If you’re looking for a simple way of creating branded content on social media, templates for your website, or speed up your graphic design workflow for clients, Canva and Adobe Express are the go-to options; but which one is better?
After using each of these platforms extensively for my website, youtube channel, and graphic design work for clients, I’ve officially come to the answer.
Today, the decision between Canva and Adobe Express will be decided on many factors. From how easy each program is to use, to the templates and elements available, to the program costs. Even by which background remover is better.
By the end of this, you’ll feel confident knowing whether Canva or Adobe Express is better worth your money and what you gain out of using either program.
Let’s get started!
What Is Canva & Who Is It For?
Canva is an online graphic design tool used to help creators and businesses of all sizes create on-brand marketing content, sales presentations, training videos, and more.
Canva is very user-friendly. You can drag-and-drop your design and photos to edit them and access custom fonts, frames, shapes, grids, and icons.
Canva has thousands of pre-licensed images, videos, illustrations, soundtracks, and more available at your fingertips. Canva also has an extensive inventory of templates for logos, posters, presentations, infographics, and more.
Ultimately it’s the one-stop shop for any design needs, regardless of your skill level. Heck, my dad, who’s rounding the bend to 60 years old, loves it and finds it easy to use.
And if you knew my dad, you’d know that says a lot.
What Is Adobe Express & Who Is It For?
Adobe Express (formerly Adobe Spark) is a cloud-based software that allows businesses to create and share engaging multimedia content on various platforms. This can include social media posts, stories, marketing materials such as flyers and banners, or logos.
With just a few clicks, the drag-and-drop interface and built-in templates of Adobe Creative Cloud allow professionals to express their creativity with access to the Adobe Stock images and fonts library.
Adobe Express is for users who want to go beyond the basics without learning complicated software like Photoshop or Illustrator.
Compared to Canva, it offers many similar tools and features, with the major difference of layer-based editing. A welcomed improvement for more advanced designers and creatives.
Comparing Canva VS Adobe Express
With all that said, there are some key differences to note between Canva and Adobe Express that you should know about. Let’s first compare each program based on ease of use, then get into the more nitty-gritty details.
Ease Of Use
One of the most significant selling points for Canva as a graphic design tool is its ease of use. Canva is so intuitive even those with few computer skills can grasp the basics.
It all starts on the main page. The layout is easy to understand.
In the banner area, you’ll find a row of buttons that will quickly send you to the many different areas of the program.
You can open one of the projects you’re working on by clicking on Projects.
When you click on Projects, you will conveniently find the most recent projects at the top of the page.
You will also find your Folders, where you can organize your assets however you’d like.
If you want to start a new project, click on Create A Design.
A list will pop up and showcase all the different canvas sizes you can choose. This includes Facebook posts, phone wallpapers, Pinterest pins, and more.
Below the list of canvas sizes, you’ll be able to create a custom size with the Custom Size button. You can easily edit a single photo with Edit Photo. Also, you can edit a file, such as a PDF, with the Import File button.
When you start to work on your project, the Canva interface is also easy to understand and easy to use.
You will use the menu on the left-hand side a lot. This is where you will add different elements to your designs, both your own elements and elements from Canva.
This menu is also where you will find different templates to use and how you will be adding Text to your projects.
The Canvas on Canva is as clean as it gets. It’s very intuitive, and the buttons at the top of the page are as convenient as they come.
The Duplicate button on the left will copy and paste an exact copy of your canvas as a second “page.”
The Add New Page button will create a new page below the one you’re currently on.
If you want to see all of your pages at once, you can click on the Grid View button.
Finally, after your design is complete, all you have to do is press the big Share button.
You can easily copy the link to your project and send it to someone else. Or download your design to your hard drive, and share your design on your social media.
Now looking at Adobe Express, the main page of Adobe Express doesn’t come off as polished as Canva’s main page. It comes off a bit cluttered and not as organized.
At the same time, jumping into a project and getting to work can still be very quick. Your most recent projects are lined up at the bottom of the page. Just click on the thumbnail to jump right back in.
It’s also easy to make a quick edit with Adobe Express. Click on the purple Plus Button, and you’ll find a long list of edits that you can choose from.
For example, if you click on Crop Image, you will be presented with a window where you can drag and drop your image.
Once you drag and drop your image in the window, you can quickly and easily crop your image with the corner handles. Click Download to download your cropped photo to your hard drive.
