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Best Adobe Photoshop alternatives in 2022

PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
An image photoshop
(Image credit: Future)

The best Adobe Photoshop alternatives help you craft pro-style digital art in the home and in the studio. 

It can sometimes feel like Adobe cornered the creative apps market with the likes of Photoshop, Premiere Pro, After Effects, and Lightroom becoming standard across the industry. It’s so popular, in fact, ‘Photoshop’ went from a noun to a verb. And it’s not hard to see why. 

Adobe’s photo editing software is simple to use and powerful in practice. The tool also seamlessly integrates with other Adobe creative apps, creating an efficient workflow if you’re deep within the Adobe ecosystem. 

That widespread popularity, however, can sometimes make it tricky to identify the best photo editors and photo editing apps to suit your needs. But Photoshop isn’t the only game in town. There are lots of great photo editing software out there- whether you’re an experienced editor, professional artist, or a beginner starting out. And, like Adobe’s premiere photo app, the best alternatives to Photoshop offer must-have image editing tools and deliver polished results in an easy, accessible way 

There are plenty of good reasons to check out the best Adobe Photoshop alternatives. You may not want to take out a Creative Cloud subscription - preferring to buy your photo editor outright, or find a free Photoshop alternative. You might feel the tool goes beyond your current needs. Or doesn’t fit into your business’s workflow. You might even prefer an online Photoshop alternative over downloads. 

We’ve tried out some of the top photo editing software to find the best Adobe Photoshop alternatives. 

And if you want to sub out Adobe elsewhere in your workflow, we’ve tested out the best Lightroom alternatives, Adobe After Effects alternatives, and alternatives to Premiere Pro

Unleash your creativity with our picks for the best graphic design software.


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Adobe Photoshop is our pick for best photo editor overall. In our 5-star review, we hailed it as “the king of photo editors” with a solid set of new tools and AI features - although noting that its raw power may be overkill for some. An industry-standard, relied on by artists, content creators, and creatives, it's become the definitive photo editing app. The benchmark against which all other image editing tools are measured. 


Best alternatives to Adobe Photoshop

(Image credit: GIMP)
Best Adobe Photoshop alternative overall

Specifications

Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux

Reasons to buy

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

Reasons to avoid

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Complex interface and steep learning curve
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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

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(Image credit: Pixlr)
Best free online Photoshop alternative

Specifications

Platform: Web

Reasons to buy

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

Reasons to avoid

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

Pixlr is one of the best free Photoshop alternatives online - so 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

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(Image credit: Skylum)
Best budget Adobe Photoshop alternative

Specifications

Platform: Windows, Mac

Reasons to buy

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

Reasons to avoid

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

Luminar AI is the best Adobe Photoshop alternative for those who want to buy without subscriptions. It isn’t the cheapest option out there, but it’s a powerful photo editing software that leverages artificial intelligence and machine learning to help artists create amazing photos in just a few clicks. 

In our Luminar AI review, we said the tool is "a terrific new option for photographers who know their images would benefit from some edits, but don't have the time or knowledge to make them happen."

Luminar is available as a standalone editor or a plug-in for Adobe products, so this is an alternative that you can actually use in tandem with Photoshop. 

Its impressive features include instant AI sky replacement, AI portrait and skin enhancer, sunrays, advanced AI structure and lighting filters, a smart contrast tool for preserving color and texture, and object removal brushes, some of the best we’ve used.

The layout is clean and intuitive, with most functions available in the sidebar. Clicking on one brings up sliders for customizing effects, with advanced settings available. From start to finish, the Luminar photo editing workflow is smooth and speedy. 

Read our full Luminar AI review

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(Image credit: Photos Pos)
Best alternative to Adobe Photoshop for beginners

Specifications

Platform: Windows

Reasons to buy

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

Reasons to avoid

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Limited set of filters
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Limited keyboard shortcuts

Photos Pos Pro is ranked one of the best Adobe Photoshop alternatives because it's just so feature-rich, with tools for editing images, web design, and document creation. 

In fact, we believe that "while this is certainly a powerful tool, it's a little quirky and takes a little while to get used to", in part because it offers twin-track interfaces: 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, or personal enjoyment.

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.

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(Image credit: The Krita Foundation)

5. Krita

Best Adobe Photoshop alternative for drawing

Specifications

Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux

Reasons to buy

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

Reasons to avoid

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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.

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 (and even made our list of best free drawing software). 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 we tested the best Adobe Photoshop alternatives

To test for the best 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.

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.

We've also featured the best drawing and painting software (opens in new tab).

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