Although they don’t provide the same extensive functionalities as Adobe Photoshop suite, shown below you have a list of free photo editing software alike, some of which work with Mac and are open-source, that could achieve your small day-to-day tasks in a proficient manner. These free Photoshop alternatives are definitely a game-changer!
However, if you’re more of the Illustrator kind of person, you should check out this article on the best free Illustrator alternatives that you can start using right now!
|Table of Contents|
|1. PhotoWorks – Only for Windows|
|2. Gimp – Works with macOS 10.9 Mavericks or later, Linux & Windows|
|3. Paint.NET – Only for Windows|
|4. Pixlr x – Web-version available|
|5. Krita – Works with Apple. Linux & Windows|
|6. Sumopaint – Works with Applex, Linux & Windows|
|7. Seashore – Works with Apple|
|8. Photo Pos Pro – Only for Windows|
|9. Photopea – Web-version only|
Top free Photoshop alternatives
Are you on the hunt for a solution that’s just as powerful as the highly reputable Adobe Photoshop software, but without the high price tag? Great! In this post, we’ll be taking a look at the 9 best free Photoshop alternatives available.
There’s really nothing wrong with using free photo editing softwares like the popular Photoshop alternatives that we’re going to be taking a look at in this post.
Many of the solutions that we’re recommending in this post do not have an excessive number of built-in tools – something which Adobe Photoshop is notorious for.
This means less of a learning curve and more time for photo editing.
In addition to this, for new photographers in the industry, it might not make sense to pay for the expensive Adobe Creative Cloud subscription.
So without further ado, let’s dive right in and take a look at some of the best free Photoshop alternatives.
1. PhotoWorks (5-day free trial)
PhotoWorks is a smart photo editor for PC that hits the perfect balance between user-friendliness and impressive functionality. Designed for both newbies and pros, this software offers all the essential photo editing features, along with some niche tools.
One of the biggest PhotoWorks’ appeal is its content-aware AI that significantly simplifies the editing process of both landscapes and portraits. Supporting over 450 RAW formats, this photo editing software boasts a clear, intuitive interface and a wide range of tools – from basic to pro-level – aimed at turning your lackluster shot into eye candy.
PhotoWorks is refreshingly undemanding when it comes to hardware, operating smoothly even on low-spec computers. It offers non-destructive editing, an array of one-click effects, but does not shy away from old-school manual adjustments as well.
One of the brightest features of PhotoWorks is its portrait retouching. Thanks to PhotoWorks’ advanced face-recognition technology and a library of beautifying presets, this photo editor turns a tedious retouching routine into a one-click thing – without sacrificing the quality of the end result.
The Face Sculpt feature is yet another tool that takes portrait retouching to the next level, as it allows to tweak the model’s facial features if they have been warped by bad lighting of a weird shooting angle.
Notable PhotoWorks Features Include:
- AI-driven auto-correction based on the photo’s genre
- Portrait auto retouch and face sculpting tool
- Easy background change, removal, or blurring
- 180+ artistic filters: HDR, vintage, Color splash, etc.
- Color grading tools and a library of 3D LUT presets
- Odd objects removal in a few brushstrokes
- Smart cropping, perspective, and lens distortion correction
|Undemanding hardware-wise||Only for Windows|
|Requires little time to master||Subpar layer tools|
|Supports 450+ RAW formats||Does not support PSD format|
|AI-driven editing and retouching||Now drawing tools|
|Pro-level tools like Curves, Radial filter||Some tools like Adjustment brush can be slow|
|An abundance of tutorial available online||⚠️ Free trial does not allow you to save or download your work.|
GIMP, (short for GNU Image Manipulation Program), is an excellent, open-source Photoshop alternative for those on limited budgets that still need advanced image editing capabilities. This program as an advanced raster editor similar to Photoshop.
In fact, GNU Image Manipulation Program can be used as a basic paint program, an expert photo retouching program, an online batch processing system, an image format converter, and more depending on what it is that you’re looking for.
You’ll be happy to hear that it’s available for both Mac and Windows as well as Linux, making it a versatile tool for photographers.
This program as a free photoshop alternative also recognizes most of the popular file formats that you’d expect in a paid editor like Photoshop, including GIF, JPEG, PNG, and TIFF. You can also find support for some PSD, though not all layers may be readable.
With an active developer community that listens to user feedback and suggestions, this program comes packed with what most photographers need to edit their photos before publishing them.
Notable GIMP Features Include:
- Paint features like paint tool (brush, pencil, airbrush, and clone)
- Custom brushes and patterns
- Transformation tools like rotate, scale, shear, and flip
- Editable text layers
- Color correction
- MNG support for animations
- Editing tools like layers, masks, curves, and levels
- Huge collection of plugins to extend (some even pre-installed)
|Tons of advanced editing options||A steep learning curve, proving difficult for beginners|
|No ad displays or limitations||Cluttered and outdated UI|
|Comprehensive layer support with blending modes||Preset brushes share the same settings|
|History toolbar||No drawing capabilities|
|Support for image slicing||No Camera RAW filter|
Both Gimp and Photoshop use vector methods (mathematics) for general layout and elements such as text, but are equipped to deal with raster images down to the pixel and often have special capabilities in doing so, such as brightness/contrast, and even adding “lighting” to a raster image or photograph.
