Five great photo editing software alternatives to Adobe Photoshop CS5

Are you searching for alternatives to Adobe Photoshop for your professional photo editing needs? Then read this article for the best 5 alternatives of Adobe Photoshop CS5 to satisfy your photo editing requirments

Originally developed in the late 1980s on a Macintosh Plus, Adobe Photoshop has grown over the years to become the industry standard graphics editing program and its latest iteration, Creative Suite 5 contains a flexible and powerful range of tools beloved by many media professionals due to its ability to facilitate the creation of images of unparalleled quality. For all these reasons, Photoshop is the first point of call for the budding graphic design professional.

However, impressive as Adobe's flagship product is, for those of us who have less intensive image editing requirements, such as general resizing and basic touch up of images, the significant price tag and comparatively steep learning curve of Photoshop make it unsuited for every day use.

Thankfully, there are many efficient and low cost alternatives to Adobe PhotoShop to take care of your professional or amateur photo editing needs. These softwares have many of the commonly used features of Photoshop and are a perfect alternative to PhotoShop. Below, we take a look at five of the best, three of which are completely free of charge.

GIMP photo editing software (free)

Gimp screenshot
GIMP, or to give the application its full name, the GNU Image Manipulation program, is a free and open source image editing software which is available on most major operating system platforms, including all recent versions of Microsoft Windows, most Linux flavors and, of course, Mac OS X. The GIMP project date all the way back to 1995 and has grown over the years to offer increased functionality competing with its more high end counterparts such as Adobe Photoshop CS.

The one drawback to the otherwise, excellent GIMP goes only skin deep - its rather un-Mac like interface seems reminiscent of a barebones Linux application rather than the eye candy we're used to seeing in OS X Lion. This one caveat notwithstanding, GIMP is a fully featured image editing application with dedicated online community from which to seek help and advice.

Pixelmator ($29.99) photo editing software

Pixelmator was created in 2007 Saulius and Aidas Dailide, who wished to create a beautiful, intuitive and flexible image editing application suitable for those who found Photoshop too expensive and too powerful for their needs - and they have succeeded. Unlike the slightly plain looking GIMP, Pixelmator matches a lightweight, easy to use application with an interface which looks perfectly at home when used in conjunction with most high quality Mac OS X software.

Perhaps more so than any Photoshop competitor, Pixelmator simply oozes quality, complemented by an extensive feature set hiding just beneath that intuitive surface.

Adobe Photoshop Express (free, web-based) photo editing software

Adobe Photoshop Express
With the increasing sophistication of modem web browsers, it's no surprise that developers have found ways of delivering innovative cross-platform web-applications. However, what is perhaps surprising is the level of sophistication which such applications have now reached and Adobe Photoshop Express is an example of what can be achieved within the web browser of your choice.

Accessible on any major Flash-enabled web browser, Adobe Photoshop Express is free to use, following a brief and painless sign-up process. Within the web-app exists a wealth of information and tutorials, in addition to cloud and well thought out tools for basic image editing - all of which look set to ensure that Adobe Photoshop Express will become thought of as the Google Docs of Image editing.

Acorn ($49.99, free trial available)photo editing software

Acorn photo editor
Acorn takes much the same approach to image editing as Pixelmator and offers many features similar to Adobe Photoshop in a lightweight, affordable package. While the $49.99 price tag makes Acorn the most expensive such application covered here today, this is mitigated by a free trial available from the developer's website.

Acorn combines an easy to understand User Interface and pleasing graphics with features such as web export, the ability to chain together several of the many on- board filters available and a screenshot feature to ensure that this little app packs quite a punch.

Preview (free, bundled with Mac OS X) photo editing software

Preview photo editor
Coming bundled as part of Mac OS X, Preview is often overlooked for image editing tasks and is consigned to life as a PDF viewer due to its apparent simplicity. However, before you completely dismiss Preview for its lack of features, be aware that the application can actually be rather effective for basic image editing tasks like resizing, cropping and exporting images to other file formats.

Indeed, by looking in the Tools menu and selecting menu options like Adjust Colour, Adjust Size and Crop, you can unlock the hidden functionality which Apple deigned to include with this handy OS X utility.


Though none of the applications mentioned above command the same respect in professional image editing circles as Adobe Photoshop CS5, they are each nonetheless excellent alternatives to those of us who have simpler needs in their own way. No such list can claim to be completely exhaustive but will hopefully go some way to highlight the fact that whatever one's skill, budget and experience, image editing need not be an overwhelming task.

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Author: Shivangi Varma28 May 2012 Member Level: Gold   Points : 0

I would like to add that Picassa and Instagram are also effective Photo editing software's in demand today. Instagram a mobile application is also a very user friendly photo editing tool.

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