Free Photo Editing Programs that Compare to Photoshop

Currently there is a large number of free photo editing programs available on web and this number is growing. The software packages differ considerably depending on the features they support. Photographers often prefer Photoshop because of the broad variety of tools it covers. However, there are a few programs that can serve as alternatives for Photoshop.


GIMP is one of the major packages for image composition, retouching and authoring. First developed by two Berkley students, it has become a serious free competitor to Photoshop. GIMP can run on Windows, Mac OS, Linux and Unix.

GIMP allows its users carrying out various operations, including the ones supported by Photoshop. Some of the multiple features the program covers are painting tools; filters, masks and layers, channels; color manipulations, etc.

The interface of GIMP is similar to the one of Photoshop. The first allows opening the tools in separate toolbars surrounding the main window providing a possibility of multitasking. The good news is that GIMP has an ability of using Photoshop plug-ins after PSPI plug-in is downloaded and installed. The program also allows importing RAW files from digital cameras.

GIMP can be used as by amateurs as by graphic professionals; however, this program can be somewhat complex to learn to use. The latest version, GIMP 2.6.7, is equipped with a more user-friendly interface.

Active Pixels

This package is another example of alternative image editing software. The latest version of this program is Active Pixels 4. An advantage of this program is that it does not occupy much space on a computer disc. Active Pixels can still be used by both beginners and professionals for completing quite a range of operations.

Active Pixels (AP) includes such features as color correction; layers, filters, gradients, text tools; unlimited undo/redo functions and many more. AP interface is somewhat similar to the one of Photoshop. Just as GIMP AP allows its user to multitask by opening a few toolbars at a time. Those used to work with Photoshop will discover that AP does not cover all features of the first. However, the program supports Photoshop-compatible plug-ins.


This is another image editing software for Windows which was initially developed by the students of Washington State University and was meant to serve as a replacement for MS Paint. It has, however, grown into quite a powerful program that covers a wide range of tools and features. Paint.NET could actually suit anyone, especially because it is easy to learn to use. However, when one must choose between diverse feature availability and simplicity, this program would offer the last. 

The software has an intuitive and user-friendly interface with transparent toolbars, this makes multitasking less overwhelming. The features supported by Paint.NET are, for example, recolor tool, filters; layers, special effects, text tool; unlimited redo/undo and other options. Due to the fact that Paint.NET doesn't cover such a wide range of features, especially color effects, as Photoshop does, this program could be used as an addition to Photoshop rather than a replacement of it.

Photoshop Alternative

There are, of course other free programs that are widely used for photo editing. Some examples are, ArtViewer and Picasa. However, each of these packages offers some features of Photoshop rather than a full coverage of those. Therefore, when choosing a suitable software, one might prefer GIMPS for its diversity. In turn, other programs are less complex and easier to learn to use.

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