Best Adobe Photoshop alternatives in 2024

There are loads of reasons why you may want the best Adobe Photoshop alternatives. But there are also loads of photo editors and design apps out there that you can use instead, whether you're swerving the Creative Cloud subscription or you're looking for an alternative to Photoshop for beginners,

Adobe Photoshop is, without a doubt, the industry-standard in photo editing software. In our Photoshop review, we called it our photo editor of choice. It's packed with powerful tools for professional photographers, designers, and artists. However, it's not without its critics, and with visual content becoming ever more important to businesses and content creators, we've seen a mass of good Photoshop alternatives available to download or even run in the browser. 

Our team of creative experts have gone hands-on with the best alternatives for Photoshop. Benchmarking performance and comparing features and specs, we tested each app to explore how closely they match Adobe's workflow, and where they excel at the jobs Photoshop can't. Paired with the best laptops for graphic design, your creative flow will never be smoother. 

The best Adobe Photoshop alternatives in 2024

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Below you'll find full write-ups for each of the best Adobe Photoshop alternatives in our list. We've tested each one extensively, so you can be sure that our recommendations can be trusted.

Best Adobe Photoshop alternative overall

Serif Affinity Photo in action

(Image credit: Serif)
No Creative Cloud subscriptions here

Reasons to buy

+
Works on Windows, macOS, and iPad
+
Impressively large toolkit
+
No subscriptions, just a one-off cost

Reasons to avoid

-
So many tools it may overwhelm new users
-
Some annoying interface choices

Affinity Photo, from Serif, is positively packed with professional tools that make it a genuine rival to Photoshop for both Windows and macOS. There’s also a tablet version if you're looking for one of the best Photoshop alternatives on iPad. But best of all, there are no endless subscriptions, just a one-off cost, making it ideal when working to a budget.

You’ll find an impressively clean interface (although the UI can be occasionally glitchy). There’s also no shortage of useful tools, including PSD file support, RAW Support, masking, layering, retouching, removing blemishes, curving, and a full set of 16-bit filters. In our review, we noted that “the list of tools is incredibly long, and rivals bigger, more expensive competitors, yes, even Photoshop itself.” The only danger here, then, is that you may be overwhelmed by everything on offer.

The app is available as a standalone download. Alternatively, the Affinity V2 universal license, bundling the photo editor alongside Affinity Designer and Affinity Publisher, which offers great value if you're working across different design projects. 

Read our full Serif Affinity Photo review

Best free Adobe Photoshop alternative

(Image credit: Future)
A free alternative to Photoshop

Reasons to buy

+
Huge number of features, easily extensible
+
Raw and PSD compatible
+
Free and open source

Reasons to avoid

-
Complex interface and steep learning curve
-
No CMYK color mode (add-on available)

GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is a professional, open-source photography powerhouse that works on Linux, Windows, and macOS. So, it's both the best Adobe Photoshop alternative overall, and an excellent free alternative, too.

In our hands-on review, we called Gimp "our top pick for the best free photo editor, and comes with a huge array of professional-quality functions for fine-tuning snaps and creating your own artwork from scratch. "

GIMP boasts a huge number of features and functions that rival Photoshop. There’s also a huge community of developers and artists who have created a wide array of plugins, making this a highly adaptable program. If you desire a specific feature, there’s probably an add-on for it. 

The interface is highly customizable, so you can pare things back or leverage multiple windows and toolbars as needed. For this reason, GIMP has a similarly steep learning curve as Photoshop, but once you’ve made your way through a few tutorials, it’s quite comfortable. 

In our experience, GIMP was slightly less responsive and used a few more resources than its proprietary counterpart, but this can be easily forgiven on the basis that GIMP always has been and always will be free and open source.

Read our full GIMP review

Best Photoshop alternative for intermediates

Photo Studio Ultimate in action

(Image credit: ACDSee)
Great if you're not quite a beginner, not yet a pro

Reasons to buy

+
Updates deliver great new features
+
AI tools
+
Stable software

Reasons to avoid

-
PC only
-
May be daunting for beginners

ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate is an image manipulation tool that, like any good Photoshop alternative, allows you to perform many of the functions you’d find in Adobe's popular photo editor, but at a fraction of the cost. We found this app to be an ideal middle-ground if you're not quite a beginner, but not yet a pro. 

When we tested out the software, we found a versatile alternative to Photoshop. It might not match every powerful feature in Adobe’s top tool, but it delivers most tools for most photo editors. 

The latest features include AI-based tools such as ‘AI Actions’ which help you perform potentially time-consuming tasks such as blurring a background, or selecting an object, with just the click of a button. ‘AI Face Edit’ is interesting as it allows you to alter the face of a subject, and the end result is pretty impressive.

Monthly and annual subscriptions are available, bundling Photo Studio Ultimate alongside Gemstone Photo Editor, Luxea Video Editor, Video Converter Pro, and Photo Studio for Mac for $9 / £8 / $15AUD a month or $89 / £79 / $142AUD a year. You’ll get free updates and upgrades as long as your subscription remains active, are allowed up to five users per product, get 100GB of cloud storage, and have access to tutorials and workshops. 

Alternatively, it can be yours outright for the one-off price of $150 / £132 / $239AUD. This includes a year of free updates and technical support. 

Overall, a great Photoshop alternative for creating professional-looking content while working to a budget. 

