If you’re looking for an alternative to GIMP, there are plenty of great options here in 2023.
GIMP is undoubtedly the most popular free photo editing software in the world, but it’s not without its limitations.
Most importantly, GIMP doesn’t offer non-destructive editing, which means that any changes to your photos are permanent.
Also, the unattractive user interface leaves a lot to be desired and learning how to use GIMP to edit photos can be confusing.
Of all the various GIMP alternatives, Pixlr E is the one that most resembles GIMP. It has all the necessary tools to edit photographs, create visual content, and even do animations.
Pixlr E is completely functional from within your browser – so you don’t have to download anything to your computer if you don’t want to. If you do want to download it, that’s also possible.
Simpler versions of Pixlr are available like Pixlr X, Photomash Studio, and single-tool apps such as Remove BG. As such, you can choose the one that best fits your needs.
The free version is very comprehensive, so you might not need to upgrade to premium. However, if you need a wider variety of assets, or you want to go ad-free, then you should consider upgrading.
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2. Krita (Free): Open-Source GIMP Alternative
This free software is open-source – just like GIMP. It doesn’t ask you to subscribe, and it doesn’t have a trial period. Simply download and start creating.
Krita has a clean interface that you can customise with over 30 dockers. You can then save it as a workspace for future use.
It has over 100 professional brushes and a brush stabiliser, a brush engine, and a wrap-around mode to create patterns.
If you use GIMP to draw, make graphics, and create 2D animations, this is definitely one of the best GIMP alternatives you can find. If you use it as a photo editor, you might feel Krita’s tools are a bit basic.
It allows for adjustment layers, supports raw and PSD files, and has all the essential features of a photo editor. It does, however, remain primarily a program for concept art, texture and matte painters, and illustrations and comics.
3. Adobe Photoshop (Free Trial): Best GIMP Alternative for Mac/Windows
While GIMP has dominated the advanced photo editing market in the free-open source sector, Photoshop has been at the top of the proprietary software market for decades.
So, if you’re willing to move into a paid solution, Photoshop is the best alternative for GIMP, whether you use Mac or Windows.
Photoshop is a powerful image editing software used by the majority of professional photographers – many compare Photoshop to GIMP, although it’s way more powerful and feature-rich.
You need to go through the Camera Raw option to open raw files. However, it’s integrated in such a way that it automatically loads. You might even think it’s another workspace instead of a separate app.
With GIMP, you need to download and install a plug-in to edit raw images – which is not as easy to do if you’re not very comfortable with tech.
It has a 7-day free trial, and the Photoshop subscription starts at $9.99 if you get the Photography plan that also includes Lightroom. Otherwise, Photoshop alone starts at $20.99.
Photoshop allows photo editing, video editing, and animations. It also supports text, vectors, and 3D visuals (although the 3D features are on their way out since Adobe will release a dedicated 3D software).
You can use Photoshop on iPad and desktop. You can also do image editing on your phone: the Adobe Photoshop mobile app is completely free.
4. DarkTable (Free): GIMP Alternative for Linux
Linux users usually have fewer choices when choosing a raster graphics editor. In this case, they have Darktable – a great GIMP alternative that runs on Linux, Mac, or Windows.
Darktable is an open-source photo editor and photo manager. Although it’s mainly known as a raw photo developer, it’s actually a very well-rounded program for photo editing, and it supports a non-destructible workflow.
One key benefit of the software is that it’s available in 21 languages (although, the online manual is only available in seven languages).
Lightable is the photo manager inside Darktable. It allows you to browse, label, and organize your files. It also supports tethering shooting, and you can share your images directly from the program to social media.
5. XGimp Image Editor (Free): GIMP Alternative for Android
If you’re looking for GIMP alternatives to use on your Android phone, look no further. As stated in the app store, XGimp is “the app GIMP that runs remotely, so it has the same features.”
Unfortunately, many users aren’t happy with this version as it’s obviously not the same as using it on a computer. If you use it on a tablet, you might have a better experience, especially if you have to do detailed work like using the clone stamp tool.
However, it’s free – just like the main program – so if you’re a GIMP fan, you can try this mobile version and decide for yourself.
6. Canva (Free): Gimp Alternatives for Graphic Work
Canva is a great alternative for designers, community managers, entrepreneurs, marketers, and anyone who needs to do basic image editing. You can use it entirely online – but you can also download it to your phone or desktop if you prefer.
Using Canva, you can create presentations, social media posts, flyers, menus, and anything else you like.
Unlike GIMP, you have to use preset shapes and assets, which can be limiting for your creativity. On the other hand, it can also make life much easier for those who aren’t professional designers.
There are multiple pre-designed templates, or you can create a design from scratch.
The free version of Canva gives you over 8,000 templates, 100+ design types, and thousands of free photos and graphics.
If you update to some of the premium versions, you’ll unlock the magic resize tool, the one-click photo remover, and more assets.
You’ll also be able to create brand kits, manage different team members, have built-in workflows to get your project approved, and have unlimited storage.
