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(Pocket-lint) - Adobe Photoshop is a cool app, but for £100 a year, we can't help but wonder if there are cheaper alternatives available.

We love the ability to work with multiple layers, add cool filters and effects, brush out icky flaws, adjust levels, and all the usual photo-editing tricks, so it's very important to us that the next photo-editing app we choose to use has all of these features and hopefully more.

We just need an alternative that doesn't break the piggy bank, because let's be real, shelling out £9 a month for an app you only use to play with colours and saturations is a bit much. That money could be better spent on, well, anything. If you agree and aren't married to Adobe, consider one of the four alternatives below. We've spent some time playing with them and will be the first to admit they get the job done.

All that said, if you're the type who uses other Adobe software, such as InDesign, or if you rely on a powerful photo editor for your day job, you might want to fully test them before going ahead canceling your monthly Creative Cloud membership.


Price: £22.99
Platform: Mac, iPad
Website: Pixelmator.com
Features: Pixelmator is widely consider the best Photoshop alternative for Mac users. It's copied tonnes of Photoshop features and even supports PS files. It feels just as powerful too, though some things look and work a bit differently. Still, with a bit of time and patience, you'll be able to master all of its retouching tools, painting tools, and drawing tools in no time. There's even a capable iPad app.

Affinity Photo

Price: Free
Platform: OS X (in beta)
Website: Affinity.serif.com
Features: From the makers of the popular Affinity Design app comes the Affinity Photo app. It's packed with advanced tools, end-to-end CMYK 16-bit per channel editing, RAW processing, and even a Photoshop Content Aware Fill-like tool. The only downside is that it's in beta right now, so it might get a little buggy at times (like when opening many large photos at once), and it's only free while in beta.

Autodesk Pixlr

Pixlr3 cheaper and free alternatives to adobe photoshop image 2

Price: Free
Platform: Windows, OS X, Android, iOS, and web
Website: Pixlr.com
Features: Pixlr is a free photo editor, but don't let that fool you. It's actually pretty good and has a wide-ranging tool set, including the ability to apply quick fixes, overlays, filters, and stickers to any project. We especially like the web app. Not only is it fully featured, but it's really smooth and fast to use from a browser. Some of Pixlr’s most advanced features require a $15 a year subscription, though.

Honorable mentions

And that's it. Let us know in the comments if you've heard of or played with some other Adobe Photoshop alternatives, and we'll make sure to check them out and consider adding them to this list over time.

Note: We purposefully chose not to include Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop Elements, as they're costly and also from Adobe.

Writing by Elyse Betters. Originally published on 18 May 2015.