Best Free Photoshop Alternatives

7 BEST Free Photoshop Alternatives & Competitors in 2024

9th January 2024 | 7 Views

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Adobe Photoshop is an ideal software used by experts for photo editing, retouching, image manipulation, and more. Unfortunately, the Creative Cloud subscription for Photoshop can make it quite expensive for some people to do simple work or start their brand. Finding the best free Photoshop alternatives is not easy. Most online image editing websites do not have all the necessary features to fulfill all your requirements, and sometimes some good options are often paid for. 

Saving you your precious time, I tested 25+ free Photoshop alternatives, choosing the 7 best ones to feature here. When evaluating each of them, I tried everything I usually use Photoshop for, including colour grading, Quality enhancement, Toning, cropping, retouching, masking, blending modes, creating social media graphics, and adding text. I also tested the unique special effects or features of each app.

As a Designer finding the right Image editor with good features was always a struggle. You should always choose a software/ service for image editing and design with basic features. The in-built library of design templates is easy to learn, allows easy sharing, and fits your pocket or is free.

Free Best Photoshop Alternatives

SoftwareOSBeginner FriendlyLayersGuided Edits360-Degree editingLink
GIMPWindows, macOS, LinuxYesLayer blending modes, simple selection tools, color gradients for borders, etc.YesYesGIMP
paint.netWindowsNo

Multiple layer forms, Auto masking, and transparency slides.

NoYespaint.net
darktable

Windows, macOS, Linux, Solaris 11 and GNOME.

YesTethered shooting, Automation, Auto MaskingNoYesdarktable
Apple PhotosmacOS, iOSYesSelective Colours,  Classiic Filters, MemoriesYesYesApple Photos
Luminar AIWindowsYesCombine and Various Layers, Lens Correction, AI Enhancement in LayersYesNoLuminar Neo

1)  GIMP – Best for its Customizable Interface

GIMP has a Customizable Interface, and users can customize its interface the way they like starting from the widget theme changing colors, spacings, and icon sizes to custom tool sets in the toolbox. Its robust tile-based memory management system helps limit image size by available disk space and helps to process an unlimited number of images virtually, which can be opened simultaneously.

It supports external hardware devices such as pressure and tilt-sensitive tablets and a wide range of USB or MIDI controllers. More than 100+ Plug-inn and scripting are available, allowing for the easy addition of new file formats and new effect filters with advanced scripting capabilities (Scheme, Python, etc.)

Features:

  • Docks: The interface is modularised into docks, allowing you to stack them into tabs or keep them open in their window, with the option of hiding them.
  • File Format: Gimp supports a range from JPEG (JFIF), GIF, PNG, and TIFF to special-use formats such as the multi-resolution and multi-color-depth Windows icon files. 
  • Digital Retouching: This software is ideal for advanced photo retouching techniques with  
    perspective clone tools making cloning objects very easy.
  • Image Enhancement: Increase image quality and numerous digital imperfections using corrective mode in the transform tools.
  • Virtual File System: Its virtual file system can load and save files from remote locations using FTP, HTTP, or SMB and SFTP/SSH protocols.
  • Channel Mixer: leverage the power of the inbuilt channel mixer giving you the flexibility to get your B/W photography to stand out the way you need.
ProsCons
Fullscreen mode lets you preview and edit your artwork using most of your screen estate.No drawing capabilities and Camera Raw Features.
Users can use its comprehensive layer support with blending modes. 
It has no ad displays or limitations and supports image slicing. 

Key Specs:

  • Pricing: Free
  • Supported Platforms: GNU/Linux, Microsoft Windows, macOS (10.12 or newer), Sun OpenSolaris, FreeBSD
  • Layers: Layer blending modes, simple selection tools, color gradients for borders, and much more
  • Link: https://www.gimp.org/features/

2)  paint.net – Best for its intuitive interface

paint.net provides comprehensive file format support, supporting a variety of popular and standard file formats, including JPEG, BMP, PNG, GIF, TIFF, DDS, TGA, HEIC, AV1 (AVIF), WebP, JPEG XR, and of course, PDN (its native image type that supports layers). It has a pressure-sensitivity Pen and Drawing Tablet support with compatible pens and tablets from Wacom, UGEE, Microsoft, and more. This enables you to draw beautiful, natural-looking brush strokes.

