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19 Free Photoshop Alternatives W/ Similar Features in 2024

Last Updated on Dec. 29, 2023 – by Jayed Miah
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Best Alternatives to Photoshop

If you've ever tried to edit a photo with Photoshop, you know how intimidating and complicated the software can be. Many people consider Photoshop the best software to edit photos, but unless you have experience and dedicated training with this program, you will find it hard to use and cost-prohibitive. 

Content creators and photographers need easy-to-use, free Photoshop alternatives that allow them to navigate tools and features quickly to post more photos in less time. Thankfully, several excellent free alternatives to Photoshop offer similar features without the high price tag and steep learning curve. In addition, most of these offer free stock images, something even paying for a pricey Photoshop or Adobe Creative Cloud subscription won’t get you. 

This article introduces the 19 best free Photoshop alternatives and compares their features, benefits, and drawbacks.


Snapshot of Our Top 3 Free Photoshop Alternatives

PhotoDirector Logo

1. PhotoDirector Essential - Best Overall

PhotoDirector Essential is the best overall free Photoshop alternative on the market because it is a combination of both Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom. You get advanced Photoshop-like tools such as masks, layers, gradients, and path selection tools, plus AI photo management tools for organization. PhotoDirector’s tools are much more intuitive, making it a quicker free alternative to Photoshop for professionals, and an easier, more affordable way to edit photos for beginners. More Info >

Click the link below to download PhotoDirector Essential for free today.

Pixelmator Pro Logo

2. Pixelmator Pro - Best for Mac Users

Pixelmator Pro is a great free Photoshop alternative to edit photos on Apple products. It is a photo editor and graphic design tool with AI-powered tools and RAW photo processing that is simple enough for beginners. More Info >

Capture One Logo

3. Photopea - Best for Intermediate Users

With Photopea you can edit photos and create graphic design projects from scratch. It is very similar to Photoshop Elements and a great free alternative to Photoshop for Adobe enthusiasts on a budget. More Info >

How to Choose the Best Free Photoshop Alternative

With 19 excellent free Photoshop alternatives on our list, how can you choose the right software to edit photos the way you need? Read on for some key things to look for when choosing a free alternative to Photoshop.

Compatibility

The first thing you should decide is whether you want an online option or a downloadable free Photoshop alternative. If you have an older computer or don’t have much space on your hard drive, an online option could be the way to go. A browser-based free Photoshop alternative is also a good choice if you like to edit photos over multiple devices. However, if you have spotty internet, or like to edit while you travel or commute, you will need a downloadable free Photoshop alternative that doesn’t require an internet connection. 

Next, make sure the free Photoshop alternative you want will work on your device. There are options on our list for Windows, Mac, and Linux. There are some that work well on laptops, while others need a powerful desktop and plenty of available RAM. You will also need to check that the free Photoshop alternative is compatible with your camera. This information can be found in the System Requirements section of a product’s website. 

Budget

Some of the options on our list are not completely free alternatives to Photoshop but offer a free trial. If you are looking to “try before you buy,” this is a good way to make sure you like to edit photos with a product before making a monetary commitment. These options come at very different price points, so don’t even bother trying software that is clearly out of your budget. 

Some options have free-forever versions of the software, with the option to upgrade to a Premium version if you find you want more features. If you are only in the market for a completely free alternative to Photoshop, make sure the free version has all the features you need to edit photos. It’s also a good idea to compare prices of the Premium versions so if you decide to upgrade in the future, price won’t be an issue. Finally, there are some open-source options that offer all tools and features for free, however, they tend to have a higher learning curve.

Features

The free alternatives to Photoshop on our list come with a wide range of features. Some cater more towards graphic designers, others towards illustrators, and others towards photographers. If you are a photographer, look for features such as RAW image support and photo management tools. Write down a list of must-have features to make sure you have what you need to edit photos (in the version you can afford). 

Ease of Use

Many of you are probably looking for a free alternative to Photoshop because you want something more beginner-friendly. Some of the options below match Photoshop feature-to-feature but have a similar learning curve. These are good free alternatives to Photoshop for advanced users or professionals looking for a more affordable option. Some are very beginner-friendly but may lack advanced tools like layer editing. Then there are free alternatives to Photoshop that offer advanced tools but remain beginner-friendly. These are good options for beginners hoping to learn advanced techniques, or for professionals who want a quicker way to edit photos. 

19 Free Photoshop Alternatives W/ Similar Features in 2024

1. PhotoDirector Essential

PhotoDirector Interface

Compatibility:

Windows, Mac


TopTenReviews Rating: 5/5


Price: Free
*Premium subscription available for $5/month


Pros
  • Beginner-Friendly: AI-powered tools, guided edits, and an intuitive, clean UI, make this a great free alternative to Photoshop for first-time editors 
  • Professional Editing Tools: Supports uncompressed and lossless RAW files and HDR images, plus AI-powered Smart Collections for quick photo organization  
Cons
  • Stock Not in Free Version: World-Renowned stock libraries only available with a subscription

Key Features:

  1. Background/Sky Replacement: Remove and replace your background in one click without a green screen 
  2. Portrait Touch-Ups: Remove wrinkles, blemishes, and shine, whiten teeth, or change the shape of your subject’s face, eyes, nose, and more
  3. Photo Animation Tools: Edit photos with motion paths to animate your photos and save as a GIF or video; add animated elements such as sparkle, light hits, stickers, and overlay
  4. Color Adjustments: Adjust colors automatically or manually, apply filters and LUTs, or utilize a fun effect such as Color Splash or Replace

Best For: Users of all skill levels


Why We Picked It

PhotoDirector Essential stands out as the best overall free Photoshop alternative due to its blend of user-friendliness and a wide range of powerful tools. Its intuitive interface, AI-powered tools, and guided edits make it accessible for first-time editors, while also offering advanced capabilities for seasoned pros. The software's unique features like background/sky replacement, portrait touch-ups, photo animation tools, and color adjustments provide comprehensive editing options. Additionally, its efficient photo management tools and seamless interface, which allows users to choose between editing and organizing modes, enhance the overall user experience. The ease with which users can manipulate text and the added value of affordable access to a vast stock library further solidify PhotoDirector Essential as a top choice for a broad spectrum of photo editing needs.


