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7 free Photoshop alternatives for quick and easy photo fixes

Originally posted on pocket-lint.

Fixing a photo or creating a graphic doesn’t always have to come with the price or learning curve of Photoshop.

Adobe Photoshop is as synonymous with photo editing as a Band-Aid is to a bandage, Kleenex to a tissue, and Ziplock to a storage bag. But while the Adobe software may be responsible for many of the tools and terms of photo editing today, Adobe Photoshop is a professional-level software that comes at a cost. The software is part of the Adobe Creative Cloud, which uses a monthly subscription-based pricing system. While the $10 monthly bundle for Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom is a worthwhile investment for professionals and some hobbyists, if you want to resize a photo, convert to a different file type, or remove acne from a selfie, there are a few free Photoshop alternatives that will tackle the tasks for nothing but the annoyance of viewing ads.

While Photoshop has more advanced tools than free photo editing apps, as the professional standard in image editing, there’s a learning curve that comes with Adobe’s most popular photo editor. (Photoshop Elements is an entry-level version of Photoshop, but it isn’t free.) Many free Photoshop alternatives also tend to be more beginner-friendly, though that’s not the case with every program.

There are a few different ways to edit photos at a non-existent price point. Some Photoshop alternatives are web-based programs that don’t even require a download. Others are mobile apps for tweaking smartphone snapshots. And yes, if you want to download a program to your laptop, there are free desktop-based photo editors for that, too.

The only way to get Photoshop for free is to download the free seven-day trial. However, there are some great free Photoshop alternatives for simpler photo edits. From the free mobile Photoshop Express designed by Adobe, the makers of Photoshop, to the open-source GIMP, here are the best free Photoshop alternatives.

Adobe Photoshop Express

While Adobe Photoshop Express is mobile-only, the app is an excellent choice for quick photo edits from a smartphone or tablet. The mobile app has fewer tools than the fully-fledged version, making Photoshop Express more beginner-friendly. Inside the mobile app, edits that would typically require complex tutorials in Photoshop are a few self-explanatory taps away, including fixing blemishes and adding makeup.

Users must pay to access its best features, but the free version still includes many photo editing tools. If you want to crop, fix acne, apply filters, adjust color or exposure, that’s all possible in the free Photoshop Express. While Photoshop Express is a good option for editing smartphone photos and creating collages, you’ll want Adobe Express for creating graphics from scratch.

Adobe Express

Adobe Express is a free, web-based graphics program made by the same company behind Photoshop. Under the photo section, quick edits allow users with no previous experience to resize an image quickly, convert it to a JPEG or PNG, or crop a photo. Adobe Express even allows for quick background removal and also includes some generative AI tools, including generative fill and generative expand.

While there are a few quick photo editing tools inside Adobe Express, much of the online software is dedicated to creating graphics. Thanks to many templates and options, Adobe Express is a quick option for building projects from social media graphics to logos, videos, and resumes. If you’re looking to create graphics rather than fix a photo, Adobe Express is an excellent free alternative.

Picsart

Available both from a web browser or as a dedicated mobile app, Picsart is a straightforward photo editor that’s easy to jump into, whether working on a laptop or a smartphone. The program allows for basic edits like cropping and resizing but also includes more advanced tools like batch editing multiple images at once. If you want to cut out an object from one photo and paste it onto another, Picsart is one of the few apps that will let you tackle that task for free.While you can trace an object with your finger to cut out the background, tasks like automatic background removal using artificial intelligence require a subscription. But, there are still a lot of tools inside the free version of Picsart, with the mobile app tending to offer a bit more than the web-based photo editor.

Pixlr

Pixlr is a suite of web-based photo and graphics tools. By dividing the photo tools from the graphic design tools into different programs, Pixlr offers a clean, uncluttered interface while still including the must-have editing tools. The layout and tools even feel like a simpler variation of Photoshop. The Pixlr E photo editor has a few more options than the basic free editors, including layers. The app also has tools for quickly correcting blemishes, cropping, adding background blur, and more. Pixlr has more free-to-use tools than other comparable programs. However, the trade-off for the wide range of tools is that a subscription is required to save more than three images a month. Subscriptions will also remove ads and offer access to Pixlr’s mobile apps.

Photopea

While most free photo editors require a subscription for the best features, Photopea includes all of its tools in the free program. That’s pretty impressive, considering Photopea includes basics like resizing and saving to different formats and more advanced tools, including layers. Because layers, masks, and healing tools are included, Photopea can handle more advanced edits. The software, which can be run off a web browser or downloaded to a computer, can also handle many file types, including .PSD files (the type of file Photoshop uses). That makes Photopea double as a free PSD file converter as well. The design of the toolbar and different window panels also feels similar—though simpler than—the real Photoshop.

The biggest motivation for upgrading to a paid subscription is for more storage, as half a gigabyte in the free option may not be enough for high-resolution, multi-layered files. The subscription also eliminates ads, adds more history to undo a mistake, and includes email support.

Canva

While Canva’s strength lies more in quick and simple graphic design, the online app has a few options for free photo editing as well. Adjusting the exposure, color, and crop is a straightforward process in Canva. The app also allows users to select the foreground, background, or the entire image for more localized image edits.

Editing images in Canva is ideal for users who want to create a collage, design a social media post, or create a flyer. That’s because Canva has a lot of different design templates and tools to work with as well. Like with other free programs, many templates and tools require a subscription, but the quick and simple interface is worth a look.

GIMP

A lot of free Photoshop alternatives can tackle basics like cropping and resizing. But, if you need an app that can handle more complex edits, including layers, with a non-existent price tag, try GIMP. An open-source software, GIMP is a free photo editor that has several features in common with Photoshop, including the use of layers and layer masks. Like Photoshop, GIMP can be used both for photo editing and for creating graphics from scratch. The open-source software is also available for download to Mac, Windows, and Linux. This means users can work from their hard drive rather than off an internet connection and web browser.

GIMP offers more advanced tools than a basic free photo editor. That means it is the ideal choice for more complex tasks. But that also means GIMP has a steeper learning curve. The open-source software lacks many of Photoshop’s newest features, but it’s an excellent option for those looking for advanced—and even customizable—free desktop software for photo editing.

Source: pocket-lint

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