Adobe Photoshop remains one of the most popular professional photo editors with a history of over 20 years. Photoshop has always been a paid product until now. Here is how you can use Photoshop for free (with a catch!). We will also list some free alternatives to photo editing.
Adobe is testing the free version of Photoshop. The free Photoshop will not be completely free. It is positioned more as a freemium product. You will be able to use the free online version of Photoshop in your browser, but some important features will be only accessible to paying customers.
Over a year ago, Adobe introduced the web-based version of Photoshop. Over the last months they have added more features to it. We hear the rumor that the free online version is being tested in Canada, but the worldwide release date has not been announced yet.
In the publicly available documents Adobe said the free version would have enough core tools for the basic photo editing needs. Until it’s launched worldwide, Adobe keeps adding new features to the free version: curves, burn tool, and others. The tool is not yet mobile compatible, but that’s coming soon too.
Our assumption is that the paid version of the online Photoshop version will be cheaper than the current subscription within the Creative Suite ($9.99/month).
How to get started with free Photoshop
To try the Beta version for free online, go to this Adobe page and log in by using your Google or Facebook account.
Once logged in, you can start by adding an image to edit.
You have an array of tools to use. The free version also allows you to export your images.
Free alternatives to Photoshop
While Adobe is still working on its free web-based version, we can use several other robust tools to edit photos, create thumbnails, static image ads, YouTube end screens, and more. Let’s look at some alternatives to Photoshop below. We list a mix of downloadable and online free editors.
We use Paint.net for all our basic and quick edits: cropping, resizing. Paint.net is one of the most powerful yet simple image and photo editing tools on the market, in our opinion.
Paint.net allows you to work with multiple documents or panels. The other notable features include: support for multiple layers with blending modes, support for rulers and gradients, tons of image formats supported.
Download Paint.net here and install it on your computer.
Gimp is another free downloadable app. It is available for both Windows and Mac, making it so popular with photographers.
Gimp is a true free alternative to Photoshop. It supports the most popular formats like JPEG, GIF, PNG, and TIFF. It can also support PSD, but not all the layers may be readable.
Gimp gives you access to features like: paint tools, custom brushes, editable text layers, transformation tools, layers, masks, and many more. Gimp also has a solid universe of custom plugins that you can install easily. Download Gimp on its official website.
Pixlr X is a free online photo editing tool that’s based on HTML5. This allows the tool to work seamlessly across browsers and devices. Pixlr X comes with a modern interface.
This tool is web-based, but it has a good amount of tools available. You can rotate, flip, straighten images; crop and resize; add filters; change the image’s vibrance, shadows, and many more. Start using Pixlr X here.
Krita is getting more attention from the creative community due to its unique color palette used for coloring photos. You can also import brush and texture packs from other artists with ease. The Krita forum is a vibrant community with a lot of tips and tricks to learn about the tool.
Here are some interesting features available within Krita: shortcuts to your favorite tools, brush stabilizers, brush customizations, assistant tools. You can try Krita here.
Photopea as a free image editor focuses on something else that we all need: faster editing times. This free online tool allows you to crop and resize images in no time. This beats heavy tools like Photoshop by a wide margin.
Photopea is fully web-based. Despite that it supports a multitude of formats like PSD, XD, CDR alongside the popular ones like JPG, SVG, PNG.
Here are some notable features available in Photopea: powerful brush and pen tools, blend modes similar to Photoshop, good selection of ready-to-use templates.
Other photo editing tools
We should also mention the almost-free tools coming from the big guys.
Canva’s image editor allows you to start using the tool for free. But a lot of valuable features are available only to paying customers.
Create by Shutterstock
Shutterstock has a newly released Create tool, which has a good amount of features. But the idea of the tool is for you to start using the Shutterstock image library to license the imagery that you edit.
Adobe is seeing the move of the industry to more affordable web-based image editors. This is why they are working on the freemium version of Photoshop. In one word, this abundance of online tools is beneficial for creators who can now pick and choose by both price and features.