is a bit complex and has more tools and features then some believe a single user would ever need. Therefore getting beyond the basics of Photoshop can be an intimidating task, even for professionals. It begs a number of questions on the user-friendliness of Photoshop. This may be why designers are turning to other programs like Illustrator or websites like Placeit.net which are user-friendly.

Why is Photoshop so Hard to Use?

Most products on the market have their share of competitors that claim to be better, faster, more cost efficient and so on. Every company and manufacturer are designing their product to be the best on the market, the staple within an industry. In order to do this, you have to be in the top tier of innovation, quality, efficiency and so much more.

Here are some common issues that make Photoshop hard to use:

  1. Difficult Navigation
  2. Time Consuming
  3. Common Troubleshooting Issues
  4. Program Limitations

With a program like Photoshop, it’s aim is to be the one-stop-shop for all of your editing and designing needs and desires. Perhaps this motivation has become more of a hindrance than a help when it comes to this particular program.

Looking into each one of these factors will give you a better understanding as to why some would argue that Photoshop is not accessible even for industry professionals, let alone the everyday consumer.

1. Difficult Navigation

When first opening photoshop it is easy to see why any first-time user would be instantly intimidated. The idea behind the tools and features is to have everything a user could ever desire in a centralized location. The issue with this is that the sheer amount of tools and features is overwhelming and hardly practical for any single user. The complexity can be daunting, even for industry professionals.

It’s not impossible to navigate through Photoshop but most everyday users tend to stick with the basics of Photoshop. Anything beyond that literally requires a whole list of courses you have to pay for in order to learn and unless you are a professional editor or designer, it wouldn’t be necessary.

2. Time Consuming

Bringing us to the next point, Photoshop is too time consuming for a number of reasons. One of which has already been discussed. It is time consuming to learn all of the tools and features of Photoshop and how to use them. It is time consuming to maneuver through all those tools and features to accomplish a task unless you have some sort of navigation cheat sheet or you keep your edits simple.

Now, in terms of editing photos and depending on the complexity of the editing, it may not take very long. Some users on Internet forums have talked about editing photos anywhere from 15-30 minutes per photo. Others have said 1 to 2 hours per photo. However, photoshop is also used for graphic design work as well and with programs like Illustrator, that will do the work in a fraction of the time, Photoshop lags behind.

3. Common Troubleshooting Issues

Unfortunately, Photoshop has some common issues with the program that make it difficult to work with on a consistent basis. Even though these issues are known and updates to the program are rolled out on a regular basis, these problems continue to spring up, hampering Photoshop’s accessibility.

The common issues that users will encounter when using Photoshop are numerous.

  • Speed Issues: Slow Performance or Lag
  • Photos Will Not Open in Program
  • Program Crashes or Freezes
  • Scratch Disks Full Errors
  • Tool is Not Working/Usable
  • Tools Can Not be Found
  • JPEG Parsing Error
  • Can Not Open Raw Files from Camera

This is not an exhaustive list but rather a few examples of some of the consistent complications or error messages you might see using Photoshop. Encountering these issues on a regular basis as an industry professional with clients waiting on work is problematic, to say the least.

4. Program Limitations

While Photoshop has a library of tools and features available to its users, it simultaneously has limitations in the usage of those tools or the program itself, especially when it comes to graphics. For starters, Photoshop is raster-based, meaning it uses pixels to create images. The primary limitation when it comes to this is the lack of ability to scale images to a larger size without losing the quality of the image. In other words, the image becomes pixelated and the edges will appear blurred and/or jagged if you attempt to make the image larger.

Other notable limitations deal with editing and exporting images. For example, in order to edit shapes you must first ‘rasterize’ the shapes to be able to even access certain program tools. Even then you are limited to how much you can edit the image. In fact, when dealing with shape objects, you can not use the erase tool and your shapes will have to be in different layers, further complicating the organization of the overall image.

As for exporting, Photoshop only allows you to export files using raster format, meaning jpeg, png, or layered psd. Unlike Illustrator, which also allows you to export using a raster format, you can not export an image using a vector format. This may not be an issue, unless a client requests the image in eps, pdf or vector Ai file.


Photoshop is best used when sticking to the basics, unless you’re willing to invest the time and the money to learn more. For average users or beginning professionals, it may not be worth the investment. Luckily, there are other options available to anyone willing to seek them out.