What Does Photoshop Do?

By Shannon Keen

Adobe Photoshop allows people to edit and modify photos from their personal computers.
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Adobe Photoshop is an image editing program used to perform a variety of functions in the graphics, photography and digital art worlds. It was released by Adobe Systems, Inc. and marketed as the new standard for personal image editing and paint programs. Photoshop software is compatible with both Windows and Mac operating systems, though it was originally developed to run only on Macs.


Photoshop software is used to edit and modify a wide range of images and image types. One of its more common uses is basic photo editing. The editing tools available in Photoshop allow users to perform simple modifications like red-eye removal and lighting and color level adjustments, as well as more complex revisions like the layering of multiple photo elements to create a single image. This process involves a specific feature of Photoshop called a layer.


Photoshop layers enable the user to arrange and rearrange images over top of one another. Each separate image has its own layer that can be moved back and forth across the image layer beneath it. Without layers, each image would merge with the image beneath it as soon as it was placed. This would make rearrangement or further placement editing of any kind impossible. Layers can also be used to add and remove visual effects like filters and lighting.

Digital Painting

Photoshop also allows users to create original images like digital paintings, illustrations and other unique graphics. Digital painting is an art technique that involves recreating traditional painting styles such as watercolor, ink and oil through the use of computer software and digital tools. Photoshop offers a steadily-expanding set of virtual brushes and pens that can accurately reproduce many different physical drawing and painting techniques. Digital artwork is most commonly found in the context of conceptual art for films and video games.

Professional Users

Adobe Photoshop has proven useful in a wide range of professional fields including science, art and design. Astronomers and forensic technicians rely on the processing power of Photoshop to deal with the massive amounts of photographic data and evidence necessary to their work. Animators use Photoshop to create visually appealing, multi-layered characters and environments. Graphic, web and industrial designers rely on layers and Photoshop's other creative features to design images, layouts and products that are both attractive and functional.