Tech-Friendly: A free alternative to Adobe Photoshop

By Paul Gorski

Adobe Systems Inc. recently announced changes ( to how it licenses its print and web design programs. Most of Adobe’s professional products will only be available through a monthly licensing program, with the programs verifying your license against Adobe’s registration servers on a monthly basis.

These licensing changes don’t sit well with many corporate clients, as the changes will cost legal purchasers of the programs more money over time. The software pirates who steal programs are equally upset because it will be hard to obtain illegal copies of Photoshop, one of the most pirated professional-level programs.

Look no further than GIMP ( as a free, open source alternative to Photoshop. GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) “is a freely distributed piece of software for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring.” Sounds a lot like Photoshop, and in many ways, it is.

To further quote the site: “It has many capabilities. It can be used as a simple paint program, an expert quality photo retouching program, an online batch processing system, a mass production image renderer, an image format converter, etc.”

GIMP is not new, as it was first released in January 1996, and is a stable and respected program that is actively supported by a community of users. It was never intended to be a direct replacement for Photoshop, but many beginning artists and amateur photographers find that GIMP has more than enough features to meet their needs (

I’m particularly impressed with how the GIMP interface has stayed fairly intuitive, while navigating tools and menus for Adobe products has become increasingly complex. That said, professional artists and designers will still need to pay for their Abobe Creative Cloud licenses to keep their Photoshop, Illustrator and other industry-standard programs active and to play at the corporate level.

However, my goal here is neither to criticize Adobe’s licensing or give a full review of GIMP. It is to prevent worrying by home computer users and amateur photographers about a future without Photoshop. GIMP is free, so download it at and try it out for yourself. If you do give it a try, write me at or post your comments at Good luck.

Paul Gorski ( has been a technology manager nearly 20 years, specializing in workflow solutions for printing, publishing and advertising computer users. Originally destined to be a chemist, his interest in computers began in college when he wrote a program to analyze data from lab instruments he hard-wired to the back of an Apple IIe.

From the May 15-21, 2013, issue

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