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Download Adobe Animate: How to try it for free or with Creative Cloud

Download Adobe Animate: Cartoon bird in boat with umbrella
(Image credit: Adobe)

Want to download Adobe Animate? In this guide, we'll explain everything you need to know, to download and start using this 2D animation software. 

First, we'll explain how to download Adobe Animate for free, as a trial. And then we'll look at how to subscribe to Adobe Animate in the long term, as part of Adobe's Creative Cloud. 

Meanwhile, if you're not sure what Adobe Animate is, then skip to our section below, Adobe Animate: Key info you need to know.

Download Adobe Animate: can you download it for free?

Yes, you can legally download Adobe Animate for free, as part of a free trial. You’ll then have seven days to try it out and find out if it’s right for you. 

A free trial is the only legitimate way to download Adobe Animate for free. You might find a dodgy site claiming to offer a 'free Adobe Animate download', but that would mean breaking the law. Also, you'd have no idea of knowing whether you were actually downloading Adobe Animate or actually a nasty virus, which could shut down your computer or steal your data. On balance, we'd say the latter is far more likely. So best avoided, really.

Note: to take out a free trial to After Effects, you’ll need an Adobe ID. This is easy to set up and free. If you don't have one already, go to the Adobe Account Page, click 'Create Account' and follow the instructions.

How do I buy Adobe Animate?

Unlike other Creative Cloud apps, such as Photoshop, you cannot get Adobe Animate as a Single App subscription. The only way to buy Adobe Animate is as part of a Creative Cloud All Apps subscription.

This gives you access to Adobe Animate as well as the whole Creative Cloud collection, including video and filmmaking apps such as Adobe Character Animator, After Effects, Premiere Pro, Premiere Rush and Adobe Audition. For the best deals, keep an eye on our Adobe Creative Cloud discounts page.

What’s the price of Adobe Animate?

You can buy Adobe Animate as part of a Creative Cloud All Apps subscription. This costs $52.99 / £49.94 / AU$76.99 per month. This gives you access to not just Adobe Animate, but the whole Creative Cloud suite of apps, as well as 100GB cloud storage, Adobe Portfolio, Adobe Fonts and Adobe Spark. 

Adobe Animate promo featuring cartoon bird in flight

(Image credit: Adobe)

If you're interested in accessing Adobe Stock as well, you might alternatively want to go for the All Apps + Adobe Stock option. This costs $82.98 / £73 / AU$116.58 per month and gives you access to Adobe Stock, as well as all the benefits of a Creative Cloud All Apps subscription listed above.

Can you get Adobe Animate on mobile?

Adobe Animate is only currently available for Windows and macOS. There is neither an iOS or Android version, so you can't use it on mobile devices but only a PC or Mac. 

A good alternative to Adobe Animate that works across both desktop and mobile devices is Animation Desk. Allowing you to draw frame-to-frame animations from scratch, this freemium app is compatible with Windows, macOS, iOS and Android. 

You might also want to check out Clip Studio Paint, which also offers versions for Windows, macOS, iOS and Android, and is geared for use with a tablet. This page-based, layered drawing program offers support for bitmap and vector art, text, imported 3D models, and frame-by-frame animation.

Adobe Animate discounts for teachers and students

If you’re a student, teacher or otherwise work in education, you can buy Adobe Animate as part of a discounted All Apps plan at a much lower rate. That will give you the entire collection of creative desktop and mobile apps, plus 100GB cloud storage, Adobe Portfolio and more – for just $19.99 / £16.24 / AU$21.99 per month for the first year, $29.99 / £25.28 / AU$43.99 thereafter. 

Is Adobe Character Animator free? 

One of the most popular query related to Adobe Animate on Google is "Is Adobe Animate character free?". We assume that slightly confused question means people are looking to download Adobe Character Animator for free.

This is actually a separate tool to Adobe Animate, but it's also part of the Adobe Creative Cloud. So yes, you can download Adobe Character Animator for free, as part of a seven-day trial of the Creative Cloud.

What is Adobe Character Animator, exactly? It's clever motion capture software uses your expressions and movements to animate characters in real time. This means, for example, you could live stream video of yourself and make it look like a cartoon character is speaking instead. 

You can turn any art into an animated character with your webcam, powered by Adobe Sensei AI. Import art from Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop, or start with built-in character templates. It integrates seamlessly with other Adobe apps like Premiere Pro and After Effects. Try it, it's a lot of fun!

Adobe Animate: Key info you need to know

Adobe Animate is available for both Windows 10 and macOS 10.14+. Formerly known as Flash Professional, this software is commonly used to create vector graphics and animation for TV shows, commercial, online animations, websites, apps, videogames, commercials, and other interactive projects. 

These files may be exported in a variety of formats, including HTML5, WebGL, and SVG. Adobe Animate also supports a number of legacy formats, including SWF and Adobe AIR. 

One of the most popular features of Adobe Animate is Animate Camera, which allows you to alter your virtual camera’s movement, giving a more realistic and 360-degree feel to your animation. Another highlight is the ability to create vector brushes, just like in Adobe Illustrator. There's also a very good timeline feature, which make audio synching to your animations a very easy process.

Cartoon pig

(Image credit: Adobe)

Being part of the Creative Cloud, Adobe Animate is nicely integrated with other Adobe animation apps. For example, it's easy to import from Animate to After Effects and publish your animated videos to multiple platforms with the push of a button. You can also create and share your assets via the CC library, and work in tandem with apps like Photoshop, Illustrator, Muse, and InDesign.

Despite recent unfounded rumours, Adobe Animate is NOT being retired, and Adobe is committed to continue its development. The latest version (21.0.7), for example, features an enhanced Paint Fills Only brush mode, and last frame settings for graphic symbols. As part of your Creative Cloud subscription plan, you’ll receive all Adobe Animate updates for free.

Adobe Animate alternatives

Probably the best known Adobe Animate alternative is Toon Boom Harmony. Used across the industry by everyone from Nickelodeon to Disney, it offers an advanced set of animation tools. However, it lacks the audio features of Adobe Animation, and also requires a subscription to download it.

If you're looking for a free Adobe Animate alternative, meanwhile, then you're spoiled for choice. We'd recommend OpenToonz, an open source animation program that's totally free, whether you use it for personal or commercial projects. It's suitable for pros as well as amatuers; indeed, a customised version of OpenToonz is used by Japan's Studio Ghibli.

If you're more interested in 3D animation, however, you'll want to check out Blender, which is also open source and free for commercial use. The main disadvantage of both of these free options are that they have a steep learning curve which beginners may struggle with. That said, you will find lots of help online, particularly when it comes to Blender tutorials.

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Tom May

Tom May is a freelance writer and editor specialising in design, photography and tech. He is author of Great TED Talks: Creativity, published by Pavilion Books. He has previously been editor of Professional Photography magazine, associate editor at Creative Bloq, and deputy editor at net magazine.