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13 Best Free Photoshop Alternatives With Similar Features in 2022

Last Updated on Jul. 1, 2022 – by Jayed Miah
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Best Alternatives to Photoshop

If you've ever tried editing photos with Photoshop, you know how intimidating and complicated the software can be. Many people consider Photoshop the best photo editor, 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 fast, easy-to-use editing programs that allow them to navigate tools and features quickly to post more photos in less time. Thankfully, several excellent Photoshop-like programs offer similar features without the high price tag and steep learning curve. In addition, each of these programs features a unique interface and a wide selection of tools. 

This article introduces the 13 best free Photoshop alternatives and compares their features, benefits, and drawbacks.


Top 3 Free Photoshop Alternatives Snapshot

PhotoDirector Logo

1. PhotoDirector Essential - Best Overall

PhotoDirector Essential is the best overall free Photoshop alternative on the market because it features easy-to-use tools like masks, layers, graphic design tools, AI-powered tools, and more for beginners and advanced users alike. Templates, presets, and guided edits make it easy for anyone to make Photoshop-worthy creations for free. More Info >

Pixelmator Pro Logo

2. Pixelmator Pro - Best for Mac Users

Pixelmator Pro is a great free Photoshop alternative for 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. Capture One - Best for Color Adjustments

Capture One is an alternative to Photoshop for professionals that offers true-to-life color processing and accurate masking tools. More Info >

Why Choose an Alternative to Photoshop?

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 for photo editing software. Even professionals or home users on a budget would prefer finding high-quality software with a lower price tag. You also probably 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. We have compiled a list of Photoshop alternatives that are either free or offer a free trial, so you can decide which alternative is right for your needs and skill level. 

13 Best Free Photoshop Alternatives for Graphic Design in 2022

1. PhotoDirector Essential - Best Overall

PhotoDirector Interface

Compatibility: Windows, Mac

TopTenReviews Rating: 5/5

Price: Free
*Premium subscription available for $3.42/month

Key Features:

  1. Background and sky replacement
  2. Beautification tools
  3. Advanced color replacement
  4. Light rays effects

PhotoDirector Essential is the best overall free Photoshop alternative on our list because it is a user-friendly, modern photo editor with a range of powerful tools and features. You can create professional-level images in just a few seconds with PhotoDirector's easy-to-learn tools. In addition, this software offers all of the essential importing, editing, and sharing options an amateur could want, along with several advanced features you won't find in Photoshop.

Many beginners shy away from layer editing with Photoshop because it seems too complicated. However, PhotoDirector's easy-to-use interface makes layer editing a breeze, allowing beginners to add images, text, shapes, and digital objects in perfect cohesion. PhotoDirector makes it easy to learn how to use layers to your advantage with 27 layer-blending modes, express layer templates, frame template packs, and a range of simple selection tools. Achieve hair-splitting detail with layer filtering and masks.

First-time users can jump right into editing with PhotoDirector Essential without spending time learning complicated editing procedures or managing hard-to-use tools. It also includes many features that go above and beyond Photoshop's limited editing options. Unique features such as guided editing, video-to-photo integration, 360-degree editing, and photo animation tools make PhotoDirector Essential the best choice for a free Photoshop alternative.  

Pros
  • Beginner-friendly
  • Professional-level photo editing tools
Cons
  • Stock content only available with a paid subscription

Download the best alternative to Photoshop - PhotoDirector Essential- for free today and start making studio-quality edits.


2. Pixelmator Pro - Best for Mac Users

Pixelmator Pro Interface

Compatibility: Mac

Capterra Rating: 4.8/5

Price: 15-day free trial, then $19.99

Key Features:

  1. Drawing and painting tools
  2. RAW photo editing
  3. Comparison slider
  4. Nondestructive edits

Pixelmator Pro is the best free Photoshop alternative for Mac users because of its complete macOS integration. Pixelmator supports Side Car, Apple Pencil, Universal Clipboard, Magic Mouse, Magic Trackpad, macOS Handoff, Apple Script, Spotlight, Quick Look, Apple Fonts, and Apple Color Windows. Pull and share images with other Mac apps like Mail, Messages, AirDrop, Notes, and Photos. You can even pull still images from your FaceTime camera or open photos taken in Portrait mode in masks. The software contains all the default macOS menus and shortcuts to make photo editing quick and painless.    

If you're looking for a simple, base-level alternative to Photoshop with graphic design functionality, Pixelmator is a good choice. 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, etc. You can also create graphic designs with over 200 vector shapes with Pixelmator. 

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 easy to use and offers a broad arsenal of editing tools. However, it lacks some advanced features you would expect in programs of its kind. If you desire more advanced tools, try our #1 choice, PhotoDirector Essential.

