Is GIMP Better than Photoshop?

3 min read

Software can be a key component in anyone’s career. People who rely on software to make a living can struggle with one piece of gear and have a breakthrough with another. Some programs have a steeper learning curve but are very good once mastered. Some programs appear complex for no reason, which only makes matters worse for those wanting to learn.

It is often said that paid software is better, but that can be a serious pitfall. Let us talk about photo editing software, and in this case, GIMP and Photoshop.

Which one of the two is better and can any be better overall? 

GIMP – A True Example of FOSS

Free and open source software is more frequent these days, particularly the type that you actually want to download and use. GIMP has been around for a while, and its name stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program. The name itself is suggestive of what the software can do.

In its early days, it was very hard to learn how to use, with people stumbling over simple tools like resizing. Today, documentation is much better and the software itself highlights what you need to know about any piece of tool, including the default shortcuts for that tool.

Unlike Photoshop and most Adobe products, GIMP is free and open source, meaning you can download it for free, or even add to its code if you know what to do. But, it can be hard for some, especially those used to Photoshop.

Adobe Photoshop – You Get What You Paid For

Photoshop stands as the single most popular photo editing program. It has been around for multiple decades and has gone through many iterations, to nowadays become what most people know as the go-to program for photo editing.

Adobe has started using a subscription method as of recently, making it hard for people who want to purchase Photoshop once and use it indefinitely. This is one of the reasons why some people prefer Corel products, because they can be obtained with a one-time purchase.

But, that does not take away from the power of Photoshop, not to mention the documentation and community that posts tutorials and guides regularly.

Which One is Better?

In a vacuum, some people would call Photoshop better, but that cannot be so, because GIMP is as powerful, but free and open source. The question is what one does better than the other and whether you need the features that are paid for in Photoshop, but you cannot find in GIMP.

User interfaces and navigating a piece of software can be learned and relearned. Most programs allow the users to make their own shortcuts, thus optimizing the program for their own personal preferred keystrokes.

GIMP might work for some people, but not for everyone. Others are more than happy to pay for Photoshop, particularly if they earn money by using the program.

The open source community will always be backing GIMP, and with good reason. It is a great tool that comes at no price, and is open source. Photoshop is also great, and better in some use cases, but comes at a price.