Kevin Muldoon February 20th, 2012

Free Photoshop Alternatives For Editing Photos

Photoshop has been the darling of the design industry for decades. It's a fantastic program that has led the way since the release of Photoshop 1 on the Mac way back in 1990. However, not everyone can, or wants to, pay the $699 that Photoshop costs. Thankfully there are a lot of free Photoshop alternatives available for photo editing. Some of these are very basic and are suitable more for only basic photo editing, whilst others are feature rich applications that give Photoshop a run for its money. Today we would like to show you some of the best free photo applications that are available online.

The Free Alternatives

1. GIMP Windows, Mac, Linux, FreeBSD, Solaris, AmigaOS The GNU Image Manipulation Program is a great application that was created for photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. Written on Unix, GIMP is arguably the most popular alternative for Photoshop available today. GIMP 2. Gimphoto Windows, Linux Gimphoto is a modification of the GIMP graphics program that aims to present a more user friendly interface. The layouts are more similar to Photoshop, making Gimphoto a popular choice for those who are switching from it. It's currently only available for Linux and Windows though a Mac version is available. Another GIMP modification that aims to make things easier for former Photoshop users is GIMPshop. Unfortunately, someone hijacked the GIMPshop domain, resulting in a dispute between the original developer and the hacker who was profiting from hijacking the domain. This is one of the main reasons the application is no longer developed. Gimphoto 3. PhotoPos Pro Windows PhotoPos Pro is a rich photo editor that has support for most picture file types and support for digital scanners. It also features image enhancement, text tools, layers, masks and special effects. The pro version of the script used to retail for $59.90 (with a lite version available for free) but it has since been released as Freeware (apparently due to thousands of requests). PhotoPos Pro 4. Photoshop Express Online Service Can't afford the high price of Photoshop? You may be pleased to know that Adobe offers a free basic version of the script online. The editor allows you to edit your photos online with ease. You can resize, crop and rotate, reduce red-eye and saturation, adjust white balance, fill light and much more. You can also apply effects to photos such as pixelate, tint and crystalize. Photoshop Express is a great choice for basic photo editing and quick touch ups. Photoshop Express 5. Artweaver Free Windows Artweaver Free is a limited version of the artistic application Artweaver Plus (€29). The free version has common editing tools such as gradient and crop, support for PSD files, arrangeable palettes plus image and effect filters. Artweaver Free 6. Splashup Online Service Formally known as Fauxto, Splashup is a free online photo editing tool and manager that has support for layers, filters, brushes, text editing, blend modes and much more. You can import photos from your desktop and from a range of services such as Facebook, Flickr and Picasa. Multiple photos can be edited at the same time and there is a lite version for mobile PCs available too. Splashup 7. Aviary Online Service A cool online photo editor that lets you edit photos easily. You can crop and rotate images and apply lots of cool effects such as sharpen, blemish, red eye, contrast, blue and much more. Aviary There are advanced tools available too (also free) for dedicated editing such as an image editor, vector editor, effects editor, image markup, music creator, audio editor and screen capture. Aviary 8. Inkscape Windows, Mac, Linux A vector graphics editor which boasts that it has similar capabilities to Illustrator, CorelDraw and Xara X. It saves files in the Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) format. It should be considered as a compliment rather than an alternative to raster graphic editors such as Photoshop or Gimp for most tasks, though it has adopted some common photo editing tools such as blurring etc. Inkscape 