These are the alternatives to Adobe Photoshop for Mac and iOS

Amber Neely for AppleInsider:

When people use Photoshop, they’re usually in one of two camps: photographers or artists. Photographers have relied on Photoshop for color correction, air brushing, stitching, straightening, cloning, masking—basically anything you’d need to make your photography stand out.

Artists, on the other hand, have taken the program out of its wheelhouse and used it to create impressive digital works with Photoshop’s somewhat limited brush tools. While Adobe has sought to expand some of these features to accommodate for these uses, there’s always a better tool for the job.

Neely covers the following applications:

• Procreate (iOS – $10)
• Affinity Photo (macOS – $50)
• Autodesk SketchBook (macOS Free – $85/year, iOS – Free)
• Pixelmator Pro (macOS – $40)
• Gimp – (macOS – free)

MacDailyNews Take: We are, as our dear regular readers know, partial to Pixelmator Pro. We have heard some good things about Affinity Photo. If you’re looking to break free of Adobe’s subscriptionware, check them out!


  1. I switched to Affinity Photo a while back when I updated to Mojave and Photoshop CS5 stopped working. It took some getting used to, but I no longer really miss Photoshop. Some things are easier/quicker to do in AP, others are more cumbersome. But I’ve adjusted, and have not yet found anything I could do I PS that I can’t do in AF, one way or another.

    FWIW, I also tried Pixelmator (not Pro), and the only significant limitation I found in it was its very basic, limited text capabilities.

  2. I left Adobe long ago for Pixelmator, Affinity Photo, and Procreate.
    An excellent trio that covers my needs.
    A pity that Pix doesn’t do cmyk, but Affinity does, so no prob.
    Procreate is a great partner for Apple Pencil.

  3. I’ve tried all of them, and though they are truly excellent editors, sorry folks – they are not Photoshop. That said, at the same time, I can absolutely see where for non-pros, PS doesn’t make sense, it’s Maya-esque in its functionality at this point, and you likely don’t require half of it.

    1. I agree with you that Photoshop is more than enough for non-pros.
      But even for my commercial work, mostly creating and prepping materials for publishing and print, Pix and Affinity provide enough functionality.
      Affinity Photo in particular is becoming very strong with its linkage to the draw and page makeup partner apps.

  4. I used to do all of my illustrations in Photoshop using an expensive 24 inch Wacom Cintiq monitor. Now, I exclusively use my iPad Pro and Procreate with Apple Pencil. There is no comparison. Drawing with the Apple Pencil is sublime and my Cintiq is now an expensive second monitor.

  5. GIMP, lol. Must be a port from Windows; There is no way a Mac developer would give it that weird name.
    I managed to load an old PS onto Yosemite but N old Flash must be installed to make it work but even then some minor commands don’t work. Now I uce Affinity Photo.

  6. Had a trial with Affinity (only a week sadly) but I was shocked by the immense difference to using even basic elements it has compared to Photoshop which itself I felt was hardly a great example of an interface until then. Just menu elements everywhere even a 27inch screen looks small and the colour menus just obscured/camouflaged options for me surprisingly. Layers and paths palette seemed to be merged and unclear, hopeless for someone who uses 30 odd of each and I had to check out tutorials for even basic functions like the pen tool to use them which are natural in PS.

    I realised after a lot of frustration that this software was mainly for photographers and maybe pure artists but really didn’t cater for a designer illustrator of my type at all who uses it as almost a combined Vector Bitmap tool for his work. The pen tool was very basic still never worked out how/if you can do compound paths which just function automatically in PS for complex selections which is my main need for my work. Light effects were good mind but I suspect it would take me years to do what I do in PS even if it were able to do what I need which I am not convinced of though a week is hardly time to be sure of that.

    I have Pixelmator and Gimp trials (thankfully longer one for the former) lined up but to be honest my experience with Affinity was so negative I haven’t got around to them yet. Hopefully when I do at least Pixelmator may be a better bet for me but I am beginning to think these programmes simply aren’t designed for the type of work I need them for. I am however less critical of PS at the moment mind but that doesn’t help my wish to migrate away from it as I head into retirement to something cheaper to maintain. So for now its old versions for me.

  7. Affinity is great, and they have versions of Illustrator, and inDesign as well. I switched over to their whole suite last year and couldn’t be happier. All three apps are still in fairly early stages of their lives, especially Publisher which is coming out of beta soon. They all handle some things slightly different than Adobe’s software but once I got past that learning curve with a few projects, there’s no way I’ll ever go back to Adobe.. and that feels pretty damn good!

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