Pros
  • Beginner-Friendly
  • Flexible user interface
Cons
  • Lacks advanced features
  • Not compatible with Windows devices

3. Capture One - Best for Color Adjustments

Capture One Interface

Image from DCFever.

Compatibility: Windows, Mac

G2 Rating: 4.6/5

Price: 30-day free trial, then $24/month

Key Features:

  1. RAW image converter
  2. Organizational tools
  3. Dehaze
  4. Before and After tool

Capture One is an alternative to Photoshop that specializes in precise color adjustments. Experience true-to-life color processing and an advanced color editor that is on par with Adobe Photoshop and even Adobe Lightroom. Edit only specific colors in your image with 8 color ranges (the standard for photo editing software is 6). 

Apply up to 16 layers and apply incredibly accurate masks with the Refine Mask and Feather Mask tools. There are multi-imaging tools to merge, stitch, and create breathtaking panorama shots. 

If you need an alternative to Photoshop, Capture One has many similar features and delivers the same high-quality results. Capture One offers a 30-day free trial but then is about the same price as Photoshop, with a very similar learning curve. If you are looking for an alternative to Photoshop that is beginner and budget-friendly, try PhotoDirector. 

Pros
  • Fast rendering
  • High-Quality output
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Steep learning curve

4. Pixlr E - Best for Quick Edits

Pixlr E Interface

Compatibility: Web Browser

Capterra Rating: 4.5/5

Price: Free
*Premium subscriptions available for $4.90/month and $14.99/month for the Creative Pack

Key Features:

  1. Pop-Art effects
  2. Precision color adjustments
  3. Layer editing
  4. Painting and drawing tools

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, simply go to the site and start editing. 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. Pixlr E comes with a large selection of design templates for every kind of social media post, as well as ads, invites, blogs, and even podcast covers. 

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.

Pros
  • No need to download software
  • User-Friendly interface
Cons
  • Slow rendering
  • Intrusive ads

5. Photoscape X - Best for Batch Editing

Photoscape X Interface

Compatibility: Windows, Mac

TechRadar Rating: 4.5/5

Price: Free
*Pro version available for $39.99

Key Features:

  1. Light Leaks
  2. Stickers, filters and text
  3. Merge/Crop/Combine photos
  4. Spot healing brush

Photoscape X is a free Photoshop Alternative with multiple 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 an abundance of color tools, similar to what you would find in Photoshop. There’s a gradient map for precise color changes, Point Color, that will highlight one color and make the rest of the image black and white (similar to PhotoDirector’s Color Splash tool), Selective Color which changes the vibrancy of each color you choose, and Replace Color for replacing one color with another throughout your photo. 

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. 

Pros
  • Batch editing
  • Beginner-Friendly
Cons
  • Freezes if handling multiple RAW files
  • Quality decreases when saving files

6. Krita - Best for Digital Painting

Krita Interface

Image from The Web Factor.

Compatibility: Windows, Mac, Linux

G2 Rating: 4.4/5

Price: Free

Key Features:

  1. Color management
  2. Shapes tools
  3. Raster graphics editing tool
  4. Layer management

Krita is our choice as the best free Photoshop alternative for digital painting because it has 100 different brush types and more that are constantly being added by the open-source community. There are also nine brush engines, a brush stabilizer, and various brush smoothing tools. Krita has erasers for removing an entire character, smoothing thin lines, or fading in or out of a drawing. It comes with drawing assistants and drawing aids to help with drawing specific shapes or creating a grid for drawing perspective.   

This free Photoshop alternative is used in various ways such as digital painting, pixel art, 3D texturing, and comic inking, making it a solid free photoshop alternative. It has built-in vector tools to create comic panels and word bubble templates so that you can give those comics a voice. 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 completely customizable, with features such as light and dark themes. While this is an excellent choice for digital painters, comic book illustrators, and animators, Krita lacks simple photo editing options. If you are looking for a free Photoshop alternative to manipulate photos, try PhotoDirector Essential.

Pros
  • Excellent brush options
  • Familiar and flexible interface
Cons
  • Lacks photo editing options
  • No plug-in support

7. GIMP - Best Open-Source Alternative to Photoshop

GIMP Interface

Image from Davies Media Design on Youtube.

Compatibility: Windows, Mac, Linux

G2 Rating: 4.3/5

Price: Free

Key Features:

  1. Graphic design tools
  2. Customizable brushes
  3. Auto image enhancement tools
  4. Original artwork creation

According to our research, GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is the best open-source, free Photoshop alternative. It is constantly being improved like other open-source editors, and any bugs are swiftly found and dealt with. GIMP outshines other open-source software through its support for plug-ins (some pre-installed and others downloadable) made accessible by the GIMP online community. GIMP comes loaded with tutorials, and the community is always on hand to answer any questions.     

