19 Free Photoshop Alternatives W/ Similar Features in 2024

Last Updated on Apr. 12, 2024 – 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 for your needs? Read on for some key things to look for when choosing a free alternative to Photoshop.


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. 


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.


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. 

pdr download

How We Test Free Photoshop Alternatives

We aim to bring you an unbiased list of the best free Photoshop alternatives. Here's how we effectively test and rank the software on our list.

Compile a List of Options

We gather all the software that fits our brief. In this case, photo editors with enough Photoshop-like functionality to be considered an alternative. They also need to have a free version or free trial, with a cheaper paid option than Photoshop.

Perform Hands-On Testing

We import the same photos into each free Photoshop alternative and edit photos with the same features so we can directly compare the results. We adjust colors, crop, resize, remove objects, and add text and image overlays. If there are AI-powered tools, we compare the accuracy. Then we edit photos with any additional or unique features not used in our direct comparison.

Compare Ease of Use

While performing these tests, we make note of the user interface on each free alternative to Photoshop. How easy was it to find the tools we needed? Is it outdated or cluttered? Is it clean, but too many tools are hidden? We also look to see if effects are applied manually, automatically, or both. How easy is it to create masks for local adjustments or remove specific objects?

Compare Feature Sets and Value

We make a list of all the features included in each free alternative to Photoshop. Some simply edit photos, while others include photo management and graphic design tools. We decide if the free Photoshop alternative is an all-in-one photo tool, or if users will need additional software for their photo workflow. Then we look at the price of the paid options and what you get at each price point to decide if the software is good value for money.

Online Research

We read user reviews across the internet to see what others are saying about the free Photoshop alternatives. If we see a complaint brought up time and again, we feel it is worth mentioning, even if we did not experience the issue during our test. If our results on a certain feature vary wildly from others, we will retest the feature to make sure there is no user error on our part.

Additional Considerations

Sometimes the free Photoshop alternatives are so similar, we have to rely on additional considerations to rank them. These include format support, stability, speed, and release/update schedule.

Best Free Photoshop Alternatives Comparison Chart

Product Best For Notable Feature Price Link
PhotoDirector Essential Users of all skill levels Extensive layer editing tools, including 27 layer blending modes, express layer templates, layer masks, and adjustment layers Free; Premium: $3.75/month
Free Download Secure Download
Pixelmator Pro Mac users Color adjustments layers for combining color edits and adjusting colors with precision 15-day free trial, then $49.99 Download
Photopea Intermediate users Various drawing tools to enhance photos or create graphic designs from scratch Free; Premium: $10 for 30 days, $15 for 90 days, or $50 for one year Try for Free Online
Capture One Color adjustments True-to-life color processing and Skin Tone Editor ensure a natural look in photos 30-day free trial; Desktop: $14.92/month Desktop, iPad, and iPhone: $21.58/month Perpetual License: $299 Download
Fotor Collages Circle Crop tool for instant profile pics Free Pro: $3.33/month Pro+: $7.49/month Try for Free Online
Pixlr E Quick edits Generative AI backgrounds for product shots Free; Plus: $0.99/month Premium: $4.90/month Teams: $9.91/month Try for Free Online
Photoscape X Batch editing Includes multiple ways to remove objects, including Magic Eraser, Lasso, and Brush Free; Pro: $39.99 Download
ON1 Photo Raw Filters Brilliance AI feature analyzes your image and enhances it based on subject 14-day free trial, then ON1 Everything: $7.50/month ON1 Everything Plus: $12.50/month Lifetime License: $99.99 Download
Canva Marketing Magic Grab AI allows you to click on any part of a photo and turn it into an editable graphic Free; Pro: $119.99/year Teams: $149.90/year Try for Free Online
Krita Digital painting Animation workspace with onion skinning support and a video timeline that supports 1,000 frames Free Download
PhotoPad Image upscaling Liquid Resize allows you to change the aspect ratio of an image without any quality loss Free; Home: $50 Pro: $60 or $3.88/month Download
Ashampoo Photo Optimizer Beginners Fix perspective distortions with Straighten Horizon tool Free; Premium: $12 Download
Paintshop Pro Graphic design Repair old or damaged photos with Scratch Remover, Noise Remover, and Fade Correction 30-day free trial, then $79.99 Download
Affinity Photo Layer editing Live Mesh Warp distorts an image to match the surface of an underlying template 30-day free trial, then $69.99 Download
DxO PhotoLab Photo processing Powerful lens corrections including Lens Softness, Distortion, Chromatic Aberration, and vignetting 30-day free trial; Essential: $139 Elite: $229 Download
Photo Pos Pro Adding text to photos Zoom Out Lens effect lets you adjust depth of field Free; Premium: $49.90 Download
Darktable Users who need a free Lightroom alternative Photo management features allow you to search images by tags, star ratings, color labels, and metadata Free Download
GIMP Linux users Image retouching with clone/healing tools Free Download
Exposure X7 Photo effects Apply effects locally using radial, planar, or half-planar gradients and adjust the opacity 30-day free trial, then $129 Download

