Best alternative to Adobe Photoshop in March 2023 (2023)

By Steve Paris, Christian Rigg

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Steve Clark

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Explore the best alternatives to Adobe Photoshop








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The best Adobe Photoshop alternatives deliver powerful, professional photo editing tools that let you do just as much as Adobe Photoshop without needing a Creative Cloud subscription.

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Arguably the best photo editor on the market, there’s no question Photoshop is the industry standard - so popular the noun became a verb. Packed with AI-powered tools, there’s not a lot you can’t create and edit, whether you’re a photographer, graphic designer, or artist. But it’s not to everyone’s taste. It’s only available on subscription, and it can feel intimidating for those new to photo editing.

Whether you’re a veteran, a novice, or you’re just working to a budget on your latest project you’ll find plenty of alternatives to Adobe Photoshop to match your experience and needs.

TechRadar Pro has tested the best Adobe Photoshop alternatives, including paid and free photo editors, to help you find the software that fits your creative workflow.

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Adobe Photoshop (opens in new tab) is our pick for best photo editor overall. In our 5-star review, we hailed it as “the king of photo editors” with a solid set of new tools and AI features - although noting that its raw power may be overkill for some. An industry-standard, relied on by artists, content creators, and creatives, it's become the definitive photo editing app. The benchmark against which all other image editing tools are measured.

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The best alternatives to Adobe Photoshop in 2023

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Best Adobe Photoshop alternative overall

Reasons to buy


Huge number of features, easily extensible


Raw and PSD compatible


Free and open source

Reasons to avoid


Complex interface and steep learning curve


No CMYK color mode (add-on available)

GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is a professional, open-source photography powerhouse that works on Linux, Windows, and macOS.So, it's both the best Adobe Photoshop alternative overall, and an excellent free alternative, too.

In our hands-on review, we called Gimp "our top pick for the best free photo editor, and comes with a huge array of professional-quality functions for fine-tuning snaps and creating your own artwork from scratch. "

GIMP boasts a huge number of features and functions that rival Photoshop. There’s also a huge community of developers and artists who have created a wide array of plugins, making this a highly adaptable program. If you desire a specific feature, there’s probably an add-on for it.

The interface is highly customizable, so you can pare things back or leverage multiple windows and toolbars as needed. For this reason, GIMP has a similarly steep learning curve as Photoshop, but once you’ve made your way through a few tutorials, it’s quite comfortable.

In our experience, GIMP was slightly less responsive and used a few more resources than its proprietary counterpart, but this can be easily forgiven on the basis that GIMP always has been and always will be free and open source.

Read our full Gimp review.

Best alternative to Adobe Photoshop in March 2023 (5)

2. Affinity Photo

Best subscription-free Photoshop alternative

Reasons to buy


Works on Windows, macOS, and iPad


Impressively large toolkit


No subscriptions

Reasons to avoid


So many tools it may overwhelm new users


Some annoying interface choices

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Affinity Photo, from Serif, is positively packed with professional tools that make it a genuine rival to Photoshop for both Windows and macOS. There’s also an iPad version for mobile image editing.

You’ll find an impressively clean interface (although the Ui can be occasionally glitchy). But there

There’s also no shortage of useful tools, including PSD file support, RAW Support, masking, layering, retouching, removing blemishes, curving, and a full set of 16-bit filters. In our review, we noted that “the list of tools is incredibly long, and rivals bigger, more expensive competitors, yes, even Photoshop itself.” The only danger here, then, is that you may be overwhelmed by everything on offer.

Securing its position as one of the best Photoshop alternatives is the price. There are no endless subscription fees - just a one-off purchase that offers pretty good value for money. You can get the standalone app for $70 / £60 / AU$110. Alternatively, the Affinity V2 universal license, bundling the photo editor alongside Affinity Designer and Affinity Publisher, costs $170 / £145 / AU$260.

