You’ve heard it all before. Images are a crucial supplement to any blog or article you publish on your site or via social media. If you cannot afford the outlay for the likes of Adobe Lightroom or Adobe Photoshop, there are free alternatives.

Photoshop CS2 is free
The latest Photoshop costs, but older versions, like CS2 are free to dowload.

Check out our top five best free image editing programs below.

1. Adobe Photoshop (CS2)

Okay, Adobe Photoshop is not actually free, but you can use one of the older versions for free. For example, you can download CS2 without the need to pay a penny. Yes, you will be using a version that is many years old, but a lot of the features are as good or better than features you will get with many free software options.

Sign up for an Adobe ID at
Login and accept the terms and conditions.
Choose the language you want your Photoshop version to be in and begin the download.

There’s a good post on how to do it here.

It’s unsupported and outdated, but it works on any system. Ignore the warning about Windows 7 and Windows 8. Plenty of users have run Photoshop on these systems without any problems.

2. Pixlr

Pixlr is an online and offline image alteration option you can use from your browser. What we love about it is the fact that it comes with many of the features you will find on the paid version of Photoshop. It’s free, and you will not be prompted to pay for anything extra – and it’s not time limited.

The only disadvantage is you cannot download it and use it without your browser.

Pixlr is usable with smartphones and tablets as it’s compatible with Android and iOS. There is a separate Pixlr app for mobile use.

Pixlr photo manipulation software
One advantage of Pixlr is that you can use it in your web browser.


GIMP is another highly popular free alternative for image editing. The difference with this software is that it works very much like Photoshop. One of the integral features is the use of layering. This allows you to edit different aspects of an image without impacting the rest of it.

We would not recommend using GIMP if you are new to image editing. It has a similar learning curve to Photoshop, so if you need to get something done quickly, then this is not the ideal choice for you.

You can use a number of file formats with GIMP, including Photoshop’s PSD extension. This is likely the closest you will ever get to paid image editing without having to pay anything.

Linux users can also use GIMP.

4. Sumopaint

Sumopaint is another good image editing tool. The interface and features resemble those of Pixlr and Photoshop. It’s really just for those who need to make simple changes to images. There are plenty of features, and it is much easier to use than GIMP.

The main disadvantages are you can only use it in your browser and you are restricted to using it with JPG and PNG files without the paid version.

Take note that there is a paid option. For a small amount, you can remove most of these restrictions.

5. PicMonkey

PicMonkey made this list, but it is nothing like Photoshop. If you want a piece of software for personal image editing and no learning curve, this is the option for you. Users who would most benefit from PicMonkey are those who want to use simple clipart.

There are some features for image manipulation and cropping, along with the ability to add effects.

The free version limits you to editing pictures online, but there is a premium version that allows you to download the software.

What’s Best for You?

The best free image editing software really depends on two key factors, namely your experience and what you want to do with your images.

There is little point in learning to use GIMP if all you want to do is tweak the contrast of an image or add a filter to your latest selfie. Think about your needs then match them up against the options on this list.

If you are having trouble with editing your images, need advice on optimising them for the web or anything else to do with the web, please get in touch.