Bottom Line

Many beginners shy away from layer editing with Photoshop because it seems too complicated. However, this free Photoshop alternative has an easy-to-use interface that makes layer editing a breeze, allowing beginners to add images, text, shapes, and digital objects in perfect cohesion. PhotoDirector makes it easy to use layers to your advantage with express layer templates, frame template packs, and a range of simple selection tools. Achieve hair-splitting detail without learning complicated editing procedures or managing hard-to-use tools. For these reasons, we think PhotoDirector Essential is today’s best free alternative to Photoshop.

Download the best free Photoshop alternative - PhotoDirector Essential - by clicking the link below and edit photos that look studio-quality today.


2. Pixelmator Pro

Pixelmator Pro Interface

Compatibility:

Mac


Capterra Rating: 4.8/5


Price: 15-day free trial, then $49.99


Pros
  • Multi-Functional: Tools for photography, illustration, graphic design, and painting
  • Optimized for Mac: Powered by Apple Silicon and advanced graphics technologies like Metal and Core Image
Cons
  • Free Trial Only: Not a completely free Photoshop alternative
  • Mac Only: Can’t edit photos on Windows devices

Key Features:

  1. Vector Tools: Resolution-Independent SVG files stay sharp no matter how much you manipulate them 
  2. RAW Image Support: This free Photoshop alternative supports RAW photos from over 600 popular cameras
  3. Color Adjustments: Powerful, nondestructive color edits with multi-channel curves and wheel-based color balance

Best For: Mac users


Why We Picked It

Pixelmator Pro is chosen as the best free Photoshop alternative for Mac users due to its complete integration with macOS and the variety of tools it offers that cater specifically to the Mac ecosystem. The software's support for features like Side Car, Apple Pencil, and Universal Clipboard, among others, makes it highly convenient for Mac users. It provides powerful and nondestructive color adjustments, vector tools, and RAW image support, making it versatile for a range of photo editing tasks. The familiar macOS menus and shortcuts simplify the editing process, and the ability to seamlessly share images with other Mac applications adds to its user-friendliness. While Pixelmator Pro is not entirely free, its affordability and optimization for Mac make it an excellent choice for users in the Apple environment.


Bottom Line

Pixelmator is not an entirely free Photoshop alternative but offers a 15-day free trial. After the trial, the program is pretty affordable. It is easier to use than Photoshop but still has a slight learning curve for new users. It also lacks some advanced features you would expect in programs of its kind. If you desire more advanced tools in a beginner-friendly package, try our #1 choice, PhotoDirector Essential.


3. Photopea

Photopea Interface

Compatibility:

Web Browser


Capterra Rating: 4.6/5


Price: Free

*Premium version available for $10 for 30 days, $15 for 90 days, or $50 for one year (Teams pricing is also available for teams of 5, 20, and 50)


Pros
  • Large Toolset for Free: A completely free alternative to Photoshop Elements with a similar toolset and interface
  • No Sign-Up: Visit the site and start creating with no registration or payment required
Cons
  • Learning Curve: A lot of trial-and-error for beginners
  • Stability Issues: Needs internet to function, and even with strong internet we experienced some glitches and freezing 

Key Features:

  1. Drawing Tools: Pen tools, path selections, and automatic rectangle tool 
  2. Healing & Clone Brushes: Remove blemishes and other imperfections with this free Photoshop alternative 
  3. Gradient Tool: Create a lovely ombre effect with one click 

Best For: Intermediate users


Why We Picked It

Photopea is identified as the best free Photoshop alternative for intermediate users because of its comprehensive set of features that are similar to Photoshop's, yet more accessible. The software's compatibility with PSD files and its interface reminiscent of Photoshop Elements make it familiar to those who have experience with Adobe's products. It supports both raster and vector graphics and offers a wide range of adjustments, filters, and aspect ratio options. Photopea's strength lies in its detailed toolset available in the free version, making it a robust option for users who are familiar with photo editing but find Photoshop too complex. However, its lack of beginner-friendly guides and occasional stability issues mark it as more suitable for intermediate users rather than complete novices.


Bottom Line

What we love about Photopea is that every tool is available in the free version, including a library of stock images. The premium version does not add any features, it only increases storage, removes ads, provides email support, and gives you more steps in your history. Anyone used to Photoshop or Photoshop Elements will have no trouble learning this free Photoshop alternative. However, it is not beginner-friendly, with no explanations or guides next to tools, and no previews of effects and filters. In our test, we had an issue with tool windows getting stuck and blocking our project.    


4. Capture One

Capture One Interface

Image from DCFever.


Compatibility:

Windows, Mac


G2 Rating: 4.5/5


Price: 30-day free trial, then $14.92/month for desktop only, or $21.58/month for desktop, iPad, and iPhone, or $299 for a Perpetual License


Pros
  • Fast Photo Culling: Import photo ratings and tags in-tact from your camera and group similar photos automatically 
  • Best-In-Class Tethering Software: Fast Wi-Fi or USB tethering, automatic download and integration, and Live View support 
Cons
  • Expensive: SImilar price to Photoshop, and for unlimited image sharing with Capture One Live, you’ll pay even more 
  • Steep Learning Curve: Geared towards professionals, not beginners

Key Features:

  1. Skin Tone Editor: Easily create accurate skin tones with Uniformity sliders
  2. Heal & Clone Brushes: Automatically finds the best source point to cover up your target for quick object removal 
  3. Style Brushes: Quickly brush edits without creating a layer using this free Photoshop alternative 

Best For: Color adjustments


Why We Picked It

Capture One is distinguished as the best for color adjustments in our selection of free Photoshop alternatives, primarily due to its advanced color editing capabilities. It allows precise editing of specific colors with eight color ranges, exceeding the standard range in most photo editing software. The inclusion of features like the Skin Tone Editor, Heal & Clone Brushes, and Style Brushes enhances its suitability for detailed and high-quality image adjustments. Capture One also stands out for its multi-imaging tools that enable users to merge, stitch, and create panoramic shots. While it shares a similar price and learning curve with Photoshop, its all-in-one solution and superior color editing tools make it a strong candidate for those seeking high-quality results and who are willing to invest time in learning the software.


Bottom Line

Capture One has a longer free trial than Photoshop (30 days compared to 7), but it has a similar price and learning curve. However, if you are paying for Photoshop and Lightroom, and need an all-in-one solution that delivers the same high-quality results, then Capture One is for you. If you need a beginner-friendly or completely free Photoshop alternative, however, we recommend PhotoDirector Essential.