It has an active online community/forum with a friendly, passionate, and ever-expanding, constantly growing list of tutorials and plugins. Every action you perform on an image is recorded in the History window and may be undone. Once you’ve undone an effort, you can also redo it, giving an unlimited history feature.

Features:

  • Automatically Updated: This software updates automatically and contain new features, performance improvements, and bug fixes. Moreover, updating is done in the background so that user can do their work uninterruptedly.
  • Simple and innovative user interface: Every feature and user interface element was designed to be immediately intuitive and quickly learnable without assistance.
  • Tabbed Documents: Paint.NET uses a tabbed document interface to handle multiple images quickly and display a live thumbnail of the image instead of a text description making navigation very simple and fast.
  • Performance: Starting the app is nearly instantaneous; Paint.NET starts immediately, responds quickly to every mouse click, and has been thoroughly optimized to take advantage of the latest multicore CPUs, GPUs, and NVMe SSDs. 
  • Special Effects: Many special effects are included for enhancing and perfecting your images which include blurring, sharpening, red-eye removal, distortion, noise, and embossing. And our unique proprietary 3D Rotate/Zoom effect makes adding perspective and tilting very easy.
ProsCons
This software provides layer support with blending modes.It doesn’t support auto-snapping

Provide support for features like rulers, plots, and gradients.

It has no slice, patch, or spot healing tools.

It includes powerful tools like the Magic Wand for selecting regions of similar color and the Clone Stamp for erasing portions of an image. 

 

Key Specs:

  • Pricing: Lifetime Free
  • Supported Platforms: Windows
  • Layers: Multiple layer forms for a rich image composition experience, auto masking, and transparency slides that include one image when viewed simultaneously.
  • Link: https://www.getpaint.net/features.html

3)  darktable – Best for repetitive tasks

Darktable uses XMP sidecar files and a highly optimized database for saving metadata and processing settings so that users never lose image development settings. Its powerful export system supports Piwigo web albums, disk storage, 1:1 copy, and email attachments. This software allows you to send or export-dynamic image formats like JPEG, PNG, TIFF, 16-bit, or linear high dynamic range images like FM and EXR.

It is translated into more than a dozen languages giving users a pleasant editing experience in their native language. Professional color management supports the automatic display of profile detection on most systems, including built-in ICC profile support for sRGB, Adobe RGB, XYZ, and linear RGB color spaces.

Features:

  • Non-destructive editing:  Edit images throughout the complete workflow, and your original images are never modified, allowing you to return to your Base image continually.
  • Raw Pixel Buffers: All darktable core functions operate on 4×32-bit floating point pixel buffers enabling SSE speed-up instructions.
  • GPU accelerated image processing: Complex image operations can be accelerated using OpenCL support for runtime detection and enabling.
  • Image formats: darktable can import various standard, raw and high dynamic range image formats like JPEG, CR2, NEF, HDR, PFM, and RAF.
  • Automate repetitive tasks: Many aspects of Darktable can be automated with the help of scripting in Lua.
ProsCons

Darktable provides a fluid experience and almost Zero-latency through its multi-level software caches.

Not enough tools for detail editing or retouching

Simple and intuitive interface for new users

Sometimes it crashes unexpectedly, and bugs are found in it.

Its robust zoomable option allows users to work on minute details of design and image.

 

Key Specs:

  • Pricing: Lifetime Free
  • Supported Platforms: Windows, Linux,macOS, Solaris 11 and GNOME.
  • Layers: Auto masking, Pixel Buffers, Automation, Teetherred Shooting, Non-destructive editing, Filtering and Sorting.
  • Linkhttps://www.darktable.org/about/features/

4) Apple Photos – Best for Apple Users

Apple Photos allows you to edit everywhere and on any device, and all changes are kept up to date on all your Apple products and are automatically reflected on your Mac, iPhone and iPad. Turn your pictures into high-quality projects and unique gifts with 100+ third-party project extensions like Motif, Mimeo Photos, Shutterfly, WhiteWall, and Wix.