GIMP is a wonderful free Photoshop alternative for graphic designers, photographers, or illustrators. It 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. 

Like Photoshop, GIMP comes packed with advanced tools, but for free. The program’s interface is cluttered but fully customizable. There is a learning curve similar to Photoshop, so beginners should try an easier-to-use option like PhotoDirector or Pixlr E. 

Pros
  • Constantly improved
  • Plug-in support
Cons
  • Steep learning curve
  • Cluttered interface

8. Paintshop Pro - Best for Graphic Design

Paintshop Pro Interface

Compatibility: Windows

PCMag Rating: 4/5

Price: 30-day free trial, then $79.99

Key Features:

  1. Multiple workspaces
  2. Picture-to-painting tools
  3. 360-degree editing
  4. Camera RAW lab

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 straighten tool for crooked horizons, and perspective correction to change the angle of an image are all features offered in this alternative to Photoshop. Restore and repair old photos with scratch remover and fade correction. There are also essential tools like crop and resize. Easily crop with composition guides, including the golden ratio and rule of thirds. Resize in several ways, either by pixels, percentage, or print size. 

Paintshop Pro lacks some advanced features that professionals will want out of their photo-editing software. And even though its interface is user-friendly, it feels a little crowded, especially if you're new to the program. 

Pros
  • Powerful tools and effects
  • User-Friendly
Cons
  • Runs slow at times
  • Crowded interface

9. Canva Free - Best for Marketing

Canva Free Interface

Compatibility: Windows, Mac

G2 Rating: 4/5

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

Key Features:

  1. Background remover
  2. Intuitive text editing
  3. Free cloud storage
  4. Autofocus

Canva Free is a free Photoshop alternative for all your marketing and branding needs. It’s a perfect solution for small businesses with no experience in graphic design because it is simple enough for anyone to use. 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. 

This alternative to Photoshop also comes with excellent team features, where you can invite members, collaborate, and comment on projects in real-time. Upload your own photos to turn into invites, business cards, ads, social media posts, and many more, or choose from over 100,000 free photos and graphics. 

While we love Canva for graphic design and marketing, it doesn’t really compare to Photoshop in terms of photo editing tools. However, since it is free, Canva could be a good design tool to use alongside one of our more feature-rich photo editors like PhotoDirector.  Although they have the same rating, we placed Canva above DxO PhotoLab because it is more user-friendly, but below Paintshop Pro because of its lack of advanced photo editing tools. 

Pros
  • Team collaboration tools
  • Tons of free templates and design assets
Cons
  • Best tools require a subscription
  • Lacks professional photo editing tools

10. DxO PhotoLab - Best for Photo Processing

DxO PhotoLab Interface

Compatibility: Windows, Mac

PCMag Rating: 4/5

Price: 30-day free trial, then $219

Key Features:

  1. Auto repair tool
  2. Spot removal tools
  3. Smart lighting adjustment options
  4. ClearView Plus dehaze tool

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. The technology can even fix 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 has a complex workflow which makes it challenging to find a specific photo at a glance or compare images across a photoshoot. The program offers a free trial of 30 days, but after the trial, it is pretty expensive (although it is just a one-time fee and not a subscription model like Photoshop). And while it has fantastic denoise and auto repair tools, it lacks other photo editing features. 

Pros
  • Excellent auto-correction
  • Fast image processing
Cons
  • Not user-friendly
  • Lacking a variety of features

11. ON1 Photo Raw - Best for Filters

ON1 Photo Raw Interface

Compatibility: Windows, Mac

PCMag Rating: 3.5/5

Price: 14-day free trial, then $99.99 for a full license

Key Features:

  1. Organizational tools
  2. Time-Lapse creator
  3. Liquify tool
  4. Non-destructive edits

ON1 Photo RAW is an excellent 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 only a specific area of your image using a brush 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 alternative to Photoshop offers AI tools like NoNoise, Sky Swap, and Retouching. It is also a RAW image processor, with automatic lens correction and AI Match which will match your photos to the way they looked on your camera’s display. 

ON1 Photo RAW is a professional and high-quality alternative to Photoshop, but it is just as difficult to use, and it takes up significant space on your hard drive, which can cause it to run slow. If you need a free Photoshop alternative that is light on computer resources, try a browser-based solution like Pixlr.