Paint.NET is another Photoshop alternative for digital photo editing that was initially designed to be a free replacement for the Microsoft Paint software that came with Windows.
Fast forward to now, and Paint.NET is one of the most powerful yet simple image and photo editing tools in the market.
One of Paint.NET’s most notable features is the fact that it uses a tabbed document interface. In other words, you can work with multiple documents or panels within one single window and use the tabs to move between them all. And to make things even simpler for you, Paint.NET displays a small thumbnail image of each tab instead of a text description.
Adding to this, the developers behind Paint.NET have worked hard to make sure the editing software is blazing fast for users. This not only speeds up editing time, but it also prevents a lot of frustration. And when it comes to performance, don’t worry about a thing. Paint.NET automatically updates and always comes with new features, improvements, and bug fixes.
Notable Paint.NET Features Include:
- 3D rotate zoom function to help with the recomposition of images
- Support for multiple layers with blending modes (one of Photoshop’s most used features)
- History tool for multiple quick undo’s (unlimited)
- Supports rulers, drawing, and gradients
- Clone stamping for copying or erasing parts of images
- Tons of formats supported like PDN, BMP, GIF, JPG, PNG, TIFF, TGA, and DDS
|Easy to use interface, even for beginners||Only works for Windows operating systems|
|Great support – forum, tutorials, and plugins to extend the software||Does not natively support PSD|
|Free to use for business and commercial use with no restrictions||UI lacks a way to manage plugins|
|Doesn’t support auto-snapping||No text correction after applying other effects|
|Very lightweight and never sacrifices speed and performance|
4. Pixlr x
Pixlr x is the newest version of the older (and super popular) Pixlr editor. The old Pixlr editor comes with plenty more advanced features and improvements and seeks to become one of the best free Photoshop alternatives out there.
Based on HTML5, rather than Flash, this program will work well in any modern browser (even iPads and iPhones!). This expands its usability and makes it more appealing to photographers around the world. Plus, it comes with a slick and modern interface, complete with dark and light color schemes.
Pixlr x is an online photo editor, meaning you can use it with any operating system. In other words, it won’t matter if you use Linux, Mac, or Windows, you’ll be able to access this program with ease. Not to mention, it comes with all the basic adjustments you might need to create well-edited images, and some extras too, like the de-hazing and curves tools.
Feeling overwhelmed by the number of modifications you can make? Pixlr x also has an Auto-Fix tool that helps prevent over-editing.
Notable Pixlr X Features Include:
- Rotate, flip, and straighten all images
- Crop using one of seven preset image ratios
- Instagram worthy filters to add to any photo you upload
- Built-in text tool, complete with stylish font sets to choose from
- Tweak vibrance, highlights, and shadows
- Extensive layer support with multiple blending modes
|Accessible on any platform, including mobile devices||Must have an internet connection to access|
|History tools||Since it’s new, some tools are still in beta|
|Uses HTML5 rather than Flash||Some tools, such as the healing brush are slow (even Pixlr developers admit so)|
|Opens images from desktopor URLs||Not as easy to install additional font sets as it is with Adobe Photoshop|
Works on Mac Also
Krita is the perfect free Photoshop alternative for photographers that need a little more flexibility when it comes to creativity.
In fact, artists looking to give everyone affordable art tools built Krita for conceptual artists, texture and matte painters, illustrators, and comic strip creators.
When it comes to coloring your photos, you can use the unique pop-up color palette. Plus, take advantage of Krita’s exclusive tagging system to swap out brushes that are being displayed. Also, access commonly used colors and configure all color settings with a few clicks.
Need something Krita doesn’t have? You can easily import brush and texture packs from other artists and expand your toolset. And if you need additional help, there’s always the Krita forum where other artists hang around to share their best work and ideas.
Notable Krita Features Include:
- Create shortcuts for commonly used tools
- Brush stabilizers to take the shakiness out
- Seemingly endless brush customizations
- Assistant tools for helping you create the perfect shape
- Open, save, edit, and author HDR and scene-referred images
|Very similar look and feel to Photoshop||No RAW filter|
|Customizable interface||No history toolbar|
|Supports most PSD||Can be slow at times|
|Includes advanced layer management system||Very few updates released|
|Available for Linux, Mac, and Windows||Outdated documentation|
|Poor touch controls|
Sumopaint is one of the best free Photoshop alternatives when it comes to design and functionality. The layering, editing tools, and brush and wand types make it a viable option for anyone looking for mid-range editing features at zero cost.
