Even if you’re not a professional photographer, as soon as you hear "photo editing," you probably immediately think of Adobe Photoshop! And you'd be right, as the undisputed market leader, Photoshop is used by the majority of image professionals because it is a powerful software that allows you to make nearly type of edit (when you know how to use it). From editing metadata and sizing to detailed photo editing, Photoshop allows editors to make the changes they want on their terms.
But it is not the only editing software available! If you're new to photography, or if you aren't ready to spend $120 a year on an Adobe subscription, rest assured, there are plenty of other free photo editing platforms to choose from! We have listed the best photoshop alternatives for 2019.
Image Credit: AlternativeTo
You might recognize their mascot Wilbert, a friendly-looking wolf with a brush in his mouth. Gimpshop is actually a branch of the GIMP software whose interface has been reworked for Photoshop users.
This is the most popular free Photoshop alternative, and for good reason, with the most features and shortcuts inspired by Adobe software. While it’s not as intuitive or as powerful as Photoshop, you can still make magic happen with GIMP, as long as you have a bit of know-how and a little elbow grease, making it one of the best free photo editing software available. It just might take some time to adjust to Gimpshop if you’re already used to Photoshop. Since the developer's goal was to target the corner of the market of photo editors who had hacked copies of Photoshop, you can easily opt for a version that resembles Photoshop. Watch the video tutorial below to discover how to make GIMP similar to Photoshop.
Video Credit: Liquid Illusions
A final advantage of Gimpshop is that it can support all file formats, including PSD. Overall, our assessment is that it’s a similar, but cheaper alternative to the giant that is Adobe Photoshop.
2 - PIXLR X and PIXLR Express
Next on our list is Pixlr X, a free photo editing software that requires no download. You simply need an internet connection, a photo to edit and your creativity! No need to install software or to register, just upload your image and work on your browser. If you are familiar with Photoshop, you will find the Pixlr Editor menu options familiar both in layout and in how they work.
On the website, you will find two tools, PIXLR Editor and PIXLR X. The latter is their free version and it is great for quick processing of your images; the tool is simple to use, offering a wide range of blur effects, frames, cropping, text overlays, filters, and brightness and contrast control in no time! The service is limited, however, in that you can only save your image in JPEG format and that you can't work offline.
Pixlr Editor is their more developed version which opens up a much wider range of features. Like any conventional image processing tool, it has a toolbox, brushes, and correctors, to name a few of the 25 features. This is where the similarities to Photoshop are the most obvious: clipping, masking, working with layers, image isolation, color correction, contour lines, lighting effects, and filters.
Image Credit: Pixlr
The site, while primarily designed for web image processing, remains very effective. The available output formats are JPEG, PNG, TIFF, BMP, as well as the format specific to Pixlr: PXD. If you're still in doubt about the effectiveness of an online tool, you can find plenty of examples on the page "Made With Pixlr."
3 - Paint.net
Image Credit: Softonic
Paint.Net is a great editing program for making minor changes to your photos, with fewer features than other software. In short, it is a hybrid software, combining some features of Photoshop with those of the default version Paint (on Windows). While not nearly as powerful as some of the other software options available, this little guy deserves a shout out for its simplicity.
Image Credit: FileHippo
The biggest difference is the ability to manage layers, like in Photoshop. The basics include tools for selection, the eyedropper, the magic wand, and the duplicator pad and the various effects and colorimetric adjustments needed (brightness, contrast, fuzziness, and distortion). Once your photos are looking good, you can get creative with Instagram-style vintage effects using the vignette and sepia filters to give it a retro look.
The major disadvantage of this tool is that it’s only available on some versions of Windows. However, those with the option to install it should know that there's a large community centered around the software, whose members share advice and tutorials.
4 - Mac Photo
If you like the idea of Paint.NET but have a Mac rather than a PC, don’t forget you have a decent photo editor already built into your machine. Mac’s Photo software covers the basic editing features like cropping, adjusting lighting and enhancing photos, and even gives you control over the curves and levels. For anyone already using Photoshop, the interface is easy to understand, but if it's your first time editing photos you might want to play around with the system to get used to it.
