Alternatives to Adobe Photoshop subscriptions

“Exactly a year ago today Adobe’s Creative Cloud servers went dark for a whole day, leaving some users unable to open their apps,” Adam Banks writes for The Register. “Deadlines were missed, clients were let down, digital editions failed to appear and a generally crap time was had by all.”

“Adobe’s switch to the rental model had already spooked some customers of its most famous product, Photoshop,” Banks writes. “If you don’t want a full Creative Cloud subscription, which works out at £45.73 [US$72.06] a month when you sign up for a year, you can get Photoshop CC 2014, bundled with the Lightroom 6 photo manager, for £8.57 [US$13.50] a month.”

“Join me below for a quick tour of the top contenders,” Banks writes. “Spoiler: after 25 years, Adobe still has no direct competition. The Windows workhorses are good value for money, but to the experienced hand they still lack Photoshop’s robust finesse, and they have yet to emulate esoterica such as the ability to create, import, manipulate and even print 3D models. I’m picky, though: for many purposes they’re very capable.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: What’s your favorite Photoshop replacement? Ours is Pixelmator.


    1. yup , sure 30 mdn users found the above post worty of all the negative votes..!

      Someone has too much time and too many issues !

      This just does not fit the pattern.

      1. The anti-Adobe rhetoric reminds me so much of the irrational hatred that Apple haters spew. It’s just the have-nots kicking up dirt bc they no longer have access to the best available. Adobe wouldn’t have to resort to such measures if piracy wasn’t the huge problem it is.

        1. Well thats told us hasn’t it, apparently we should be grateful to pay for the privilege of having someone else decide whether we can open and use our software when we have a deadline to meet. Had that problem with Quark once and lost a client as result so not too keen to put my economic future in the hands of corporate dicks who care nothing about other’s business be it Adobe or those who sit between them and me doing my work, but thats probably just me being selfish.

      2. Have you considered that it might be the quality of your posts and your ‘local yocal’ moniker? Perhaps you can take a little more care in your posts and use proper capitalization, punctuation and grammar. Another thing that would help is for you to think about what you post before you start typing. I believe you have it in you to represent yourself with more self respect and to treat those of us who have to read your posts with respect also.

    2. I agree Photoshop 5 does everything i need so will stay with that for as long as I can. More concerned with InDesign though where you are effectively blackmailed into upgrading to be able to open newer files with no ability to down save more than one level and even having that leave you a mess of a file half the time. I am trying to use ID as little as possible now and use Illustrator while it has a lot more flexibility with native and PDF files to get you out of trouble, in its place. Still miss Freehand’s true page support mind which would make it more flexible still but hey that would make ID more redundant in my work flow which Adobe would hate.

  1. I refuse to subscribe and work online. I want everything on MY hard drive. I will continue to use CS6 and will use other products as needed. Adobe can take their online service and F off.

    1. You obviously don’t even know how Adobe Creative Cloud works.

      from Wikipedia

      Software from Creative Cloud is downloaded from the Internet, installed directly on a local PC and used as long as the subscription remains valid.

  2. Affinity Photo Beta is shaping up very nicely. Give it a few version iterations and it could trounce PS.

    I am, however, narked at Apple for dropping Aperture. I will still be using Aperture for the foreseeable future, with the occasional foray into Affinity Photo when it’s out of beta.

    I also like Pixelmator very much.


    1. I’ll second what you say about Affinity. I will buy and learn it. But I do have Photoshop CS6 non subscription and know that like the back of my hand. I will NOT go subscription and think Adobe has lost their mind.
      Although the numbers/profit may be on their side which means that the general Photoshop public has lost their minds.

    2. Still licking my wounds from Apple killing off Aperture. I have made the room to Lightroom 6 – basically a fear move as it will take me many months to get all my photos moved from Aperture to Lightroom. I say it is a fear move as I am scared to pick any other software that might get killed off or abandoned again and my photo workflow is too important to trust to anyone except a large company that is dedicated to the photo industry. There are others that may be better but I need stability, support, and compatibility. – DAMN YOU APPLE!

