Back in the day, Photoshop was the only photo editing software that was worth buying. To this day, it’s still a very popular tool among creative professionals — but there are now many worthy Photoshop alternatives to choose from.
Depending on what you want to achieve (and your budget), you might find that one of these alternative apps is better suited to your needs. The question is, which one should you choose?
In this guide, we’re going to look at the standout solutions for every type of photo editing.
Before we dive into the alternatives, it’s worth asking: should you actually be using Photoshop?
For creative professionals, Photoshop is certainly one of the more powerful options available on Windows and Mac. Adobe also produces a mobile version, although this is less of a standout product in a competitive market.
That said, there are now numerous apps that offer a similar set of tools on desktop. On mobile, many apps actually supersede the offering from Adobe.
It’s also worth considering what you need from your photo editor. While Photoshop is great for complex edits, the sheer amount of functionality means that simple jobs can take time. Furthermore, you’re going to need a pretty decent computer to keep the software running smoothly.
In contrast, some of the alternative image editors are more streamlined, or at least focused on a particular set of tasks. Many of these apps are also more affordable, and available on a wider range of platforms.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the better options now.
Whether you’re looking for a direct replacement for Photoshop or something more specialized, you have a wide world of apps to choose from. Here is our pick of the bunch:
If you’re not a designer by trade, Photoshop can seem pretty overwhelming. Pixelcut is the complete opposite.
This powerful mobile image editor uses AI technology to assist with various key tasks. The standout feature here is the cut-out tool, which lets you remove the background from any image and replace it with something better — useful for online retailers and keen selfie photographers.
Those users will also appreciate the one-click export presets for every big ecommerce platform, along with the eye-catching social media templates.
Pixelcut also allows you to clear away unwanted distractions, optimize the lighting and colors of your photos, add text, and slap on some stickers.
Most importantly, you can achieve all of this on your phone within a few minutes.
Platforms: iOS, Android, web
Pricing: Pro membership is $9.99/month, or $59.99/year
If saving money is your primary concern, Snapseed is probably your best option.
Maintained by Google, this free image editor has been around for many years, but it still feels pretty modern. The app contains a range of useful features, from local adjustments to one-tap filters.
The emphasis here is definitely on photography editing, rather than graphic design. But if that is your focus, Snapseed offers a lot for a completely free app with no adverts.
Platforms: iOS and Android
If you’re looking for a like-for-like Photoshop replacement, Affinity Photo definitely fits the bill.
This very polished image editor offers most of the same features you will find in Adobe’s flagship, including support for RAW files, packaged in a stylish interface.
Many creative professionals who dislike Adobe’s Creative Cloud pricing have turned to Affinity over the past few years, as the software is sold via a one-time purchase.
But bear in mind that this is a pro-level product that requires a significant amount of time investment to master.
Platforms: Windows, macOS, iPad
Pricing: One-time purchase of $54.99 on desktop and $11.99 on iPad
Love open source software? The GNU Image Manipulation Program, better known as GIMP, might be your ideal Photoshop replacement.
This free desktop software has been around for many years, thanks to a team of dedicated developers. It provides a good range of graphic design and photo editing tools, albeit presented in a clunky interface.
If you find Photoshop a bit daunting, GIMP isn’t going to solve that problem. But the app is free, and pretty powerful. Plus, you can get it on Linux.
Platforms: Linux, macOS, Windows
If your primary device is an underpowered Windows laptop or a Chromebook, Photoshop isn’t an option. Probably the next best thing is Photopea.
This browser-based photo editor is a pretty faithful rendition of Photoshop Elements, except a few years ago. It provides most of the features you would expect from a desktop image editor, including layers, selections, and brushes.
It’s probably not quite as powerful as GIMP overall, but Photopea is free to use, and accessible on a vast range of devices.
Available only on macOS, Pixelmator Pro is an app that offers similar features to Photoshop.
Aimed at creative professionals and skillful amateurs, this software is easy on the eye and surprisingly fast on Apple computers. It’s pretty affordable, as well.