5. Pixlr E

Pixlr E Interface

Compatibility:

Web Browser


Capterra Rating: 4.5/5


Price: Free
*Premium subscriptions available for $0.75/month for Plus, $4.90/month for Premium, and $9.91/month for Teams


Pros
  • Online: Nothing to download, and you can use the free version right away without signing up 
  • Design Templates: Kick-starts projects for non-designers 
Cons
  • Slow Rendering: Can take a long time to get your final image, especially if you’ve used a lot of effects
  • Intrusive Ads: Have to pay to get ads removed 

Key Features:

  1. Dispersion Effect: Draw over part of your image and watch it burst into a thousand pieces
  2. Color Effects: Color Picker, Color Replace, Sponge Color, and Fill allow you to swap colors of individual items in your photos
  3. Brushes: Edit photos with painting, drawing, and pen tools in various styles

Best For: Quick edits


Why We Picked It

Pixlr E is chosen as the best option for quick edits due to its online accessibility and professional features suitable for beginners and more experienced users. Its diverse range of features, including advanced cutting tools, customizable brushes, and design templates, makes it versatile for various editing projects. The software is particularly beneficial for non-designers, with its templates for social media posts, ads, and other digital content. While Pixlr E faces challenges with slow rendering and intrusive ads, its user-friendliness and high export quality position it above similar software for those looking for a quick, accessible, and versatile editing tool.


Bottom Line

Pixlr E has the same review rating as Photoscape X, but we placed it higher on our list because it is more beginner-friendly and exports to a higher quality. However, rendering was very slow, so although we think this free Photoshop alternative is great for quick edits, be prepared to do other things while you wait for your projects to export. The free version contains ads and puts limits on the number of projects you can save, however, for 75 cents a month you have access to all the non-premium features with no ads and unlimited saves.


6. Photoscape X

Photoscape X Interface

Compatibility:

Windows, Mac


TechRadar Rating: 4.5/5


Price: Free
*Pro version available for $39.99


Pros
  • Batch Edit Photos: Save valuable time by making the same change to multiple images at once 
  • Feature-Rich Free Version: Free Photoshop alternative with tons of tools
Cons
  • Freezes: Can lag or freeze if handling multiple RAW files
  • Low-Quality Output: Quality decreases when saving files

Key Features:

  1. Cut Out: Remove images or backgrounds using Magic Eraser, Brush Tool, or Lasso Tool
  2. Collage or Combine: Place multiple photos in a collage grid, or merge side-by-side to create one image from many
  3. Creative Assets: Edit photos with borders, frames, stickers, and text

Best For: Batch editing


Why We Picked It

Photoscape X is recognized as the best free Photoshop alternative for batch editing due to its ability to apply changes to multiple images simultaneously, saving valuable time for users. The software offers a feature-rich free version with an abundance of color tools and creative assets, such as borders, frames, stickers, and text. Its unique color tools, like Point Color, Selective Color, and Replace Color, provide users with the flexibility to make precise color adjustments. While Photoscape X may have a learning curve due to its unique layout and some limitations in format support and output quality, it remains a beginner-friendly choice once users become accustomed to its interface, making it a solid option for those needing efficient batch editing capabilities.


Bottom Line

We found Photoscape X to have a confusing layout which differs greatly from other free Photoshop alternatives, so it may take time to get used to if you are familiar with another program. However, it remains beginner-friendly once you figure out where things are. We found it is lacking in format support, and noticed a big dip in quality when saving files. Also, while the free version is available for Mac and Windows users, the Pro version is Windows-only.


7. Canva

Canva Free Interface

Compatibility:

Windows, Mac, Web Browser


PCMag Rating: 4.5/5


Price: Free
*Pro version available for $119.99/year or $149.90 for Teams


Pros
  • Team Collaboration Tools: Organize your content, schedule posts, incorporate branding, and get approvals 
  • Tons of Free Design Assets: Thousands of templates, icons, titles, frames, and more are available in the free Photoshop alternative
Cons
  • Best Tools Aren’t Free: Brand kits, team collaboration, background remover, and premium design assets are only available with a subscription 
  • Few Photo Editing Tools: Only a few basic image manipulation tools

Key Features:

  1. Background Remover: Remove image backgrounds in one click 
  2. Magic Edit: Brush over an area, then type in what you want to generate and watch it magically appear 
  3. Bulk Edit: Edit up to 10 photos at once for consistent product photos

Best For: Marketing


Why We Picked It

Canva was selected as the best free Photoshop alternative for marketing purposes due to its extensive range of design assets and user-friendly tools geared towards marketing and graphic design. Its robust team collaboration features enable real-time project collaboration and content organization, making it ideal for marketing teams. The platform offers a wide array of free templates, icons, and frames, allowing users to create a variety of marketing materials, from social media posts to business cards. While Canva's photo editing tools are basic compared to other programs and many of its best tools require a subscription, its ease of use and focus on design make it a top choice for marketing-focused image creation and design tasks.


Bottom Line

While we love Canva for graphic design and marketing, it doesn’t really compare to Photoshop in terms of tools to edit photos. For this reason, we placed it below the other 4.5-rated programs, Capture One, Pixlr E, and Photoscape X because they are more feature-rich in the editing department. We recommend PhotoDirector as a better alternative because it is a photo editing software that also has fun design assets and creative tools for social media.


8. Krita

Krita Interface

Image from The Web Factor.


Compatibility:

Windows, Mac, Linux


G2 Rating: 4.4/5


Price: Free


Pros
  • Excellent Brush Options: 9 brush engines and over 100 brush types 
  • Familiar and Flexible Interface: Similar interface to Photoshop and completely customizable 
Cons
  • Few Photo Editing Tools: This is a tool for creating artwork from scratch 
  • No Plug-In Support: No way to expand the toolset of this free alternative to Photoshop

Key Features:

  1. Brush Stabilizer: Correct a shaky hand 
  2. Mirror Tools: Draw on one side of the mirror-line and automatically copy the results on the other side 
  3. Layer Management: Create layer groups and assign colors to groups or individual layers

Best For: Digital painting


Why We Picked It

Krita is recognized as the best free Photoshop alternative for digital painting due to its specialized features tailored to artists and illustrators. Its comprehensive set of brush options, customizable interface, and digital art tools like the Brush Stabilizer and Mirror Tools make it a standout choice for creating digital artwork. Krita's built-in vector tools, comic panel creation capabilities, and seamless texture and pattern creation features cater to a wide range of artistic needs, from digital painting and pixel art to 3D texturing and comic inking. Although Krita is not focused on photo editing and lacks plugin support, its strengths in digital art creation position it as an excellent tool for animators and illustrators.


