Gimp Photo Editor A Free Photoshop Alternative


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So Photoshop is the industry standard for photo editing but it is going to cost you as high as $600 a year. If you are looking for something arguably as good but cheaper as free, then you’ve got to go with GIMP. GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) is a cross-platform image editor available for GNU/Linux, OS X, Windows, and more operating systems. So how good is GIMP? Can it effectively replace Photoshop? How far Let’s take a look.  

Gimp Photo Editor

GIMP is a very powerful image manipulation tool, but you do not have to be intimidated. Even if you don’t have time to learn advanced computer graphics, GIMP can still be a very useful and handy tool for quick image modifications. GIMP is a versatile graphics manipulation package and this post should help you get a taste of what GIMP is capable of.    

With GIMP version 2.8, you are going to be impressed with how good this free software is. People who were less impressed with previous versions will realize that it’s made a lot of positive inroads. GIMP provides you with tools that allow for high-quality photo manipulation. Anything from enhancements and retouching to creative composites. You have the power and flexibility to transform images into awesome creations.

You can easily produce icons, graphical design elements and art for user interface components and mockups. Whether you are a photographer, a graphic designer or an illustrator, GIMP will provide you with modern tools for your work.
Let us take a look at the key features of GIMP.  

1. Customizable interface

So you don’t like the default view and behavior of GIMP, well you can change it. GIMP allows you to customize the view and behaviour just the way you like it. There is a full-screen mode available to maximize your screen estate. If you do not like your docks separated, you can stack them together. GIMP allows you to customize your environment depending on the task at hand.

gimp customizable interface
Multiple Window Mode
gimp single window mode
Single window mode

2. Photo Enhancement

GIMP can easily fix imperfections from your photos. You can select corrective mode in transform tools and the go-ahead to eliminate your photo’s barrel distortion all in a very simple and straightforward interface.

gimp photo enhancement

3. Digital Retouching

You can also remove unwanted details from your photos easily with digital retouching tools. You can get use the clone tool or the healing tool to get rid of or reduce unwanted details. You also have tools such as the perspective and orthogonal clone tools available for easy object cloning.  

4. Hardware Support

GIMP also comes with support for various input devices out of the box. Supported input devices included pressure and tilt sensitive tablets and various USB and MIDI, controllers. And you can even customize these input devices with your own or community provided scripts to speed up your workflow.

gimp file formats

5. File Formats

The file formats supported by GIMP include bmp, gif, jpeg, mng, pcx, pdf, png, ps, psd, svg, tiff, tga, xpm, and many others. You can load, display, convert, save to many file formats and there is SVG path import/export. The architecture allows extending GIMP’s format capabilities with a plug-in. You can find some rare format support in the GIMP plugin registry. You can also load and save files to and from remote locations such as FTP, HTTP or even SMB (MS Windows shares) and SFTP/SSH.  

6. Extensibility and Flexibility

GIMP provides extensibility through integration with many programming languages including Scheme, Python, Perl, and more. As a result, there is a large number of scripts and plugins mad available by the community. There is a graphical tool for downloading from these libraries of plugins.  

Final Thoughts

The main issue is one that affects much other free software on the market, there are quite a few issues with GIMP. This is the issue of the UI. For a modern (in terms of functionality) application, the UI looks like something you would expect from a 90s software. The interface even though it is improving would definitely benefit from a refresh. GIMP is a pretty awesome product. If you do a lot of photo editing, you should definitely check it out. It won’t replace Photoshop completely as it does not have all of the same feature set but your mileage could be very close especially with the ton of plugins that are available.  


This post barely touches on the extensive feature richness of GIMP. I urge you to give GIMP a try. Even if you’re a newbie, there are a ton of tutorials available to get you going. You can start from here.

If you are coming from Photoshop, your mileage with GIMP might vary but then you should definitely check it out. Depending on your background, there might be a bit of a learning curve. For free software, it might just be even more than enough for you. Get GIMP from here if it does not come with your Linux distro by default.