So, what are the best alternatives to Photoshop for Chromebooks?
Well, good news. You’ll have look no further than the Chrome Web Store.
(That’s one of the best perks about owning a Chromebook.)
I’ve done all the legwork and sorted through dozens of free Photoshop alternatives for Chromebooks and chose only the best of the best.
All of these are free to use so you can try them out for yourself without paying anything.
Let’s get started. We’ve got a lot to cover.
Last updated: 3/6/23. Updated for accuracy in 2023. While there’s still no Photoshop, there are free alternatives that work on Chrome OS.
About these image editing apps
I’m not an expert, nor am I even a professional image editor.
I just use these apps (and Photoshop on my Windows desktop) to do some slight adjustments and edits on photos here and there. I’d say my image manipulation skills are basic to moderate.
The following apps do everything I need as a substitute for the real thing, so it works fine for me.
However, just because it works for my needs doesn’t mean it’ll work for your needs.
If you’re a full-on designer, these apps may not fulfill all your requirements. But then again, that’s not what Chromebooks are made for. They don’t have the hardware for heavy image editing, so you can’t expect too much in terms of what you can do.
But then again, you need to curb your expectations of what a Chromebook can do for photo manipulation in general.
If you’re trying to do some online freelance work on your CB, these apps will help with image editing. It’s probably the next closest thing to spitting out AI generated images.
Nonetheless, let’s move onto the list already. You may find serendipity. Woot.
Photoshop Alternative #1: Pixlr
Pixlr is probably the most popular Photoshop-like web app available on Chromebooks.
Pixlr has a full-fledged interface that looks very similar to Photoshop and Paint.net in its layout. You have all your quick-access tools on the left and toolbars up top.
Out of the bunch on this list, it looks the most similar to Photoshop and works almost the same way. You can clearly see that the Pixlr layout and tool names are inspired by Adobe Photoshop.
Update: At the time of this writing (January 2021), this is still very popular. It has over 7K total ratings with a 4/5 average rating with over 3M users!
Lots of effects
You can do a ton of different effects to touch-up your pictures. And I mean a ton.
You get all the basic effects like red-eye reduction, spot heal, clone, sharpen, blur, drawing tools, contrast, and a variety of filters and effects.
You can also adjust basic levels, curves, saturation, hue, brightness and contrast, and a few more. You can also use some familiar tools like the lasso and pen tools.
Opens .PSD files
What’s nice about Pixlr is that you can open your .PSD files right in the browser and manipulates it without having to save it as a different format.
If you work with Photoshop on another computer and you need to edit your images on your Chromebook, you can open them up without any extra steps.
Save the image to a flash drive and just plug it into your Chromebook. Launch Pixlr and you’re ready to edit. It saves a lot of time and unnecessary (and annoying) steps.
Of course, since this isn’t Photoshop, you won’t have access to all the finer adjustments you may be used to.
But on the other hand, Pixlr requires no money install. It’s free to use.
Works on the browser
It’s also my favorite of the bunch.
Pixlr is available as an app from the Chrome Web Store, or as a standalone browser-based image editor. You don’t need to download or install anything on your Chromebook to run Pixlr.
It’s the fastest way to start editing and retouching images without any mishmash. There really isn’t a faster way- it’s an image editing app that doesn’t require any annoying account signup. Pixlr is the real thing. Give it a try and see.
I personally use Pixlr to make some graphics for some of my articles here. I know I’m not the best, but I’ve made some impressive images before (in my opinion).
It’s very easy to use and you can make some very nice images that are moderately professional straight from your web browser on your Chromebook.
Check out Pixlr on the Chrome Web Store here.
Again, you don’t even need to register. No account needed.
And if you don’t want to install another app to your library, you can launch Pixlr straight from your browser.
It doesn’t get any easier. If you’re in a rush and need a Photoshop substitute, go with Pixlr. Pixlr is the most similar to Photoshop in the user interface (UI) and toolset.
You’ll feel right at home using it. There’s only a bare learning curve adjusting yourself to their tools.
Photoshop Alternative #2: GIMP
GIMP is already well-known as it’s not exclusive to Chrome.
GIMP is an image editor that’s been around for quite some time making it one of the most popular all-time image editors on the planet. It’s available for Windows, Mac, Linux, and now Chrome OS.
Browser-based image manipulation
It runs in your Chrome browser just like Pixlr. This means no downloads and no installs. You can just visit their online editor and it launches directly in your browser (link below) so you can start editing your photos.
Just like Pixlr, you can add the app to your Chromebook for quicker access to their tool. But this is completely optional and up to you if you want to do it or not.
Raster image editor
GIMP is a raster graphics editor, which means it’s best used for retouching images and editing them rather than creating.
It’s best suited for touching up images that you download from the web or that you took yourself.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t create something from anything using it.
You can draw images, but you may experience quality issues. You can also free-form draw as well as resize, crop, combine, montage, and convert between multiple image formats.
Make an animated GIF
Something special about GIMP is that you can create GIF animations. You know, like this:
It’s also able to open up animated GIF so you can edit them however you like. You can add in text, make a meme, or add in a picture or frame.
Similar to Photoshop
The interface of GIMP is also similar to Photoshop, but not as much as Pixlr. The feature set and tools of GIMP are advanced enough for the moderate editor, but again, it’s not Photoshop so there will be missing tools.
However, it’s still an excellent replacement to use on Chrome OS because it has a lot of the basic editing tools that are essential.
Lots of support and community tutorials
GIMP is also constantly updated and has a huge support forum.