This shows you how easy it is to make quick edits with Adobe Express.
If you want to start a brand new design, click on the Plus button, then click on the Custom Size Graphic.
You can create a custom size for your project or select from the list of preset sizes to the left of Custom. Adobe Express makes it easy to understand what size you’re going to get before you click on it.
The interface of Adobe Express, much like the main page, is not as polished as Canva. It’s not as well organized and can sometimes feel cluttered.
The best part of the interface is the left-side menu. Each button is easy to understand what will happen when you click on them.
The actual canvas area for Adobe Express is not as good as Canva. Mainly because when you add or duplicate a page in Adobe Express, it doesn’t add it below your first page but “behind” it.
To go to the next page, you must press the arrow buttons. It’s not as convenient as just scrolling down to skim through your project, like with Canva.
Adobe Express makes it easy to adjust elements that are on your Canvas. Just click on your element, and you can make your edits in the right-hand menu.
When you’re done with your design, Adobe Express makes it easy to download it to your computer and share it with the rest of the world.
You can do this at the top of the interface with the Download button and the Share button. Your options for both choices are more clearly presented than with Canva.
Canva is more organized and easier to find your way around. Also, being able to scroll down the pages of your project is more convenient than using arrow buttons like Adobe Express.
The Winner: Canva
According to Canva, over 250,000 free templates and over 100 different design types exist.
You can easily browse through these templates by clicking on one of the options, such as the Social Media button on the main page.
You can also search for a particular template type in the search bar.
Adobe Express has a good amount of templates, but not all of them are free.
According to Adobe, Express comes with 100,000 templates for members who pay for the service and “thousands of free templates” for those on the free plan.
You can find these templates on the main page. You can also find more by clicking on View All. You can then browse through the different categories to find the template you need.
You can also search for templates in the search bar at the top of the page.
Express has more templates than you’ll ever need. However, the sheer amount of templates available on Canva gives you a much better chance of finding a high-quality template. For the free version, Canva seems to have more options for templates. In either paid version, both Adobe Express and Canva have a comparable amount of templates to choose from.
Stock Images & Graphics
To find images or graphics in Canva, go to the Elements tab and stroll down to Graphics or Photos. Click on See All on either one to see a much larger gallery of what is available.
According to Canva, the service provides over 75+ million images, graphics, audio, and video files. All of these files are royalty-free and can even be used commercially.
To add the photo or graphic to your Canvas, just click on the photo or graphic of your choice, and it will be added automatically.
Where Canva shines regarding photos and graphics is the search function. You can search for basically anything, and you will find high-quality graphics and photos for it.
Also, when choosing images or graphics for your design, avoid images with a crown icon if you are a free user. You must be a Canva Pro user to use those elements.
For Adobe Express, you can find free images by clicking the Photos button on the left-hand menu. You can browse through the available graphics by clicking the Design Assets. Click on More to see a more extensive gallery of available photos and graphics.
The search function of Adobe Express is not as vast or impressive as Canva’s. You can try searching for the theme you need, and you will find a good amount of results maybe half the time.
The other thing to remember is that if you have a free account, you should avoid any results with a crown icon. The crown means that you must be a paid member to use the image. Canva has a similar feature to this if you aren’t upgraded to Canva Pro.
Where Express drops the ball is in the graphics department. If you try searching your theme under Design Elements, you will come up with nothing a good amount of the time.
Again, Canva just has so many elements and often gives better results for any search. Express has a ton of options, but just not as many as Canva. Fortunately both platforms feature royalty-free images that you can use without worry of copyright issues.
Photo Editing Features
The quickest way to edit a photo on Canva is by selecting Create A Design and then clicking Edit Photo. From there, you will be prompted to choose an image from your hard drive.
After choosing your photo to edit, you can find all the filters by selecting Effects and clicking See All.
From there, you will find a ton of different filters that you can choose from. Just click on the filter to apply it.
You can also adjust the effect with the Intensity slider. By default, the slider will be set all the way to the right. Slide it to the left to bring down the intensity.
If you don’t want to add a filter and instead wish to adjust the general settings of your picture, you can do this by clicking on Adjust. Move as many sliders as you need to change the settings.
You can also click and hold Compare to flip between your original image and your edits.
Another way you can edit your photo in Canva is by cropping it. You can do this by clicking the Crop button.