Pros
  • Compatible with Photoshop plug-ins
  • Maximum control over edits
Cons
  • Confusing interface
  • Steep learning curve

12. Exposure X7 - Best for Photo Effects

Exposure X7 Interface

Compatibility: Windows, Mac

PCMag Rating: 3.5/5

Price: 30-day free trial, then $129

Key Features:

  1. Portrait retouch tools
  2. Infrared tools
  3. Noise reduction
  4. Tone curve editing

Exposure X7 is a beginner-friendly, Photoshop effects plug-in that is also a sufficient stand-alone photo editor. 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. 

We liked the program’s composition guides including golden ratio, golden spiral, golden triangle, and diagonal, which helped with image cropping. It 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 for high-quality results worthy of an alternative to Photoshop, try PhotoDirector, DxO PhotoLab, or Capture One. 

Pros
  • User-Friendly interface
  • Nondestructive layer editing and local adjustments
Cons
  • Takes a long time to start
  • Some features are poor quality

13. Affinity Photo - Best for Layer Editing

Affinity Photo Interface

Compatibility: Windows, Mac

PCMag Rating: 3/5

Price: 90-day free trial, then $54.99

Key Features:

  1. Noise reduction
  2. RAW editing
  3. 360-degree image editing
  4. Panorama stitching

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. 

Like Photoshop, Affinity Photo is aimed at professional photographers and designers, but unlike Photoshop, it has a low learning curve. It is also 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. There are also Portrait retouching tools like skin retouch and blemish removal.  

Affinity Photo offers fewer tools than Photoshop, but the ones it does have work better. Its user interface looks almost identical to Photoshop, making it a nice alternative to Photoshop for users wanting a lower price tag. Affinity offers a free trial and an affordable price.   

Pros
  • Low learning curve
  • Unlimited layers
Cons
  • Lacking photo organization
  • No design templates included

Best Free Photoshop Alternatives Comparison Chart

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 editing a Photo using the best free Photoshop alternative, PhotoDirector.

Download it below and follow along:

How to Crop a Photo

  1. Open PhotoDirector, then choose Full Mode. Click the + next to Project, then Import Photos. 
  2. Find the photo you would like to edit and hit Open.
  3. Click Adjustment.
  4. Click on the Crop icon, the first icon under Regional Adjustment Tools.
  5. PhotoDirecter - Crop
  6. Choose an aspect ratio from the drop-down menu or enter a custom one.
  7. PhotoDirecter - Aspect Ratio

    You can also crop using the box around your image in the preview box.

    PhotoDirecter - Crop Box
  8. Hit Done under Regional Adjustment Tools to save your crop.

How to Rotate a Photo

  1. Add your image to the PhotoDirector Library.
  2. Find the Rotate icon underneath the image preview.
  3. PhotoDirecter - Rotate
  4. Click once to move right 90 degrees. Keep clicking until you are happy with your photo orientation.
  5. Continue editing or hit the Export Selected Photos icon to save and export your rotated photo
  6. PhotoDirecter - Export

How to Add Filters to a Photo

  1. Import your photo into the Photo Library.
  2. Click on Adjustment, 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
  5. Continue editing or click the Export Selected Photos icon to save it.

How to Adjust Colors in a Photo

  1. Import your photo into the Photo Library.
  2. Click Adjustments.
  3. Under the Manual Tab, scroll through the Global Adjustment tools.
  4. PhotoDirecter - Global Adjustment
  5. Make your color adjustments.
  6. For this image, we heightened the red tones by clicking on R in the RBG Curve and pulling up on the line on the graph. 

    PhotoDirecter - RBG Curve
  7. When you are done, continue editing or click the Export Selected Photos icon.

For more PhotoDirector tutorials, click here.

Download the Best Alternative to Photoshop for Free

Many people mistakenly believe that Photoshop is the only decent photo editor available. Some may even be surprised to learn how many high-quality 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 the button, making it the best Photoshop equivalent on the market. 

Download PhotoDirector Essential - the best free Photoshop alternative - and experience how easy professional photo editing can be.

Free Photoshop Alternative FAQ

1. What are the Best Free Photoshop Alternative Apps?

The best free photoshop alternative apps are:

  1. PhotoDirector App
  2. Pixlr
  3. PicsArt
  4. Snapseed
  5. Adobe Photoshop Camera

To learn more about the best free Photoshop alternatives for mobile, click here.

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 for 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. GIMP
  3. Fotor Photo Editor
  4. Pixelmator
  5. Photoscape X

4. How Do I Edit Photos for Free if I Don’t Have Photoshop?

Check out How to Photoshop Pictures Without Photoshop for some great tips and techniques for editing photos for free with an alternative to Photoshop.

5. Should I Pay for an Alternative to Photoshop?

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

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