Stop wasting money on your Adobe subscription and try these 20 free programs like Photoshop that you can use for basic photo editing and color correction. If you are looking for free photo editing software or just don’t want to overpay for unnecessary features, this article will be useful for you.
Undoubtedly, Photoshop is the best software program when it comes to photo retouching, graphic design, and digital drawing. It is user-friendly, has many useful plugins, actions, and overlays, and there are numerous video tutorials in all languages, etc.
But like most of the other top programs, Photoshop requires a monthly payment and you need to spend at least $19.99 every month, which is not attractive for beginning photographers. If you are looking for free programs like Photoshop, I have prepared several variants for you to choose from. Namely, these are the 20 best free Photoshop alternatives, which have similar functions and capabilities.
If you don’t want to pay for your photo editing software, I have created the list of the 20 free programs like Photoshop that can help you edit photos fast, professionally, and for FREE.
Talking about Gimp vs Photoshop, the main advantage of this photo editing program is an open source. Gimp is the best free choice for Linux, but it is also available for Windows. Having an interface similar to Photoshop, it provides a lot of tools for photo editing and color correction, working with text, masks, and layers.
Many professional users like that an open source allows them to correct various tools, fix bugs, and create new functions manually, without waiting for the next update. The most significant disadvantage is that you cannot use Gimp for Mac OS. Sometimes it operates rather slowly, so it isn’t well-optimized.
Alternatives: Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, GIMP
Platforms: Windows/Mac OS
If you are looking for a free photo editing software program that combines functions of several Adobe products, RawTherapee is the best choice for you. It is open-sourced and designed for easy file cataloging. The program’s functionality is focused on working with photos in RAW format. It also includes many tools for color correction, noise reduction, rotation, exposure control, changing shadows and light, adjusting tone settings, processing EXIF data, cropping, etc.
In a nutshell, RawTherapee is something in between Photoshop and Lightroom. Talking about the disadvantages of this software, I want to mention that it isn’t very convenient for working with masks and layers because these tools work with a delay.
Darktable is a free, open-source program for editing and cataloging RAW images. This is the best choice for event and wedding shooters who make basic picture editing and color correction, and who work with batch editing. If you’re an average user, this program is helpful just to crop a picture. Poorly developed brushes and lack of optimization for weak configurations are its noticeable drawbacks.
PhotoScape is a powerful alternative to Photoshop, which is available both in a free and in a paid version. This software is quite popular because it can be used by professional or amateur photographers, designers, and Instagram fans. The program is equipped with several separate services for photo editing, cataloging, working with GIF and video, and converting RAW files.
Each of the tabs has a user-friendly interface and quite powerful tools. You can design logos and banners. The image editor is supported not only by Windows and Mac OS platforms, but it is also suitable for Linux. Unfortunately, some functions of PhotoScape are limited in free access.
Users that need a photo editor like Photoshop often give their attention to Krita. It is a free, open-source software program that combines a nice interface and features similar to GIMP and Paint.Net. First of all, Krita is designed for professional digital drawing. However, you can also take advantage of basic picture editing tools: apply a filter, effect, expand, display, remove minor flaws such as pimples, and so on. The perfectly developed brushes make this photo editor similar to Photoshop. Besides this, lots of additional settings are integrated.
Paint.Net is a good option for beginners who want to find free photo editing software like Photoshop. This is a high-quality and easy-to-use program. Its main advantages are a very simple interface and well-thought-out tools. You do not need a powerful PC configuration. Keep in mind that Paint and Paint.Net are completely different programs that have different tools and functions. The weak side of this app is the opportunity to install it only on Windows OS. In addition, the interface looks a bit outdated and doesn’t fully meet modern standards.
Alternatives: Lightroom, Photoshop, RawTherapee
Platforms: Windows/Mac OS/Linux
DigiKam is a powerful photo editor, organizer, and manager created for Linux. It is also available for Windows and Mac. Using this perfect managing tool, you can import images in various ways, organize them into albums, and browse/search in your collection by location, time, tags, and people. The open-source program allows you to experiment with different tools and professionally adjust various effects, filters, work with brushes, etc. At the same time, it isn’t completely suitable for people who need a free photo editor like Photoshop. The thing is that most of the tools for image editing work poorly. DigiKam isn’t optimized for weak PCs; therefore, you may experience long delays.
Photo Pos Pro is one more free Photoshop alternative that has a simple interface with many icons. This is quite confusing when you first use the program, but the number of tools and functions is impressive. Aside from photo editing, you can create new graphic compositions, logos, banners, and websites from scratch. The program allows working with layers, masks, gradients, and textures. It is also compatible with a wide range of scanners and digital cameras. What is more, you can open and edit several photos at the same time. The main disadvantage of Photo Pos Pro is its interface, which is overloaded with tools located in separate tabs.
Fully compatible with Photoshop and other file formats, it is specifically designed for professional photographers and designers. Although Affinity Photo is much cheaper than Photoshop (without a subscription), its creators claim that this software is actually better, promising higher speed, fewer lags, and an unlimited number of undos. Frankly speaking, the improved performance greatly depends on the laptop/desktop you use.
