5 Secret Photoshop Alternatives You Need to Know About

You probably know by now that Adobe is charging a monthly fee for its latest line of products, including Photoshop CC. This change by Adobe made many photographers upset, as Adobe is asking us to rent most of their software. That’s why I’m about to show you my list of top five Photoshop alternatives.

So far I am not aware of any photo editing software that is more advanced than Photoshop. With that said, my list of Photoshop alternatives is not a true replacement to Adobe’s powerful photo editing software.

Top 5 Photoshop Alternatives

Adobe appears to have a monopoly on products for creative professionals. This can explain why you pay so much for such products as Photoshop, InDesign or Illustrator.

If you feel you’re paying too much for Adobe products, you can try the following Photoshop alternatives that will save you money.

I’ll start with the least powerful to the most advanced photo editing software for photographers and designers. Some are free and some aren’t. Let’s have a look.

5. Pixlr (Free. Windows & Mac)

Pixlr is a free photo editor with an interface resembling that of Photoshop. Time magazine put Pixlr on their list of top 50 websites of 2013.

Pros: Pixlr is great for photographers or designers who need to create or retouch something quickly, when they’re away from their work station. Pixlr doesn’t require installation and works within your browser.

Cons: One of the pitfalls of Pixlr is that it’s an online image editor. The other issue is that it does not accept .psd or Raw files. But it is JPEG friendly! Last year I made a Pixlr video tutorial. Check it out. 

4. Gimp (Free. Windows & Mac)

This light software sports advanced image retouching and editing tools. It’s surprising that Gimp is still free!

Pros: Unlike Pixlr, Gimp welcomes .psd files into its layers panel. It’s packed with brushes, filters, and easy-to-apply effects. Since Gimp is quite light, it wont use much memory on your computer.

Cons: Unfortunately, Gimp doesn’t support RAW files, for which you may need to use Adobe’s free DNG converter. The interface is kind of cluttered, and the layers panel isn’t very layer friendly.

Gimp Photoshop Alternative

3. ACDSee Photo Editor 6 ($49. Windows & Mac)

This advanced image editor offers many quick fixes, such as shadow fill and contrast. It has all the basic tools necessary for retouching images and creating graphics.

Pros: ACDSee Photo Editor supports RAW files unlike Gimp and Pixlr. it has a lot of features that’ll help you retouch images or create graphics.

Cons: It’s kind of slow, even on my fast computer. The interface is awkward, and the layers panel not very intuitive. It took me some time to become comfortable with ACDSee Photo Editor 6.

Acdsee Alternatives to Photoshop

2. Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 ($87. Windows & Mac)

Photoshop Elements is still a standalone software, for which you don’t have to became a member of Adobe Creative Cloud. Well, for now. Anyone familiar with Photoshop may feel a bit awkward working in Elements, but will quickly become accustomed to it.

Pros: If you’re a Photoshop user, Elements will be a piece of cake. It shares many photo editing tools with its cousin, Photoshop. There are a lot of quick fixes, such as contrast, red-eye removal, and more. Photoshop Elements includes pre-designed templates you can use to create greeting cards, calendars, and more.

Cons: I couldn’t find many downsides to Photoshop Elements, besides not being able to find options for color management and soft proofing.

1. Corel PaintShop Pro X5 Ultimate ($99. Windows & Mac)

Photoshop and Corel PaintShop have often been compared by designers and photographers. Corel’s user interface is intuitive and easy to navigate. If I had to drop Adobe, I would switch to Corel products and use Corel PaintShop Pro X5.

Pros: CorelPaintShop ProX5 Ultimate is filled with rich editing tools. Its dialog boxes and layers panel are easy to use and navigate through. If you’re familiar with Photoshop, switching to PaintShop Pro will not be a drastic change.

Cons: The first thing you’ll notice in Corel PaintShop ProX5 is how cluttered it appears to be! The interface is congested with colorful and over-sized icons. Though powerful, PaintShop Prox5 is not as fast or as powerful as Photoshop.

corel paint shop pro x5 photoshop alternative

Will You Stick With Photoshop?

Ever tried anything besides Photoshop? After CS6, will you subscribe to Adobe’s Creative Cloud? What are your Photoshop alternatives? Share your thoughts in the comments area below.

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