PhotoDirector Essential vs

Best For

Users of all skill levels


Notable Feature

Extensive layer editing tools, including 27 layer blending modes, express layer templates, layer masks, and adjustment layers



Free; Premium: $3.75/month



Free Download Secure Download


The Best Free Photoshop Alternatives W/ Similar Features - Ranked

1. PhotoDirector Essential

Best For: Users of all skill levels

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.

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.

In a side-by-side test, we found PhotoDirector’s tools to be far more intuitive than Photoshop’s. With PhotoDirector, you can drag-and-drop assets into place, and edit photos with one-click, AI-powered tools. There are also Guided Edits, which walk you through complicated procedures step-by-step. We love that PhotoDirector also has manual adjustments and professional color tools, so advanced users can edit photos with Photoshop-like control if they desire. In recent months, PhotoDirector has added highly sought after generative AI tools, including a background generator for people and product shots. For these reasons, we think PhotoDirector Essential is today’s best free alternative to Photoshop.

  • Beginner-friendly, with AI-powered tools, guided edits, and an intuitive, clean UI
  • Includes professional editing tools and AI-powered Smart Collections for quick photo organization
  • Supports uncompressed and lossless RAW files and HDR images
  • World-renowned stock libraries only available with a subscription

Key Features:

  1. Generate AI images, stickers, and backgrounds with a text prompt
  2. Remove wrinkles, blemishes, shine, red-eye, and more with portrait retouching
  3. Edit photos withPhoto Animation Tools: and add movement to static images
  4. Adjust colors automatically or manually, apply filters and LUTs, or utilize color effects such as Color Splash or Replace


Windows, Mac

TopTenReviews Rating: 5/5

Price: Free
*Premium subscription available for $3.75/month

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

Best For: Mac users

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.

If you're looking for a layer-based, free alternative to Photoshop to edit photos with graphic design functionality, Pixelmator is a good option. Simple brushstrokes and AI tools allow you to edit specific areas of an image. Remove unwanted objects, clone parts of a photo, retouch, lighten or darken specific areas, and more. You can also create graphic designs with over 200 vector shapes.

Pixelmator is not an entirely free Photoshop alternative but offers a 15-day free trial. After the trial, the program is pretty affordable. It has recently added full HDR support, a selection of new templates, and support for Apple PDFs, which allows you to edit PDF layers. 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.

  • Multifunctional with tools for photography, illustration, graphic design, and painting
  • Optimized for Macs with support for Apple Silicon and advanced graphics technologies like Metal and Core Image
  • Not a completely free Photoshop alternative, only a limited free trial
  • Only available on Mac

Key Features:

  1. Vector files stay sharp no matter how much you manipulate them
  2. RAW image support from over 600 popular cameras
  3. Powerful, nondestructive color edits with multi-channel curves and wheel-based color balance



Capterra Rating: 4.8/5

Price: 15-day free trial, then $49.99

3. Photopea

Photopea Interface

Best For: Intermediate users

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. 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 expensive.

You can create graphic designs from scratch, use a template, a stock image, or your own photo. This free Photoshop alternative supports raster and vector graphics and lets you edit photos with a large selection of adjustments and filters. We were impressed with Photopea’s aspect ratio options. They are categorized by Social, Print, Photo, Screen, Mobile, Ads, and Square, with all the popular sizes listed in each category.

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.    

  • Large toolset available for free
  • No sign-up required
  • A lot of trial-and-error for beginners
  • Needs internet to function, and even with strong internet we experienced some glitches and freezing

Key Features:

  1. Edit photos with drawing tools, including various brushes and path selections
  2. Remove blemishes and other imperfections with healing and clone brushes
  3. Create a lovely one-click ombre effect with Gradient tools


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)

4. Capture One

Capture One Interface

Image from DCFever.

Best For: Color adjustments

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.Experience true-to-life color processing and an advanced color editor that is on par with Adobe Photoshop and even Adobe Lightroom. 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 enhance 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. You can edit photos with up to 16 layers and produce incredibly accurate masks with the Refine Mask and Feather Mask tools.

