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Photoshop too expensive? Use these free alternatives instead

Most smartphones today are powerful enough that anybody can take professional-looking photos without needing an expensive camera. In fact, the one in your smartphone is probably better than an old digital camera you have lying around.

Regardless of what you’re shooting with, any photo can benefit from simple touch-ups and enhancements. And the best way to do this is through editing programs. Tap or click here for simple tricks to take better photos every time you pull out your phone or camera.

You know about Photoshop, and as much as we appreciate Adobe products, we love sharing alternatives that work just as well without breaking the bank. If you have photos in need of editing and don’t want to shell out big bucks, here are a few free alternatives with all the features you need.


Canva is not your typical photo editor. Yes, you can easily crop photos, add text or resize. But you also get access to countless templates to create your own presentations, social media graphics, greeting cards, marketing materials, posters and anything else you can dream up.

The best part is how easy Canva is to use. It’s a drag and drop, intuitive editor. Try it out the next time you need to quickly resize a photo.

Most of this is free, though you can sign up for a paid account to get access to premium images and templates. For basic use, though, a free account should give you everything you need.

What we like

  • Drag-and-drop functionality
  • User-friendly
  • Download your finished graphics or send them directly to social media
  • Web-based

What we don’t like

  • Fewer editing tools than competitors
  • Pro version required for some basic features, such as exporting designs with a transparent background
  • Can be costly when you add-up in-app purchases for templates and other downloads

SumoPaint 2.0

SumoPaint 2.0 is a free photo editor that offers a good deal of powerful tools — just like what you’ll find in Photoshop.

SumoPaint’s collection of stickers, filters and frames is perfect for crafting creative images (think digital scrapbooking) or creating fun graphics for your business or personal use.

What really sets SumoPaint apart is its focus on, well, painting. It includes over 300 different brush textures for drawing, visual effects, styles and even filters like the kind you’ll find on Instagram. You can stipple, layer, watercolor or cross-hatch, or choose from 20 different drawing tools.

The best part about SumoPaint, aside from the fact that it’s free, is how many options you get right out of the box. If you’re a beginner looking to get creative, it’s a great place to start. You can bump up the number of tools and eliminate ads with a paid subscription for $9 a month.

What we like

  • Easy to use
  • No download necessary
  • Handcrafted filters

What we don’t like

  • Subscription required to turn off ads or use offline
  • Still under development


Pixlr X

Pixlr X is another photo editing tool that can run in your browser, so there’s no download required to make it work. While it has advanced tools like photo filters and drawing options, it really shines with its simple-to-use cropping and resizing tools.

Let’s say you have an image you want to use on your blog that’s just too big to fit. Pixlr X makes it easy to shrink your picture down without losing its proportions. It also features layer editing and color temperature controls, so you can add a warm glow or cool tone to any image.

Tap or click here to see more reasons we love Pixlr X.

The program works with all of the most popular browsers like Firefox and Safari, and there are lightweight iOS and Android versions you can download as well.

What we like

  • Can be used with Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Explorer
  • Quick fix tools
  • Mobile apps require little space and memory
  • Can instantly share your images to social media

What we don’t like

  • Generic design
  • Can be clunky and slow to use on older computers or slower internet connections


Adobe Photoshop Express

Of course, we can’t ignore the option from Adobe. Photoshop will run you at least $10 a month, but the free Adobe Photoshop Express is worth checking out. Like the full version of the app, Photoshop Express allows you to edit your images using more advanced tools like color correction, blemish removal and red-eye repair.

It also includes features like image overlays, text editing, quick fixes and touch-ups, collage-creation and more. Layer tools are missing from Photoshop Express — despite the fact that they’re one of the most important tools of the full version of Photoshop.

What we like

  • One-tap sharing to social media
  • Custom watermarks

What we don’t like

  • Requires other apps for additional core editing features, such as brushes
  • Does not use layers
  • More complex than other editors


GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is a professional-grade photo editor that looks almost too similar to Adobe Photoshop. But unlike the real Photoshop, GIMP is totally free to download.

GIMP gives users access to almost every tool Photoshop has, including advanced filters, layer masks and text settings. It’s the closest thing to Adobe’s software you can get without a subscription.

Another thing we love: GIMP’s official website includes an easy-to-understand tutorial and guidebook, which makes it easy for anyone to master if they’re willing to do some reading.

What we like

  • The interface is customizable with plugins
  • Available for Windows, Mac and Linux
  • Tutorials are readily available

What we don’t like

  • Not available for mobile devices
  • Designed for advanced users

There you have it, five free, easy-to-use photo editors. Try them out and see which one works best for you. Now, time to create a masterpiece!

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