Free or Cheap Alternatives to Photoshop

January 11, 2009

in applications

by Tina Gasperson

For creating and manipulating digital graphics, many consider Adobe Photoshop to be the standard. Professional graphic artists use this tool to work their magic on images for online use and in print publications of all kinds. Photoshop is such a powerful tool that most people need to take at least one class to even come close to learning how to use it to full effect. Most “regular” computer users only need a few of the features included in Photoshop and may find the program, if not the price tag, intimidating. So, what low-cost software is available for the “rest of us” who only need to perform basic manipulation of our digital images? Depending on what you need to do with your images, there are several applications available for you to try in your search for image editing software that fits the bill.

Picasa by Google is a free photo editing application that organizes your entire image collection and makes it easy to upload them to PicasaWeb, Google’s online photo community, email them, or send images to a photo printing service. Picasa 3 includes a collection of the most useful editing tools, like red-eye removal, automatic color correction, blemish fixing, cropping, and color filters.

The Gimp image editing software is very similar to Photoshop, but it is completely free to download, install, and use. Those of you who have used Photoshop will pick up on The Gimp’s navigational system quickly. The Gimp doesn’t have the tight online integration that Picasa has, but if you need to do more in-depth editing work, Gimp is the right choice for you.

If you use a Macintosh computer, Seashore is a free basic image editing application that will work on your system. It supports gradients, textures, and layers, but without many of the more technical features of Photoshop.

Finally, you can do all your photo editing online now, with This application is free to use and runs on any platform. It offers many of the same features that Picasa does, like color fix, red eye removal, and sharpening filters. Picnik also provides some cool preset special effects, some of which are only available to those who sign up for a $24.95 yearly premium membership. In addition to extra special effects, premium members can upload up to
100 photos at a time.

Don’t let the high cost of Adobe Photoshop stop you from becoming a digital photo-editing wizard. Take advantage of these cheap alternatives.

Tina Gasperson (, affectionately known as Computer Lady by her family, has been writing about IT, home computing, and the Internet for more than a decade.

{ 1 comment }

Bud Pass 01.13.09 at 7:23 pm

PaintDotNet is a great open-source free alternative to PhotoShop.

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