Bottom Line

Krita is open-source and completely free. It has a user interface similar to Photoshop but is also entirely customizable, with features such as light and dark themes. While this is an excellent free Photoshop alternative for animators, Krita lacks simple tools to edit photos. If you are looking for a free Photoshop alternative to manipulate photos, try PhotoDirector Essential.


9. Fotor

Fotor Interface

Compatibility:

Web Browser


Capterra Rating: 4.3/5


Price: Free
*Premium subscription available for $3.33/month for Pro and $7.49/month for Pro+


Pros
  • Beginner-Friendly: Easy to use, with an intuitive interface
  • AI-Powered Tools: Photo effects, a background remover, and AI-generated art, images, and faces
Cons
  • Poor Customer Service: We found many complaints in online reviews 
  • No Layer Editing: Too simplistic to be a free Photoshop alternative for pros

Key Features:

  1. Circle Crop: Crop photos into circles for profile pictures using a free Photoshop alternative
  2. AI Photo Enhancer: Increase image resolution automatically
  3. Photo Eraser: Remove objects from images in one click 

Best For: Collages


Why We Picked It

Fotor was chosen as the best free Photoshop alternative for creating collages due to its simplicity and beginner-friendly interface, combined with a variety of AI-powered tools and creative options. The platform enables users to easily enhance photos with effects, remove backgrounds, and utilize AI-generated art and images. Features like the Circle Crop and AI Photo Enhancer cater to users who need quick, straightforward photo adjustments. Its range of beautification tools and fun elements like emojis, stickers, and collage templates make it appealing to casual users and beginners. While Fotor's lack of layer editing and customer service issues may limit its appeal to professional users, its simplicity and range of fun tools make it a viable option for those seeking an easy-to-use tool for basic photo editing and collage creation.


Bottom Line

If you are looking for a beginner-friendly free Photoshop alternative, Fotor is a viable option. It is much easier to use and has some fun tools you won’t find in Photoshop, like emojis, stickers, and collage templates. It is similar to our #1 free alternative to Photoshop, PhotoDirector. However, Fotor lacks layer editing. Current Photoshop users looking for a cheaper option will prefer PhotoDirector.


10. PhotoPad

PhotoPad Interface

Compatibility:

Windows, Mac


G2 Rating: 4.2/5


Price: Free
*Premium subscription available for $4.44/month, or Lifetime Licenses available for $99 for Home and $129 for Pro


Pros
  • Beginner-Friendly: A clean, intuitive interface, AI-powered tools for automatic adjustments, and tons of beginner support
  • Wide Format Support: Edit photos in all popular image formats, including photos straight from your DSLR camera
Cons
  • Patchy Automatic Tools: Many one-click tools need manual tweaking to achieve the best results
  • Light on Advanced Tools: It does have some advanced functionality, but not enough to make it a free Photoshop alternative for professionals

Key Features:

  1. Super Color Tool: Automatically colorize black-and-white images
  2. Creative Assets: A selection of clipart, fonts, drawing tools, borders, and collage grids
  3. Unique Effects & Filters: Convert your images into cross-stitch patterns, paint-by-numbers, or oil paintings

Best For: Image upscaling


Why We Picked It

PhotoPad is recognized as the best free Photoshop alternative for image upscaling due to its combination of ease of use and a diverse toolset. The software is particularly beginner-friendly, offering a clean, intuitive interface and AI-powered tools for automatic adjustments. While some of its automatic tools may require manual tweaking, its wide format support and features like the Super Color Tool and unique effects make it a versatile choice. PhotoPad's support for RAW images, multi-exposure HDR photos, and layer editing enhances its capabilities beyond basic editing, making it suitable for users who need more than just simple edits but are not yet ready for professional-grade software.


Bottom Line

This free Photoshop alternative is easy to use right out of the box. However, it also has loads of beginner support via user forums, video tutorials, an online help manual, and technical support reps. PhotoPad has a wide range of functions, but it only offers a basic toolset in each category. We don’t recommend it for advanced users or professional photographers, but beginners who need an easy tool to make Photoshop-like edits should give it a try.


11. Ashampoo Photo Optimizer

Ashampoo Photo Optimizer Interface

Compatibility:

Windows


CNET Rating: 4.1/5


Price: Free
*Premium version available for $15


Pros
  • Beginner-Friendly: Very easy to use, and all the tools are front-and-center
  • Lightweight: Does not use up computer resources
Cons
  • Limited Features: Doesn’t come close to the advanced editing tools and graphic design features found in Photoshop 

Key Features:

  1. Photo Effects: This free Photoshop alternative comes with multiple effects such as waves, swirls, implosion, and explosion
  2. Tonal Curve Adjustments: Adjust the color temperature and enhance shadows, mid-tones, and highlights
  3. Portrait Enhancements: Fix red eyes, whiten teeth, fix minor glitches, and remove stains or blemishes

Who It’s For

Ashampoo Photo Optimizer is a quick and easy-to-use free alternative to Photoshop for beginners who need to fix and enhance their photos. The user interface is straightforward, and there is no learning curve. No tool is more than 2 clicks away, yet the limited feature set keeps the UI from looking cluttered. There’s also a customizable Favorites menu that grants you even more accessibility by bundling your most used tools in one location. 


Best For: Beginners


Why We Picked It

Ashampoo Photo Optimizer is selected as the best free Photoshop alternative for beginners due to its straightforward and easy-to-use interface. This software excels in providing essential photo optimization tools, such as color temperature adjustments and portrait enhancements. Its ability to instantly optimize photos and fix exposure, colors, and contrasts makes it ideal for users seeking quick and effective photo improvements. Although it has limited advanced editing tools, its beginner-friendly nature and efficient photo effects position it as an excellent choice for users new to photo editing who need a simple yet effective tool.


