8 Windows Image Editors As Possible Replacements for Adobe Photoshop

May 18, 2013

Image Editing ToolsAdobe’s announcement of the move to Creative Cloud going forward was not received well by some users of Adobe Photoshop. If you truly need Adobe Photoshop, you’ll have to move to the cloud version if you want to get new features and an updated version. A couple of days ago I asked Do You NEED the Full Version of Photoshop? In that post, I suggested that Adobe Photoshop Elements may do everything you could possibly need.

Today I will put together a list of other image editors for Windows and will note if a Mac version or a free trial is available for each product. I am not saying these products are as powerful as Adobe Photoshop. Yet these products may have the features you need. Products are listed in alphabetical order and it is up to you to follow the links provided to see if any of these products could be your solution.

Adobe Photoshop Elements

Adobe Photoshop Elements contains almost all of the features of the full Adobe Photoshop at a fraction of the price. If you absolutely want a product with the word Photoshop in the name, look no further. As it is based on Photoshop, the interface is very similar and it is also compatible with Photoshop files. It currently sells at Amazon for approximately $68.

ArcSoft Photostudio

A very powerful product that may not be as well known as others is ArcSoft PhotoStudio. Not only does it include all the familiar editing tools and effects, it also includes a tool for creating HDR (high dynamic range) images. It is available for both Mac and Windows and a 15-day trial is available.

Corel PaintShop Pro

Corel bought JASC about eight years ago and one of the prizes of that acquisition is the popular PaintShop Pro image editor. Under the Corel umbrella, it has undergone a number of new versions. While it is geared towards hobbyist photographers, it is often listed as one of the better alternatives to Adobe Photoshop. It is Windows-only and a free trial version is available.


Corel PHOTO-PAINT is not sold separately, only as part of the CorelDRAW Graphics Suite. So in addition to a powerful image editor, you also get a top vector editing tool in CorelDRAW. Corel PHOTO-PAINT is my primary image editor and it probably used for more than 95% of my image editing needs. It is Windows only, though it can be run on a Mac using emulators such as Boot Camp and Parallels. A free trial version of the CorelDRAW Graphics Suite is available.


GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is well-known as an open source image editor. It is not only on Mac and Windows, but also several other platforms. If you are looking for an alternative, you’ll definitely want to get this completely free tool to see if it meets your needs.

Google Picasa

Google Picasa may not qualify as a full-fledged image editor, but it does include a number of basic image editing tools. As it is available for free download (Windows only), it certainly doesn’t hurt to add it to your graphics toolbox. It is more of a tool for managing photos and connecting with various Google online services yet includes a number of useful filters.

Serif PhotoPlus

Serif is well-known for their powerful yet budget-friendly graphics applications and Serif PhotoPlus is their entry in the image editing category. It can certainly match and exceed some of Adobe Photoshop Elements features so it is worth a long look. Sorry, Mac users, it is Windows only. The online price is $89.99 and no free trial is listed.

Ulead PhotoImpact

When Corel purchased Ulead, one of the products added to the Corel line-up was Ulead PhotoImpact. It may very well meet your needs, but note that it has not been updated in a few years and I wouldn’t be surprised if it is never updated since Corel already has other competing image editors. On a positive note, it sells for $29.99. There is no Mac version available, but there is a free trial available for Windows.

If I missed a favorite image editor of yours, please post a comment and tell us all about it. Of course I also welcome your feedback on any of the tools listed here.

Post Discussion


  1. Anonymous

    Great Post!
    I just purchased a coppy of SERIF PHOTOPLUS X6 for $39.99 with free shipping, manuals and CD disc.
    If you want to go with last years copy (X5) it goes for $15 online.

  2. Anonymous

    A friend suggested IrfanView. Any opinions on this one?

  3. Foster D. Coburn III

    I love Irfanview and have written about it several times on this blog. Use the search box for previous write-ups. You should definitely have it on your system. But I don’t consider it an image editor as much as an image viewer and conversion utility.

  4. Anonymous

    A free program to use for image editing is Gimp. It has a lot of features like layers, filters,and text tools that make it really nice. http://www.gimp.org/ “GIMP is an acronym for GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed program for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring.”

  5. Anna McCullough

    There’s also Zoner (www.zoner.com) – a nice, fast photo editor that also doubles as a Lightroom-style cataloging program. No layer capability, but quite fully featured otherwise.

  6. Anonymous

    Although technically not a photo editor ACDSeePro has all the tools most people would need for photo editing plus a first class photo manager. It does not offer layers but editing is non-destructive.

  7. Bill Brown

    I am a beta tester for Corel Paint Shop Pro 6. I quit using it after version 4 as it crashed a lot and I found the interface a mess. I got by using Adobe Elements 7 and 3 or 4 other tools from various companies. I have been testing the new version of Paint Shop Pro 6 and I think I may be on to the best replacement if you do a lot of product photos. I always thought that PSE had the best way of cutting out photo backgrounds but CPSP 6 works faster for me once I got used to the way it works. I also noticed they copied the layout of PE7 with tabs for organize, fix and edit. Much better work flow.

  8. Anonymous

    I love PSP. Have used it for years. It is easy to use & has all the features of the other programs. Older versions are fully functional and available cheap. PSP XI is at amazon for $29. The newest X5 is only $50. Sure beats paying Adobe’s rediculous prices.
    I have Corel Photo Paint but find PSP much easier to use.
    An old program that is no longer available is Microsoft Digital Image Suite 2006. Does some neat editing.

  9. Anonymous

    Do any of these software programs have the equiliviant of PS Channels? We use Channels to do seperations using spot colors and the color selection tools for producing and printing positives in T-shirt deigns.

  10. Foster D. Coburn III

    Corel PHOTO-PAINT definitely has Channels that can be used for spot colors. There is a really old (like 15 years old) tutorial covering this technique at http://www.cedesign.com/html/zigerpawz.htm . Unfortunately the screen shots are no longer on the server so you can only see the text. What you will find is the technique is nearly identical for this in Photoshop and PHOTO-PAINT.


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Foster D. Coburn III built his first Web site in 1995 and he has been working exclusively in WordPress since 2013. He has used the Divi theme exclusively since 2015. Earlier in his career he was the author of 13 best-selling books on CorelDRAW and has been a contributor to numerous technology and graphics-related magazines. Foster has taken many projects, including this Web site, from the early design stage through to a finished piece. He has been a featured speaker at many graphics conferences.

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