While it shares a similar price and learning curve with Photoshop, Capture One all-in-one solution and superior color editing tools make it a strong free Photoshop alternative for those seeking high-quality results and willing to invest time learning the software. It has a longer free trial than Photoshop (30 days compared to 7), but does not have a dedicated free version like other free alternatives to Photoshop on our list. If you need a beginner-friendly or completely free Photoshop alternative, we recommend PhotoDirector Essential.

  • Import photo ratings and tags in-tact from your camera and group similar photos automatically
  • Best-in-class tethering software with Live View support
  • Expensive after the 30-day free trial
  • Steep learning curve

Key Features:

  1. Easily create accurate skin tones with Uniformity sliders
  2. Automatically finds the best source point to cover up your target for quick object removal
  3. Quickly brush edits without creating a layer using Style Brushes


Windows, Mac

G2 Rating: 4.6/5

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

5. Fotor

Fotor Interface

Best For: Collages

Fotor is an easy-to-use, free Photoshop alternative for anyone who likes to make photo collages. Simply click on the number of photos, choose a layout, then add backgrounds, colors, text, and elements as needed. If you are in a hurry and prefer not to work from scratch, there are hundreds of pre-made collage templates in a variety of themes.

Beginners can edit photos with a range of effects and polishes with no experience necessary. Denoise, invert colors, and remove backgrounds with simple, one-click solutions and adjustment sliders. We also found it to be an excellent alternative to Photoshop for making profile pictures and custom avatars. It has AI Headshot and AI Avatar generators, plus a Circle Crop feature for turning any image into a profile pic. This free alternative to Photoshop also comes with AI art effects and a wide selection of beautification tools.

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. We moved it from #9 to #5 on our updated list thanks to an uptick in positive online reviews, although poor customer service is an ongoing complaint. It is similar to our #1 free alternative to Photoshop, PhotoDirector, however, Fotor lacks Photoshop-like layer editing, and its generative AI tools are not as accurate.

  • Easy to use, with an intuitive interface
  • AI-powered tools including photo effects, a background remover, and AI-generated content
  • Poor customer service
  • No layer editing

Key Features:

  1. Brush a part of your photo and replace it with an AI-generated image
  2. Increase image resolution automatically with AI Photo Enhance
  3. Remove objects from images in one click


Web Browser

Capterra Rating: 4.6/5

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

6. Pixlr E

Pixlr E Interface

Best For: Quick edits

Pixlr E is a free photo editor, graphic design tool, and batch editor for beginners and experienced editors in a time crunch. This free Photoshop alternative is available online, with no registration needed, just edit a photo directly on the site. The interface is streamlined and tools are easy to find. It even has options for different skill levels, so you can choose a quick, automated solution or spend time with manual adjustments.

The program comes with some professional features like advanced cutting tools, customizable brushes, animated elements, and skin retouch tools. This free Photoshop alternative is particularly beneficial for non-designers, with its templates for social media posts, ads, and other digital content.

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. It has also been recently updated to include trending AI tools and generative AI content. 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 $1 a month you have access to all the non-premium features with no ads and unlimited saves.

  • You can use the free version right away without signing up or downloading any software
  • 10,000+ templates to kick-start projects for non-designers
  • Can take a long time to render your image, especially if you’ve used a lot of effects
  • Intrusive ads in free version

Key Features:

  1. Generate AI images and backgrounds from text
  2. Swap the colors of individual items in your images with a variety of color effects
  3. Edit photos with painting, drawing, and pen tools in various styles


Web Browser

Capterra Rating: 4.5/5

Price: Free
*Premium subscriptions available for $0.99/month for Plus, $4.90/month for Premium, and $9.91/month for Teams

7. Photoscape X

Photoscape X Interface

Best For: Batch editing

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. It has several tabs dedicated to batch editing, such as Batch Resize, Batch Rename, and Batch Format Change. We liked that you can convert multiple images into a different format with one click.

This free Photoshop alternative also has pro-level color tools, similar to what you would find in Photoshop. Its unique color tools, like Point Color, Selective Color, and Replace Color, provide users with the flexibility to make precise color adjustments. The software offers a feature-rich free version with an abundance of creative assets, such as borders, frames, stickers, and text.

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. Photoscape hasn’t been updated since 2022, and therefore lacks trending AI-powered features. For a free Photoshop alternative that is updated monthly, try PhotoDirector.