9. Photoscape Windows A basic photo editor that lets you fix and enhance photos. It has a lot of interesting features such as support for animated gifs, a splitter which divides a photo up into several pieces and attaching multiple photos vertically or horizontally to create one final photo. Photoscape 10. PhotoPlus Starter Edition Windows PhotoPlus Starter Edition is a limited version of PhotoPlus X5 ($89.99). It comes with a lot of great tools that help you adjust photos and give them a complete makeover. Through PhotoPlus you can repair old and damaged photos, remove objects from a photo, smooth skin, whiten teeth and much more. PhotoPlus 11. Seashore Mac A beautiful image editor that supports gradients, textures and alpha channel editing. You can compare the current image to the last version of it saved, and can save in SVG, PSD and PDF file formats. Seashore 12. Paint.NET Windows A great program that evolved from Microsofts famous Paint application, Paint.NET supports layers, special effects, unlimited history and more. It uses an intuitive tabbed interface that shows live thumbnails of the opened image rather than text. It also has a very active support community. Paint.NET 13. Darktable Mac, Ubunut, Fedora, Opensuse, Arch, Gentoo One of the only applications that isn't available for Windows, Darktable is a feature rich photo editing program that supports lots of special effects and correction tools. It has support for 15 languages and the export system works with Picasa, Flickr, email attachments and more. Darktable 14. Photofiltre Windows An image retouching program that allows basic or advanced image editing. It supports over 100 filters and lets you use useful preset selection tools such as ellipses, triangles, rounded rectangles and more. Photofiltre 15. VCW VicMan's Photo Editor Windows A basic image editor that supports over 30 types of file formats and 100 transformations, filters and effects. Photoshop compatible filters are supported too. VCW VicMan's Photo Editor 16. PaintStar Windows An image processing application for editing and retouching photographs. Image morphing, multiple layers and screen capture are supported and it supports more than 30 file formats, 100 effects and filters. PaintStar 17. Picnik Online Service A simplistic online photo editing service that lets you modify images with one click. Basic edits like rotation, resizing and cropping as well as changing exposure and colors and sharpening the image, are all free. More advanced effects and edits are only available to premium users ($24.95 a year). Picnik 18. Cinepaint Windows, Mac, Linux, FreeBSD and NetBSD An offshoot of GIMP, CinePaint has been used on many Hollywood films such as Spiderman and The Last Samurai to touch up frames. Cinepaint 19. Pixlr Online Service, Windows, Mac, Mobile Devices A cool free online photo editing service that works on browsers and a variety of operating systems and devices. Available in 23 languages, Pixlr has the most usable Photoshop features such as color adjustment, special effects, layer support and much more. Pixlr 20. Picasa Windows, Mac, Linux Originally created and sold by Idealab, Google aquired Picasa in 2004 and released it to the world for free. The current version supports easy geo tagging and heavy integration with Google+ that lets you easily tag Google+ friends and share photos through your circles. It's user-friendly interface makes it easy to apply basic edits to your photos and touch them up. 12 effects are available and there are additional affects via Picnik too. Picasa 21. Fotor Online service, Windows, Mac, Mobile Devices A set of online photo editing tools of Fotor allow you to beautify your image easily and quickly. It not only empowers you to enhance your photo with various photo filters, color adjustment, but also design your graphic with thousands of templates. Designing logo and poster has never been easier with Fotor! It is available in the browser, different devices, and 9 languages. Do you use any of these free photo editing programs? If so, please let us know in the comments area and let us know the advantages to using the application over others. (rb)

