However, its high learning curve and price tag might not be the best fit for everyone, especially if you don’t have many photo editing skills and experience.
With the right tool, you’ll have less of a learning curve and get beautifully edited photos in no time.
While the six alternative solutions we’ll cover don’t have the extensive built-in tools that Photoshop has, they offer the essential features for quick, lightweight but powerful photo editing.
Check out our top picks for the best Photoshop alternatives below.
Common things to look for in Photoshop alternatives
Before diving into the nitty-gritty of our Photoshop alternative apps, let’s look at some of the general factors and features to consider when choosing one.
One of the biggest yet often unspoken tips on creating images is to consider your photo editing experience and level of confidence first before choosing a tool.
If you’re only looking to make a few tweaks, such as improving colours and removing blemishes, simple online apps might do the trick.
You get the job done without getting overwhelmed with too many photo editing options.
On the other hand, if you’re doing more advanced editing, desktop software with masks and layers that give you complete control over your photo editing process might be the best option.
Desktop solutions can also be a good choice for professional photographers – if you’re editing RAW files and photos in batches, most have features that allow for bulk editing, saving you tons of time and energy.
Another crucial factor to consider is the sources and purposes of your exported visuals.
Will you be creating images for social media posts based on photos you take over the course of your day with your phone? Will you be preparing RAW files for print projects using studio footage from your DSLR? Just need the occasional typography-enhanced banner to use at the top of a blog post?
These considerations can make a big difference when it comes to the tools best suited for your needs.
What’s more, any online image editors only export images in JPEG or JPG format and at lower resolutions than those of more powerful tools.
This might be okay for your social media content, for instance. However, if you’re aiming for high-quality image output, you’re better off using photo editors that allow you to export in multiple image formats and higher resolutions.
1 – Photoleap by Lightricks
Photoleap (formerly Photofox) by Lightricks is a powerful photo editing app that allows you to create, edit, and enhance your photos and images right from your iPhone or iPad.
The app offers many editing tools, including layering, blending modes, filters, brushes, fonts, tonal adjustments, duo presets, black and white, and special effects.
The app allows for creative combinations. You can superimpose your images, combine photos, re-edit each layer, change your photo’s backgrounds, and adjust blending modules and transparency.
You can include personal artistic touches by adding text and drawing to your images, set a specific mood using filters, and include other elements, backdrops, stickers, and styles.
Photoleap offers other editing features, including image correction through image colourising tools and gradients with duo filters and object or blemish remover.
You can also get Pro editing tools that let you set your canvas size, RAW support, and 16-bit image depth support for your high-quality tonal adjustments.
Photoleap packs all these photo editing features and more in one app, helping you turn your raw ideas and photos into stunning art pieces.
You won’t need to deal with most desktop software’s often overwhelming and complex tools and do all your editing, enhancing, and creating quickly on your mobile device.
2 – Colorcinch
Colorcinch is a user-friendly web-based photo editing and cartoonizer app. You won’t need to sign up for an account, and it works on Windows PC, Linux, and Mac as long as you have a stable internet connection.
After uploading your photos to the app, you can start creating, editing, and transforming them into beautiful masterpieces.
Colorcinch provides an intuitive user interface, simplifying your photo editing process. You can save and organise your projects easily for quick access.
The app has an extensive library of brush presets and other creative resources. It offers basic editing and enhancing features such as cropping and resizing, freehand drawing, exposure adjustments, multiple layers, sharpening, and blurring.
Other built-in options for photo enhancing include exposure, brightness, colour, contrast, and vibrance adjustments.
Colorcinch features include AI-powered speciality effects such as the Cartoonizer. It lets you quickly transform your images into sketches, paintings, and cartoons.
You can add graphics, vectors, icons, and texts and apply filters, overlays, and masks. The tool also offers a library of high-resolution stock photos and an option to upload your images for commercial or personal use. Colorcinch lets you export your project in JPG, PDF, and PNG formats with maximum available quality of 300DPI.
While you won’t need to download the app since it’s web-based, you’ll need a reliable internet connection to use its photo editing tools and features, meaning you can’t work offline.
3 – Pixlr
Pixlr is an online photo editor that helps you create designs and edit your photos from your browser for free. It offers intuitive graphical design and photo-editing features with AI-powered tools to help make quick yet professional edits.
The app offers Pixlr E, the advanced photo editor, and Pixlr X, the free basic online editor for transforming templates and photos directly in-browser.
The program can work well in most modern browsers, including iPads and iPhones since it’s based on HTML5 instead of Flash.
Pixlr X comes with all the essential photo adjustment tools to help you create and edit your images, including:
- Built-in text feature with stylish font sets
- Flipping, straightening, rotating all images
- Highlights, vibrance, and shadows adjustments
- Preset image ratio for cropping
- Multiple filter options
- Extensive layer support with various blending modes
You can also add elements to your photos, including overlays, borders, shapes, stickers, and effects.
You can also make photo collages for free with the app’s pre-made collage templates, streamlining creating your designs. Select your template, upload your images, and edit and customise as you prefer.
The Pixlr editor supports almost all image formats such as JPEG, SVG, PSD (Photoshop), and PXD. However, you can’t edit animated GIFs or videos on the app.