  • Batch editing features save valuable time
  • Feature-rich free version
  • Can lag or freeze if handling multiple RAW files
  • Quality decreases when saving files

Key Features:

  1. Remove objects or backgrounds using Magic Eraser, Brush Tool, or Lasso Tool
  2. Combine images or create photo collages
  3. Edit photos with creative assets like borders, frames, stickers, and text


Windows, Mac

TechRadar Rating: 4.5/5

Price: Free
*Pro version available for $39.99

8. ON1 Photo Raw

ON1 Photo Raw Interface

Best For: Filters

ON1 Photo RAW is an excellent free alternative to Photoshop if you like to apply filters to your photos. Filters are easy to find and use on the software and can be applied to an entire image or only a specific area using the Super Select AI Masking tool. ON1 has curated hundreds of the most popular styles of filters, textures, and borders that can be combined, blended, and customized to your liking.

This free alternative to Photoshop offers AI enhancement tools like Brilliance AI, AI Noise Reduction, AI Sharpening and AI Skin Retouching. It is also a RAW image processor, with automatic lens correction and AI Match which will match your photos to the way they look on your camera’s display.

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. It has moved up our list from #15 to #8 because it has released its 2024 edition, which brings with it better performance and speed, and a new UI that makes it easier to switch between editing and organization. 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. 

  • Photoshop-style layers, masks, and blend modes
  • AI photo management, adjustments, and editing all in one
  • Content-aware and selection tools are not always accurate
  • Confusing and crowded interface

Key Features:

  1. Replace skies with 231 replacements or import your own
  2. Fill the edges of your image with content-aware crop
  3. Combine multiple images with focus stacking, HDR images, and panorama stitching


Windows, Mac

Life After Photoshop Rating: 4.5/5

Price: 14-day free trial, then $7.50/month for ON1 Everything, $12.50/month for ON1 Everything Plus, or $99.99 for a Lifetime License

9. Canva

Canva Free Interface

Best For: Marketing

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 design assets, allowing users to create a variety of marketing materials, from social media posts to business cards.

Canva has over 250,000 free templates to help jump-start your designs, or you can start with a blank slate. Create a logo for your brand, or upload your own logos, brand colors, and fonts into the program. Upload your photos to turn into invites, business cards, ads, social media posts, and many more, or choose from over 100,000 free photos and graphics.

Like many of the free alternatives to Photoshop on this list, Canva has recently added a large selection of AI-powered tools and generative AI features although most of these are only available with a subscription. And 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 similarly-rated Capture One, Pixlr E, and Photoscape X because they are more feature-rich in the editing department. We recommend PhotoDirector as a better free Photoshop alternative because it is a photo editing software that also has fun design assets and creative tools for social media.

  • Excellent team collaboration tools
  • Tons of free design assets
  • Brand kits, team collaboration, background remover, and generative AI features are only available with a subscription
  • Only a few basic tools to edit photos

Key Features:

  1. Remove image backgrounds in one click
  2. Brush over an area, then type in what you want to generate and watch it magically appear
  3. Edit photos in batches for a consistent look


Windows, Mac, Web Browser

PCMag Rating: 4.5/5

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

8. Krita

Krita Interface

Image from The Web Factor.

Best For: Digital painting

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.

Krita has erasers for removing an entire character, smoothing thin lines, or fading in or out of a drawing, and erasers match your brushes to keep textures in tact. It comes with drawing assistants and drawing aids to help with specific shapes, and grids to help with perspective. In addition, there’s a Wrap-Around Mode for creating seamless textures and patterns and a full Animation Studio with onion skinning and an export-to-video option.

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 brush engines and over 100 brush types
  • Similar interface to Photoshop and completely customizable
  • Few photo editing tools
  • No plug-in support

Key Features:

  1. Correct a shaky hand with the brush stabilizer
  2. Draw on one side of the mirror-line and automatically copy the results on the other side
  3. Create layer groups and assign colors to groups or individual layers


Windows, Mac, Linux

G2 Rating: 4.4/5

Price: Free

11. PhotoPad

PhotoPad Interface

Best For: Image upscaling

PhotoPad is a beginner-friendly, free alternative to Photoshop, and an excellent choice if you need to resize images without loss of quality. Change aspect ratios with no distortion using Liquid Resize, or upscale images losslessly with Super Resolution. You can also edit photos with image sharpening and noise reduction tools to further enhance your photos and make them ready to share, post, or print.

