Software and Technical Requirements

This chapter includes information on:

  • The software programs used in this course
  • Subscription options for accessing the software
  • Technical requirements for computers to run the software
  • Other equipment and devices you may need

In this course, we will be using four creative software applications developed by Adobe:


Adobe Photoshop
Adobe Illustrator
Adobe Audition
Adobe Premiere Pro

Adobe programs have been widely used by media professionals since the 1980s and ’90s. Each program has different strengths, and the full set of programs introduced in 2003 was called Adobe Creative Suite. Updates were released every year or two, and the final version released this way was CS6 in May 2012. In 2013, the company announced new versions of the software would be available through a subscription-based business model with more frequent updates. The new software set is called Creative Cloud, or Adobe CC. Creative Cloud encompasses a collection of many programs, including the four we’ll be using in this course.

Here is a helpful video from 2013 in which Adobe “Design Evangelist” Terry White introduces the software and the company’s switch from Creative Suite to Creative Cloud.

Note: Either Adobe CC or CS6 versions of the software will work for course assignments. Older versions are strongly discouraged. Adobe CC is the most recent version, and includes periodic updates. CS6 is the version available in Murrow College labs.

Software trials and purchases

This course is designed to use the four software programs in separate units, so you will need access to each program for approximately 30 days. Adobe offers 7-day free trials for each of its software programs that you may download and use on your own computer. Once the trial runs out, you will need to work in campus labs or purchase a software subscription. To help offset this cost, this course does not require any textbook purchases.

There are numerous subscription options you may want to explore, but these are the most cost-effective options for the purposes of this course:


  • Student rate annual subscription: Students get a significant discount, and can purchase an annual subscription to the entire collection of Adobe programs for $20/month for the first year. Many students enjoy having access to all the programs throughout the course, and afterward.
  • Professional rate monthly subscription: You may opt to purchase each program one at a time using the monthly subscriptions, which are $30/month for a single program. (There is no monthly subscription at the student rate.) This is the least expensive option. The downside is that you will not have ongoing access to the programs, and you will need to cancel each subscription after a month to avoid recurring charges.
  • Campus labs: Students in Pullman have access to computers with the required Adobe software during scheduled COM210 lab sessions and open lab times in Murrow College and Holland Library. Students in Everett and Vancouver also have limited access to lab computers equipped with the software.

If you plan to purchase the software for use on your own computer, you can use the free 7-day trial period to consider which subscription option you prefer. The Adobe site includes a live chat with a sales representative that is typically very helpful for making sure you purchase the subscription that you want. For all products, make sure you cancel your subscription if you do not want it to continue — do not assume it will just expire!

Note: This is a significant shift from previous semesters because Adobe changed its free trial policy in May 2016, reducing the trial period from 30 to 7 days.

Computer requirements

Not all personal computers are capable of running the Adobe software required for this course. Tablets and lightweight laptops such as Chromebooks are not usually sufficient, and older computers may need upgraded operating systems. The following is an overview, but it is your responsibility to check the full hardware requirements available here.

You will need a computer with a 64-bit operating system. Adobe Premiere Pro, which we will use in our video unit, will NOT work with 32-bit operating systems.

If your computer uses a Windows operating system, it’s recommended that you have at least Windows 7 64-bit. Mac users should have at least OS X 10.10. (Not sure what you’ve got? Here are instructions for how to check on Windows and Macs.)

Installing and using Adobe software also requires sufficient free space on your computer’s hard disk. Here’s how to check your available hard disk space for Windows and Macs. If you have less than 50 GB, it’s recommended that you free up space by deleting or transferring files. Here are some basic strategies for freeing disk space and other resources.

If your computer is not capable of running Adobe software and you do not have access to on-campus labs (Global Campus students), get in touch with your instructor immediately to discuss options. You cannot be successful in this course without access to the software.

Other Requirements

You will need some type of audio/video recording device for our audio and video units. Most smartphones, point-and-shoot and DSLR digital cameras will record audio and video, which will be sufficient for our class. A digital video or digital audio recorder would also work. Students in Pullman can check out digital cameras and audio recorders from Academic Media Services for free.

An external storage device such as a hard drive or flash drive of at least 32GB is strongly recommended to back up your projects, especially if you plan to work in campus labs. The multimedia files you will use in this course are large files and may not transfer correctly by email. You may also want to explore free “cloud” storage options such as Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, or Dropbox.

Editing audio and video in campus labs will require headphones. Noise-canceling headphones that cover the entire ear are strongly recommended (rather than earbuds) for precisely editing audio. Apple earbuds are not compatible with the Murrow College lab computers, and will not work there.

Some students find the Adobe programs very difficult to use without a mouse. If you plan to use a laptop, you may want to consider using a mouse.