It’s also very well-documented and you can find tutorials on how to do just about anything with GIMP.
Get GIMP on your Chromebook
You can check GIMP on the Chrome Web Store here.
You can also visit their official site for more information.
You’ll need to register as it’s powered by a cloud service called rollApp, but once you make a quick account, you’re ready to go.
Update: In 2021, GIMP is still being updated by the developers and has a bunch of new features. This is excellent for more intensive work.
Photoshop Alternative #3: iPiccy
iPiccy is a Chrome image app that’s built around simplicity and ease of use. It’s very user-friendly and has an intuitive design.
The buttons are big. The tabs are well-organized with meaningful text and icons to identify them.
This app is designed in a way that even a complete beginner to image editors can easily navigate and use.
A good photo manipulator for beginners
You don’t need to be a professional to use iPiccy.
It’s basic enough that anyone can pick up and use.
If you just want something that you can use right away without hunting for the right tool or Googling every other image vocab, then this is the perfect app for you.
What I like about iPiccy is that it’s extremely easy to use and you can quickly push out pictures like nothing. When you get good at using it, you can touch-up a picture in just minutes.
Edits your photos from anywhere
iPiccy provides a super easy to use interface and makes it easy to upload a picture to edit.
You can pull images from the Internet that you saved in your Downloads folder, or you can upload an image that you took using your Chromebook’s webcam or external media drive (flash drive, SD card, external hard drive, etc.).
You have a bunch of different layouts to choose from and once you pick one, you can go ahead and start adding images.
Has all the essential tools
You can see all your changes in real-time before you make the edit, and you can use your basic tools such as rotate, crop, resize, auto-fix, color adjustment, sharpen, contrast, and saturation.
You can also use a variety of filters and effects, such as painter, vignette, pencil, liquify, and much more.
Of course, being easier to use does mean a slightly limited toolset. It doesn’t feature as many tools and advanced functions as GIMP or Pixlr, but it does cover all the basic essentials.
For the majority of people who need an app to make their photos better, iPiccy can handle it.
If you want an easy to use Photoshop alternative, go with iPiccy.
It’s simple and straightforward and you’ll be making masterpieces instantly. The learning curve is basically none. I’d suggest iPiccy for making collages, montages, or quickly editing images.
Super simple and easily puts you in the drier’s seat to edit your pics without any knowledge. IT’s literally all laid out for you and doesn’t get any easier.
You can download and install iPiccy from the Chrome Web Store here.
One honorable mention is Canva, which is very similar to this. It’s fully web-based so you can easily do photo editing without any downloads or installs.
Getting Photoshop on a Chromebook is only possible through an app (for now)
If you really need the one and only Photoshop on your Chromebook and won’t accept an alternative, then you may want to check out Adobe’s blog.
What’s happening right now is that they’re actually working on a Chrome OS version of it, but it’s still very primitive and under development.
It’ll be awhile before it rolls out to Chromebooks as a stable version. And it’ll definitely be web-based because Chromebooks by nature don’t allow third-party software to be installed.
(If you’re up for it, you actually can install third-party apps and software by dual-booting with Linux.)
Update: It looks like it’s finally happening. If your Chromebook has the Play Store update, you can install a few different Adobe products directly onto your laptop- you get download Photoshop Express, Lightroom (mobile version), Photoshop Mix, Illustrator Draw, Comp CC, and Adobe’s Creative Cloud app. Woot.
I wrote a tutorial on how to download Photoshop on a Chromebook if you’re interested.
All you need is a Chromebook with Chrome 53 or above.
It also must be able to run Android apps via Google Play Store. If your laptop doesn’t have this ability, you can check when (and if) your specific laptop will be getting the Play Store update.
Photoshop Express is a very different version of the actual program though. It’s essentially a small collection of touch-up tools built for mobile phones. But it also works on Chromebooks as well.
What’s the difference between Photoshop and Photoshop Express? Photoshop Express is a lightweight version of that standalone program.
It’s built for mobile devices so you can edit the images you’ve taken on your phone on-the-go. It provides touch-up tools like basic image cropping, straighten images, rotate pictures, color correct, red eye removal, pet eye, image flip, white balance, brightness adjustment, and hue adjustment.
You can also add filters and effects as well as borders and frames. It also offers a way to take pictures straight from the app for convenience.
If you’re looking for something more similar to the actual program, you’ll probably want to get their Creative Cloud app which allows you access to their tools over a browser. It’s good for building collages and makes it very easy.
But either way, Adobe’s products are slowly becoming more accessible to Chromebook users. This is good in of itself.
I’m still using Pixlr to edit my images in the meantime since my specific Chromebook doesn’t have the Android update yet.
This app was built for phones, so getting on a Chromebook will be kind of awkward. You may notice resolution and input bugs.
But they’re still working on it and improve their products. You can try out their Creative Cloud if you’re really in need of their tools. I haven’t personally tried it, but it looks promising.
Did you try them out?
So there you have it, these are the best alternatives to Photoshop that I’ve come across so far which are compatible with Chromebooks.
They’re all somewhat similar to Photoshop and can do a level of editing that’s comparable to it.
But then again, it’s not Photoshop, so you can’t expect too much from them.
But hey, they’re free. And they work on the limited hardware capabilities some Chromebook models have, so it’s honestly a blessing to have them.
From personal experience, it’s a pain to switch from computer to computer just to touch-up some photos. It’s a huge timesaver to be able to do it all on my laptop.
Do you have another awesome image editor that you’d recommend?
Let me know by leaving a comment.
If you found this guide helpful, please leave a comment and let me know =].
Thanks for reading.