The Best Free Adobe Photoshop Alternatives

Looking for free alternatives to resource-hogging and expensive Adobe Photoshop?

When it comes to photo and image editing/manipulation, there really isn’t a better application than Adobe Photoshop. Photographers and Creative studios will agree it’s the premier photo editing application Period.

Unfortunately, Photoshop also comes with a steep learning curve and a premium price tag, which is overkill for most of us, considering we will never use 1/3 of the features packed into Photoshop.  With that in mind, let’s look at some of the free Online and Client Installable applications available on the internet.  The options are vast, so I narrowed my review to only the best online and installable image editors.

Photoshop Express

Truly interesting. Maybe the only Photoshop alternative is another Photoshop? It could be, but this one is online, and it’s free. To use Photoshop Express, you need to make a free registration here, and that’s about it. You can immediately start editing images and even videos afterward. The interface is straightforward, but maybe it’s just too simplified to be called an editor that is worthy of the title “Photoshop Alternative.”

Photoshop Express


Pixlr is an online editor that doesn’t even need registration. Just go to and start editing right away. Pixlr comes the closest to the Photoshop interface, and anyone who has used Photoshop before will immediately be able to do wonders with Pixlr in just a few clicks. It’s easy to work with layers, and you even have a history window very similar to the one in Photoshop. Overall, Pixlr is truly a Photoshop Alternative worth taking a look at.



Canva is an awesome online platform for creating minimal designs in seconds. With hundreds of readily available templates, you can create a Facebook cover, Instagram post, business card, photo collage, and more. To get started, you need to visit the website and create a profile—it’s a simple as that. Although there are no layers and the available filters are highly limited, it’s safe to say that Canva has been simplified in the best way possible. If you’re looking for a WYSIWYG editor that can get you fast and beautiful results, you’ve just found it.

canva online design graphic design photoshop alternative minimal

Sumo Paint

Sumo Paint can be used both online and on a PC. The PC version, called Sumo Paint Pro, will cost you money, but the cost is only 19 Euro, and you get a whole lot of neat features. (You can find the online editor here.) The online editor is awesome in every possible aspect. Great for regular drawings, yet very powerful for extreme touchups, thanks to the huge filter variety. The tools are also very impressive; for example, the symmetry tool can bring you astonishing results in just a few clicks. At one point of view, Sumo Paint even delivers things we don’t have in Photoshop, which is amazing. All in all, Sumo Paint is perhaps the best Photoshop Alternative of all time!

Sumo Paint

Aviary Phoenix

It’s not too bad, yet not that good. Aviary Phoenix is somewhere in the middle. It offers good filters and great layer management, yet somehow it feels incomplete because there aren’t enough tools to use, and the interface has a somewhat basic feel. Although all these minuses, it’s still pretty good to do some hardcore editing, as shown below.

Aviary Phoenix Image Editor


Now let’s take a look at the local Client Installable Photo Editing applications. Like the online editors, there are several options available, and some are very good. Let’s take a look!


From the cloud to our machine – XnView is an installable application available for both Linux and Windows. It gives you an incredible amount of detail on each image, such as format, histogram, color profile, and EXIF data. Although good for viewing images, you won’t really be impressed by the editing capabilities of XnView. They are limited to only some basic touchups yet are good enough and easy to use. Overall, XnView is not really going to be your choice as a Photoshop Alternative but will surely become your primary program for viewing Photos.

XnView Image Editor


It’s safe to say Paint.NET is a good Photoshop Alternative, which we’ve spoken about on more than one occasion. Paint.NET, once you give it a whirl, gives you more than one might expect in the area of UI, features, and functionality. As you can see from the screenshot below, the editor is not online and is an installable free application. Paint.NET will probably come on our list right after Sumo Paint – the simplicity of the application is good enough, yet you still get filters, layers, tools, and everything else you’ll ever need. We’ll give this one a thumbs up.

Paint.Net Image Editor


Did I do it? Did I really leave the best for last? You could say so. Even though its tools differ from Photoshop tools, and even though things work a little differently, Gimp is the most successful and free Photoshop Alternative so far. You have your layers, your filters, your brushes, your tools…your everything. User simplicity is not so bad, but if you’re a Photoshop user, I guarantee you – if you try Gimp, you won’t even know how to deselect a selection…Gimp is available both for Windows and Linux machines, and with all of its popularity, it’s worth taking a look at.

Gimp Photo Editor


Whatever your taste, your needs – there will always be a photo editor that’s right for you. Undoubtedly, if you’re looking for something hardcore, you’ll choose Sumo Paint, Paint.NET, or Gimp, but if you’re looking for more basic and user-friendly image editing, give Picnik a try. Or why not draw a picture on CloudCanvas? Maybe you’ll want to play around with Photoshop Express. There are so many options, and the best part is they are all free.

The only thing left to do is to pick who is going to be your personal Photoshop Alternative!



  1. chewbie

    August 3, 2010 at 8:26 pm


  2. shockersh

    August 3, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    I’ve been a long time fan of Sumo Paint however for something quick and dirty, is installed on all my PC’s at work and home.

    Great list tho.

    • MrGroove

      August 4, 2010 at 4:19 pm

      I’ve always been a fan of due to it’s small footprint, ease of use and it does 90% of anything I need done. GIMP for me is like Photoshop, it’s awesome but more complex than I ever need. I’m a geek yes but it still intimidates me. ;)

      • DW96

        August 5, 2010 at 9:41 pm

        I’ve been using Photoshop for about 4 years and I have to say that there is no product like it. Photoshop is the one and only, and the icon you see up there at the top – I did it on Photoshop (lol).
        While doing the review I was most impressed by Sumo Paint, though. I think I’m actually going to buy the PRO version, it’s good because it’s lightweight and it could be your Photoshop-On-The-Go, this would be the BEST choice for a netbook or weaker laptop.

  3. marvin nubwaxer

    September 3, 2010 at 10:58 am

    it’s not free except pirated, but microsoft digital imaging is a lot easier to use than gimp, which, like photoshop, can take years to learn. i have used the microsoft digital imaging suite for 5 years and won’t even try anything else. no need.

    • MrGroove

      September 3, 2010 at 10:27 pm

      @Marvin – What version are you using? I did a few google searches and found this for free:

      The only problem is it looks like Microsoft discontinued the product line:

      I’m guessing they nuked the product line and moved the code over to the Windows Live Photo Gallery Tool –

  4. typo

    January 25, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    “price tag which for must of us is overkill”

  5. Kenneth E Lawson

    March 3, 2016 at 2:25 pm

    Where’s IrfanView?

  6. safri

    August 6, 2016 at 5:07 am

    Maybeee,, PRISMA is good. but its android appsss …hehee
    justtt suggest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


To Top