The real advantage, however, is for the Mac user who organizes their library with the software. Offering automatic photo slideshow and video creation tools, Mac’s Photo quickly transforms a dull vacation slideshow into an animated featured complete with music. The library also has a cool location feature that will place your photos on the map based on their geolocation tag, if you are into that kind of thing.
5 - Google Photos
Google Photos Interface
Google Photos is the newest iteration of a series of Google Photo products. If you remember using the now-retired Google Picassa, this photo service should feel slightly similar. The online editor provides exactly you’d expect from an online editor (cropping, one-touch edits, basic lighting adjustment) but like Apple Photos, the real advantage comes in the online organization.
With the app, you can turn on the setting to back up your photos (whenever you are connected to Wifi or with data). Choosing to upload photos under 16 megapixels will get you unlimited online storage. If you prefer to upload photos in their original size, they cap free storage at 15GB (tied in with your Google account, so that includes your Drive and your Gmail storage). As an added bonus, if you are in North America, the optional Google Photos Assistant will scan the faces in your photos and organize your photos by person (this option is disabled in countries that have blocked facial recognition).
If you are looking to resize photos to specific dimensions or edit any metadata on your photo then you’ll find this online service (like many other online options) limited, but for basic photo editing, it's an easy-to-use and quick option.
6 - Snapseed
Snapseed in the Google Playstore
Any free photo editing list would be incomplete without our choice of the best mobile application. Our favorite so far for editing photos on-the-go has got to be ‘Snapseed.’ This free application is not your run-of-the-mill phone application. This powerful little app is run by Google and works with the photos on your phone or anything stored in your Google Drive.
Image Credit: Snapseed
Any free photo editing list would be incomplete without our choice of the best mobile application. Our favorite so far for editing photos on-the-go has got to be ‘Snapseed.’ This free application is not your run-of-the-mill phone application. This powerful little app is run by Google and works with the photos on your phone or anything stored in your Google Drive. It can do all of the basic edits and filters we are used to seeing on mobile apps, but what makes it stand out is its capacity to correct warped angles, completely gum people out, and its filter game runs circles around Instagram.
Download it onto your phone or tablet and give it a whirl.
7 - Ipiccy
Image Credit: Ipiccy
There's an editing software for every level! For beginners, Ipiccy is a good compromise that should interest those whose photos don't require much editing.
Image Credit: Ipiccy
Upload your photo directly to the website, and make your edits. You can crop, adjust color, change brightness, add effects and filters. In all, Ippicy has 21 basic tools and 65 effect filters. The largest downside is the lack of a layer system which can be hard to cope with once you are used to a Photoshop-style workflow.
8 - Photoscape et Photoscape X
Image Credit: Photoscape X for Mac
This free tool that needs to be downloaded is very popular with amateur photographers. There is also a premium version that costs about $40. Photoscape has a wide range of easy-to-use features and lots of portrait, ID, and business card templates. There are plenty of Instagram-like effects and filters (photo film, newspaper, etc.) thumbnails, and the tool is quite intuitive.
Image Credit: Photoscape
All of the basic photo enhancing tools are there: cropping, adjusting contrast, colors, brightness, and adding special effects. One of the major advantages though is that you can work directly on groups of images to adjust the color settings of your photos evenly. There is a version for Windows 10 and Mac, and another for versions prior to Windows 10.
9 - Polarr
Image Credit: Polarr
Polarr is a versatile tool that allows photographers to edit images directly on the website or with a downloadable app for PC or Mac. Whether you download the app or use the online service, the interface is very similar and very clean.
Polarr is primarily aimed at photographers looking for an accessible online tool for general editing, but with the possibility of some more detailed retouching. The simple tool has some of the more powerful features we find elsewhere, like face detection and liquefication, but it keeps the best tools under the paywall.