There is a slight emphasis towards photo editing, with support for RAW files, but Pixelmator Pro also offers vector drawing tools, and some features that would suit UI designers.
If your design needs mainly revolve around creating marketing content, Canva is certainly worth a look.
This cross-platform app caters for the most basic image editing requirements, such as adding overlays to a photo. For such tasks, Canva is pretty intuitive, allowing marketing professionals to whip up social media posts and online flyers in a few minutes.
The downside is that you don’t have many tools to work with. If you need to tackle retouching or even basic photo editing, you will need to look elsewhere.
Platforms: Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, web
Pricing: Free with limited tools, premium plans from $119/user/year
While Photoshop is often used for altering digital images, it is also used for creating print designs. In this niche, PicMonkey is a viable alternative.
Launched back in 2012, this app was one of the very first online photo editors. Today, it’s available both on the web and on mobile, providing a range of basic photo editing tools.
The best features of PicMonkey relate to layouts. For instance, you can easily create simple collages, event invitations, and flyers, with relatively little effort.
Platforms: Web, iOS, Android
Pricing: From $7.99/month
Powered by machine learning, Luminar Neo is aimed at photographers who would like to enhance their photos, but lack the time or knowledge to wade into the manual sliders.
For example, rather than moving controls marked brightness and contrast, you use tools called Golden Hour, Supercontrast, and Color Harmony. You can add many similar smart features via plugins.
Overall, the software does a good job — but the results are obviously a little generic, and you miss out on some important manual adjustments.
Platforms: Windows, macOS
Pricing: From $9.95/device/month, or $199 for lifetime access
If you don’t mind using Adobe products, you can find a pretty good Photoshop alternative inside the Creative Cloud.
Adobe Lightroom lacks some of the more advanced features found in Photoshop, but it still provides a good range of image editing tools.
Used by most professional photographers, this app is primarily for storing and organizing photos within a library — but you can still adjust lighting and colors, correct distortion, and even apply virtual filters.
Subscribers can sync edits between devices, although the version of Lightroom made for mobile devices is a bit stripped back.
Platforms: Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, web
Pricing: Premium is $9.99/month, or from $1.99/month for mobile-only access
Sumo is a web-based platform that mirrors Adobe’s Creative Cloud, with a collection of apps covering various disciplines. The difference is that Sumo is aimed more at consumers, with prices to match.
Sumophoto is the main image editor in this low-cost suite. It provides all the basic adjustments you might want, and you won’t need to watch any tutorials to navigate the intuitive interface.
The main drawback here is that Sumophoto is missing a lot of photo editing features you can find in more sophisticated apps, such as HDR and layers.
Platforms: Web; Windows, macOS, and Linux versions for Pro users
Pricing: Free online with limited features; Pro plan from $9/month offers full features and native apps
A common reason for avoiding Photoshop is that the software is both complex, and very resource-heavy on older computers.
Seashore is pretty much the opposite of that. This lightweight open-source image editor is actually based on GIMP, but it has been upgraded with a pretty wrapper for Mac users.
Not just pretty, actually. The workflow in Seashore is very uncomplicated, meaning there is not much of a learning curve. But a bit like Sumophoto, this means you miss out on some useful features.
As we have seen, Photoshop alternatives come in many different forms. In order to choose the right one for your particular needs, it’s necessary to consider a few different points:
No single app dominates all of these categories. But if you were to make a giant comparison chart, we reckon that Pixelcut would come out as the best Photoshop alternative for most users.
Why? Well for a start, it’s available on pretty much all mobile devices and you can access the online version via most desktop browsers.
The app also covers all the most common edits you are likely to need, and allows you to apply them at speed. There is zero learning curve, and Pixelcut works with most common file types.
Just as importantly, you can get unlimited access for just $59.99 a year, making it way cheaper than most pro-level apps.
Download Pixelcut today to try it for yourself, and discover why it’s the preferred image editor for 10 million small businesses.