This photo editing tool runs in most Flash-based browsers, though there is a Chrome Web App available for Chromebooks. It’s also cloud-based, meaning you never have to download or install anything to your computer or device.
You can open files with extensions such as GIF, JPEG, and PNG, and save projects using the same formats, as well as the native SUMO format.
Notable Sumopaint Features Include:
- Sumopaint online community
- Exclusive SUMO format for working offline
- Over 300 brushes
- Comprehensive color picker
- Selection tools with undo feature
- Clone stamping for real-time drawing
- Layers, layer effects, and layer blending modes (up to 100 layers with effects)
|Very similar to the Photoshop interface||Requires Flash and runs on-page ads|
|Always updated every time you open the application||Limited file support with no support for Photoshop’s default PSD format|
|Symmetry tools with symmetry points, gravity, and modes to help||No support for rulers or guides|
|Gradient editor with a collection of preset gradients||Lacking pen tool, Camera RAW filter, and auto-snapping|
Works with Apple – doesn’t support .psd files
Seashore is a basic image editing solution that still competes with the top free Photoshop alternatives in the market. Though inspiration was drawn from GIMP, Seashore seeks to offer a simpler interface for Mac users.
It comes with support for TIFF, PNG, JPEG, JP2000, BMP, PICT, PDF, XBM, and GIF, making it one of the most versatile editing tools in terms of file formats. Plus, there’s support for layers so your creations can go from being okay to amazing with a few simple edits. And if you need gradients, textures, and anti-aliasing for both text and brush strokes, Seashore has you covered.
Most notable, however, is the fact that Seashore supports pressure sensitivity. So what does this mean? If you’re using a pressure-sensitive drawing tablet, you’ll be able to use all of its pressure levels to customize your photos.
Notable Seashore Features Include:
- Layers and merging effects
- Anti-aliased paint brushes
- 6 gradient effects, including transparency
- Full support for TIFF, PNG, GIF, JPEG, JPEG 2000, XCF and HEIC formats
- Arbitrary selections using a lasso tool
|Very user-friendly and suitable for beginners||Only available in the Apple App Store|
|Menu layout mimics Photoshop interface||No built-in effects|
|Stripped down version of advanced GIMP solution||UI looks outdated|
|Doesn’t support any PSD files|
8. Photo Pos Pro
Photo Pos Pro is a complete image editing suite rivaling the expensive Photoshop software when it comes to enhancing photos and creating stunning pieces of art.
The interface is organized in a simple and easy to understand way, unlike other free Photoshop alternatives like GIMP. And if things become a little too overwhelming for you, you can always enable the ‘novice’ layout to help you stay on track and edit what’s important.
For those with a little more experience, the ‘expert’ layout offers users access to editing tools for fine-tuning works, such as manual curve and level adjustments.
And it doesn’t matter if you use a Mac or prefer Windows, Photo Pos Pro works on both.
Features in Photo Pos Pro include:
- Magic eraser tool (remove, erase, and replace backgrounds)
- Add frames and collages
- Tons of pre-designed extension packs
- 24-hour customer support
- Plenty of layers and masks
- Healing and clone brushes
- Filter creation and saving to use later
|Beginner and advanced modes to meet your needs||The ‘expert’ layout can be haphazard and have a steep learning curve|
|Lots of help tutorials||Can run slow at times|
|Balance of one-click and manual editing tools||The exported file size is limited|
|Support for RAW files|
9. Photopea Online Photo Editor
For starters, Photopea Online Photo Editor is a web-based alternative for Photoshop that aims to solve the problem of having to download and install another program onto your computer.
It also aims to speed up the editing time, especially when it comes to simple tasks such as resizing a photo; instead of having to wait on Photoshop to load.
Since this is a web-based editor, it’s compatible with all platforms and it comes with native support for PSD, XCF, Sketch, XD, and CDR formats. You can also export your work as PSD, JPG, PNG or SVG file.
Features in Photopea Online include:
- Powerful pen and brush tool
- The ability to work with layers and apply layer masks
- Blend modes similar to Photoshop
- Various procedural adjustments such as changing brightness, sharpness, adding blur, and more
- Decent selection of premade templates to start from
|Photopea Online Photo editor comes with support for PSD and other popular file formats||Free version display ads in the sidebar which can be distracting|
|Can export to SVG format as well as PSD format|
|Has a free plan which is good for basic use|
|Doesn’t require a special browser plugin to work|
Summary – Free Photoshop Alternatives
And there you have it!
🥇If you are looking for an alternative to Photoshop that provides a ton of advanced features, you should choose GIMP.
🥈If you want an alternative that looks very similar to Photoshop and is available for all operating systems – Linux, Mac or Windows – you should go for Krita.
🥉If you want a Photoshop alternative that will help you export in SVG or PSD format as well, Photopea Online Photo Editor is your solution.
We hope you make up your mind and found in this post the best free Photoshop alternative for your needs!
If you’re just starting out and you want to discover which tools suit you best, check this article on the best photo editing software for beginners!