    1. I hate the fact you can’t just pick just 3 of their apps but end up having to pay the flu $50 for everything instead. All I need is Premiere, After Effects & Photoshop. I might do it if that were only $25-30 a month. But I don’t need their other 8 apps. One app is already about $20! So really Adobe? Talk about not working with the individual customer needs without a complete bundle gouging. Their way or the highway.

  3. I think most people want to own their software and I am one of them. I will not subscribe to Creative Cloud and am waiting for Affinity Photo to finish its beta run. I will keep my CS6 applications and use them, hoping for Affinity, or some other company to come out with alternatives to InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop. There used to be so many alternatives to Adobe and they (Adobe) went about purchasing and knifing some very good programs.

  4. I’ll use any contender (I have Pixelmator, Affinity Photo and Bloom) that lets me draw a precise vector path with a pen-like tool then use that path as a selection. So far none of the contenders do that (and if I’m wrong and missed that feature, tell me!), and, for me, that’s a show stopper. I’ve got CS6 on a Mac Pro 2010 at work and a mini 2011 home, and CS2 on an old beige G3. Also unused copies of CS3 and CS5, so I’m deeply invested in Adobe. Hell, I’ve still got a copy of Photoshop 3 on floppy disks!

  5. Trivial, I know, but I’d like to once again be able to have my screen saver show a file of photos of my making.

    I would like to be able to name the desk tops and to be able to quickly get from #1 (email, contacts and calendar) to #4 (a current project)

    I am also tired of spinning beach balls in the Finder. System 6 was snappier.

  6. I will never use subscription software. Rarely there is something esoteric that only Photoshop can do, but I use Affinity Photo and Pixelmator for 90% of my work.

  7. Short list of alternatives on my Macs: Pixelmator & GraphicConverter (my two faves), Choco, Ember, Focus 2, FotoMagico, Fotor, Gimp, Image Smith, Inkscape, Intaglio, Intensify Pro, PaintCode, PhotoStyler, Snapheal Pro, Tonality Pro. I used to have Acorn but let the license run out. No Adobe.

    1. Nobody has mentioned ImageJ, developed under NIH, now open-source. It probably has higher visibility in the sciences, less so in commercial image processing, but it’s what I used for everything all along, not willing to give Adobe even a wooden nickel after their crimes.

  8. Great thread! My 2¢
    1) LOVE me some Pixelmator. Have been using it for years. Moved to it from Photoshop Elements 5.0 and never looked back. Never really used anything else except some PaintShopPro waaaayyyyy back in the day.
    2) I too hate the idea of subscription software. What is their motivation to improve the product and create new features and functions? How do I walk away if I’m not pleased but still have access if I need it after a “transition” to new software.
    3) Love hearing all these other names and comments definitely going to look and see what everyone likes about Affinity Photo.
    4) I have been along time Aperture user but well you know 🙁 Have moved to purchased (boxed version) of Lightroom and so far pretty good. 99% of my edits can be done in Lightroom so I have little reason to use anything else.

  9. Autodesk has a number of discrete offerings that are good for fast tweaks and fun stuff… …the web-based free (also available in a freeium downloadable version that’s a PS “workalike” – and the mobile Autodesk Pixlr that’s effects and filters based.

    Affinity – as others here and reviewers have noted – is still pretty betaish but seems very promising, and I haven’t got round to Pixelmator yet, as I have an ancient CS1 version of Photoshop that meets my needs.

    However, I’ve never liked iPhotos’ quirks in how it manages photos, not sure I’ll like Photos’ ways any better and may have to consider Light Room as my online file manager…. …though wondering if I might not just use DropBox and edit any photo I want on any device with any tool… …keep originals and not get hung up on forever “non-destructive” edits…..

  10. $9.99 per month and for that I get to work with both Photoshop and Lightroom, the two most incredibly powerful apps I have ever used. Now if your needs are infrequent and minimal then sure look into these other options. My needs are at a professional level and $9.99 is an incredible bargain. I thoroughly enjoy working with both of these apps. No need to hate on any option just because it might not be a good one for you.

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