Bottom Line

Ashampoo Photo Optimizer is the easiest of all the free Photoshop alternatives on our list. It also has a completely free version, and the premium version is very affordable. However, it’s also the least like Photoshop of any of the other options. This is a great tool for beginners or anyone who needs to fix colors and perspective in a hurry, but it doesn’t go beyond that. If you are looking for a free alternative to Photoshop that is easy to use, but desire more advanced features such as layer editing, try our top pick PhotoDirector. 


12. Paintshop Pro

Paintshop Pro Interface

Compatibility:

Windows


PCMag Rating: 4/5


Price: 30-day free trial, then $79.99


Pros
  • Photo Management: Tag images and create Smart Collections with this free alternative to Photoshop
  • Customizable Interface: Change the size and color of different elements
Cons
  • Runs Slow: At times it can lag, especially if you are using multiple effects or switching between modes
  • Lack of Control Over Effects: Instant effects can’t be adjusted 

Key Features:

  1. Image Restoration Tools: Use the Scratch Remover, Noise Remover, and Fade Correction to repair old photos 
  2. Lens Corrections: Fix distortions, vignetting, and chromatic aberrations in your images
  3. HDR Image Support: Combine photos of different exposures to create one stunning HDR photo 

Who It’s For

We found Paintshop Pro to be the best free Photoshop alternative for graphic designers because of features such as layers and masks, brushes, intuitive text tools, textures, patterns, drawing, painting, and fill tools. In addition, Paintshop has built-in templates for collages, greeting cards, social media images, web banners, brochures, business cards, etc. It also includes hundreds of effects, preset filters, and a frame tool to place raster objects into shapes quickly. 


Best For: Graphic design


Why We Picked It

Paintshop Pro is identified as a great free Photoshop alternative for graphic design projects due to its comprehensive set of tools that cater to various graphic design needs. The software's AI photo enhancement, lens correction tools, and perspective correction features make it adept at handling a range of design tasks. Its user interface, while slightly crowded, offers customizable elements, enhancing the editing experience. Despite lacking some advanced features required by professionals, its essential editing tools, composition guides, and HDR image support make it a suitable option for users engaged in graphic design projects who need a versatile and user-friendly editing tool.


Bottom Line

Paintshop Pro is a great free Photoshop alternative for graphic design projects, but it lacks some advanced features such as facial recognition that professionals will need to edit photos. And even though its interface is user-friendly, it feels a little crowded, especially if you're new to the program. 


13. Affinity Photo

Affinity Photo Interface

Compatibility:

Windows, Mac


Digital Camera World Rating: 4/5


Price: 30-day free trial, then $69.99


Pros
  • Pro-Level Workflow: Fast and powerful, with live real-time editing, wide format support, maximum refresh rate, and instant loading of huge files
  • Unlimited Layers: Create complex compositions with multiple layers and effects
Cons
  • Lacks Photo Organization: Like Photoshop, you’ll need separate software to tag and  catalog images
  • Slight Learning Curve: Easier than Photoshop, but still complex for beginners

Key Features:

  1. Focus Merge: Increase depth-of-field by merging images with different levels of focus 
  2. Compound Masks: Nondestructively combine multiple mask layers
  3. Powerful Brush Engine: Import brushes, create custom brushes, or choose from an extensive built-in library

Who It’s For

Affinity Photo is aimed at professional photographers and designers, but has a lower learning curve and price than Photoshop. Affinity Photo has mask and clipping layers, live blend modes, and unlimited layers, which is why we reviewed it as the best free Photoshop alternative for layer editing. It has non-destructive live filters that can be applied to a single layer or the whole stack, then erased, masked, or reordered after they are applied. 


Best For: Layer editing


Why We Picked It

Affinity Photo was selected as the best free Photoshop alternative for layer editing due to its pro-level workflow and advanced composition capabilities. It stands out with features like unlimited layers, Focus Merge, and Compound Masks, which enable users to create complex and detailed compositions. The software's powerful brush engine and precision selection tools offer versatility in editing and digital painting. Although it has a slight learning curve and lacks photo organization tools, Affinity Photo's efficiency, fewer crashes compared to Photoshop, and comprehensive layer editing features make it a strong choice for users seeking advanced editing capabilities at a more affordable price than Photoshop.


Bottom Line

Affinity Photo offers fewer tools to edit photos than Photoshop, but the ones it does have work better. Its user interface looks almost identical to Photoshop, making it a nice free alternative to Photoshop for users wanting a lower price tag. However, it lacks the photo organization tools found in other software such as PhotoDirector and Capture One.  


14. DxO PhotoLab

DxO PhotoLab Interface

Compatibility:

Windows, Mac


PCMag Rating: 4/5


Price: 30-day free trial, then $139 for Essential and $219 for Elite


Pros
  • Intuitive Local Adjustments: Easily make targeted edits with this free Photoshop alternative 
  • Excellent Image Processing: Most advanced RAW image processor on our list
Cons
  • Not User-Friendly: Same high learning curve as Photoshop 
  • Lacks a Variety of Editing Tools: Good corrections and adjustments, but not many creative features or effects

Key Features:

  1. ReTouch Tool: Set your own Clone and Repair sources
  2. Style Toning: Apply B&W, sepia, or classic analog film renderings to photos
  3. ClearView Plus Adjustment: Reduce haze and enhance contrast 

Who It’s For

DxO PhotoLab is another solid free Photoshop alternative because of its superb RAW Photo Processing features. PhotoLab uses a deep learning AI technology called DxO DeepPRIME to demosaic and denoise images at top-notch quality. It’s a great fit for anyone who has old photos thought to be unusable. 


Best For: Photo processing


Why We Picked It

DxO PhotoLab is recognized as the best option for photo processing due to its advanced RAW image processing capabilities and intuitive local adjustments. The software excels in automatic lens corrections, fixing a wide range of lens faults like sharpness, distortion, and vignetting. Its precise control point handling and local adjustment options enhance its appeal for detailed photo enhancements. Although it shares a high learning curve with Photoshop and lacks a variety of creative features, DxO PhotoLab's exceptional image processing quality and recent additions in photo management features position it as a strong contender for users focused on high-quality photo corrections and adjustments.