PhotoPad is a non-destructive image editor that supports RAW images, multi-exposure HDR photos, and layer editing. It has more tools than you’d expect in a free Photoshop alternative, including general and regional adjustments, graphic design tools, portrait retouching, and background/object removal.

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. Since our last review, PhotoPad has considerably lowered the prices of its paid versions. We found this free alternative to Photoshop has a wide range of functions, however, 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.

  • Beginner-friendly
  • Wide format support
  • Patchy automatic tools
  • Light on advanced features

Key Features:

  1. Automatically colorize black-and-white images
  2. Choose from a wide selection of clipart, fonts, drawing tools, borders, and collage grids
  3. Convert your images into cross-stitch patterns, paint-by-numbers, or oil paintings


Windows, Mac

G2 Rating: 4.1/5

Price: Free
*Premium subscription available for $3.88/month, or Lifetime Licenses available for $50 for Home and $60 for Pro

12. Ashampoo Photo Optimizer

Ashampoo Photo Optimizer Interface

Best For: Beginners

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.

This free Photoshop alternative still has all the tools a beginner could want. As its name suggests, Ashampoo Photo Optimizer will instantly optimize your photos and fix exposure, colors, and contrasts. You can also manually adjust the color temperature. We liked using this program to fix perspective distortions and straighten horizons, which it achieved in only a few clicks.

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. 

  • Very easy to use, and all the tools are front-and-center
  • Does not use up computer resources
  • 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. Utilize multiple photo effects such as waves, swirls, implosion, and explosion
  3. Adjust colors with tonal curve adjustments
  4. Fix red eyes, whiten teeth, fix minor glitches, and remove stains or blemishes



CNET Rating: 4.1/5

Price: Free
*Premium version available for $12

13. Paintshop Pro

Paintshop Pro Interface

Best For: Graphic design

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. 

AI photo enhancement, lens correction tools, a straightening tool for crooked horizons, and perspective correction are all features offered in this free alternative to Photoshop. There are also essential tools to edit photos like crop and resize. We found it easy to crop with composition guides (including the golden ratio and rule of thirds) and we were able to resize images in several ways (by pixels, percentage, or print size).

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. 

  • Includes photo management and Smart Collections
  • Customizable interface
  • Runs slow at times
  • Lack of manual control over instant effects

Key Features:

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



PCMag Rating: 4/5

Price: 30-day free trial, then $79.99

14. Affinity Photo

Affinity Photo Interface

Best For: Layer editing

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. 

This free alternative to Photoshop is faster, with fewer crashes than its Adobe counterpart. Affinity has a few digital painting options with an extensive library of brushes and Magic Wand, Marquee, or Lasso tools to make ultra-precise selections. You can also edit photos with Portrait retouching tools like skin retouch and blemish removal.

Affinity Photo offers fewer tools to edit photos than Photoshop, but the ones it does have work better. It has been very recently updated with support for 50 new camera models and 32-bit HDR PNG. 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.s

  • Live real-time editing, wide format support, maximum refresh rate, and instant loading of huge files make it a great free Photoshop alternative for professionals
  • Unlimited layers for complex compositions
  • Lacks photo organization
  • Slight learning curve

Key Features:

  1. Increase depth-of-field with Focus Merge
  2. Nondestructively combine multiple mask layers
  3. Import brushes, create custom brushes, or choose from an extensive built-in library


Windows, Mac

Digital Camera World Rating: 4/5

Price: 30-day free trial, then $69.99

15. DxO PhotoLab

DxO PhotoLab Interface

Best For: Photo processing

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. 

Automatic lens corrections are another way DxO PhotoLab is a fantastic free Photoshop alternative. The software compensates for every lens fault imaginable, fixing sharpness, distortion, chromatic aberrations, vignetting, etc. PhotoLab also offers precise handling of control points with adjustable sensitivity levels and local adjustment options.

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 multi-photo features like HDR, panorama, and focus stacking.  

  • Intuitive local adjustments 
  • Most advanced RAW image processor on our list
  • Same high learning curve as Photoshop
  • Good corrections and adjustments, but not many creative features or effects

Key Features:

  1. Set your own Clone and Repair sources with the ReTouch tool
  2. Apply B&W, sepia, or classic analog film renderings to photos
  3. Use ClearView Plus adjustments to reduce haze and enhance contrast


Windows, Mac

PCMag Rating: 4/5

Price: 30-day free trial, then $139 for Essential and $229 for Elite

16. Photo Pos Pro

Photo Pos Pro Interface

Best For: Adding text to photos

Photo Pos Pro is a great free Photoshop alternative, especially if you need to add text to images or create graphic designs. It has a wide selection of font styles, brushes, and effects, including textured pens like gel, chrome, and metal, plus text-over-path effects. It’s great for both beginners and pros because it offers 2 modes - Novice and Expert.

