Open and Free Alternatives to Photoshop

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Adobe Photoshop is a given in any designer’s wish list, and it comes with a host of features that allow for excellent and professional photo editing. The biggest obstacle to any designer who wants Photoshop is the price, which can be prohibitive. Fortunately there are a number of open source (and completely free) programs out there that do much of what Photoshop can, and sometimes more.

More Free Photo Editors

Chris Pirillo on has a top ten roundup of the best free web photo editing tools.

For us, three of these tools stand out, particularly from an ease of use and privacy:

1) Pixlr

Like the others, Pixlr’s photo tool is all online.  It is flash-based and resembles the Photoshop layout.  While it doesn’t have all the photo editing selections that come with paid programs, all the basics are there and easy to use.  Users can edit photos from websites files on their computer.  When finished editing the image, you just click “Save” and you are able to save your image to your computer.

Privacy:  The images are automatically erased from the Pixlr servers every 5 minutes.  Changes in the image never leave the screen.


An extremely simple image editing tool, also does not require flash to run it.  For those without flash, this is the tool to use.  There are only a few basic features-crop, rotate, resize, brightness, brush, text, sharpen-and a few other photo filters.  Edited images can be saved to the computer or uplaoded into DrPic’s free webhosting service.

Privacy:  As with Pixlr, images are deleted from the DrPic servers.

3) Photoshop Online

In terms of usability, the Photoshop Online site is probably the best.  However, there are several problems with Adobe’s online editing tool.  First, the program can only use jpegs.  It also requires registration (an Adobe ID) and saved images are automatically saved to their servers (the images can be saved to the computer and deleted from the server).  Soon the site will be expanding to other image formats-making this a more viable program for general use.

Privacy:  Photo folders need to be set to private or the website could potentially use images in their “featured” section.

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