- GIMP (or GNU Image Manipulation Program), is not only open-source, but is also available on Linux, macOS, and Windows. The free package also includes features such as color adjustments, retouching tools, and object selection tools.
- Photopea which can be used in a web browser is also free. Features which you can expect to find include: blend modes, brushes, inverting masks, pixel selection, etc.
- Designed for artists, by artists, Krita is not only free, but also comes with a customizable interface and cross-platform availability.
Adobe’s Photoshop software is widely known as the industry leader for creating digital art, photo-editing and a whole lot more.
It’s safe to say that Photoshop is as much a verb for photo editing as Google is for searching the web. There is a good reason for this, as Photoshop is a truly powerful tool that seamlessly integrates with a number of Adobe products.
However, Photoshop isn’t everyone’s cup of tea as its subscription price and feature set might be intimidating for many users. That’s perfectly okay as there are dozens of Photoshop alternatives waiting in the wings for new users.
After a solid week of testing, we’ve identified the best Photoshop alternatives you can download today:
- Best Overall: Affinity Photo
- Best Open Source: GIMP
- Best for macOS: Pixelmator Pro
- Best for Web Browsers: Photopea
- Best for Drawing: Krita
- Best for iPad: Procreate
- Best for Photos: Photos Pos Pro
Best Overall: Affinity Photo
All the Photoshop without the subscription is the best way of describing Affinity Photo.
Don’t let the $54.99 price tag fool you as this is one of the most powerful Photoshop alternatives. Right away, Photoshop users should find the layout of Affinity Photo very familiar, as shortcuts and menus are organized in the same way as Photoshop.
The same goes for feature sets, as Affinity includes raw editing, PSD editing, focus stacking, unlimited layers, batch processing, and a whole lot more. Support also includes the ability to upload 100+ megapixel photos, panning and zooming at 60 FPS, and support for complex vector docs.
Needless to say, the feature set is every bit as massive as Photoshop, but with a far lesser cost.
Affinity Photo is available on Windows, macOS, and iPad, the latter of which costs $19.99 for a one-time download from the App Store.
Best Open Source: GIMP
Few Photoshop competitors have as much name strength as GIMP.
Originally released in 1995, GIMP has long served as open-source arch-rival to the more expensive Photoshop. GIMP, standing for GNU Image Manipulation Program, offers a complete open-source code, all while making itself available for Linux, macOS, and Windows for free.
With support for PSD, TIFF, PNG, RGBE, and PNG files, there is a slew of features available. Color adjustments, retouching tools, heal/clone/warp, enhancements, object selection tools, and so much more. GIMP even offers curves, levels, dodge, and burn features that are almost a mirror image of Photoshop’s own offering.
As open-source software, improvements to GIMP are constant so if a feature hasn’t previously been available, it very well might have been added since the last time you looked.
Best for macOS: Pixelmator Pro
Seamlessly integrating with macOS, Pixelmator Pro is the go-to best Photoshop alternative for macOS users.
Part photo editor, part painting tool, and part illustrator all in one, Pixelmator Pro is a true jack of all trades. The interface is very much in line with what you would expect from a professional-grade Apple experience including tabs, split view, and full screen.
As far as usability, Pixelmator Pro offers everything from a repair tool and support for vector tools, including the SVR vector file format. On top of that, you also get the ability to create pixel art, support for graphics tablets, as well as a huge selection of brushes and tools.
It’s safe to say Pixelmator Pro doesn’t offer the full depth of professional tools that Photoshop does, but it gets super close. Available as stand-alone software or downloadable from the Mac App Store, the app is available for $39.99.
Best for Web Browsers: Photopea
It’s easy to think that a browser-based alternative to Photoshop would skip out on a lot of features to work well. Thankfully, Photopea is here to prove wrong any stereotype about browser-based software being inferior. Professional users will undoubtedly still prefer desktop-based options but, rest assured, Photopea closely resembles Photoshop.
Support for layers, layer masks, inverting masks, blend modes, brushes, pixel selection, changing saturation, hue, brightness, and so much more are all available. Photopea includes support for PSD, JPG, SVG, GIF, PNG, RAW, and even files from GIMP.
Chromebook users can directly save files right into Google Drive, and Photopea can continue to work offline even if your internet cuts out.
Photopea is free for all users but $3.33 a month will remove ads and provide quick email support.
Best for Drawing: Krita
When you’re looking for the best Photoshop alternative for digital painting, Krita is the best place to look.
As an open-source program, Krita is designed by artists, for artists, who want to make sure everyone can access an affordable piece of software. Now add on a free price tag and cross-platform availability, and Krita becomes even more of a must-download.
After downloading, you’ll find a clean interface that stays out of your way, and if you want to move things around, the layout is completely customizable.
