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Free Online Photoshop Alternatives That Don't Suck

Creative Market March 31, 2021 · 3 min read

Photoshop’s feature set is so staggeringly huge that it’s difficult or perhaps impossible to find a competitor that truly stacks up. That being said, it’s rare for someone to actually need all of those features in their workflow. In fact, for many quick design or photo editing needs, a lot of people can get by just fine with free online photo editors. The problem is, most of these online editors kind of suck. Fortunately, there are a few than stand out as not only usable, but actually pretty great. Here are six you should try.
Note: Many of these apps have pro features or versions, but all make good on the promise of being highly functional in their free iterations.

1. Pixlr

This web editor is by far the most powerful free Photoshop alternative you’ll find. Pixlr is easy to use and has many of the heavy-hitting editing tools that you can usually only find in paid programs, like cloning and color replacement. It’s the closest thing to free Photoshop you’ll find on the web.

2. Polarr

Out of all the apps listed, Polarr gives you the most control over photo effects and color selection. You can even create filters (called "dynamic styles" in the editor). The best editing options on it in my opinion are the artificial distortions and lens physics. They give digital pictures that film quality look.

3. Adobe Photoshop Express Editor

One of the many awesome things about Adobe is that they offer some of the image editing tools from their paid programs for free online. Adobe Photoshop Express Editor is pretty simple: basic (crop, re-size, general touch-up); adjustment (exposure, highlight, sharpen); and effects (crystallize, sketch, distort). But they are very effective. Some of the best features are found in the decorating tool sets. You can easily add text, sticky notes, costumes, and other fun stuff to your photos.

4. PicMonkey

Even if you have full access to the entire Photoshop suite, PicMonkey is a great alternative or complement to photo editing. The simple but powerful editing capabilities of this app will do wonders for your image. You can add different images together, set canvas backgrounds, add text, and much more.

5. Fotor

Fotor is perfect for perfecting portraits. You can perform very detailed and delicate work, like adding or fixing makeup to someone’s face. You can even whiten teeth, remove blemishes, and do a little reshaping. Though it can lag at times, it’s a great app and you can really do a lot with the editing tools.

6. Canva

Most of the photo editors listed here are variations on similar programs to Photoshop, but Canva is something pretty different. It’s a powerful online tool that helps you create great looking designs of all types, even without any design experience whatsoever. You simply choose a template, customize the text and images, and you’re ready to go.

Which Free Online Photoshop Alternative Is Your Favorite?

By combining the strengths of these online Photoshop alternatives, you can get amazing results without paying a cent. Have you created anything in a free Photoshop alternative that you love? Post it below.

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  • Good to know! Thanks 7 years ago
  • Great list. Pixlr is my current fave. Had a few times when I needed a graphic in a hurry but wasn't near my own machine to use Photoshop. Pixlr is definitely a life saver in a pinch. 7 years ago
  • I didn't know about Adobe Photoshop Express Editor. But online editors are great -they really save me when I'm using the Chromebook. 7 years ago
  • Pixlr is awesome.. Thanks for sharing! 7 years ago
  • Just started playing around with Canva, and it is great for non-designers ( like myself! ) , but what I love most about Canva is it's companion iPad app that allows you to work on saved designs, start a new one, save and share. 7 years ago
  • Thanks for the info, I'll have to try Pixlr. I'm using Gimp now and can't really get comfortable with it! 7 years ago
  • I use 3 of these daily and they are AWESOME! I would love to sign up for Photoshop CC but Windows Vista is a no no :( 7 years ago
  • That's amazing guys! 7 years ago
  • thanks for this write-up on photo editors. I finally gave in a shelled out to subscribe to PS CC2014 (but, I just *hate* paying rent...), so haven't look at alternatives online. But very surprised to see Canva on this listing, which I use frequently, *love*, and highly recommend to others for putting together quick layouts for twitter, Facebook and the like (I love the preset templates that are correctly sized for social media sites). I can use my own images, keeping usage totally free, then download my png/pdf file for print or web use. Boom. Done. Love it! 7 years ago
  • I love PicMonkey. I refer my customers who purchase my party printables (from my Etsy shop) there when they need to add text or clipart to party pennants. It is so easy to use...I don't have to worry about my customers' level of computer skills! 7 years ago
  • I've moved away from Adobe for many reasons, but mostly the subscription service. I haven't upgraded from CS6 and I'm using Capture One for stills and Blackmagic Design Resolve for video. 2 years ago
  • Anonymous
    Hi, Very nice article. I really enjoyed going through all the great information you’ve provided in this great article. Keep up the great work. Thank you 10 months ago
  • I would add which is awesome and free and can be use in your browser! It is a copy of Photoshop and can even open .psd!!! 10 months ago