Get a free alternative to Photoshop or Paintshop with GimPhoto


GimPhoto is a free program that allows you to manipulate and edit your image files in many of the same ways as the retail programs like Photoshop. GimPhoto is designed to approximate Photoshop in many ways; it’s interface design, menu layout, and it’s use of best plugins and resources.

If you’re looking for a free alternative to Photoshop or Paintshop, GimPhoto might be it.GimPhoto is multiplatform (Windows, Mac, Linux), and available as a portable version.

GimPhoto is a program based on a rather famous free ‘paint’ or ‘art’ program known as GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program).

I call them image manipulation programs (imps), but whatever name you call them, more and more regular people are using them on at least an occasional basis. Hence, there are starting to be more alternatives to the expensive retail monsters out there, and some of them are even close in quality.

Apart from all the newcomers, however, GimPhoto stands strong as one of the best. There’s a Windows version, Linux, and even a portable version that you can keep on a

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thumb drive with your other portable utilities. This is particularly handy for when you want access to your image files on the go but don’t have your computer with you.

Gimphoto Screen 3Gimphoto Screen 4

GimPhoto is, essentially, just an interface modification for GIMP. Sort of in the same way that Windows is an interface modification for DOS. When the GimPhoto interface is laid over the GIMP program, the abilities of the program seem to expand because it becomes easier to use. Specifically, GimPhoto modifies the menu structure of GIMP as well as the icons, presumably with the intent to speed the loading and rendering process.

Gimphoto Screen AGimphoto Screen B (2)

In practice, GimPhoto immediately seems to make a bit more sense to me than the original GIMP interface. When first loading the program, GimPhoto does take a while to get beyond the initial splash screen but it at least does tell you in a cute little message at the bottom of the window that it might take a while. Little improvements to make it more user friendly and easy to navigate like this are rampant in GimPhoto and the main reason I enjoyed using it.

Gimphoto Screen 5Gimphoto Screen 7

GimPhoto’s main interface consists of two main windows with a  third one opening as needed. Screenshots A and B show those windows, and they are how you will operate pretty much everything in GimPhoto. It seems odd, at first, not having a dedicated part of the window for a ‘workspace’ but it really is a nice way to save space and make the interface more dynamic to work with whatever else I have going on my desktop at the time. The workspace will appear as a separate window when you open a new project or an existing one. Keeping each piece, the Main menu, the Tools menu, and the workspace all distinct and disconnected was a jolt to get used to but once I did I found that I liked it better than having the whole program encased in a single window. Way to think outside the box, indeed.

Gimphoto Screen 8Gimphoto Screen 6

GimPhoto has all the tools and options you would expect in a full featured paint suite or the like. It actually is a pretty fair imitation of certain versions of Photoshop, so anyone familiar with that program will feel at home with GimPhoto pretty quickly. Same goes for Paintshop users, to a somewhat lesser degree. GimPhoto allows you to work with multiple bush types, filters, and even allows for complex layer interactions and effects like color burns and bump maps.

The downside? Documentation and learning curve. With a program like this, that is so rich in tools and features (with more being released regularly), documentation is usually pretty sparse. Even when there is robust documentation, it still takes a lot of usage and practice to get the ‘expert hang’ of a program like this. I believe this is where the ‘art’ resides in modern forms of creation. Using a computer program is a different set of muscle movements than using a paint brush and canvas, but the artist is in both methods. So, while many programs like this can actually have some pretty deep third-party written documentation and instruction (Photoshop actually has college classes devoted to using it), GimPhoto doesn’t have all those fancy books and much of the information on their home site appears to be translated to bad English from another language entirely. There are a number of good web sites out there to teach you how to use it, however, and they don’t cost money either.

Overall, I think GimPhoto is a great improvement on the original GIMP program and interface and I fully intend to start using it as my primary image manipulation program now. I would recommend it for anyone that wants a free alternative to Photoshop or Paint shop, as well as those who may have given GIMP a look previously and were turned off by it’s interface challenges.

Until next time, my friends!

[Thanks to reader Panzer for tipping us off about this program].

Get GimPhoto here (Windows, Linux, Portable, and now for Mac as well).

  • But how does it compare to something like Paint.NET, Photoscape, Realworld Paint or Hornil Stylepix? The last twe being slightly basic but powerful in their own way.

    “the same way that Windows is an interface modification for DOS.”

    This stopped being the case over 12 years ago.

  • pd

    Please stop pimping GIMP, like it’s name, it’s a piss poor alterative to commercial ware.

  • B.C. Tietjens

    I haven’t tried those other programs except for, which I found to be useful but my experience with it was pretty limited so I don’t think I could make that comparison right now. As to the Windows/DOS comment, I stipulate that the analogy is valid in conception if not execution. Always a pleasure to see your comments, thanks for reading!

