I love Photoshop. In my line of work – editing and designing everyday – I don’t think I could live without it. But for a beginner or someone who needs only a few tools, I totally get it if you don’t want to splurge on the pro program. 

Let me first say this, though – I think you should get Photoshop if you’ll end up using the program everyday or really often. Photoshop is the best program out there, in my opinion. So if you’re doing the type of work where you’ll be using this all the time or you need to produce really quality work, spend the money. It’s an investment and it’s worth it. 

But if you’re more likely going to be using it occasionally, you only need a few tools, you’re a beginner, or you just need something simpler, then definitely try these alternatives.

I’ve looked at a lot of options and narrowed it down to the 3 I think are the best. Scroll to read.

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CANVA

While this isn’t strictly a Photoshop alternative when it comes to photo editing, Canva is my go-to for most graphic projects. While other people use Photoshop, I create my product images, opt-ins, ebooks, quote images, Instagram story templates…. you can do so much in this free program.

Why do I still use this when it can all be done in Photoshop? Because it’s so damn easy. There is a drag and drop interface, no complicated menus, and tons of free, built-in elements that are available to use. 

They have popular size templates – so you never need to go Google searching for the size of a Pinterest graphic, Facebook header, or e-book page. Plus, if you have no design skills, they give tons of pre-made themes for each size. Canva is truly the easiest way to create graphics.

WHAT IT’S GOOD FOR
  • adding images to mockups. 
  • creating Pinterest images, ebooks, opt-ins, logos – basically most graphics. 

PROS

  • so easy to use. 
  • use right in your browser – no need to download another program.
  • store your designs in Canva – no need to save drafts or keep lots of files on your computer. 

CONS

  • there is a paid version which has a lot of the best features – so it’s not entirely free for a lot of the features. 
  • you can’t save with a transparent background unless you pay. ex, if you wanted a logo with a transparent background to display over images or different backgrounds, you need the paid version to save anything without a background.
  • you can’t do “unconventional” mockups. ex, if you want to add your own image to a computer screen that’s on an angle, you can’t do that in Canva. 

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MY RECOMMENDATION? 

You probably won’t find a Photoshop replacement that does everything the exact same – or else you’d be better of with the real thing. You’ll likely use a mix that works for you, like I do. I hope this was helpful and if you have any other photo editing questions, let me know in the comments. 

GIMP

Gimp is a true photoshop alternative – it has the most similar features and the two programs actually have quite similar interfaces in terms of style.

Gimp definitely does not have all of the capabilities of photoshop, but this likely won’t bother a beginner. It is also not as good as photoshop for digital or graphic design projects, but people looking to edit photos and do some graphic work will probably still enjoy it and find most of the features they need.

WHAT IT’S GOOD FOR
  • this is the closest thing you’ll find to photoshop for free – it has a lot of the same features + options. 

PROS

  • FREE! 
  • a smaller program size than Photoshop so it takes up less room on your computer. 
  • great photo editing capabilities. 
  • a great intro to the kind of work Photoshop can do, so it would be perfect for a beginner who just wants to see what it’s all about. 

CONS

  • the interface is a bit complicated and it definitely takes some practice to learn.
  • it’s basically a less thorough + less professional version of Photoshop. The only real thing that makes it better is that it’s free. 

PIXLR EDITOR

Pixlr is another cool editor – and truly my personal favorite Photoshop alternative as far as photos go. Although Gimp is closer to Photoshop, I don’t use it as much because it’s a desktop program. Pixlr is a browser app, which is so much simpler and take less of a toll on my computer. Especially if I just need to make a quick tweak, I really prefer to edit in a new tab or window, instead of running a separate program.

That being said, Pixlr does have less options so there might be times where you might want to have Gimp around too. I would start with Pixlr and add Gimp into the mix if you hit a roadblock with your capabilities.

WHAT IT’S GOOD FOR
  • The color-replace tool is so easy to use and definitely faster because you just head to the website. 
  • Simple editing – erasing parts of images, using the paint bucket tool, making selections, fixing red-eye, etc. 

PROS

  • You can use right in your browser, so you don’t need to download a program that takes up space. 
  • It has a much easier-to-use interface than both Gimp and Photoshop.

CONS

  • It doesn’t have all the options of Photoshop or Gimp. It’s definitely more limited to the basic essentials, but this probably wouldn’t bother a beginner.