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Black Friday 2019 Adobe Creative Cloud deal: up to 40% off now through Nov. 29

It's a great deal, but watch that you don't get mired in an expensive ecosystem.


Adobe just launched Photoshop on iPad which comes as part of any of the Creative Cloud subscription plans, the Photography Plan, or the Photoshop standalone plan.

Lori Grunin/CNET
This story is part of ZZZ Do Not Use, our roundup of the best deals on today's tech.

Adobe's deals on its Creative Cloud All Apps plan seems to turning into a regular event -- so much so, that if you need to subscribe and have the luxury of waiting it's worth delaying to get the discount off the first year. Adobe ran a 25% discount for Black Friday deal last November, but this year it's gotten even better: From Nov. 18 through Nov. 29, you can get 40% off the All Apps plan for individuals ($30 a month), 20% off the Student and Teacher plan ($16 a month) and Creative Cloud Teams plan ($60 a month per license).

After the first year, it goes back up to the normal prices, which run from $20 a month for students to $53 a month for individuals, to $80 for teams.

Read more: Photoshop on iPad is by turns fun, fantastic and infuriating

If you were planning on subscribing for the first time or upgrading from your dependable old (old, old) perpetual-license version and you qualify, then this is a good time to do it. But if you just want to kick the tires, there are some other factors to take into account before plunking down your credit card. Let's explore your options.

Need a more basic option that doesn't require a subscription? Check out the Black Friday 2019 deals for Adobe Photoshop Elements 2020 and the Photoshop Elements 2020/Premiere Elements 2020 bundle, on sale for $60 and $90, respectively through Dec. 2.

As attractive as the Creative Cloud pricing sounds, though, you may need to some strategic thinking before plunging in for a year. 

What's the deal?

That's 20-plus Adobe apps, including Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Premiere Pro, After Effects, Lightroom and Dreamweaver. You also get access to all of Adobe's fonts -- the service formerly known as Typekit -- along with 100GB cloud storage, and all the mobile apps, including Premiere Rush, Adobe FrescoAdobe Spark and Photoshop on iPad. Adobe also previewed Illustrator on iPad in October, which means it's likely it will become available over the course of your first year of subscription.

What's the catch?

A few important things to note:

  • The Creative Cloud Individual Plan offer is for a year's subscription paid in monthly installments of $29.99 or for 12 months paid up front for $359.88. The Student and Teachers plan is for a year's subscription paid in monthly installments of $15.99 or for 12 months paid up front for $191.88. The Teams plan is for $59.99 per month per license.
  • If you opt to continue the subscription, the price goes up to $52.99 per month ($635.88 annually) for the Individual plan, $29.99 per month ($359.88 annually) for students and teachers, and $79.99 per month for teams.
  • At the end of the year, it will automatically renew at the full price. And full price is what you'll be paying in perpetuity because I've never seen a discount for an existing customers.  
  • The discounts are available in other regions, including the UK and Australia
  • If you want to cancel, do so within the first 14 days or you'll be out half the annual cost.
  • The discount is only available to new subscribers, and it's limited to one subscription per customer. 

What's not to like?

If you just want to see whether you'd like the CC ecosystem or give the 2019 applications a go before committing, you may be better off getting the seven-day free trial and taking it for a spin before the promo ends on Nov. 29. You can then subscribe if you want to.

Why isn't a year better than a few days? The tar pit problem. If you really use the system, which is the only way to figure out if it's worth the not-insignificant sum, trying to extract all your work if you choose not to continue is at best an aggravation and at worst, impossible. Remember, if you opt not to subscribe you can't run the applications at all. 

Once you've got a couple thousand photos cataloged in Lightroom, getting them out with all the metadata -- ratings, keywords, captions and so on -- is a pain. You can save the metadata for a whole catalog into the individual photos' sidecar files, but it takes a while. And having Lightroom save the metadata to the file as you update them bogs down the software -- choose your poison. Plus, if you take advantage of the coolest new features, like range masking, those don't travel with the file. You only keep the basic adjustments.

If you give the latest Lightroom Classic a shot as an upgrade from an earlier version, it converts the database -- you won't be able to go back to the version you own. (Back it up, people!)

Love the libraries? I do. But you can't download anything in them or batch-convert and export them to portable format; you can only export them one at a time, and not to standard formats (as opposed to Adobe's formats). Graphics produced by the Adobe Capture mobile app go straight into libraries, and they're standard SVG files. But to get them out of CC, you can only save them one at a time, to AI (Illustrator) files. Forget about styles, color palettes, patterns or materials.

A new twist on the problem are the cloud documents used by Fresco and Photoshop on iPad. Thankfully, you can download them -- but only one at a time.

You get the idea.

Is any of this unusual? Lots of companies lock their best stuff within a walled garden. But that's the caveat you have to watch out for before sinking a lot of time and money into an expensive year-long trial: It may not be as easy to move on as you'd think.