Photoshop Alternatives

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Professional photo editing tools come in all shapes and sizes. For the average user they have the same common problems. Commercial grade software is often complex and typically very expensive. Enter the web app.

Browser-based photo editors are everywhere and some of them are pretty incredible. The only real downside is that you need to have internet access to use them.

Benefits of Browser-based Photo Editors

• They are mostly free.

• Web apps never need to be installed or updated.

• Files can be stored locally and with some apps you can save in the cloud as well.

• You can access the apps on any computer (usually not mobile).

For those that require all of it’s complexity and advanced features, Photoshop is definitely worth the price of admission. However, for most photo editing chores it is a bit heavy handed. Cropping a photo with Photoshop is a bit like powering a watch with a nuclear reactor. You can do it but it’s going to be complicated. My average photo editing tasks include the following:

Common Tasks

• First and foremost, color/camera correction. Digital photos are never display ready. Never.

Cropping and resizing. Content is often designed with a format in mind. square, portrait, landscape etc.

Adding text. Sometimes I just want to annotate or add text to an image.

• Change a file type; Image file types all have very important uses and distinctions. Basic software does not always support every image type.

Removing backgrounds. For a bloggers and designers, I think this is a big one. Highlighting a feature in an image often involves removing or replacing all the distractions in the background. Doing this without the tell-tale blurry edge is a pain.

Filters I usually don’t apply any filters to my photos and images, but some people love them. Rusty bicycle photos become high art with the proper sepia filter.

The Tools of the Thrifty

With some basic tasks in mind, I put together a list of browser-based Photoshop alternatives. The following tools will help you process your images without breaking the bank or bombarding you with hundreds of unnecessary features. Enjoy and don’t forget to mention your favorite photo tools in the comments!

Clipping Magic

Clipping Magic Demo
The most incredible and useful photo app I’ve seen in a while is Clipping Magic. Removing the background from an image on the fly can be a total pain. Clipping magic makes it incredibly easy. In most cases you can get the job done in 10 seconds. Draw a green squiggle through the part(s) of the image to keep and draw a red squiggle through the part(s) to remove. Boom.


PIXLR Image Editor

PIXLR is a really amazing product. “Founded in Sweden in 2008 by Ola Sevandersson” and acquired by Autodesk, PIXLR Editor offers a full suite of photo editing tools. It has a clean and simple user interface and is capable of handling just about any image editing job. If you are already familiar with Photoshop or Gimp, using PIXLR will be a snap. If you are new to photo editors don’t worry, it’s super easy to learn and there is plenty of documentation.

For basic editing tasks Autodesk also has PIXLR Express and PIXLR O-MATIC for Instagram-like effects and filters. Check out the whole family of apps at

Photoshop Express

Photoshop Express Browser-Based Editor
Not to be outdone, Adobe has their own browser based editor. Photoshop Express is tailor-made for simple image post processing. It is focused more on camera correction and exposure and omits Photoshop’s more elaborate features and filters.

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