Editor’s note: For a newer, updated version of this post, check it out here.
At the point this article was created, Adobe Photoshop CS3 still cost about USD $649 per copy. I think it’s safe to say that not everyone will afford to get a copy or willing to get a copy if all one need to do is just basic image editing stuff. That’s probably one of the main reason why there’s still a fairly large crowd out there actively looking for free alternatives to Photoshop to help them in their daily basic design jobs.
If you are not going into advanced image editing, you should know that there’s always free software out there capable to perform what Photoshop can.
If you are not convinced by the stability of online services and looking for something that installs on your machine and are able to work even if you are without Internet connection, here’s some free alternatives to Adobe Photoshop, software versions.
Gimp works across several different platform (Linux, Mac, Windows, FreeBSD, Sun OpenSolaris) and is perhaps one of the best free alternatives out there so far. Gimp has a large user community, with great list of tutorials on the official sites.
[Windows only] This photo editor runs on Windows. It has a large and growing community of users, with lots of tutorials and plugins.
[Mac only] Seashore is an open source image editor for Mac OS X’s Cocoa framework. It features gradients, textures and anti-aliasing for both text and brush strokes. It supports multiple layers and alpha channel editing. It is based around the GIMP’s technology and uses the same native file format.
Inkscape is an open-source vector graphics editor similar to Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw, Freehand, or Xara X. What sets Inkscape apart is its use of Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG), an open XML-based W3C standard, as the native format.
Xara Xtreme for Linux is a powerful, general purpose graphics program for Unix platforms including Linux, FreeBSD and (in development) OS-X. Formely known as Xara LX, it is based on Xara Xtreme for Windows, which is the fastest graphics program available, period.
[Mac only] ChocoFlop is an image editor for Mac OS X, based on the CoreImage technology. It is currently in beta stage and available freely.
[Windows only] PhotoPlus is the amazing photo editing software that enables you to fix and enhance digital photos, create stunning bitmap graphics and even web animations.
CinePaint is a deep paint image retouching tool that supports higher color fidelity than ordinary painting tools.
[Mac only] You may think this is just any normal image preview tool, but the fact is Mac’s Preview can perform more.
[Windows only] It allows you to do simple or advanced adjustments to an image and apply a vast range of filters on it. It is simple and intuitive to use, and has an easy learning curve.