If you aren’t quite ready to commit to a Photoshop subscription but still want an editing suite that allows you to do some processing on your photos, what options do you have?
Well, the answer is, you have a lot of options.
In fact, there are some really great (and free!) photo editors out there, that, though they all might not have the same level of tools and sophistication of Photoshop, still offer quite a bit in the way of editing options.
Have a look at some of the best Photoshop alternatives for 2017 below.
At the top of the list of free Photoshop alternatives is GIMP.
Though it isn’t quite as robust as Photoshop, it offers plenty of top-notch tools to help you manipulate your photos.
That includes layers, noise removal and sharpening, selections, HDR, color correction, lens correction, and a lot more.
You can use it to edit JPEGs, PNGs, PSDs, GIFs, BMPs, and even RAW files as well.
Another benefit of GIMP is that it’s supported by a ton of platforms, including Mac OS, Windows, Unix, and Linux, so no matter what type of machine you use, GIMP is likely an option for you.
It’s open source as well, so you (and everyone else) can upgrade it as you see fit.
Best Feature: Robust tools nearly on par with Photoshop.
The beauty of the Google photo editor is that it’s easily accessible if you have a Google account.
That means that any photos you have on the Google Cloud are right there available to be edited quickly and saved quickly right back onto the cloud.
It doesn’t have the extensive tools of Photoshop or even GIMP, but you can add color filters, tilt and shift the image, edit colors and lighting, and crop images as well.
Another great feature is that Google Photos has face grouping technology, so all your photos of Aunt Barbara and Grandpa Steve are automatically grouped together for easy finding later on. Images can be grouped by places, subjects, and a variety of other terms as well.
What’s more, Google Photos allows you to upload your images from an array of devices, and when you edit an image on any device, the edited version shows up on all connected devices.
Since it’s web-based, you can edit on any device from anywhere, and you can even share your images with anyone, even if they don’t have Google Photos themselves. There’s even an in-app option to create and print a photo book!
Best Feature: Excellent organizational and sharing tools.
Like Google Photos, Pixlr exists online, which is great for photographers that don’t want to be tied to a specific machine with the editing software installed on it.
Pixlr is also about as close as you can get to a Photoshop-looking layout, and even includes many of the same common keyboard shortcuts as Photoshop as well.
It offers selection tools, resizing, various photo filters and effects, text overlays, and layers as well, though if you work with too many layers, Pixlr sometimes encounters some difficulties.
Nevertheless, it’s supported on Android and iOS devices so you can edit on your laptop, tablet, or phone. It supports various types of files as well, including JPEGs, PNGs, TIFFs, and BMPs, though RAW support is lacking.
Best Feature: Familiar layout and tools that are reminiscent of Photoshop.
A lesser known web-based editor is SumoPaint, but it’s still a highly effective tool for editing your photos.
It’s got plenty of tools – brushes, text, symmetry tools, and gradients among them – that allow you to change the look of your image and add effects to it as well.
SumoPaint even has fun appliques like party hats and mustaches that you can add to portraits if you want to create something a little silly.
That makes it more of a fun, lightweight photo editor as opposed to a serious Photoshop killer, but when you just want to create something whimsical in a jiff, SumoPaint is a great choice.
And if you don’t want to use the online version, you can also download SumoPaint to your machine.
Best Feature: A no-nonsense interface for easy editing.
Paint.NET can’t compete with Photoshop in the features department – it’s pretty lightweight. However, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a quality Photoshop alternative.
There’s a ton of image filters in Paint.NET that allow you to customize the look and feel of your images.
You can batch edit photos to make quick work of your editing as well.
With layer support, you can make intricate changes to your images, and with a clone stamp option, you can quickly get rid of unsightly distractions in your photos.
Another great feature is that it’s easy to learn how to use. Where other editors on this list are more along the lines of Photoshop in their complexity, Paint.NET is something that you can spend just a few minutes perusing, and you should have no problem becoming a master at using it.
It helps that the program is lightning fast as well, so you won’t have nearly as many “spinning wheels of death” with Paint.NET as you might with other programs on our list.
Best Feature: Ease of use and fast speed.
Wrapping It Up
Though Photoshop and its cousin Lightroom are the premiere photo editing programs available today, they can be hard to learn and are pretty expensive, too.
That makes free Photoshop alternatives like those listed here all that more attractive, especially for amateur and enthusiast photographers that might not need all the bells and whistles of a full-blown image editing program.
Any of these options will suffice for basic editing. It’s really just a matter of learning more about each one, spending a little time getting to know them, and selecting the program that works best for your specific needs.