10 of the Best Alternatives to Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop’s status as the industry standard is probably what makes it also so well known as the most expensive photo editing tools on the market. The Photoshop Creative Suite provides pretty much everything needed to perform photo editing and manipulation. The only problem for many is that it is incredibly expensive. Depending on experience level, users sometimes have problems with the interface and its overall compatibility.

No matter your reason, there are quite a few other programs that are an affordable and great substitute to Photoshop. Here is a list of ten alternatives to the high-end program that still have the professional tools needed and are integrated into a fast and efficient program.

1. GIMP (GNU image manipulation program)

When it comes to getting the most out of a photo editing software, GIMP has all the features you need to create a variety of stunning effects. In terms of navigation, it has almost identical tools featured in Photoshop and allows them to be accessed with ease. Not only is it compatible with a variety of operating systems, but best of all, it is an open source program; which means it can be download for absolutely free.

2. Paint.NET

This is a Windows only based photo editor. It is great for those who want a basic and easy program to use. While may not come with the same bells and whistles others do, this software is in no way less efficient. Having a decent variety of simple user friendly features makes it perfect for photographers who prefer to focus more on taking photos than editing them. Also an open source program, it is simple to download for free.

3. PhotoLine

A Mac only based editing program that provides you with a wealth of features designed to make editing and fine tuning your photos a breeze. It’s not the most attractive of interfaces; nevertheless, it is user friendly enough to make the job easy. While not incredibly well known at the moment, it is definitely a program to keep in mind when it comes to simple and reliable photo editing programs.

4. Splashup

Splashup is a internet browser based photo editing program. No downloads are required; just “Jump Right In”, as their slogan goes. It features a wealth of popular tools, features and applications available. However, it is rather advanced so for the less expierenced user there is Splashup Lite. Best of all, both versions allow you to share finished photos to websites, such as Flickr, Facebook, Picasa and more, without a hitch.

5. FotoFlexer

Another one that runs through an internet browser, it is the simple solution when you want to just quickly edit a photo before sending it off to Flickr or Facebook. This is a very bare bones program which makes it ideal for the quick touch up. Don’t let its short list of features discourage you from trying it. You can still get the job done, but don’t think of it as a replacement for Photoshop. Consider it an accessory tool.

6. Picnik

Yet another internet browser based photo editor. This is what you could call an enhanced experience because it is just plain fun to use. The tools it offers are pretty much what you would expect from a free editor. There is a premium version with a few added features power users will probably miss but the additional cost is minimal. It also allows you to print which is lacking in some of the other browser based programs.

7. Pixlr

It is exactly what you would expect a copied version of Photoshop to be with the added bonus being free and web browser based. The tool panel and layering is done in similar fashion. It is even possible to edit multiple images simultaneously. You can also save directly to a URL. There is a tool that allows you to quickly access all the fonts and characters that you have stored on your PC.

8. Sumo Paint

Retouch photos, create logos, banners and even digitally paint. This software has many of the same features as Photoshop. From the simplest things like the Brush and the Pencil tools to being able to add layering effects, Sumo Paint has them all. It has even taken a hints from Adobe’s Illustrator program and added and ink tool for smoother lines when drawing. You can run this program from your web browser from any computer.

9. Corel PaintShop Pro

This powerful program is a tad easier to navigate than Photoshop. The mechanics involved in editing graphics, photos and such is more straight forward, which makes it easier to understand. It allows even a novice to create logos and banners without resorting to layering. Though not a freeware program it is still a lot more affordable that PhotoShop. Unfortunately, this is a Windows only program.

10. Corel Digital Studio

The newest addition to Corel’s software lineup this is a serious program. This is a cool alternative that allows you to get the job done without getting bogged down looking through a lot of tools you might not necessarily need. It has a very elegant interface. This is the only program mentioned in this article that also allows you to edit your digital camera’s movies and burn them right to DVD. Also not a free program and, like all Corel programs, Windows based only.

Equipped with these tools you will make short work of any photo. It all starts with great photos, so get out there and start shooting!

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Madalin Tudose

A web developer with a crush on SEO. Having my skin in the game of website development and digital marketing for more than 10 years already, you might consider me an expert. At least this is what people call me. Honestly, I HATE that term. I prefer to describe myself as a person who takes action and risks. I test every hypothesis, document every step of the process, and implement what works.

Join the discussion

  1. Jo Meison on February 11, 2011 at 7:24 am Reply

    OK, this makes a lot of sense dude, Wow.


  2. J Tucker on February 12, 2011 at 10:10 am Reply

    PhotoLine is not Mac-only. It’s also available for Windows. The screenshot is from Windows, FFS.

  3. Jim Berry on February 17, 2011 at 10:07 am Reply

    A good list of resources, Rick. I use photoshop for some things. But, being a proponent of open source software, I use GIMP more often than not.

  4. Ryan on February 28, 2011 at 5:49 am Reply

    I’ve only heard of the first two (paint.net and gimp) and didn’t realize how many there were out there.

    Do you have a personal favorite from the list?

  5. Will Postlethwaite on April 11, 2011 at 9:08 am Reply

    I’m a Photoshop man and use it everyday for design work. These programs are a simplified versions for basic image manipulation. I’ve only heard of paint.net and Corel and didn’t know these others existed. I find clients ask what program to use when editing images ( mainly for resizing images ) I would usually recommend photoshop or paint as default. I like the look of FotoFlexer and Picnik as you can edit images in the browser on-line. Will definitely recommend using them in the future thanks for sharing

  6. Liewilyn Baynosa on April 24, 2011 at 7:41 pm Reply

    It really give me a lot of new ideas. I can make use of this tips on my Photo Manipulation. Thanks again

  7. Liewilyn Baynosa on April 24, 2011 at 7:42 pm Reply

    It really give me a lot of new ideas. Thanks

  8. Aloa on May 29, 2011 at 4:43 am Reply

    What about Pixelmator. Its a cheap and compareble. And for detailed web design its a way better tool than Photoshop.

  9. Bentley Forum on October 14, 2011 at 4:25 pm Reply


    thank you.

    I have tryed after your article the software Corel PaintShop Pro to create pictures for my forum and it works really great!

  10. kansapa on March 13, 2012 at 5:37 pm Reply

    StylePix is the one of the best alternatives.


  11. Lasse on December 26, 2012 at 5:58 pm Reply

    Yes, nice list :-). I prefer free Gimp. There you got what you need for free

  12. Frank on January 12, 2013 at 10:47 am Reply

    why wasn’t photostudio made mention of?

  13. nanichka on April 14, 2013 at 4:48 am Reply

    Was Photolightning considered while coming up with this list?

  14. bobmepp on May 8, 2013 at 6:51 am Reply

    PhotoLine, which is stated to be a Mac only app, is shown running on a windows screen. Unfortunately, I don’t see anything in this article that is a true substitute for Photoshop, especially when one considers abandoning Photoshop skill that one has built upon over many years. Sometimes you need subtlety, not just “stunning effects”.

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