Organize your best shots in your library, hiding duplicates, receipts, and screenshots and highlighting essential moments like birthdays, anniversaries, and trips in the Months and Years views. Make your photo stand out by adjusting saturation, colour contrast, and colour cast. Add some drama by finetuning intensity, tone, or grain for a film-quality black-and-white effect with colour features.

Features: 

  • Selective Colours: Use selective colour to highlight specific colours in your image and increase image clarity by adjusting the definition slider.
  • Share:  Use the Share menu to share photos via Shared Albums and AirDrop, and you can also customise the menu and transfer directly to other compatible sites.
  • Memories: Weave your memories of the best photos and videos into a memorable movie, complete with theme music, titles, and cinematic transitions with images. 
  • Light: Brilliance, a slider in Light, automatically brightens dark areas and pulls in highlights to reveal hidden details and make your photo look more prosperous and vibrant.
ProsCons

Add one of nine photo filters inspired by classic photography styles to your photos with a click.

Only for Apple users

It intelligently declutters and curates your photos and videos using facial recognition technology.

 
Syncs all files among all your Apple devices. 

Key Specs:

  • Pricing: Lifetime free
  • Supported Platforms: macOS, iOS, iPad OS
  • Layers:  Selective Colours, Memories, Classic Filters and Automatic Brightness
  • Link: https://www.apple.com/macos/photos/

5) Luminar AI – Best for its advanced AI features

Luminar AI supports effortless crop and resizing of an image with automatically adjusted composition, yield, and perspective, changing the aspect ratio according to your needs. This software can automatically detect and mask certain detailed parts of an image, reducing users’ hard manual work.

It can do non-destructive editing keeping your original image always safe, so users can review and make changes to their edits whenever they like and compare them with the original files. Multi-Layer support helps to use multiple layers to combine various elements in one project, containing photos, textures, and adjustments.

Features: 

  • Neural Nets: AI-Powered portrait retouching with highly trained neural nets algorithms which can detect different facial features and let you work directly with them.
  • Plug into Software: Get better image quality without changing your workflow, as Neo can be used as standalone software or directly from most photo editors.
  • Damage Cover: Replace unwanted or damaged pixels with your chosen pixels from anywhere in your photo with Luminar.
  • AI Enhancement: Artificial intelligence technology detects which areas of your photo should be enhanced and suggests changes accordingly to improve overall image quality.
  • File Formats: Lumina Neo supports over 1000+ file formats and works with JPEG, PNG, TIFF files, and many raw files, including CR2, CR3, NEF, and ORF.
ProsCons

Make colours pop and balance hue, saturation, highlights, contrast, and details with its one-slider feature.

Less Classic Editing Tools

Save time by applying the same adjustments to multiple photos using batch-processing shots.

 

Remove image flaws like optical distortions, chromatic aberrations and much more in a single go with the Lens Correction feature.

 

Key Specs:

  • Pricing: Starts at $6 per month
  • Supported Platforms: Microsoft Windows and macOS
  • Layers: Combine and Various Layers, Lens Correction, AI Enhancement in Layers
  • Link: https://skylum.com/luminar

6) Fotor – Best for beginners in photo editing

Fotor’s professional photo editor provides hundreds of online photo effects and filters, from vintage and Lomo photo effects to black & white effects. It also offers other online photo editing tools: text insertion, frames, etc., to create something unique in minutes. This software has a robust AI-Powered automatic object remover that can remove objects from photos. 

Users can get a clean and flawless picture by recreating the cleared areas using image inpainting techniques. and can colorize old photographs with its Colour Filler Feature. Fotor’s powerful AI image enhancer helps you convert low-resolution images to high-resolution. It can automatically detect and correct the lighting and color, sharpen images, upscale images, and repair blurred images reducing manual work and saving you precious time.