Bottom Line

DxO PhotoLab is not a truly free Photoshop alternative, and after the 30-day free trial, it is pretty expensive (although it is just a one-time fee and not a subscription model like Photoshop). We like that it recently added more photo management features to help select, search, and filter images. And while it has fantastic denoise and auto repair tools, it lacks other tools to edit photos such as multi-photo features like HDR, panorama, and focus stacking. 


15. ON1 Photo Raw

ON1 Photo Raw Interface

Compatibility:

Windows, Mac


DP Review Rating: 4/5


Price: 14-day free trial, then $6.37/month, for ON1 Everything, $12.75/month for ON1 Everything Plus, or $99.99 for a Lifetime License


Pros
  • Support for Plug-Ins: Compatible with Photoshop, Lightroom, and Capture One plug-ins
  • Photo Management: Quickly cull and view images in a variety of ways, including AI keyword searches
Cons
  • Some Tools Not Accurate: Content-Aware and selection tools are not as functional as Photoshop’s
  • Unintuitive Interface: This free Photoshop alternative has a confusing and crowded interface

Key Features:

  1. Sky Replacement: Choose from 231 replacement skies or import your own
  2. Content-Aware Crop: Fill the edges of your image with realistic detail 
  3. Multi-Photo Tools: Focus stacking, HDR images, and panorama stitching are all possible with this free Photoshop alternative

Best For: Filters


Why We Picked It

ON1 Photo Raw is chosen as the best free Photoshop alternative for filters due to its broad range of AI tools and support for plug-ins, making it versatile for various photo editing tasks. Its features like Sky Replacement, Content-Aware Crop, and multi-photo tools like HDR and panorama stitching provide users with a wide array of creative possibilities. The software's compatibility with Photoshop, Lightroom, and Capture One plug-ins adds to its flexibility. While its interface may be unintuitive and some tools are not as accurate as Photoshop's, ON1 Photo Raw's comprehensive adjustments, organizational features, and extensive filter options make it a viable option for professionals seeking a high-quality editing tool with advanced features.


Bottom Line

ON1 Photo RAW is a professional and high-quality free alternative to Photoshop, with adjustments and organizational features that make it a great alternative to Lightroom as well. However, it is just as difficult to use as the Adobe counterparts, and it takes up significant space on your hard drive, which can cause it to run slowly. If you need a free alternative to Photoshop and Lightroom that takes up less space, try PhotoDirector. 


16. Photo Pos Pro

Photo Pos Pro Interface

Compatibility:

Windows


TechRadar Rating: 4/5


Price: Free
*Premium version available for $49.90


Pros
  • Excellent for Graphic Design: Stunning text effects, frames, collages, and a greeting card editor 
  • Feature-Rich Free Version: Tons of tools and features are available in this free Photoshop alternative, and the premium version is very affordable  
Cons
  • Difficult to Switch Between Automatic and Manual Options: They are in entirely different modes, with unique interfaces
  • Expert Mode has a Steep Learning Curve: If you want layer editing, you’ll have to spend some time learning the software 

Key Features:

  1. Background/Object Remover: Use chroma key to remove and replace backgrounds or objects; Magic Eraser can erase a partial background  
  2. Smart Select: Smart magnetic selection and smart select brush help you choose items and create masks
  3. Zoom Out Lens Effect: Instantly change your photo’s depth for a cool new look 

Best For: Adding text to photos


Why We Picked It

Photo Pos Pro is selected as the best free Photoshop alternative for adding text to photos due to its comprehensive graphic design capabilities. Its clean and intuitive interface, coupled with AI-powered tools and creative assets like clipart, fonts, and drawing tools, makes it ideal for users who need to incorporate stunning text effects into their images. The software's unique photo effects and support for RAW files add to its versatility. While Photo Pos Pro offers a beginner-friendly novice mode, the expert mode provides manual editing tools for more advanced users. The difficulty in switching between these two modes and the steep learning curve in expert mode are considerations, but its dual-mode system makes it a viable option for a range of skill levels.


Bottom Line

Photo Pos Pro’s Novice mode has easy one-click solutions for beginners, while the Expert mode offers manual editing tools. While we like that this free Photoshop alternative is good for any skill level, it is difficult to switch between the two modes as they have vastly different layouts. Also, the Novice mode won’t let you work with layers, and Expert has a high learning curve. We prefer PhotoDirector, which has automatic and manual options available for every tool, so you can choose on the spot if you want more control. 


17. Darktable

Darktable Interface

Compatibility:

Windows, Mac, Linux


TrustedBay Rating: 4/5


Price: Free


Pros
  • Clean Interface: Unlike most open-source software, this free Photoshop alternative has a simple, uncluttered interface that will feel familiar to Lightroom users
  • High-Quality RAW Processing: Excellent processing results, akin to expensive software 
Cons
  • Sub-Par Organizational Features: For a program that closely resembles Lightroom, it is missing key organizational features like creating collections 
  • Buggy: Can crash or lag with large files 

Key Features:

  1. OpenCL Support: GPU accelerated image processing for lightning-fast image operations
  2. Perspective Correction: Apply lens corrections to straighten horizons and fix horizontal and vertical perspectives
  3. Liquify Tool: Similar to the tool found in Photoshop, you can fix distortions or create cool effects 

Who It’s For

Darktable is an open-source, free alternative to Photoshop. However, we think it is one of the best Lightroom alternatives for photographers on a budget. The interface closely resembles that of Lightroom, and it has photo management features to sort, tag, and organize your images. You can also find images quickly by searching tags, star ratings, color labels, and metadata. Some of its image adjustment tools even offer finer control than the Lightroom versions.   


Best For: Lightroom alternative


Why We Picked It

Darktable is recognized as the best free Photoshop alternative for users seeking a Lightroom alternative due to its clean interface and high-quality RAW processing. It offers a range of features akin to Lightroom, such as masking and blending tools, advanced color tools, and tethered shooting. The software's open-source nature and support for over 400 cameras make it a robust tool for photographers. Although it has some organizational limitations and can be buggy with large files, Darktable's user-friendly design and comprehensive RAW processing capabilities position it as an excellent alternative for users familiar with Lightroom's layout and functions.


