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A recent experience with purchasing a counterfeit version of Adobe Photoshop CS2 off Ebay has gotten us to realize just how rampant software piracy is. To find out – just type “Photoshop CS2” (or Photoshop Anything) into a Google search.
Among the sponsored ads you’ll see ads for Photoshop and other Adobe products selling for less than half of retail. Most of these are ads bought via Google’s Adwords by online shops specializing in counterfeiting, while others are selling their pirated wares on Ebay and Amazon marketplace (note I say marketplace – if an item ships directly from Amazon.com you can be fairly certain it’s legit). We have yet to find one that is legitimate. Bottom line – to purchase Photoshop, buy directly from Adobe using the links we provide below. That is about the only way of ensuring you get a legitimate copy as far as we can tell. If you can’t afford the high price tag, consider some of the alternative graphics software we detail below.
How to identify if your Photoshop is counterfeit
Here’s a quick checklist to see if your Photoshop copy is legit. If your Photoshop or other Adobe software product is:
- Shipped from China
- Missing its warranty card
- The serial number/CD key is printed on the CD, sleeve, or jewel case.
- During product activation does not give you the option of phoning in to activate
- Throws error messages upon loading, crashes, or simply won’t load
- Keyboard shortcuts aren’t working
- Examine the box your software came in. Look for:
- “Made in Singapore”
- Spelling mistakes
- Low resolution black and white images in the manual
- CD Inserts that are only one sheet, or don’t quite fit the jewel case
- The “Runs Great on Intel” sticker/ graphic on the box is faded or “grayed out” looking
Try Photoshop Elements, Paint Shop Pro or GIMP
The truth is, most people who run pirated copies of Photoshop don’t need or use 95% of the functionality and features the software offers. You’ll probably be just as content working with a copy of Photoshop. You can subscribe to this software directly from Adobe for $19.99 a month.
Paint Shop Pro
Another, more powerful alternative (and competitor to Photoshop) is Paint Shop Pro X4. It offers many of the power user/ professional features that Photoshop offers, albeit using a different layout, and at a much discounted price. Buy it directly from Corel for $79.99 $59.99:
Note that it’s not a bad idea to try out demos of products before you buy them. Adobe, for instance, let’s you setup an account and download 30-day trial versions of nearly all their products.
Open-source image editing software: GIMP
And finally, there’s the GIMP. GIMP is often referred to as the “Photoshop clone” of the open-source world. It is, in fact, a very powerful photo editor/ image editing application that will let you do nearly everything you can do in Photoshop. If you’re new to image editing, I would recommend you give it a try first. If you’re already a Photoshop user, it’ll take some time to get adjusted to the interface, and finding your way around the program. But once you do, you probably won’t look back.
Photoshop layout for GIMP
Finally, there is an application that modifies GIMP to look like Photoshop. On the background it’s running GIMP, but on the front-end it looks like Photoshop. For those that can’t afford Photoshop but need the power features and can’t get used to the GIMP layout, Gimpshop is a viable option. You should note, however, that GIMP fans balk at this application because they consider GIMP’s layout to be far superior to that of Photoshop in the first place. We’ll let you be the judge. Check our reviews of other photo editing software options.