Features: 

  • Collage Templates: Enhance your photos by adding your photos into 100+ free collage cells available or replace images from collage templates to make aesthetic looks.
  • Blur Images: Blur the background of a photo online without losing the quality and highlight the photo’s subject creating a depth-of-field effect with Fotor’s background blur tool.
  • Red-Eye Remover: Get the ideal image of your choice and make your eyes look sharper in portrait photos with its red-eye remover feature.
  • Stickers: You can easily add stickers to photos with Fotor in just a few clicks from a vast collection of stickers for pictures.
  • Batch: Photo Editing: Edit, crop, resize, add text, and much more on multiple images in a single go with Forton’s Batch editor.
ProsCons

This software has a built-in NFT creator to make the latest and most innovative NFTs.

Photo saving size is not selectable.

Its free banner maker helps to make customizable banners for web pages and other social media platforms.You can only upload photos up to 20MB.
All-in-one Face Editor saves your time using various touching-up tools, giving you a one-stop solution. 

Key Specs:

  • Pricing: Lifetime Free
  • Supported Platforms: GNU/Linux, Microsoft Windows,macOS, Sun OpenSolaris, FreeBSD, Android, iOS.
  • Layers: Multi-layer Support, batch processing, Nft Maker, and Red eye remover.
  • Link: https://www.fotor.com/

7) PIXLR – Best  for all use cases

Pixlr offers 1000+ design templates to create a YouTube banner, Instagram story, resume, brochure, business card, presentation, etc., with a growing library of thousands of stunning and free templates. It supports batch processing, and multiple images can be processed at once to remove backgrounds, improve contrast and colors, and much more in one go increasing your overall productivity. 

Create excellent profile pictures and e-commerce product images with the one-click feature of PhotoMash. This software can process high-resolution and quality images, and users can save the result in up to 16 MPX (4096*4096px). Hi Quality.

Features:

  • Animations:  Animate any design in just a few steps and get gritty timeline details of your images.
  • Remove Background: Erase backgrounds in your photos with AI-powered background removal in a single click and finetune the result with built-in detailed cutout tools.
  • Collage Maker: Create photo collages free online with our built-in 1000+ pre-made collage template layouts by simply uploading images.
  • Filters and Effects:  Effortlessly transform your photos into artistic visuals with various creative photo filters and effects.
ProsCons
Online, so it works on every platform.There are limited file compatibility options.

You can use its multi-layer editing and blending modes to edit your images.

The rendering process is slow.
Generate images using Al based on a picture description by typing it In a prompt. 

Key Specs:

  • Pricing: Lifetime Free
  • Supported Platforms: Microsoft Windows,macOS, FreeBSD, Android, iOS.
  • Layers: Batch Processing, AI Image generation, and Animations.
  • Link: https://pixlr.com/

FAQ for Free best Photoshop Alternatives

What are the best alternatives to Photoshop to edit images?

Some of the best alternatives to Photoshop are:

 

How to choose the best Photoshop alternative?

Some of the critical parameters that must be considered are:

  • More than the basics: All apps let you adjust brightness, contrast, and crop or add a filter. To be genuinely in Photoshop’s class, a photo editor needs advanced features, like curves, clone/healing brushes, blending modes, RAW support, and more.
  • Ease of use: Photoshop’s basic layout and design haven’t changed much in 30 years. Why? It’s intuitive, and it works. The best free photo editor will make it equally as easy.
  • The ability to add text and design elements. Beyond photo edits, today’s tools must include graphic elements, trending fonts, and templates to make creating social media content more accessible and faster.
  • 100% web-based: App stores have desktop and mobile Photoshop alternatives. Some of the ones on this list are available on other platforms, but for this article, my focus is showcasing the best in web-based apps so that you can edit like a pro anytime, anywhere.

Conclusion for  Free Photoshop Alternatives

Free and good Photoshop alternatives can provide a more user-friendly photo editing experience for users unfamiliar with Photoshop and amateurs in design and image editing. In this article, we have detailed a selection of the nine best photo editors that can be used as Photoshop alternatives. However, if you are more interested in some particular use cases, then I have my detailed conclusion below:

  • Choose GIMP if you want a balanced platform with many features and various image effects.
  • If you enjoy editing images and prefer using AI for various tasks, PIXLR is your ideal choice.
  • Whereas if you want to do classic, distraction-free, hardcore designing, you should go for Fotor
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