Use the cropping handles to resize the cropping window. Fit the cropping area around the area you wish to keep after you click Done.
One of the coolest things about cropping in Canva is the ability to rotate the image with the Rotate slider easily. You can come up with some pretty cool compositions this way or simply straighten a horizon.
Canva also provides a handful of photo editing apps you can apply to your image. This includes a blurring tool, a pixelate tool, and more.
In Adobe Express, you can edit a photo by clicking From Your Photo on the main page. This will open a window where you can drag and drop your image and start the process.
Once your photo is added, you can change the canvas size to one of many different social media sizes. Or, you can keep it at the default photo size.
Once your photo is open in Express, you can adjust the general settings of your image with the Enhancements tab. Just move the sliders to where you need them.
You can add a blur to your image with the Blur option. Even the smallest amount of blur will significantly affect your image.
The filter options in Express are where the program falls apart. There are not nearly as many choices as you would find with Canva.
The one effect that Express does better than Canva is the Duotone effect. It’s much easier to click on the different color pairings to test each effect.
You would think that an Adobe product would win in a photo editing race. Unfortunately, Express can’t keep up due to the lack of choices in effects. Canva picks up a surprising win since it has a more complete and easy-to-use set of adjustments. With that said, as far as basic brightness and contrast adjustment go, both Canva and Adobe Express are comparable.
Available Exporting Formats
To export your design in Canva, you just need to click on the Share button.
There are three ways to export your design:
- You can copy the link to your design and share it.
- You can export your design to your computer with the Download button.
- You can share your design on social media.
You will have many choices if you decide to share your design on social media. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and TikTok, to name a few.
Once you link all of your social media to Canva, sharing your design will send it straight to your chosen site.
When downloading your design with Canva, you get many exporting options.
- You get the standard options such as JPG and PNG.
- You get two different qualities of PDF you can export to. PDF standard is lower quality, and PDF Print is high quality.
- You can export to SVG if you have Canva Pro.
- You can also export a video as a GIF or an MP4.
When you’re done, click on Download.
With Adobe Express, clicking the Download button only gives you three options: PNG, JPG, and PDF (just one quality). All you can do is select your choice and click Start Download.
When you click on Share, you can send your design to your social media after clicking on Publish. You will find most of the same social media options as you would on Canva.
For the most part, both programs have the same amount of options, except with Canva, you can export to two different PDF qualities and SVG. Canva wins due to more options.
Desktop & Mobile Functionality
The functionality of both Canva’s and Express’s desktop apps are virtually the same. Both apps respond well and are relatively fast. However, there is a big difference between the mobile apps.
The mobile version of Canva feels like you have the same desktop app in your pocket. You can do everything that you can on the desktop, on the mobile app. It all feels the same, just mobile-friendly.
The Express app is good but lacks many features you would find on the desktop app. You can see this the most when you click on the purple Plus button and find only about a quarter of the amount you would from the desktop app.
Canva mobile feels like Canva in your pocket. Express isn’t there yet.
Social Media Scheduling
With Canva, you can schedule when you want to post your content by clicking Content Planner on the main page. From there, click on any day on the calendar to bring up your most recent projects.
Then, select which social media site you wish to send your content to under the drop-down menu. You can also add a caption if you wish.
If your social media is linked, you can set the Content Planner to post said content to the sites you have linked automatically.
Content scheduling is virtually the same when it comes to Adobe Express. You can find the Content Planner on the main page. To schedule a new post, simply click on a date and then click Add New.
You will have all the same social media options available as you do on Canva, presented at the top of the pop-up window. You can also finalize the date and time you want your content posted on the right-hand side.
Both Canva and Adobe Express do the same thing regarding content scheduling, and each program does it well.
- If you are a free user of Canva, you can upload up to 5GB of media to the platform.
- If you are a Canva Pro user, you upload up to 1TB of storage to the platform.
- For Adobe Express, you can upload up to 2GB if you are a free user.
- If you are a premium plan user, you can upload up to 100GB.
The clear winner here is Canva for giving more storage to free users and 10x the storage for paid users.
Many Canva users only use the free version of Canva for a good reason. You get so much out of the free version of the service. It’s astounding.
For those who want to get even more out of Canva, Canva Pro is only $12.99 per month or $119.99 per year. This will give you access to folders, over 600,000 templates, brand kits, a background remover, and more.