7. Luminar AI (Free Trial): Great Alternative for AI image editing
Unlike GIMP, Luminar AI aims to ease your work using artificial intelligence. Keep in mind that Skylum has already released a newer product called Luminar Neo, but you can’t try that one for free – and it’s also more expensive.
Luminar AI is very user-friendly, and the AI features make advanced editing tools available for beginners.
For example, you can replace the sky with only one click. It also adjusts the ambient light to match the new atmosphere and changes the reflections if there’s water or any other reflective surfaces.
It also has AI tools to retouch portraits – from skin texture to adding a bokeh background with sliders and one-click solutions. If you like to do things yourself, there are also sliders to manually adjust exposure, color, etc, as well as other photo correction tools.
On top of all that, Luminar AI has a library feature that allows you to use it as a photo manager. It supports most file formats, including raw ones, but you must convert them to DNG first.
8. Affinity Photo (Free Trial): Budget Alternative to GIMP
Affinity Photo is one of the most budget-friendly options when it comes to proprietary photo editors. It also comes with a 30-day free trial.
Affinity has many advanced editing tools such as panorama stitching, focus stacking, unlimited layers and capability for different blending modes.
It has a steep learning curve, but so does GIMP. It also allows for batch editing and raw editing and supports smart objects.
Affinity Photo is a one-off purchase. So, it’s not free like GIMP is, but it’s not a subscription, which makes it better than the Adobe programs for many users.
Affinity Photo costs the equivalent of a few months of Photoshop, but you get to keep the license.
(Check out the full Affinity Photo review to learn more.)
9. Adobe Lightroom (Free Trial): Best GIMP Alternative with Photo Manager
Regarding editing tools, Lightroom is one of the best alternatives to GIMP. However, it doesn’t have a text editor tool or a painting tool, so you can’t use it for creating shapes or doing image composition.
The advantage it has on GIMP is the library that allows you to organize your work and apply your edits to multiple images. It also supports raw files and has tons of presets.
Once the trial is over, you can get a Lightroom membership starting at US$9,99. You can also use the Lightroom mobile app, which has the same tools and functions as the desktop version.
A limited – yet very functional – version of the app is free to use. You need a paid membership to unlock all the features, such as masking for selective edits or the Geometry tool.
Also available in the app, there’s a gallery where the community of creators shares their photos, and you can see which edits they’ve done to the images. This helps you to learn and improve your own photo editing skills.
10. Apple Photos (Free): GIMP Alternative for iOS
All iOS devices come with the app Photos installed. If you don’t want to add third-party programs to your devices, this is a decent GIMP alternative as a photo editor. It’s also a powerful photo manager with AI tools to optimize your search.
This app allows you to manage, edit, and share your pictures in the same place. The library uses machine learning to choose the best photos and display them in your gallery.
It also hides scans and receipts to avoid cluttering your grid.
The interactive view allows you to add a song and vibe to your images to help you remember the feel of the moment you captured. Also, you can search your images easily using face recognition for portraits or use AI to search by the objects in the photo.
Apple Photos supports photo editing – including raw files – as well as video editing. You can use the Auto-Enhance feature or do the work yourself.
Additionally, you can use iCloud to store your images and sync all your Apple devices.
11. Snapseed (Free): GIMP Alternative for Smartphones
Snapseed is an amazing app owned by Google. It’s one of the best photo editors for mobile phones, and the great part is that it’s completely free.
You can do some detailed retouching like removing blemishes, applying overall corrections, and even having fun with filters and borders.
Snapseed is available for iOS and Android phones. The interface is quite intuitive for the basic steps – however, finding your way around masking and blending is not that easy.
Fortunately – since it’s such a popular app – multiple tutorials are available.
Snapseed does have text tools, but you can’t draw or use it for graphic work. Always make sure you save your work before closing the app because, unlike others, it doesn’t save automatically.
GIMP Photo Editing Software Alternatives: Final Recommendations
GIMP is a fantastic image editor that allows for both photo editing and graphic work at a professional level. It does have some flaws, though.
For one thing, it’s not exactly user-friendly. So, if you want to create stunning images without much knowledge, I suggest using Luminar AI.
Also, if you have communications and marketing skills but don’t have graphic design and photo retouching training, you might prefer Canva over GIMP.
Another thing GIMP lacks is management tools. So, if you want to keep your workflow in one program, you can use Darktable to stick with the free and open-source option, or Affinity Photo, Lightroom, or Luminar if you want to use proprietary software.
For the longest time, GIMP users were missing a mobile image editor. If this is your case, you can use XGimp.
That said, Photoshop and Snapseed both have a more user-friendly interface, and they are both free. I also recommend Lightroom as a mobile app, which has a free limited version – just remember that to unlock all features, you need a membership.
As you can see, there are tons of photo editors out there to use as an alternative to GIMP. To choose which one is best for you, it’s important that you know which are the most useful tools for your specific needs.
I hope this brief walk-through helped you to understand the strong points of the different photo editors so that you can choose a great GIMP alternative.
All of the recommendations in this article are free, have a free version or a limited free trial. So, you can try as many as you like until you find the one that you want.