Adobe launches Creative Cloud Express and confuses everyone: here's the skinny

Colouful collage featuring young woman applying lipstick and desert plants
(Image credit: Adobe)

Adobe has launched a "new" free app called Creative Cloud Express. For anyone who's balked at the cost of Creative Cloud – the software suite that includes Photoshop, Lightroom, Illustrator, Premiere Pro and more – that will sound quite enticing. 

However, despite the name, don't get too excited. This is not a cut-down version of the Creative Cloud apps (wouldn't that be nice?). Instead, it's simply a rebranding, and slight tweaking, of a free app that already existed: Adobe Spark

Creative Cloud Express is a direct replacement for this ageing app, yet for some reason Adobe failed to mention this in either its pre-launch briefing, press release or official blog post. Cue lots of confusion from the tech media, and a lot of frantic updating of its stories, which had been pre-written in advance of an agreed embargo. 

Some blogs, meanwhile, just left their posts as-is, leaving the internet full of news stories that make it sound like Creative Cloud Express is a wholly new app. Ignore them. It's an update.

Never heard of Adobe Spark? Well, many people hadn't, and we guess that's kind of the point of Adobe renaming it. So let us explain what it was, and what's changed in the new version.

What was Adobe Spark?

Launched in 2016, Adobe Spark was aimed at people who didn't have the time or inclination to learn complex software like Photoshop, Illustrator or Premiere Pro. Instead, it allowed you to create graphics, web pages, and short videos for social media, easily and quickly, via royalty-free templates, photos, images, fonts and icons. 

Aimed at marketing professionals, social media managers, and anyone else who wanted to create stuff to share on Facebook, Instagram and the like, Adobe Spark filled the gap when it came to quick and easy content creation. It could be used on desktop, tablet and mobile.

What's changed in Creative Cloud Express?

So other than the name, what's changed? Well, as well as adding extra templates, Adobe has brought in some new intuitive features.

(Image credit: Adobe)

Known as Quick Actions, these draw on Adobe's AI tech, which it calls Adobe Sensei, to let you remove background features from photos, trim and merge videos, turn videos into GIFs and convert and export PDFs, with "a few magical clicks". We've already seen these features in its flagship tools such as Photoshop and Acrobat, so it makes perfect sense to bring them in here too.

Creative Cloud Express is available at, as a free app from the Microsoft Store, Google Play Store and Apple App Store, as part of Creative Cloud All Apps subscription, and most single-app Adobe subscriptions. Free users get access to up to 1 million images and other assets, thousands of templates, dozens of fonts and 2GB of storage.

There's also a premium plan for $9.99 per month, which gives you access to the entire collection of 160 million Adobe Stock photos, over 20,000 licensed fonts, 100GB of storage, and premium features including refine cutout, resize, and graphic groups. You also get two extra apps: Photoshop Express and Premiere Rush.

Other Adobe products to download:
Download Photoshop
Download Premiere Pro
Download Adobe Stock
Download After Effects
Download Adobe Audition
Download Lightroom

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Tom May

Tom May is a freelance writer and editor specializing in art, photography, design and travel. He has been editor of Professional Photography magazine, associate editor at Creative Bloq, and deputy editor at net magazine. He has also worked for a wide range of mainstream titles including The Sun, Radio Times, NME, T3, Heat, Company and Bella.