    I have never “pimped” anyone or anything in my life, as far as I know. Rest assured that if I discover myself in a state of active pimpiosity, I will cease doing so immediately. As to GIMP, I understand you have a different opinion of it than I do. I have provided reasons why I like it here. Would you please tell me why you do not like it, in further detail? Thanks for reading!

  • Carbonize is correct. GimPhoto is, literally, an interface overlaid on GIMP. The Windows we use today was *never* an interface overlaid on DOS (it’s based on the WinNT kernel, which shares with MS-DOS only (1) that it can run on x86 architecture; (2) that it uses backslashes to separate directory levels); that it’s a product of Microsoft.

    BTW, “stipulate” (as you’ve used it) generally refers to an agreement. You’re not stipulating, you’re “contending” or “asserting.” See: (sorry–I recently graduated from law school).

    I too would be interested in a full comparison of GimPhoto and Paint.Net. I suspect GimPhoto is more capable, but I don’t know. I came across Paint.Net quite by accident a few years ago, and it’s (so far) done everything I need–but I’m always open to learning something new, and I also feel that I’ve only scratched the surface of Paint.Net, so having someone who can do it stretch both of these tools a little would make for an interesting read.

  • B.C. Tietjens

    To the layperson, the distinction is intangible and unimportant. Ask the average person if Windows is an overlay for DOS and most (who understand the question) will say yes, and the rest will wind up reading the comments here. Are they all incorrect? Yes? Does it matter for purposes of this article? No. The Windows we use today has very little in common with the Windows of yesteryear that did, in fact, start out as (in concept, at least) a GUI for DOS. The main thing that most people will notice that has remained the same, however, is the name. Windows is still Windows. In any case, I think focusing on this bit of poetic license is a digression from the pertinent information in the article as well as the discussion. If it helps, just pretend that I said “something you agree is an overlay for something else” instead of mentioning Windows.

    The usage of stipulate was meant more in the (quasi-legal) sense of making a statement as a given without requiring proof to back it up, to bridge a gap of differing opinions, rather than as a contention to prove that someone is correct and someone is not. I was not attempting to argue, but to dodge any possible argument.

    As to, I do not know if we will get to a full comparison between it and Gimphoto but thank you very much for the suggestion and thanks, as always, for reading!

  • B.C.:

    Perhaps, to the layperson. I worked in the commercial software industry for fifteen years, primarily writing installation software, so the distinction is not without meaning to me. NT truly was a revolutionary break, and none of the Win3.x, Win9x products that ran on top of DOS (and remember QEMM?) were ever anything more than facsimiles.

    We can stipulate that for most people, the only meaningful distinction is the near-bogus one between PC and Mac, I suppose. I have one son who is a Mac fan and one who favors Windows (right down to their phones). Neither, FWIW, would recognize the term “DOS.”

  • Toni

    I tried Gimp and I only use now. Not that I think Gimp is not good, but I am just an average photographer or artist. I like because it is simple to use and still has lots of possibilities (there are plenty of plugins).

    Gimp surely has far more possibilities, but I don’t want to dive into learning them. My guess is that people who want to do some serious drawing or photo-manipulation, will feel the limitations of soon enough. So, though I don’t use it myself, I would recommend Gimp to most people.

  • B.C. Tietjens


    The thing I really liked about Gimphoto is that it makes learning GIMP easier, so maybe it will be a good opportunity for people to give it another try. Thanks for your comments!

  • dmx

    As a professional graphic designer and starving digital artist I would love to have an alternative to Photoshop and its endless expensive, bloated (and often meaningless) “upgrades”.

    As indicated in the review Gimp is a bit of a mess. I haven’t tried Gimophoto, but I gave up on Gimp after giving it a serious try a few years ago. Paint.NET is more polished than Gimp and I would recommend it to people who want a decent image editor, but it doesn’t measure up to Photoshop for the serious user.

  • Conan

    For what I need GimpPhoto? The new Gimp RC1 have the one windows option that make it look like Photoshop.

  • It’s good to see a review of gimphoto it’s main point is that it makes Gimp a bit more like Photoshop. (Gimpshop is the same) I also like the fact that there’s a portable version. There is one big BUT from my point of view which is that it only operates in 8 bit mode at the moment. This doesn’t matter to a lot of people but if you’re looking for maximum photo quality it’s an important flaw

  • Max

    I would point out the GimPhoto hasn’t been updated for over two years. It seems a bit odd to me that you would recommend such an old program, especially as it seems that it isn’t being developed anymore.

