Lower-cost alternative to Photoshop

Maybe once a month I need Photoshop. Since it is rare, the cost seems like a disproportionate amount of money to spend by my startup.

I think the tasks I need to achieve when I’m converting a design to HTML/CSS/images are:

  • opening a PSD that a graphic designer sent me
  • crop some images out of it, generally picking up the layer to have transparent backgrounds
  • measure distances
  • measure colors (RGB)
  • measure font and font sizes
  • maybe more that I’m not aware since I almost never do this kind of task

Is there some cheaper software for MacOSX that can do all of this so we don’t have to buy Photoshop?


Thank you for visiting the Q&A section on Magenaut. Please note that all the answers may not help you solve the issue immediately. So please treat them as advisements. If you found the post helpful (or not), leave a comment & I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Method 1

If your needs are that simple, you can probably do what you need using the free, web-based and popular http://pixlr.com/ which supports PSD files.

It has a simpler interface and gentler learning curve for people familiar with photoshop than the obvious other free alternative GIMP (which you could always download any time you needed any more features or if you needed to work offline).

Not needing to install and learn the many quirks of GIMP would give you more time for motorized desk shopping 😉

If you wanted a more photoshop-like offline option, Photoshop Elements might1 cover your needs and in the past I’ve found it’s enough for basic web design work. It sometimes comes free with handy – and ergonomic 😉 – products such as some Wacom Bamboo drawing tablets.

1 It can’t turn individual layers on and off if they are inside a group though.

Method 2

A good OSX alternative to Photoshop is Pixelmator.

It supports PSD files but the picture might be a little different because it doesn’t support all features (like layer styles).

Method 3

As mentioned in my comment, I think Photoshop Elements 8 is a good investment for any cash-strapped company that needs to edit/view PSD files and work with designers who use Photoshop. However, Gimp and Paint.NET also support PSD files.

I’m not sure the extent to which they support them, but I think Gimp’s support could be better than Pixelmator since Gimp is often treated as the primary FOSS alternative to Photoshop. Paint.NET is only for Windows, but if you have access to a Windows machine, it could give you superior PSD support (after installing this free plugin), and it’s also free.

AlternativeTo also lists a lot of other alternatives to Photoshop.

Method 4

I’d give Pixelmator a try


Method 5

Adobe is coming out with a creative suite subscription plan very soon that may be easier to swallow up front. Of course, subscriptions suck in the long run.

Method 6

Why don’t you try this page?

He’re you get a good overview about all graphics-programms…

greets mark

Method 7

Adobe are releasing a monthly subscription plan with CS6 that aims to cator to the likes of yourself and the tens of thousands of others that can’t afford the massive outlay of £2k+ for software.

More info and pricing here.

Method 8

My favorite free image editing program on OSX is Seashore. It doesn’t open .psd however; I’m just listing it here for anyone else searching for OSX image tools.

All methods was sourced from stackoverflow.com or stackexchange.com, is licensed under cc by-sa 2.5, cc by-sa 3.0 and cc by-sa 4.0

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