If you plan on using Canva with a team, a team account is $14.99 per month or $149.90 per year. This tier comes with everything you need to ensure your team can achieve what you need them to.
There are only two tiers for Adobe Express as well, free and premium.
A free account lets you use thousands of templates, a ton of fonts, and a good amount of royalty-free photos. One advantage over Canva, the free version of Express comes with the Background Remover, unlike Canva, which keeps it behind a paywall.
The premium plan for Adobe Express is $9.99 per month or $99.99 annually. This more than quadruples the number of elements you get to use, gives you access to the content planner, and adds a ton of premium features like image resizing.
Adobe Express is also included in the Creative Cloud All Apps or the Photography plan. The All Apps plan is $54.99 per month, and the Photography plan is $19.99 per month.
Not only is Express a few bucks cheaper than Canva, but if you already have the All Apps or Photography plan from Adobe, then you already have access to Express.
Winner: Adobe Express
Comparing Common Features Between Canva & Adobe Express
Both programs do different things, but also many of the same things. Here’s a comparison of three of the most popular features between both programs.
There are two ways to find the background remover in Canva:
- You can click on Create A Design and Edit Photo. After picking your photo, the Background Remover will be in the left side panel.
- Or, you can remove a background at any time while you create your design by clicking on Edit Image, then choosing it in the left side menu.
Once you click Background Remover, Canva’s powerful AI will remove the background of your image almost perfectly.
If there are some flaws, you can use the Erase and Restore “brushes” to fix any problems.
For Adobe Express, you can find the background remover by clicking on the big purple Plus button and then choosing Remove Background.
You will be asked to drag and drop your image into the box; after you do, the background of your image will be automatically removed. You can click customize if you want to edit your photo further.
If you need to erase or restore parts of your image, you can do so by clicking Edit Cutout. This works just like Canva. Also, you have the bonus of quickly inverting your selection with the Invert Cutout button.
After you’re done making your edits, you can easily change the background to whatever you’d like.
The process of removing a background is smoother with Express, and replacing the background afterward is easier too.
Winner: Adobe Express
Branding kits are a great way to ensure that your designs stay consistent with saved colors and fonts that you can easily access in your designs. You can create a brand kit in Canva on the main page by clicking brand.
You can have up to 100 different brands on Canva. You can also set up templates to make your life easier and set brand controls to ensure your team stays within your brand.
You can create a brand with Adobe Express on the Main Page by clicking Brands.
Your choices will be limited here. You can add a logo, pick a color and add a font. These options can work, but it’s nothing to write home about.
Canva puts more thought into this feature and gives you more control over your brand and how your team uses your branding elements.
To work on a project with another person in Canva, you just need to click on the Three Dots on the thumbnail of your project, then click Share.
You can share your project with anyone on your team. You will see changes in real-time as you work on your design together.
Sharing a project works the same with Adobe Express. Click on the Three Dots on the thumbnail, click Share, and click Invite.
You can work on projects with anyone on your team, and changes will be reflected in real-time.
Both Canva and Express do the same thing here, and they both do it well.
Comparing Canva VS Adobe Express At A Glance
|User-friendly “drag-and-drop” design||Yes||Yes|
|Thousands of built-in templates and elements||Yes||Yes|
|Scrollable multi-page canvas||Yes||No|
|Robust photo editing filters & features||Yes||No|
|Multiple exporting options||Yes||Yes|
|Advanced exporting options||Yes||No|
|Access to your Adobe libraries||No||Yes|
|Up to 1TB of available storage||Yes||No|
|Mobile app that feels like the desktop app||Yes||No|
|An annual payment plan designed to save money||Yes||Yes|
Which Should You Choose?
In short, I recommend you use Canva.
Adobe Express just isn’t there yet when it comes to its features, templates, and usability. Express is not bad at all. It just doesn’t get close to the power, templates, and assets that Canva has.
Canva is great for anyone interested in graphic design or posting on social media. Adobe express is best for people who already have the Adobe All Apps plan and don’t want to spend the extra money on Canva.
Despite paying for the All Apps plan from adobe and getting the premium version of Adobe Express with it, I still opt to pay even more for Canva every year. Canva is still the best as a beginner-friendly and quick graphic design platform with a broad library of assets that has yet to let me down.
Although Canva is slightly more expensive, you unlock many extra resources for the few extra dollars a year.