Kevin Muldoon

Kevin Muldoon is a professional blogger with a love of travel. He writes regularly about topics such as WordPress, Blogging, Productivity, Smartphone and Gears and Social Media on his personal blog. He is also contributor at award winning VPN blog He can also be found on Twitter: @KevinMuldoon.


  1. GIMP is the best, with an awesome community and loads of tutorials. I do want to try Inkscape, though, because GIMP does not have a great way to deal with vectors, unfortunately.

    1. Gimp and Gimp for Windows can both open .psd files and can be configured to use a lot of the Photoshop plugins as well as all those made just for Gimp.

      It’s the only program I use and probably the only one I’ll ever need.

    2. If you not looking at a 100% free alternative then you could look at Microsoft Expression which is reasonably priced and does a good job opening PSD files. I have been following since Expression was launched and would say that it has evolved a lot from where it was a couple of years back and if it progresses at this rate in the coming years Adobe would seriously need to reposition its products and make them cost effective. Long back I had also written an open letter to most of these “software product” giants that if they need to have good user acceptance and reduce piracy they need to make these tools affordable. As it is costly I choose freewares and cut corners. Design studios get jobs in plenty so they could afford high license costs. For freelancers / smaller studios when we consider the overall cost it would take around 2 odd years to recover the price of Adobe Creative Suite or close to an year to recover the other versions of Adobe Suites. By that time Adobe launches a new version and hence you either need to upgrade or leave the upgrade. Microsoft Expression to some extent has bridged this gap by making their products cost effective. If it manages to sell the Studio version for close to $250 it should really pick off like anything. Similarly if Adobe tomorrow decides to make its Creative Suite for freelancers at say $499 or so and upgrade costs of $199 or so… then it could completely change the market dynamics. I have still not understood as to why corporates try to target the top of the pyramid when they could easily target the lower end of the pyramid and get a lot higher sales. Give it a thought

      1. Another low cost option that is out there is Photoshop Elements from Adobe. I know it doesn’t have all of the features of th Adobe Suites, but it can do a lot for the $99 price tag it has. You can bundle it with Premeire Elements and get both for $149 if you would like to work with videos or slide shows as well.

  2. I am using Picasa for fast previewing photos and because it is closely connected with Picasa photo albums where are stored screenshots from my blogs.

  3. Very nice list! There are a few I had not yet heard of listed here. One of the most intriguing is DarkTable as it may be useful for me while running Linux. I used to use “Gwenview” in “Dolphin” for batch editing (cropping & sizing).

    Thanks for the wonderful resource roundup!

  4. Splashup is an amazing tool, used that a few times but didn’t really know about the others besides PS and GIMP. Great compilation, thanks!

  5. Wow, really? No mention of the quite amazingly good Acorn or Pixelmator?

    Both these give Photoshop a serious run for their money, and do it *without* a hideous UI (yes, I’m looking at you, GIMP)

    Can’t believe there’s not even a nod in their direction!

  6. I use Gimp in Linux, but I really wish it had more convenient ways to add borders and shadows to text. I make a lot of .jpg “slides” with an imported background and text overlays, so this feature would be a big help.

    Is there a solution in Gimp or a Linux program that will provide this?

  7. @ Ben: So what .. all exclusive proprietary tools, aka “only for Mac”. Those who have the money to waste money on buying a Mac should easily be able to buy a current version of PS as well :P

    cu, w0lf.

  8. GIMP is what I use. It’s the strongest free one I’ve found. I have used and enjoyed some of the others, such as VicMan and Photofiltre. At the time I used them, they didn’t support layers, though.

    I agree that GIMP’s interface is not so good, though. Its tabbing behavior is really lame, not to mention its proliferation of open windows. But the modded GIMPs don’t support the latest release usually, so regular GIMP is the thing. I can pretty much easily do any editing I need.

    The only nitpicky things are things like it won’t support Photoshop’s text, nor will it handle their proprietary layer translucency, so I might end up making my own gradients, for instance.

    In the end I’m very happy with it despite its faults, and delighted not to spend an absurd amount of money for PS.

  9. I think. There is not as such program which is really replacement of photoshop. There are other program too but photoshop is simply not replaceable.

    1. #4, 6, & 7 are all online services. Didn’t go through the entire post again, but they are listed right below the titles.

      Noupe Editorial Team

  10. Have been using irfranview for quite some time now. It’s a nice photo editor and free photo. Recently i’ve started using Kestrel GX :
    This is a 2-in-1 software; it’s a photo manager and photo editor too so i use only one software like this :)

  11. im just getting into really serious photo editing.. from what ive read splashup looks like itd do the job.. i wanted to try gimp but what this about it being slow on windows.. bb

  12. We just launched We took a different approach to the online image editors available and made imaging social. Maybe you want to give it a try.

  13. I adore GIMP and love to use it. It offers almost everything that can impress anyone whether you are a hobbyist (like me!) or a professional. Even without expecting a single penny from you. Thanks Kevin for your other suggestions, they really look awesome. Will definitely try ’em out.

  14. Gimp and seem to be the best in the list – though I would personally give the crown to Gimp’s interface can appear a little messy and confusing, especially to the newbie, while looks like a polished commercial product, not to forget the many useful plugins/filters created by the community members.
    Nice post, thanks.

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