This free alternative to Photoshop has some unique photo effects such as “pop-out of picture,” pencil sketch, dispersion, and various motion effects. Photo Pos Pro supports RAW files and has a wide range of uses, from creating graphic design projects from scratch to retouching portraits.

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. 

  • Excellent for graphic design tools
  • Feature-rich free version and affordable paid option
  • Difficult to switch between automatic and manual options
  • Expert Mode has a steep learning curve

Key Features:

  1. Erase a partial background with Magic Eraser, or remove the entire background
  2. Smart magnetic selection and smart select brush help you easily choose items and create masks
  3. Instantly change your photo’s depth with the Zoom Out Lens Effect



TechRadar Rating: 4/5

Price: Free
*Premium version available for $49.90

17. Darktable

Darktable Interface

Best For: Users who need a free Lightroom alternative

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.   

You can also edit photos with this free alternative to Photoshop and Lightroom. It offers masking and blending tools, as well as advanced color tools, hot pixel fixes, and noise removal. The program offers many learning tools such as user forums and video tutorials, and supports 21 languages. Darktable supports tethered shooting and RAW image processing for over 400 cameras - both of which are rare in open-source software.

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. 

  • Clean, simple interface
  • High-quality RAW processing
  • It is missing key organizational features like creating collections
  • Can crash or lag with large files

Key Features:

  1. Lightning-fast image operations with OpenCL support
  2. Apply lens corrections to straighten horizons
  3. Create cool effects with the Liquify tool


Windows, Mac, Linux

TrustedBay Rating: 4/5

Price: Free

18. GIMP

GIMP Interface

Image from Davies Media Design on Youtube.

Best For: Linux users

GIMP stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program, and was created first and foremost for GNU/Linux users. It is one of the most compatible free Photoshop alternatives on our list, and can also be used on OpenBSD, NetBSD, FreeBSD, Solaris, SunOS, AIX, HP-UX, Tru64, Digital UNIX, OSF/1, IRIX, OS/2, and BeOS. It is also available to Windows and Mac users, including support for Apple Silicon and Windows 11. GIMP is a wonderful free Photoshop alternative for graphic designers, photographers, or illustrators.

This free alternative to Photoshop offers high-quality image manipulation with retouching and restoring tools. Other features include cropping, noise reduction, gradients, color adjustment tools, and filters. Professionals will enjoy the more advanced features like bezier curves, layer masks, and animation tools.

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, so beginners may want an easier option like PhotoDirector or Pixlr E.  

  • A great community and constant improvements
  • Support for plug-ins
  • Steep learning curve
  • Unintuitive interface

Key Features:

  1. Create your own brushes for a variety of unique looks
  2. Get rid of unneeded details and perform minor touch-ups with clone/healing tools
  3. Automatically enhance color, equalize, white balance, and stretch contrast


Windows, Mac, Linux

PCMag Rating: 3.5/5

Price: Free

19. Exposure X7

Exposure X7 Interface

Best For: Photo effects

Exposure X7 is a beginner-friendly free Photoshop alternative and Photoshop effects plug-in. Apply effects to only a portion of your image using radial, planar, or half-planar gradients and adjust the opacity. Effects like film grain, bokeh, light hits, vignettes, and overlays can be blended together in a number of ways using this free Photoshop alternative.

We liked the program’s composition guides including golden ratio, golden spiral, golden triangle, and diagonal, which helped with image cropping. This free alternative to Photoshop also includes excellent selection tools, including a polygonal selection tool and various brush tools.

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. 

  • Nice interface and easy-to-use tools
  • Allows you to import Lightroom folders and keep the metadata intact
  • It takes a long time to start
  • Some features are low-quality

Key Features:

  1. Includes overlays such as borders, textures, and light effects, plus overlay blend modes
  2. Profile-guided noise reduction based on camera sensor
  3. Apply effects and presets to a specific area with nondestructive local adjustments


Windows, Mac

PCMag Rating: 3.5/5

Price: 30-day free trial, then $129

What is the Best Alternative to Photoshop?

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. Pixelmator Pro
  3. Photopea
  4. Capture Oner
  5. Fotor

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 $24 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 $23.99 per month on its own, or $59.99 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 and a great free Photoshop alternative for Macs.

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