  • B.C. Tietjens

    Old doesn’t mean worthless, in the world of freeware. Many programs that I use on a daily basis are years older than Gimphoto. The fact that a program is not brand new has no bearing on whether I use it, or whether I recommend it to anyone else. Additionally, just because it is more than two years since any update was made, doesn’t mean that there aren’t people out there who haven’t heard of it. It may not be ‘new’ but to some people it is still ‘news’.

  • dorsetdunk

    Max is right and as Conan kindly stated The new Gimp RC1 is the better choice over the now defunct gimphoto
    but never mind B.C. i was unaware of the update too so am happy for the heads up

    as for pd………. what a numpty

  • DrTeeth

    The windows version was last updated nearly three years ago. Less abondonware please LOL. At least GIMP is still being developed.

    • B.C. Tietjens

      “Abandonware” is still valid and useful software, although I really don’t thing GimPhoto counts as actual abandonware. Additionally, if I had not posted this article, many people wouldn’t have known about GIMP RC1 or Gimpshop (including myself) so it seems the article has value as a starting point for compelling conversation, if nothing else.

      Bear in mind that reviews thousands of programs every year, which means that we have room to write about older software as well as newer, since new programs come out on their own schedule and not ours. So, when I choose a particular bit of ‘ware to do an article on, I don’t usually take its age into consideration unless it is so old that it is no longer useful or relevant at all.

      In this case, GimPhoto is still useful, relevant and still free, and is still one of the best alternatives, despite the fact that there may be better ones that are newer, so I stand by the article. If GimPhoto was no longer a useful program or no longer ran under modern operating systems or something similar, then I would consider it defunct, rather than just aged.

      Also, many of the topics we discuss are suggested by readers, so it would seem to indicate that the majority of readers do not have an objection to software that is more than six months old. Not everyone can be on the cutting edge all the time. Think of the cost in band-aids, alone!

      As always: thanks for reading and participating, my friends! Intelligent and civilized discussion is one of the things I love most about writing for FreewareGenius so I hope to continue seeing you all discussing the articles we post.

  • Toni

    Freeware development is always dependent of the input of new volunteer developers. That’s why most major freeware titles have their long ‘slow’ periods without updating done. OpenOffice and Audacity, for example, are such titles. A good review like this on one of the major freeware sites just might give development a new boost…

    And when was the last update for, anyone? Still I wouldn’t live without these freeware gems!

  • dorsetdunk

    maybe not in this case Toni as the new Gimp RC1 now has the Photoshop interface included so there was no need to continue with the development of gimphoto

  • Toni

    Maybe you are right dorsetdunk. But sometimes a fork can unexpectedly, take the leading position if it turns out to be a better one. I can’t comment which is the best here cause I haven’t tried either.

    Though the new interface is without a doubt better than the old Gimp-version, personally I regret that all the major freeware titles become ‘copycats’. Gimp is going to look more and more like photoshop, Open/Libreoffice looks more and more like Microsoftoffice, Linux looks more and more like Windows. Though I understand that this made it much easier for people to switch, I regret that there seems a lack of good, original ideas in freewareland. With so many people arund the world involved in freeware, surely it must be possible to come up with something creative and new? A reason to choose freeware otherwise than keeping the money in your pocket?

  • It appears the main project is integrating a single-window interface as of v.2.8, perhaps thanks to articles like yours highlighting alternatives. Note that at this writing its a source-only distribution so GimPhoto is still valuable for those that need a single-window interface.

    GIMP is great and, while it has its flaws many users have highlighted, I keep coming back to it to solve issues that other great freeware image programs like PhotoFiltre of PhotoScape can’t.

    Additionally, thanks for your points about old/abandonware. I use several programs on my machine that haven’t seen development in years or don’t even have a website (Monoff4 and Minime for example). Good software is good software.

  • Rob

    Glad to see Carbonize already mentioned the erroneous DOS/Windows statement, but surprised to see you’re defending it.

    The average person thought Windows 3.x was a separate OS (else MS couldn’t have sold many). The informed knew otherwise, and when that fact changed.

    “Poetic license” is granted to poetry, not to technical articles, where it just confuses the “average person” (whom we then have to unconfuse.)

    “If it helps, just pretend that I said “something you agree is an overlay for something else” instead of mentioning Windows.” <

  • Vagablonde

    I have not tried the gimphoto myself so I cant comment on it,
    I have photoshop and play with alternate freeware just to see and sometimes I want to do a simple edit and they do nicely for that type thing..gimp does have good options compared to others,but as you mentioned,finding good articles on using it is challenging,It;s not the most user frienly,the version 2.8 that just released lets you have one main window..which helps it a bit my opinion..Ididnt care much for the floating detached windows..paintnet is also a nice really good editor you overlooked would be photofiltre this has layer support too,but like gimp not a lot of information on it in english ,but I am impressed with some if its features it has,,perhaps check photofiltre

  • vion77