Read our full Serif Affinity Photo review

Best alternative to Adobe Photoshop in March 2023 (6)

3. ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate

Best for intermediate photo editors

Reasons to buy


Updates deliver great new features


AI tools


Stable software

Reasons to avoid


PC only


May be daunting for beginners

ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate 2023 is an image manipulation tool that allows you to perform many functions you’d find in behemoths like Adobe Photoshop, but at a fraction of the cost.

When we tested out the software, we found a versatile alternative to Photoshop. It might not match every powerful feature in Adobe’s top tool, but it delivers most tools for most photo editors.

The latest features include AI-based tools such as ‘AI Actions’ which help you perform potentially time-consuming tasks such as blurring a background, or selecting an object, with just the click of a button. ‘AI Face Edit’ is interesting as it allows you to alter the face of a subject, and the end result is pretty impressive.

Monthly and annual subscriptions are available, bundling Photo Studio Ultimate alongside Gemstone Photo Editor, Luxea Video Editor, Video Converter Pro, and Photo Studio for Mac for $9 / £8 / $15AUD a month or $89 / £79 / $142AUD a year. You’ll get free updates and upgrades as long as your subscription remains active, are allowed up to five users per product, get 100GB of cloud storage, and have access to tutorials and workshops.

Alternatively, it can be yours outright for the one-off price of $150 / £132 / $239AUD. This includes a year of free updates and technical support.

Overall, a great Photoshop alternative for creating professional-looking content while working to a budget.

Read our full ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate review

Best alternative to Adobe Photoshop in March 2023 (7)

4. Pixlr X

Best free online Photoshop alternative

Reasons to buy


Layer support


Web-app, available from any browser


Clean design


Intuitive workflow experience

Reasons to avoid


Missing some features (e.g., custom brushes)


Limited filetype compatibility (no PSD)

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Online only

Pixlr is one of the best free Photoshop alternatives online - so it's available as a web app. During our review of the HTML 5 photo editing software, we said it's "so feature-packed, it gives desktop apps a serious run for their money."

The Pixlr interface is more spartan than either Photoshop or GIMP, but that’s not a bad thing. The workflow is streamlined and intuitive: you can drag-and-drop a photo from your computer or add a URL, and then get to work adjusting images with familiar one-click filters and sliders.

Given that it’s a web app, Pixlr has surprisingly robust layer support - one of the reasons why it's considered one of the best Photoshop alternatives. However, important features are still missing. Custom brushes, for example, are slated for development in the future but don’t exist yet.

Overall, Pixlr gives you a super clean and intuitive interface for basic to medium-complexity photo editing.

Read our full Pixlr X review.

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5. Luminar AI

Best budget Adobe Photoshop alternative

Reasons to buy


Leverages AI for impressive features


Available as standalone or Adobe/Apple plug-in


Sync AI edits across photos


Download new skies or upload your own

Reasons to avoid


Can be heavy on system resources


No mobile version or web app

One of the best Adobe Photoshop alternatives without subscriptions is Luminar AI. It isn’t the cheapest option out there, but it’s a powerful photo editing software that leverages artificial intelligence and machine learning to help artists create amazing photos in just a few clicks.

In our Luminar AI review, we said the tool is "a terrific new option for photographers who know their images would benefit from some edits, but don't have the time or knowledge to make them happen."

Luminar is available as a standalone editor or a plug-in for Adobe products, so this is an alternative that you can actually use in tandem with Photoshop.

Its impressive features include instant AI sky replacement, AI portrait and skin enhancer, sunrays, advanced AI structure and lighting filters, a smart contrast tool for preserving color and texture, and object removal brushes, some of the best we’ve used.

The layout is clean and intuitive, with most functions available in the sidebar. Clicking on one brings up sliders for customizing effects, with advanced settings available. From start to finish, the Luminar photo editing workflow is smooth and speedy.

As for pricing, there are no subscriptions, just a one-off payment of around $40 /£35 / AU$60 for one PC.

Read our full Luminar AI review.