Sketch is a professional vector graphics application for creative users. In recent years, Sketch has become very popular among designers, in particular, web designers who are looking for a Photoshop replacement. Thanks to its simple, user-friendly interface, Sketch has many features similar to Photoshop and Illustrator, including the work with layers, gradients, color palettes, and styles. It is also in such high demand because of the many Sketch plugin-ins created by the community, which are really helpful if you want to extend the functionality of the program. The development team made Sketch as flexible as possible, as it supports endless scaling and vector shapes that are ideal for diverse projects. You can create a new drawing from primitive shapes or adjunct another one using the Vector or Pencil tool.
Pixelmator app has been known for some time, but just recently the team has released Pixelmator Pro. While the previous program used drop-down windows, the Pro version has a more convenient single-window interface and offers non-destructive image editing. The interface became smaller, thus making it easier to find the necessary functions. Developers added a “Hidden Interface” option that you can activate if you just want to see your image without being distracted by other windows. Pixelmator is specifically designed for Mac users and supports such features as tabs, full screen, and split view.
Pixlr is the most famous free Photoshop alternative online. If you have a reliable Internet connection and don’t mind the absence of plugins, this free web application is almost as effective as Photoshop on your desktop. Upload a photo and you will have access to layers, masks, clone stamps, selection tools, and everything else that can be expected from a first-class graphics editor. Unfortunately, there is no possibility of batch image editing, but you can open several photos at the same time and improve them individually.
This web application runs on Flash, has an intuitive interface, and a large number of tools for basic photo editing. The speed of work is really impressive. No matter how many filters and effects you use, the application is fast. This is one of the features that make Polarr stand out among other online picture editors. It is also a great option for basic digital drawing. Among the disadvantages, I want to mention the lack of RAW file support.
Alternatives: Lightroom CC, Photoshop
Platforms: Windows/Mac OS/Linux
Price: FREE or $4.95/month
Ribbet is a web application with an intuitive interface and powerful tools. You can use this program for basic color correction. It allows elimination of minor flaws, working with text, brushes, and masks. Furthermore, Ribbet has a well-developed function for organizing and managing libraries and files. The main weakness of this program is that more than 50% of the entire functionality is unavailable for free access.
If you aim to find a free Photoshop alternative for online use, consider SumoPaint. It is a simple web application that supports working with masks and layers and has a large number of tools for basic photo editing before posting photos in Instagram or Facebook. I am talking about rotation, cropping, adjustment of brightness, contrast, and so on. The program’s interface and its set of tools are quite similar to Pixlr. Brushes are well-developed, so you can complete many professional tasks.
Fotor is an easy-to-use image editing application with a standard set of functions. You can crop and rotate the photograph, adjust the contrast and sharpness, change the brightness, apply different effects, frames, stickers, and more. You can add different makeup options and remove skin defects. This feature is surely interesting for those who enjoy portrait photography. This free photo editor allows you to work with individual images, create collages, and use ready-made themes. It may be inconvenient that the photo editor insists on registering and doesn’t provide access to a large number of functions for unregistered users.
BeFunky is a web application which is known as the best free photo editor online for amateur photographers and beginners. It offers creative effects, textures, and advanced settings for the enhancement of photographs. In addition to the main functions, the application has separate modules for creating collages and graphic design. Unfortunately, the program contains of 60% paid content. Moreover, you will be constantly distracted by advertisements. It occupies more than 30% of the working space.
Photoshop Express is a simple and well-thought-out free online photo editor from Adobe. All tools are logically ordered. Unlike Photoshop itself, everything is instantly available, even if you have never used the program before. You don’t need to install any browser plugins. If you have Flash installed, just upload the image and start working.
Photoshop Express online supports only JPG files smaller than 16 megapixels and a width of no more than 8191 pixels. The photo editor is equipped with a variety of tools and allows you to perform decent picture editing. The available functionality is almost the same as in Photoshop but it works more slowly.
PicMonkey is one of the best web applications, and it can be used as Canva or Photoshop. You may do photo editing, store, organize files in the repository, and create various design projects, banners, and logos. I also want to draw your attention to working with the text. From my point of view, it isn’t inferior to Photoshop. I really enjoy the integration of the HUB tab, which involves cloud storage and a convenient cataloger. But PicMonkey has several weak aspects. This program cannot perform professional photo editing. In addition, a large number of tools and features are unlocked in the free version.
The free online photo editor PiZap is available in HTML5 and Flash versions. So, you can use this alternative to Photoshop on laptops, PCs, or tablets. The interface has a dark, modern design with sliders for quick customization. It works much faster than tricky and drop-down menus. It’s very convenient if you use a touchscreen device. PiZap offers many interesting effects that are available to users with a paid account. The main drawback is that the photo editor doesn’t support RAW files, and photos larger than 10 MB won’t be uploaded.
Hi there, I'm Ann Young - a photographer, photo retoucher and of course, journalist. Here on FixThePhoto blog you can find all of my reviews, photography and photo editing tips, pricing guides, and photography experiments.