Read our full ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate review

Best Photoshop alternative online

(Image credit: Pixlr)
Edit in your browser for free

Reasons to buy

+
Layer support
+
Web-app, available from any browser
+
Clean design
+
Intuitive workflow experience

Reasons to avoid

-
Missing some features (e.g., custom brushes)
-
Limited filetype compatibility (no PSD)
-
Online only

Pixlr is one of the best free Photoshop alternatives online - but what makes this a good pick is that it's available as a web app. During our review of the HTML 5 photo editing software, we said it's "so feature-packed, it gives desktop apps a serious run for their money." 

The Pixlr interface is more spartan than either Photoshop or GIMP, but that’s not a bad thing. The workflow is streamlined and intuitive: you can drag-and-drop a photo from your computer or add a URL, and then get to work adjusting images with familiar one-click filters and sliders. 

Given that it’s a web app, Pixlr has surprisingly robust layer support - one of the reasons why it's considered one of the best Photoshop alternatives. However, important features are still missing. Custom brushes, for example, are slated for development in the future but don’t exist yet.

Overall, Pixlr gives you a super clean and intuitive interface for basic to medium-complexity photo editing. 

Read our full Pixlr X review

Best Adobe Photoshop alternative for photographers

(Image credit: Future)
Powerful without the Photoshop complexity

Reasons to buy

+
Leverages AI for impressive features
+
Available as standalone or Adobe/Apple plug-in
+
Sync AI edits across photos 
+
Download new skies or upload your own

Reasons to avoid

-
Can be heavy on system resources
-
No mobile version or web app

Photoshop is loaded with AI tools - so a good alternative should also boast at least some of these features. And that's precisely what Luminar Neo offers. 

This app features a wealth of industry-standard AI tools that should make design and content creation so much easier (and, presumably, faster). This includes tweaking curves, white balance, a cropping tool, and Luminar's much-vaunted sky replacement tool. In our tests, these worked very well, overall. Aside from a couple of hitches, we were left generally rather impressed with results. 

So, who's it good for? Our sense is that this is the ideal tool for amateur photographers. Unfortunately, for professional use, it's missing certain features and performance, as with its simpler sister software Luminar AI, can be occasionally spotty. But once you get going, the overall experience of using Neo is surprisingly fluid, with more than enough fine-tuning tools for perfectionists. 

Read our full Luminar Neo review

Best alternative to Adobe Photoshop for businesses

(Image credit: Photo Pos Pro)
Great for creating marketing assets and documents

Reasons to buy

+
Customizable interface
+
Support for scripts, batch editing, and one-click editing tools
+
Raw and PSD compatible

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited set of filters
-
Limited keyboard shortcuts

We're ranking this as one of the best Photoshop alternatives - particularly for small teams and businesses - because it's just so feature-rich, Photo Pos Pro comes with tools for editing images, web design, and document creation. Pretty much any design work you need can be handled here. Better still, it has a twin-track interface: one for beginners, one for experts. 

This customizable interface lets you select either Novice or Pro layouts. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, but essentially, the novice layout sacrifices power for usability, while the pro layout is feature-rich, albeit with a steep learning curve. Even if it’s not executed perfectly, this flexibility is commendable and practical.

While it lacks the deep customization that professional photographers rely on, it's still one of the best Adobe Photoshop alternatives for making adjustments to photos for presentations, marketing campaigns. An ideal tool for professional use in a business or office setting, particularly if you don't have time to learn the intricacies of Adobe's tool.

With layers, masking, brushes, scripts, and batch editing, Photos Pos Pro is a feature-rich alternative to Photoshop. 

Read our full Photo Pos Pro review

Best Adobe Photoshop alternative for artists

(Image credit: Krita)

7. Krita

A top tool for on-the-go artists

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent tablet support for drawing
+
Highly customizable brush engine
+
Vector and raster capabilities
+
Large community

Reasons to avoid

-
Some photo editing features missing

Krita is open-source and free alternative to Adobe Photoshop, backed by a huge community of developers and talented artists who share artwork and methods. If you’re looking for an active user base that’s invested in discussing and sharing art, Krita is a great Photoshop alternative for drawing.

Beyond the community, Krita is an incredibly powerful photo editing software, with hundreds of brushes and a brush customization engine, vector and text capabilities for comic strips, a wrap-around mode for seamless repeating images and patterns, and a powerful resource manager for importing tools from other artists.

We found the interface intuitive and familiar, with minor functions like being able to scroll sliders with the trackpad and having helpful tooltips that let us know to find the right tool. 

Krita isn't one of the best Adobe Photoshop alternatives for its photo editing tools. In fact, it's more of a drawing tool than a photo editor. For that reason, certain features are missing: fewer photo filters, no automatic heal tool, etc. It does, however, support opening and saving PSD files.

Also, Krita has fantastic tablet support with custom sensitivity settings, so for artists looking to combine drawing and photos, it’s hard to beat. 

How to choose the best Adobe Photoshop alternative for you

When deciding which alternative to Photoshop is best for you, first consider how much of your relevant image file you need to edit and change. If you’re just trying to make simple edits to an existing image file, you may find a free software program will suit you fine. However, if you plan to develop a file from scratch and/or plan to make a series of complicated edits using advanced photo-editing tools and filters, it may be better to aim for one of the higher range and more expensive programs on our list.

How we test the best alternatives to Adobe Photoshop

To test for the best Adobe Photoshop alternatives we first set up an account with the relevant software platform, whether as a download or as an online service. We then tested the service using a handful of images to see how the software could be used for the editing and development of each image. The aim was to push each software platform to see whether it could simply and easily not just edit a range of content types but also do so faithfully and consistently without introducing formatting issues or similar problems.

Christian Rigg

Christian is a freelance writer and content project manager with 6+ years' experience writing and leading teams in finance and technology for some of the world's largest online publishers, including TechRadar and Tom's Guide.

With contributions from