Bottom Line

If you are wondering why every photographer hasn’t jumped the Adobe ship to this free alternative to Photoshop and Lightroom, there are a few drawbacks, especially for pros. Darktable won’t support more than 10,000 photos, and cataloging is minimal. Also, the adjustment sliders are overly sensitive and there isn’t an option to manually enter a value, so getting exact results can be tricky. We placed it behind the similarly-rated Photo Pos Pro because it is a better free Photoshop alternative, while Darktable is a better alternative for Lightroom. However, if you are looking for a one-stop-shop photo editor and image management tool, try PhotoDirector. It’s a better free alternative to Photoshop and Lightroom for both beginners and professionals. 


18. GIMP

GIMP Interface

Image from Davies Media Design on Youtube.


Compatibility:

Windows, Mac, Linux


PCMag Rating: 3.5/5


Price: Free


Pros
  • Open-Source: A great community and constant improvements
  • Plug-In Support: Some are pre-installed and others are downloadable 
Cons
  • Steep Learning Curve: A free alternative to Photoshop with a similar learning curve 
  • Unintuitive Interface: Interface is cluttered and outdated, and it takes a long time to find tools

Key Features:

  1. Customizable Brushes: Create your own brushes for a variety of unique looks 
  2. Clone/Healing Tools: Get rid of unneeded details and perform minor touch-ups 
  3. Auto Image Enhancement: Automatically enhance color, equalize, white balance, and stretch contrast 

Best For: Linux users


Why We Picked It

GIMP is chosen as the best free Photoshop alternative for Linux users due to its open-source nature, support for plugins, and comprehensive image manipulation capabilities. It offers a range of features from retouching and restoring tools to more advanced options like bezier curves and layer masks. The software's interface, while cluttered and outdated, is fully customizable, catering to users who are willing to invest time in learning and personalizing their editing environment. GIMP's steep learning curve is similar to Photoshop, making it more suited to users with some editing experience. However, its extensive toolset and customization options make it a powerful alternative for Linux users and those seeking a free and advanced image editing solution.


Bottom Line

GIMP is an entirely free Photoshop alternative that is packed with advanced tools. The program’s interface is cluttered but fully customizable. There is a learning curve similar to Photoshop, which is why we moved it from #7 to #18 on our updated list. Beginners should try an easier-to-use option like PhotoDirector or Pixlr E. 


19. Exposure X7

Exposure X7 Interface

Compatibility:

Windows, Mac


PCMag Rating: 3.5/5


Price: 30-day free trial, then $129


Pros
  • User-Friendly: Nice interface and easy-to-use tools 
  • Lightroom Migration: Allows you to import Lightroom folders and keep the metadata intact. 
Cons
  • Can Run Slow: It takes a long time to start 
  • Some Features are Low-Quality: Not the pro results you get from Photoshop 

Key Features:

  1. Overlays: Borders, textures, and light effects, plus overlay blend modes
  2. Noise Reduction: Profile-guided noise reduction based on camera sensor; you can even add back fine-texture noise for more natural results  
  3. Nondestructive Local Adjustments: Apply effects and presets to a specific area

Best For: Photo effects


Why We Picked It

Exposure X7 was chosen as the best free Photoshop alternative for photo effects due to its user-friendly interface and comprehensive set of tools geared towards enhancing images. Its strength lies in providing a range of effects, such as overlays, noise reduction, and nondestructive local adjustments, which enable users to apply creative and subtle modifications to their photos. The software's composition guides, including the golden ratio and spiral, aid in precise image cropping, enhancing the overall composition of photos. While some of Exposure X7's features may not match the professional results of Photoshop and it can be slow to start, its array of fun and easy-to-use photo effects tools makes it a solid choice for users seeking to add artistic touches to their images.


Bottom Line

Exposure X7 has some fun effects features that Photoshop lacks, however, the quality is not as good. Many of Exposure X7’s essential features are patchy. If you are looking to edit photos with high-quality results worthy of a free alternative to Photoshop, try PhotoDirector, DxO PhotoLab, or Capture One. 


Best Free Photoshop Alternatives Comparison Chart

Software OS Beginner-Friendly Layers Guided Edits 360-Degree Editing Free Download
PhotoDirector Essential Windows, Mac Yes 27 layer blending modes, simple selection tools, split and combine color layers, group layers, express layer templates, color gradient for borders and much more Yes Yes
Free Download
Secure Download
Pixelmator Pro Mac Yes Non-destructively change layered compositions, create editable shape, text and image layers, 27 blending modes No No Download
Photopea Web Browser No Adjustment and fill layers, roster and vector masks, duplicate and group layers No No Download
Capture One Windows, Mac No Apply up to 16 layers, composition tools, linear gradient masks No No Download
Pixlr E Web Browser Yes Add duplicate layers, AI auto masks No No Download
Photoscape X Windows, Mac Yes Gradient map No No Download
Canva Windows, Mac, Web Browser Yes Rearrange, change, resize and align layers No No Download
Krita Windows, Mac, Linux No Vector, filter, group and file layers No No Download
Fotor Web Browser Yes None No No Download
PhotoPad Windows, Mac Yes Non-destrutive layer editing, adjust opacity of layers, toggle layer visibility Yes No Download
Ashampoo Photo Optimizer Windows Yes None No No Download
Paintshop Pro Windows Yes Multiple, nondestructive layers with masks to hide part of a layer or fade between them No Yes Download
Affinity Photo Windows, Mac Yes Unlimited, non-destructive live filters, mask and clipping layers No Yes Download
DxO PhotoLab Windows, Mac No None No No Download
ON1 Photo Raw Windows, Mac No Nondestructive layers, powerful masking No No Download
Photo Pos Pro Windows Yes - in Novice mode Layers and masks, green screen blend mode No No Download
Darktable Windows, Mac, Linux Yes Masking and blending tools No No Download
GIMP Windows, Mac, Linux No Layer masks and luminosity masks No No Download
Exposure X7 Windows, Mac Yes Unlimited, nondestructive layer editing, mask selection tools, blending modes No No Download

PhotoDirector Essential vs

OS

Windows, Mac

-

Beginner-Friendly

Yes

-

Layers

27 layer blending modes, simple selection tools, split and combine color layers, group layers, express layer templates, color gradient for borders and much more

-

Guided Edits

Yes

-

360-Degree Editing

Yes

-

How to Edit a Photo With PhotoDirector

Here is a step-by-step guide for how to edit a photo using the best free Photoshop alternative, PhotoDirector.

