Do MacBooks Come With Photoshop Preinstalled?

Photoshop is a leading graphics editor used by photographers, graphic designers, artists and individuals with other skills and professions. Typically, anyone interested in running this program on their device would have to go through the process of downloading and installing it, but MacBook supporters are curious whether any models come with Photoshop preinstalled?

No, Photoshop does not come preinstalled on any MacBook models. This is because it is a third-party software that requires users to pay for a monthly or annual plan after the initial free 7-day trial has expired. The only built-in editor that comes with a MacBook is the Apple Photo app (iPhoto).

In this article, we’ll provide an overview of what your MacBook’s default editor, Apple Photo, has to offer and how this application compares to Photoshop. As you read, you’ll also learn how to download Photoshop’s software on your MacBook should you decide that the Apple Photo application is too limiting.

Apple Photo Application Review

If you’re an artist with limited funds or someone who only needs a photo editor for occasional modifications, then you’re probably content with opting for your MacBook’s free Apple Photo application over downloading and purchasing a Photoshop subscription. But what does this app really have to offer and how does it compare to Photoshop?

The Apple Photo application is a free, built-in photo editor equipped with a clean interface, a forgiving non-destructive editing setup, and reasonable number of editing features (more so than is available on iOS devices) including tools for:

  • Retouching
  • Cropping
  • Lighting
  • Curves
  • Levels
  • Definition
  • Noise reduction
  • Sharpening

Users also have access to several filters and other features allowing them to alter any image they import while maintaining the freedom of resetting all photos to their original state (thanks to the non-destructive editing) if necessary.

In terms of quality, the tools and setup of Apple Photo is fairly comparable to other applications, such as Lightroom’s Develop Module or Photoshop’s Camera RAW, and can fulfill the needs of most amateur to intermediate photographers and photo editors.

While this app is perfect for MacBook owners interested in everything from minor photo tweaks to moderately advanced editions, the application is fairly limited when compared to the graphic design capabilities of Photoshop.

How Does Apple Photo Compare to Photoshop?

Comparing Apple’s Photo app to Photoshop’s software is a bit unfair considering one is a photo editor application and the other is a graphic design software. Still, knowing what sets them apart is crucial for determining which suits your needs best, or if neither is the ideal choice for you.

We could get extremely deep in the software weeds about the intricacies of how these applications differ, but the biggest point to make here is that Apple Photo is overtly a photo editing and enhancing application with virtually no graphic design capabilities. Therefore, if you’re an artist who loves to draw images from scratch, animate photos or drawings, or create various graphics, like website icons, then this app is not for you.

While many artists and graphic designers would argue that Illustrator is superior for that type of artistry, Photoshop at least gives you the option to expand your artistic horizons through access to its vast selection of over 70 tools. Comparatively, Apple Photo has a decent selection of tools for an photo editing and enhancing app, but they are only a fraction of what Photoshop has to offer and none of Apple Photos’ tools permit editing beyond photo alterations.

There is the benefit of Apple Photo being pre-installed and completely free on your MacBook device, versus Photoshop’s software that not only has to be downloaded separately, but also comes with a hefty price tag. Therefore, as we said previously, if you are truly focused on tweaking photos and don’t intend to dabble in graphic design, you would likely manage with Apple Photo alone.

That being said, if you’re a serious or even professional artist/graphic designer/video editor or any of the other similar careers and passions, you’ll find MacBooks’ Apple Photo application frustratingly limiting and unable to support the tasks and vision you have in mind.

Are There Decent Apps In-Between Apple Photo and Photoshop?

After reading our review and comparison of these two applications, it would be understandable if you’re feeling torn between the two.

On the one hand, Apple Photo can achieve the majority of photo editing and alterations the everyday person desires and comes completely free, but on the other hand, Photoshop, though it is a pricy investment, provides nearly limitless possibilities for photo editing and graphic design.

But what if you want something in-between? A free app that may or may not come with your MacBook but provides tools above the level of Apple Photo without requiring a monthly subscription like Photoshop?

In these instances, we recommend that applications below:

  • Google Photos
  • Gimp
  • Krita
  • PhotoScape X
  • Darktable
  • PIXLR Editor
  • Gravit Designer
  • Photolemur 3 (free with watermark)

In addition to these applications, there are several other payable options that are comparable to Photoshop if you don’t mind paying for an editor but don’t particularly enjoy Photoshop’s setup. Some top recommendations include Affinity Photo and Procreate.

How to Download Photoshop on a MacBook

Those of you who are avid Photoshop users might be disappointed to hear that this exceptional software doesn’t come with your MacBook. Thankfully, that doesn’t mean you can’t ever use it, you just need to go through the brief process of downloading and installing the editor yourself.

The steps to download Photoshop on a MacBook are as follows.

  1. Go to
  2. Click the “Creativity” drop down menu tab
  3. Click “Photoshop” listed under “Featured Products”
  4. Click “Free trial” or “Buy Now” depending on your preference
  5. Select your preferred plan
  6. Enter the necessary personal and payment information
  7. Download the Photoshop software
  8. Install the Photoshop software and wait for the process to complete
  9. Open Photoshop

If you’d prefer not to consistently pay for a Photoshop subscription, you could opt for purchasing Photoshop Elements instead. The 2022 version of this software can either be purchased directly from Adobe for about $115 or you can find it in the Mac App Store.

Photoshop Elements has most of the same tools and features as the standard Photoshop software, but it is more tailored towards amateurs rather than professionals. While this might not be ideal for some, Photoshop Elements has the advantage of only requiring a single purchase and can be directly installed to your MacBooks, as opposed to Photoshop which will always require regular payments.

Final Thoughts

Photoshop might not come preinstalled on any MacBook model, but its stunning features are easily accessible once you go through the download and installation process listed above. Alternatively, you can opt for your MacBook’s default photo editor, Apple Photo, or some of the other free and payable editors we’ve mentioned here. Determining which is best for you depends on your experience level and what you’re trying to achieve.