Adobe products have always been the bane of my Mac existence, and lately they seem to have gotten even worse (notably running multiple processes in the background constantly accessing my keychain and connecting to the internet without being explicitly launched).

As near as I can tell there is no way to avoid this, so I need a good alternative app. A paid app is fine. As close as possible to Photoshp's feature set would be nice, but I do not do professional image work, but mostly basic web design elements and tweaking of photos.

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    @ThomasWeller Practically speaking, nobody voted to close so far. Software recommendation questions are on-topic (within limits), see apple.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/2180/…
    – nohillside
    Commented Aug 30, 2021 at 21:18
  • SR might not be a bad place to move it though if its presence here is making people uncomfortable. Though there are many other similar questions here. I'm not sure which is best.
    – orome
    Commented Aug 30, 2021 at 21:22
  • It‘s on-topic here and got good answers, don‘t see a reason to migrate.
    – nohillside
    Commented Aug 30, 2021 at 21:40
  • @nohillside: thanks for guiding me on this site usage Commented Aug 31, 2021 at 6:39

7 Answers 7


I have had good performance with: GIMP for macOS

But only my opinion.

It is free and available for many systems.


The other answers are great - I'm putting this here just for completeness.

Affinity Photo https://affinity.serif.com/photo/ is a paid app that's part of a suite of apps from Serif. The others are Affinity Design and Affinity Publish.

They often have half-off sales, but the products are not that expensive to begin with.

Again, not dissing the free and inexpensive applications already mentioned, I just thought this should be added to extend the options.

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    In my opinion, this is the closest you're going to get to Photoshop without using Photoshop. It lacks some of the high-end features and provides a lot less control over mid-range features (like content-aware fill), but it is a strong contender. Commented Aug 28, 2021 at 6:55
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    Yes, PS has become annoying and bloated. That's why I bought Affinity Photo through the App Store a couple of years ago and think it's the closest to PS you'd get. Plus, it has a good support forum, gets regular updates and is otherwise no frills, but still gives you enough tools to do most things. I still keep my old CS6 for as long as it'll run because it has the content-aware fill), but eventually the other apps will catch up. Commented Aug 28, 2021 at 10:29
  • Worth noting that Affinity have an entire line of products to mirror Adobe. They also have tons of first-party video tutorials covering pretty much every single feature.
    – Lindsey D
    Commented Aug 29, 2021 at 5:47
  • Truly fair price and miraculously not SASS
    – brasofilo
    Commented Aug 30, 2021 at 20:51

There is an online photo editor known as Photopea. It has a lot of the functionality of Photoshop (even the UI has a Photoshop feel).

For an overview, see this YouTube video:


  • Never used it (my internet is slow), but I've only heard high praises when the subject "alternative graphic softwares" appears on Reddit.
    – brasofilo
    Commented Aug 30, 2021 at 20:46
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    I get Photoshop for free from school, but I really "felt at home" using Photopea.
    – agarza
    Commented Aug 30, 2021 at 21:54

Just to throw a couple more on the pile…

Luminar AI, by Skylum

OnOne PhotoRAW - This is their all-in-one editor. They also do individual apps, No-Noise, Portrait etc which will run as either plugins or standalone - https://www.on1.com/products/plugins

Both have free trials & are not too expensive.
I often think they can be a little more 'Instagram' or 'iPhoto' than Photoshop, with a multitude of preset 'looks', but each is good in its own right.

  • Was about to mention this one and then noticed your contribution. I have their previous collection 'Creative Kit 2016' (got it when they were known as Macphun). Some of the tools are quite good. I'll test out Luminar at some stage. Commented Aug 28, 2021 at 10:16

Besides the already mentioned Affinity Photo and Pixelmator Pro (I would recommend to get both because they complement each other functionwise e.g. Affinity Photo offers panorama stitching while Pixelmator Pro has various marvelous machine learning base functions (upscale, denoise)) - if you have the need of a DAM I recommend adding RAWPower to the mix.


Acorn is my go to tool.

It is simply amazing. You might also check out Pixelmator Pro

Both offer free trials and I would do them sequentially as it takes a while to get in the swing of these tools in my experience. The free tools don’t work so well for me, but I get some people love that. When Photos isn’t good enough, I need a pro tool and those cost money to give me amazing powers and support.

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    I'm feeling really dumb: I should have done this years ago. These are both great apps and both are better than PS in every way, and cheaper! And of course: neither has a dozen creepy processes running in background 24/7 and constantly connecting to the internet. I assume all of Adobe's customers are just locked in legacy who can't get free. There's no reason to use them if your not.
    – orome
    Commented Aug 27, 2021 at 21:20
  • Don’t be hard on yourself. It’s a full time job to keep up with a fraction of what we cover here. Learning to ask for help and keeping an open mind is one key to tech Nirvana.
    – bmike
    Commented Aug 27, 2021 at 21:37

I've used PhotoLine for many years for occasional editing, and always found it powerful, easy to use, and perfectly behaved.

I can't compare it to PhotoShop, but my impression is that it covers much of the same ground.  (I found it much easier to use than GIMP, though that may just be down to lack of familiarity.)

It's not free, and neither are upgrades — though there's no necessity to upgrade.

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