Download by clicking the link below and follow along:

How to Crop a Photo

  1. Open PhotoDirector, then click Organize and Adjust. Under the Library tab, click either Import or Stock Photos and choose your image. 
  2. Click Adjust from the top menu.
  3. Click on the Crop icon, the first icon under Regional Adjustment Tools.
  4. PhotoDirecter - Aspect Ratio
  5. Choose an aspect ratio from the drop-down menu or enter a custom one.
  6. You can also crop using the box around your image in the preview box.

    PhotoDirecter - Crop Box

How to Rotate a Photo

  1. Launch PhotoDirector and choose either the Edit or Organize and Adjust interfaces. Import an image, then click Photo from the top menu of your browser.
  2. Click Rotate Left or Rotate Right. Continue clicking until the preferred result is achieved.
  3. PhotoDirecter - Rotate

How to Add Filters to a Photo

  1. Launch PhotoDirector and open the Organize and Adjust interface. Import your photo.
  2. Click Adjust, then Presets.
  3. Click on a category and view the thumbnails of your photo with different filters. Click the one you like to apply it to the photo.
  4. PhotoDirecter - Presets

How to Adjust Colors in a Photo

  1. Launch PhotoDirector and open the Organize and Adjust interface. Import your photo.
  2. Click Adjust, then Manual.
  3. Scroll through the Global Adjustment tools.
  4. PhotoDirecter - Global Adjustment
  5. Make your color adjustments.
  6. PhotoDirecter - RBG Curve
  7. When you are done, continue editing or click the blue Export button.

For more information on how to edit photos with PhotoDirector, click here.

Download the Best Alternative to Photoshop for Free

Many people mistakenly believe that Photoshop is the only decent software to edit photos. Some may even be surprised to learn how many high-quality free alternatives to Photoshop exist that outperform Photoshop on several fronts.

If you’re looking for a free Photoshop alternative, we recommend PhotoDirector Essential. It is an all-around incredible editing program with a wide range of features and a user-friendly interface. PhotoDirector Essential allows you to create clean, high-quality, professional-level photos at the touch of a button, making it the best free Photoshop alternative on the market. PhotoDirector has the added bonus of being a superb Lightroom alternative as well, with AI-powered photo management and powerful local and global adjustments. It’s a one-stop shop for photographers who need a user-friendly, free alternative to Photoshop and Lightroom.  

Click the link below and download PhotoDirector Essential - the best free Photoshop alternative - and experience how easy professional photo editing can be.

Free Photoshop Alternative FAQ

1. Why choose an alternative to Photoshop?

We recommend PhotoDirector as the best free Photoshop alternative available today. 

But why choose a free Photoshop alternative? 

Adobe Photoshop is a photo editing and manipulation software and is the industry standard for digital art. It is used by many professional photographers and graphic designers, but not by many amateurs or hobbyists because of its high price tag and learning curve.

If you are a photo editing or graphic design novice, you may not want to pay big bucks to edit photos. Even professionals on a budget would prefer finding high-quality software with a lower price tag. You’ll also want software you can use right out of the box, rather than spending months learning how to use it. 

Fortunately, there are low-price and even free Photoshop alternatives with similar professional features and quality. Many of these options are also beginner-friendly.

2. What features should I look for in a free Photoshop alternative?

The top ten features you should look for in a free Photoshop alternative are 

  1. User-Friendliness
  2. Organizational tools
  3. Color correction and filters
  4. AI-Powered tools
  5. Content-Aware editing
  6. Photo animation
  7. Beauty retouching
  8. Photo effects
  9. Sky replacement
  10. Overlay abilities

If you’re looking to edit photos with a free Photoshop alternative that checks all of these boxes, we recommend PhotoDirector.

3. What are the best free Photoshop alternatives for Mac?

The best free Photoshop alternatives for Macs are 

  1. PhotoDirector Essential
  2. Photoscape X
  3. Pixelmator Pro
  4. Fotor
  5. Pixlr

To learn more about these free Photoshop alternatives, click here

4. How do I edit photos for free if I don’t have Photoshop?

Use PhotoDirector Essential to edit photos for free. Check out How to Photoshop Pictures Without Photoshop for some great tips and techniques to edit photos with a free alternative to Photoshop.

5. Should I pay for an alternative to Photoshop?

Though some free Photoshop alternatives like PhotoDirector Essential offer advanced features, it is rare, and they typically don't create the best results. If you’re looking for a true alternative to Photoshop you will benefit from paying for a quality photo editor. 

PhotoDirector Essential allows you to try out the premium features in PhotoDirector 365 for free for 30 days. Then you can decide if the free version is enough for your needs or if you want to upgrade.

6. Is there anything like Photoshop but free?

Our top free alternative to Photoshop is PhotoDirector Essential because it is loaded with advanced layer editing features, but also AI-powered tools and design elements that Photoshop lacks.

7. How can I download Photoshop for free without paying?

We recommend downloading PhotoDirector Essential, a free Photoshop alternative.  

You can download Photoshop and edit photos for free for 7 days, but after that, you have to cancel or get charged $21 a month. 

8. Is there a free version of Photoshop?

We recommend PhotoDirector Essential as a free Photoshop alternative. 

Photoshop does not offer a free version.

9. How much does it cost to get Photoshop?

Photoshop costs $20.99 per month on its own, or $54.99 per month as part of Adobe’s Creative Cloud (which includes Photoshop, Illustrator, Lightroom, Premiere Pro, After Effects, and more). These prices are only with an annual subscription, and if you don’t want an annual commitment, the prices rise to $31.49/month and $82.49/month respectively.

Adobe Stock images are also not included, even in the Creative Cloud suite. A subscription to Adobe Stock is an additional $29.99/month for 10 standard assets, $49.99/month for 25 standard assets, and so on.

This is why many photo editors are looking for free alternatives to Photoshop.

10. What is the closest thing to Photoshop that's free?

In our test, we found the closest free alternative to Photoshop was PhotoDirector Essential. And we mean close in terms of features, not in the learning curve, as PhotoDirector Essential is much easier to use.

11. What is a cheap alternative to Photoshop?

A cheap alternative to Photoshop is PhotoDirector, the premium version of PhotoDirector Essential. It costs a fifth of what Photoshop costs for similar features and a much smaller learning curve.

12. What is Apple equivalent to Photoshop?

PhotoDirector  is the closest equivalent of Photoshop which is made exclusively for Macs.

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