When you are ready to start drawing, you will find access to more than 100 brushes pre-loaded for all different types of effects. Brush stabilizers are also available to smooth out any drawing. Vector and text edits are perfect for drawing comic panels and a wrap-around mode is ideal for seamless patterns.
Best for iPad: Procreate
The popularity of the Apple iPad and Apple Pencil has led to a huge increase in users relying on their tablets for Photoshop-like work they would typically do on a desktop or laptop. Procreate began as a basic drawing app released for the iPad in 2010 and has transformed into the premiere Photoshop alternative for the iPad.
Procreate is packed with features like 3D model painting, brush studio, color control, page assist, stroke stabilization, and more. On top of more general tools, Procreate adds touch-specific features like two-finger undo, three-finger redo, and four-finger hide UI. Support for both the first and second-generation Apple Pencil only adds to the value of using Procreate across various iPad models.
For its features, a one-time purchase of $9.99 on the iPad for Procreate is an incredible bargain.
Best for Photos: Photo Pos Pro
Among Photoshop’s best features is its ability to tweak, edit, and customize photos. Well, you can get an equally feature-rich alternative with the likes of Photo Pos Pro.
With more than 10 million downloads worldwide, the app adds a whole host of features and it’s free to download.
If you need to remove, erase or replace backgrounds, you can easily do that, and the same goes for removing any unwanted objects. When you need to fix a photo and make it brighter, more saturated, or just add some fun text effects, Photo Pos Pro is up to the challenge. And, to better challenge Photoshop, Photo Pos Pro adds layers and masks, gradients, patterns, batch operations, and more.
The app is best used on Windows and can run through an emulator on macOS. A free version includes all available features while a one-time premium purchase offers yearly updates and enhanced customer support.
How to Pick the Best Photoshop Alternative: A Step-by-Step Guide
Choosing the right Photoshop alternative isn’t easy as the app has long-held the lead in features and compatibility. When it comes to choosing the right alternative, there are three main considerations:
When it comes to choosing a photoshop alternative, features are undoubtedly a critical consideration. Photoshop is packed full of options, features, tools, brushes, and so much that you have to find an alternative that meets your needs. The good news is that many options on this list do exactly that.
GIMP and Affinity Photo are as close to Photoshop as you are going to get.
Their ability to match almost completely feature-to-feature while costing significantly less is a huge plus. We recommend looking at the exact features you need and then making a determination of which app comes closest to providing you with it.
For the most part, nearly every desktop application on this list works on both Windows and macOS. A handful work on Linux as well, but only one works on ChromeOS.
It’s definitely something to consider when you are looking at Photoshop alternatives. If you are a Windows user, you can choose from every app or browser application that isn’t Pixelmator Photo or Procreate.
macOS users on the other hand can choose from a good percentage of this list but not every option. The same goes for Linux.
As you are looking at which features you need, we recommend starting with which apps work best on your hardware of choice.
One of the biggest drawbacks to Photoshop is its cost. That’s quite an annoyance considering how many millions of users all over the world rely on it for both work and personal needs.
Instead, you have these 7 great Photoshop alternatives, all of which cost less. We’ve specifically chosen apps that are less expensive and or do not have a subscription-based option.
In fact, many of these apps are free or have free tiers that offer nearly every benefit as their more premium options.
We would start with making a decision on what your feature needs are and then looking at how much you want to spend. There’s definitely an app listed here for every budget.
Using The Best Photoshop Alternatives
We tested each app over the course of a week using the same picture for editing and tweaking. What we found is that all of these apps work really well on both Windows and macOS platforms.
Each app used the same picture from our photo library to see if we could match the same brushes and edit with the same layers, and they all worked very well.
As a long-time GIMP user, there was a lot of immediate familiarity with how it compares to Photoshop and it’s met our needs for a long time. The same goes for Procreate on the iPad. Procreate is a wonderful experience on the go or when you want to sit on a sofa and just draw.
Many Photoshop users will think Photopea as a browser-focused alternative is going to be bare bones compared to a full desktop application. Oh, how wrong they would be!
What we discovered is that for 90% of Photoshop users, you have access to everything you need. Things might be labeled differently or under a different menu setting, but they are still available. If we’re on the go and need to make a quick edit, using Photopea is a fantastic choice.
We tried a couple of photos with Photo Pos Pro as a more dedicated photo application and, after a few minutes, we really had the hang of how to edit. It’s user-intuitive and free, so we spent more time with it than we would care to admit. The same goes for Pixelmator Pro, as we might have found a replacement to GIMP and one that looks more native on macOS.
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The image featured at the top of this post is ©Tero Vesalainen/Shutterstock.com.