Image Credit: Polarr
Polaar has a very complete set of tools, knows how to handle multiple formats, including RAW, and offers a complete history of changes that can be returned: so if you realize too late that you have upped the saturation too much and your subject looks more like a Sim than a human, no need to panic. There are dozens of filters available and a plethora of retouching features such as cropping, radical and graduated filters, settings for brightness, contrast and temperature. With the app, you can download one photo edited with premium features a day, but this likely won't suffice for the more serious photographers out there.
10 - Photopea
Photopea lets you load, edit, and save Adobe Photoshop (PSD) files, Gimp (XCF) files, and Sketch (Sketch App) files without using any plug-ins. You can use it for simple tasks, such as resizing images, as well as complex tasks, such as designing web pages, creating illustrations, processing photographs and more. You can save your work as PSD or JPG/PNG. It has all the necessary tools such as layer styles, text layers, masks, adjustments to brightness and contrast, vibrance, saturation and so much more. You can also upload whichever fonts you desire.
Video Credit: Matilde Carminati
Photopea runs completely on your browser and on any device (desktop, laptop, phone & tablet). Also, for anyone worried about protecting their copyright, Photopea does not upload any of your files to the internet. There is no upload and no server. After you open the site, you can disconnect from the internet and keep using it, open and save any files, setting this tool apart from conventional photo editors.
Image Credit: Fotor
This next photo editing software packages itself as a one-stop-shop for your visual needs. Fotor promotes not only their photo editing software, but their photo retouching, graphic design, and collage generators. So if you are looking for a one-stop-shop where you won’t have to learn complex editing techniques, this may be a good choice for you. You can use the online editor or you can download their application.
Image Credit: Fotor
If you go the app route, they encourage you to join their community by promoting inspiring photographers to follow and contests to enter. They also provide templates for Social Media cards and provide stickers to decorate your visuals. You can use the service free, but their more premium tools are hidden by a paywall.
12 - DarkTable
Image Credit: Darktable
This photo editing software is opensource and was created by photographers for photographers. The software is capable of editing RAW images in a manner similar to Lightroom, that is to say: nondestructive photo editing. It also replicates the sorting system available in Lightroom, which is a great help when batch editing photos of an event or shoot. This is the closest clone of Lightroom so far, so it’s not exactly a Photoshop replacement, but it deserves a shoutout all the same.
13 - Adobe Photoshop Express Editor
Image Credit: Photoshop Express Editor
No no, you're not imagining it, since 2011 Adobe has had a free Photoshop platform available. It's a condensed version of the program, so even if you are not an expert, you can make quick edits thanks to the simple and intuitive features they've made available.
"Whether it's seasoned professionals or passionate photographers, all of our customers want to make the most of their digital photos, both on the web and on mobile devices." Matt Domenici, director of product management for online and mobile digital imaging at Adobe.
You can make all the basic adjustments, like cropping, zooming, making color adjustments or even adding effects and filters. The real disadvantage with this platform is that it does not support all photo sizes (you can only work on JPEG formats less than 16 megapixels) and the lack of the layer system will quickly limit your use of this beta version.
Photoshop has become synonymous with photo manipulation. We no longer say that a photo was heavily edited, we say it was Photoshopped, whether it was done with Adobe or Google Photos. With so many different types of software emulating Photoshop, it is easy to say Adobe has clearly set the bar high, but where they really exceed is in their tenacity in innovation and their strong community. Those who do subscribe to a photo package of Adobe will tell you that software updates roll in all the time. When you have a question, odds are good already been addressed in the forum or in a video tutorial. Not to mention, Adobe is always a front runner of tech conferences with new and innovating features that others try to copy.
Photoshop undoubtedly offers more features than its competitors, how else would they manage to turn a piece of pizza into a model in a bikini?! That said, photo editing isn't magic; a bad photo is a bad photo. So if it's about making your sunset more dazzling, your chocolate cake more appetizing, or your dog even cuter, then you'll find all the tools you need in Photoshop!
Video Credit: Youtube Channel CollegeHumor