4 – Fotor
Fotor is a photo-editing platform that offers one-click enhancements to help you create stunning images and designs. It offers high-resolution export options in PNG, PNG, and PDF formats and batch image processing.
Fotor’s free version is ideal for giving your photos a few simple tweaks quickly, such as manually altering your levels and curves without the complexity that comes with high-end tools.
Below is a quick breakdown of Fotor’s main photo editor features.
Fotor’s editing suite lets you adjust your photo’s colour, size, and light easily, and you can use HDR effects for advanced image editing.
Drag and drop your photos to set them into designs with your preferred preset shapes and choose from hundreds of text fonts and styles; add stickers, icons, shapes, and clip art.
Other Fotor tools let you adjust your picture’s transparency and alignment and add a drop shadow (among others) for quick and easy photo editing and designing.
Choose from a wide selection of filters to get the desired effect you want for your photos.
Transform, enhance, and increase your portrait’s radiance with Fotor’s array of beauty features. This includes blemish fix, smoothing, wrinkle remover, blush, and other virtual makeup and retouching tools.
Fotor also offers a batch processing tool that can filter the bulk of your photo pile in one go. This can save you tons of time and effort when you want to make a few quick tweaks to large photo batches.
Like most free versions of online photo editors, you’ll need to sign up for a paid account to access more advanced features.
5 – Canva
The platform runs in your web browser and comes in free and Pro versions that let you edit photos and templates.
It offers a wide selection of professional-looking and highly customisable templates categorised into specific content types, includes free cloud storage, and has a mobile app version.
Create a design from scratch, upload your photos, and use the platform’s tools to edit your pictures.
With Canva’s online image editor, you can add filters and effects, crop, rotate and animate your photos. You can also adjust the brightness contrast, saturation, tint, and blur.
Other customisations and editing features include accessing royalty-free stock photos, graphic elements, text font styles, audio files, backgrounds, and your uploaded media.
The platform’s interface is pretty easy to figure out and use, but you won’t find advanced photo editor tools such as smart selectors and clone brushes or stunning filters and effects.
However, Canva has all the essential features for quick and simple photo editing and creating your graphic designs.
6 – Paint.NET
Now, Paint.NET has become one of the widely-used Photoshop alternatives for quicker and easier image and photo editing.
Don’t let the software’s simple interface fool you because the app is packed with most of the essential editing software features you can find in Photoshop.
The interface pretty much resembles Adobe Photoshop’s and other premium editing software. However, it’s not as crowded with tools, and it’s intuitive enough that beginners can figure out quickly how to use it.
Most commonly-used editing tools are displayed as icons in a panel on the left side of the interface. The filters and other adjustment features are in the dropdown menu at the top.
One of its standout functionalities is a tabbed document interface. This allows you to work with multiple panels or documents in one window, using the tabs to move among them seamlessly.
The software simplifies this further for you by displaying a small thumbnail image on top of the interface instead of text descriptions. This makes it quick and easy to find what you need while working on your project.
Some of Paint.NET’s core features include:
- Multiple layers support with blending modes
- A 3D rotate zoom function for seamless image recomposition
- Supports gradients, rulers, and drawing
- Support for multiple formats such as BMP, JPG, GIF, PNG, TGA, TIFF, DDS, and PDN
- A history tool allowing multiple (unlimited) quick Undo’s
- Clone stamping for erasing or copying parts of the image
Photo and image editing in Paint.NET is fast, speeding up your process. The tool also automatically performs regular updates that come with improvements, new features, and bug fixes.
The tool is beginner-friendly, provides support via tutorials and forums, offers plugins to extend the software’s functionalities, and is lightweight, not compromising speed and performance.
The only downsides are that it only works on Windows operating systems and doesn’t offer text correction after applying effects.
Paint.NET also doesn’t natively support the Adobe PSD format, and its interface lacks a feature for plugin management.
Bonus – PhotoWorks
PhotoWorks is an intuitive photo editor for PC that has many tools similar to Photoshop but is devoid of its complexity. The software features a streamlined interface and semi-automatic workflow.
This Photoshop alternative offers its users:
- content-aware auto-correction
- smart colour grading
- convenient batch processing
- easy background changing
- hundreds of built-in filters
One of the more notable features of PhotoWorks is its easy yet effective portrait retouching. The software comes with one-click beautifying presets as well as manual fine-tuning instruments. Besides, this software boasts face and body sculpting tools that you can use to change any aspect of the model’s face or body with little effort.
This alternative to Photoshop also features such essential tools as noise reduction, odd objects removal, radial and graduated filters, and an adjustment brush. PhotoWorks supports over 450 RAW formats. It offers a free trial and comes in three versions and two license types.
So if you have no desire to pay a fortune for Photoshop subscriptions and watch tons of tutorials to understand it, give PhotoWorks a try.
Which of the Photoshop alternatives is for you?
The best app can simplify your photo editing process without the complexity and cost of using Adobe Photoshop.
Choose a Photoshop alternative that addresses your needs and has the tools and features you want to enhance and transform your photos as you prefer.
Please start with the top picks covered in this guide and assess which one works best for you based on your editing skill levels and experience, budget, and required output.
It can take a bit of trial and error to find the perfect Photoshop alternatives for you. However, putting in the time and energy will reward your efforts when using the best-fitting software that simplifies and streamlines your image and photo editing process.