If you’ve been searching for inexpensive or free PhotoShop alternatives, you’re not alone. Back in 2013, Adobe switched to a subscription software model. It was presented as a positive change for consumers, who would always have access to the latest features and upgrades. However, as subscription costs have risen, many have found themselves priced out of software they had come to rely on. This hit small businesses and freelancers especially hard, as a current subscription to the full Adobe suite can set you back $79.99/month for a single license.
On a positive note, as some consumers have drifted away from Adobe products, new software stars have started to rise, creating more competition and innovation in the market. This is especially true for photo editing software. So here’s a list of some of our TracSoft staff’s favorite inexpensive or free PhotoShop alternatives. We tried to only include photo editing software that could be used on both PCs and Macs, and most of the paid software on our list includes a free version and/or the option to buy the software outright. So get ready to up your photo editing game!
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Completely Free Free PhotoShop Alternatives
It’s far from original to start with Gimp, but there’s a reason it’s been a standard since its release in 1996. Completely free, this powerful editor is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux, and it’s compatible for all major file types. Gimp offers a full range of tools for retouching and restoring photos, including color correction, enhancement, and painting tools.
Even though it’s free, this software can take you far because, as website Modula explains, “GIMP 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.” It’s versatility makes it a favorite for many in the photo editing community.
Speaking of, another great advantage to Gimp is the community it’s built over time. The Gimp website offers tutorials and links to social media platforms where users can find help and support. While the developers offer support, other users contribute a lot to guides and video tutorials.
Despite being one of the oldest, this is still one of the best free alternatives to Photoshop available anywhere. You can download it at gimp.org.
Get ready for a dose of nostalgia—and a big dose of wow.
Originally, Paint.net was intended as a replacement for Microsoft’s Paint program that used to come free with Windows. But over time it’s grown into a powerful image and photo editor with a familiar interface and upgraded features like support for layers, unlimited undo, and special effects like blurring, distortion, and red-eye removal.
Like Gimp, Paint.net is completely free and has an active community that contributes to tutorials and plugins. As a result, the software is continually expanding and there’s excellent support for newbies looking to test the photo editing waters. It’s also pretty easy to use. “Even if you’re completely inexperienced with image editing, you’ll be able to get results with this program immediately,” writes Angel Booth of Lifehack.
Find it for free at getpaint.net.
A browser-based photo editor, Photopea is free and open source. It is supported by ads, but the ads are not intrusive, and the trade-off is pretty fair considering what you get. “While it doesn’t have every feature of Adobe’s flagship photo editor,” writes Sean Endicott of Windows Central, “Photopea isn’t a lightweight editor either. It has enough power and features to keep many users from having to purchase photo editing software.”
Users consistently praise Photopea’s speed, and many claim the brushes and tools feel identical. It’s not an exact clone, as many people claimed a few years back, and some of the more advanced PhotoShop tools are missing. Other tools lack the depth found in PhotoShop’s tools. But Photopea can take you far. A number of tutorials for the software can be found on their website.You can start using Photopea for free here, or you can upgrade to Photopea Premium for $5/month, which will remove the ads on the side of your browser window. Otherwise, the free version contains everything the paid version does.
PhotoShop Alternatives With Paid Upgrades
Reviews of PhotoScape X often use the word “light,” and it’s true the software doesn’t contain all the features PhotoShop offers. However, the program is fast and smooth, and it offers many useful features like background removal, batch editing (including batch format, resize, and rename). There are a number of filters and effects. And like many other programs mentioned here, it comes with objects you can incorporate into your photographs. Additionally, there are tons of YouTube tutorials that show you how to use the software’s features most effectively, making it a great program for learning photo editing.
Although it’s aimed at beginners, the tools in this software are surprisingly powerful. If you’re looking for a light, easy editing program to touch up a few pictures for social media posts or a website, this one has you covered. There’s a free version available online that you can use in your browser or download to your Windows PC or Mac, as well as a pro version for $39.99 that offers extra tools and objects to work with.
Pixlr is a browser-based photo editor with two free versions: Pixlr X that handles basic, “fun” editing, and Pixlr E for more advanced, professional editing. Both offer over 600 different effects and overlays, and standard tools like cropping, re-sizing, and touch-ups for removing red-eye and blemishes.
The interface is fairly similar to PhotoShop’s, so Adobe users will be able to pick it up quickly. There are also tons of pre-made graphic elements to incorporate into your photos, including stickers, borders, icons, and backgrounds that can help you get started.
The free version is supported by ads, but there are two upgraded plans. Besides being ad-free, the premium plan includes full access to the software and more pre-made content, as well as access to tutorials and new tools for $3.99/month. For $14.99/month, the professional plan offers everything from the premium plan, plus full access to 10 million stock graphics, templates, and fonts, as well as full access to pre-made content and new features as they’re released.
Reviews of Pixlr are pretty positive, praising its simplicity and power. It’s an excellent starting point for those just getting into photo editing, especially if they plan on sharing their work to social media sites. You can find the software at pixlr.com.
Perhaps the biggest challenge to PhotoShop comes from Serif’s Affinity Photo, which has won a number of awards and a substantial following of professional photographers. It works across macOS, iOS, and Windows, and offers some of the most advanced tools on the market, including raw editing, HDR merge, and batch processing.
Users claim the software is more stable and runs more smoothly than PhotoShop, although how well it runs depends on the computer you’re using. There can be a steep learning curve for beginners, but more advanced users will appreciate the program’s ability to edit very high-resolution images and to read, open, and edit PSD files.
Affinity Photo does not have a free version, but we decided to include it in our list because it offers so much to users, and Serif does offer a free trial. After that, you can buy the software outright and enjoy free upgrades until the next version comes out. At that point, you can purchase the upgraded software or continue using the version you have. The price is $49.99 for Mac or Windows,and $19.99 for iPad; no Android version is available at this time.
Free PhotoShop Alternatives Make Photo Editing Software Accessible And Fun
If cost has been holding you back from learning photo editing software, that’s really no longer an excuse. As upstart companies try to edge into the market for photo editing software, they’re offering a wealth of free online tutorials, user manuals, and guides to encourage users to test the waters. This competition makes it a great time to pick up a new hobby, and with some of the best tools available completely for free, you can get amazing results from your effort. Just check out our tutorial on Afterlight, a simple photo editing app, for an example of how easy it can be. Once you get started, you can use our guide to sharing and organizing photos to make the most of your creations.
And as social media becomes more visual, you can bet photo editing skills will become increasingly important to your company’s marketing. We’ve written before about how visual content is 80% more likely to be read and 40% more likely to be shared on social platforms than similar content without visuals. If you’re looking to increase your social media engagement, adding some fun photos will be a great way to start.
You can also reach out to TracSoft to begin developing a customized social media marketing plan. Our team can help you define your brand, increase brand aware, and increase engagement through our social media marketing service. We also offer SEO and PPC to help you reach your market with targeted ads. Contact us today to get started.