Best alternative to Adobe Photoshop in March 2023 (9)

6. Photos Pos Pro

Best alternative to Adobe Photoshop for beginners

Reasons to buy


Customizable interface


Support for scripts, batch editing, and one-click editing tools


Raw and PSD compatible

Reasons to avoid


Limited set of filters


Limited keyboard shortcuts

Ranked as one of the best Adobe Photoshop alternatives because it's just so feature-rich, Photo Pos Pro comes with tools for editing images, web design, and document creation.

In fact, we believe that "while this is certainly a powerful tool, it's a little quirky and takes a little while to get used to", in part because it offers twin-track interfaces: one for beginners, one for experts.

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This customizable interface lets you select either Novice or Pro layouts. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, but essentially, the novice layout sacrifices power for usability, while the pro layout is feature-rich, albeit with a steep learning curve. Even if it’s not executed perfectly, this flexibility is commendable and practical.

While it lacks the deep customization that professional photographers rely on, it's still one of the best Adobe Photoshop alternatives for making adjustments to photos for presentations, marketing campaigns, or personal enjoyment.

With layers, masking, brushes, scripts, and batch editing, Photos Pos Pro is a feature-rich alternative to Photoshop.

Read our full Photo Pos Pro review.

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7. Krita

Best Adobe Photoshop alternative for drawing

Reasons to buy


Excellent tablet support for drawing


Highly customizable brush engine


Vector and raster capabilities


Large community

Reasons to avoid


Some photo editing features missing

Krita is open-source and free alternative to Adobe Photoshop, backed by a huge community of developers and talented artists who share artwork and methods. If you’re looking for an active user base that’s invested in discussing and sharing art, Krita is a great Photoshop alternative.

Beyond the community, Krita is an incredibly powerful photo editing software, with hundreds of brushes and a brush customization engine, vector and text capabilities for comic strips, a wrap-around mode for seamless repeating images and patterns, and a powerful resource manager for importing tools from other artists.

We found the interface intuitive and familiar, with minor functions like being able to scroll sliders with the trackpad and having helpful tooltips that let us know to find the right tool.

Krita isn't one of the best Adobe Photoshop alternatives for its photo editing tools. In fact, it's more of a drawing tool than a photo editor (and even made our list of best free drawing software). For that reason, certain features are missing: fewer photo filters, no automatic heal tool, etc. It does, however, support opening and saving PSD files.

Also, Krita has fantastic tablet support with custom sensitivity settings, so for artists looking to combine drawing and photos, it’s hard to beat.

Best Adobe Photoshop alternatives: Buying advice

How to choose the best Adobe Photoshop alternative for you

Why you can trust TechRadar Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

When deciding which alternative to Photoshop is best for you, first consider how much of your relevant image file you need to edit and change. If you’re just trying to make simple edits to an existing image file, you may find a free software program will suit you fine. However, if you plan to develop a file from scratch and/or plan to make a series of complicated edits using advanced photo-editing tools and filters, it may be better to aim for one of the higher range and more expensive programs on our list.

How we test the best alternatives to Adobe Photoshop

To test for the best Adobe Photoshop alternatives we first set up an account with the relevant software platform, whether as a download or as an online service. We then tested the service using a handful of images to see how the software could be used for the editing and development of each image. The aim was to push each software platform to see whether it could simply and easily not just edit a range of content types but also do so faithfully and consistently without introducing formatting issues or similar problems.

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Steve Paris

Steve has been writing about technology since 2003. Starting with Digital Creative Arts, he's since added his tech expertise at titles such as iCreate, MacFormat, MacWorld, MacLife, and TechRadar. His focus is on the creative arts, like website builders, image manipulation, and filmmaking software, but he hasn’t shied away from more business-oriented software either. He uses many of the apps he writes about in his personal and professional life. Steve loves how computers have enabled everyone to delve into creative possibilities, and is always delighted to share his knowledge, expertise, and experience with readers.

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