GIMP vs Photoshop – A Complete Comparison 2022

When you think of editing a picture, which software do you think of? Let me guess. The answer is Photoshop software because that’s the name we all chant when it comes to editing any photo. From beginners to professionals, everyone knows that Photoshop has everything you need to transform any image from ordinary to extraordinary.

But how many know another software that has existed as long as Photoshop yet not getting enough recognition? I am talking about GIMP, a graphic software that offers a fantastic editing experience. And while Photoshop can be challenging software to handle by beginners, GIMP is less complicated and free.

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Despite their differences and being widely known or lesser known, both Photoshop and GIMP are handy software with convenient tools. But which one do you think is the best software for editing images? If you want to know the answer, this GIMP vs Photoshop comparison article will help you with that.

GIMP vs Photoshop: Introduction

GIMP, which stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program, is a photo editing and retouching tool. Founded around the mid-90s, GIMP has been one of the convenient tools for editing images using various tools, drawing free forms, manipulating images, changing photo formats, etc. This handy and free software is compatible with Windows, MAC, and Linux.

Photoshop hardly needs an introduction as it has been one of the most widely-known photo editing tools since its release in 1990. Photoshop has various tools to edit, retouch, manipulate and transform images for personal to professional uses. But unlike GIMP, Photoshop is not entirely free and requires a monthly subscription charge.

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GIMP vs Photoshop: Comparison Table

Here is a GIMP vs Photoshop comparison table that will give you a quick overview of their similarities or differences.

DefinitionGIMP is graphic software for editing, retouching, and correcting photographs.Photoshop is also a graphic software for editing, correcting, and retouching various photographs.
User LevelIt can be used by beginner and professional level designers.Mostly suitable experienced or professional designers.
Learning CurveNewbies can catch up pretty quickly with GIMP.Learning Photoshop can be challenging and takes more time.
DifficultyEasy to use.Comparatively challenging to use.
StyleHas pretty much the same style and filter for photos, texts, and objects. The effects are not highly significant either. Newbies can hardly tell the differences.There are countless freestyles and many built-in styles for you to choose from. You can also customize your convenient style.
Software StandardSince it is open-source software, it hardly requires a software standardAdobe Photoshop requires an industry-level standard. And it gets upgraded regularly.
OS SupportWindows (7, 8, Vista, XP SP3), MAC OS (10.6 or latest), Free BSD, etc., support GIMP.Almost everything from Android and iPhone to Windows, MAC, Linux, etc., supports Photoshop.
Storage SpaceGIMP takes around 20-30MB of storage space to perform effectively.Photoshop can take around 2GB or more storage space and 4 GB available space for smooth performance.
Batch ProcessingBatch processing is comparatively slower.Batch processing is pretty fast and smooth.
RAM RequirementRequires lower RAM and hardware resource capacities.Requires a larger RAM and hardware capacity.
UpdateCan be updated by users if they are equipped properly.Can only be updated by the Adobe platform.
PriceIt is free software and does not require any subscription fee.Requires a monthly subscription charge. And also has yearly and package deals.
SupportGIMP supports Photoshop files.Photoshop does not support native GIMP files.

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GIMP vs Photoshop: Features Comparison

Here are the best features of GIMP:

  • Allows you to open many images at once
  • Allows you to edit any photograph taken on a phone or digital camera
  • Ensures enhancement of photographs
  • Has settings and tools to change, correct or modify the color
  • The tool offers a customizable interface for users
  • Supports various hardware devices, like USB, MIDI controller, etc.
  • Offers up to 100 readily available plugins
  • Has convenient blending and selection tools
  • Exports images to different formats with ease
  • Has the vector graphic features (basic)
  • Many undo and redo options for correcting work
  • Offers a foreground extractor tool
  • Supports alpha channel without problem
  • Efficient color management features

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Here are the best features of Photoshop:

  • It is developed with generator technology
  • Has an intelligent feature to improve any low-quality image to higher quality
  • Supports many undo options
  • You can connect it to social media platforms
  • Can help you increase user interface size
  • Offers a smart sharpening filter
  • Helps turn any object into various layers
  • Offers multiple drawing tools, such as pencil and the pen tool
  • Multiple tools to make selections around the subject
  • It is highly effective for restoring damaged or faded photos
  • Has handy tools for single or multiple path selections
  • Supports repetitive tasks for getting tidier work result
  • Suitable for fixing flaws, such as wrinkles, damages, red-eye, glare, etc.
  • Directly shares images online or can be sent via email
  • Does not require the use of the Shift key to change the layer
  • Countless effects and filters are available
  • Retouching and creating various effects turn out to be more natural

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Has a one-click color correction feature

GIMP vs Photoshop: Head-To-Head Comparison

The above-mentioned features have given you a good idea of what you can or cannot do with GIMP and Photoshop. But that was based on almost every feature they offer to their users. But the main comparison should be between what you essentially need for editing photographs.

That is why I have listed the features and functions you need to know about most. So here is a head-to-head comparison between GIMP and Photoshop.

Selection Tools

Any photo editing application has one essential tool that is mandatory for editing, and that is the selection tool. From fixing a small portion of the image to most parts, editing a photo is impossible without it. That is why it is essential to check the performance of this tool before using any such application.

Both GIMP and Photoshop offer various tools for manual and automatic selection. And you will hardly spot many differences unless you are looking more sharply. But you will find many similarities when using the manual selection tool.

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GIMP and Photoshop do the best job selecting simple shapes like square, rectangular, or oval. Both software has tools that offer multiple options when making such selections. However, the problem becomes more visible when you use automatic selection tools. But why would you need this tool?

Well, some specific shapes and subjects are challenging to select manually and require help from the application. While selecting solid forms is comparatively simple, selecting hair, fur, and complex edges can be the real challenge. That is when you will need to select them automatically.

Photoshop has several auto selection tools, like the Magic Wand Tool. As soon as the tool touches the subject, it automatically creates an accurate selection path around it. On the other hand, GIMP has a Fuzzy Selection Tool that takes some time to do the job. Honestly, you may even think your device or the app has crashed even though it is working.

 That is why Photoshop is preferred for making quick and more accurate selections. On top of that, Photoshop has advanced options and settings that allow you to make color-specific selections. GIMP, on the other hand, offers only a limited number of customizing options.

You can preset the tools on Photoshop to ensure it only selects what you command it to. But you should know that Photoshop’s automatic selection process might not always work with complex backgrounds or images.

Healing And Cloning Tools

For making image subjects flawless, you will need two more essential tools: Healing Tool and Cloning Tool. The Healing Tool helps hide any flaws, smudges, or other imperfections while making everything else look pretty natural. On the other hand, the Cloning Tool helps duplicate image parts or items.

Let’s say there is acne, a zit on someone’s face, or a mark on the subject that does not belong there. You can apply the Healing Tool over them and conceal them easily. And if you need to do some patchwork in the photo, you can use the Cloning Tool.

But how do they work for GIMP and Photoshop? Well, that is precisely why I explained why you need these tools.

GIMP and Photoshop are equally suitable for these tools. The tools respond well and quickly, making it a tie situation. So if you are looking for the best performance regarding healing and cloning tools, you can choose any of them.

Auto Adjustments/Filter

People now prefer Al or Artificial Intelligent Generated software that makes editing more efficient and fun. While most photo editing software does not have them, some have made this extraordinary addition to their software, and Photoshop is one of them.

Photoshop has a Neural Filter feature that allows you to make automatic adjustments without much problem. You can also make changes or customize the filter look if you want. Unfortunately, GIMP does not have any such feature.

Raw Photo Editing

When you capture a photo with a high-quality camera or DSLR, the camera system saves the image with its raw data. That is why these photographs are called RAW photos, and they require a higher quality editor to ensure the image quality does not get destroyed during the editing process. Since different cameras create different RAW images, it is essential to know if the editing software is compatible with such images.

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Photoshop has a built-in Camera RAW system that can process RAW image files. Thus, it helps edit your RAW images in the most non-destructive way. But as GIMP does not have such a system for RAW images, you need to open the photo in an open-source program to open it on GIMP. This process can be a hassle for those who prefer handling more straightforward options.

Common Image Formats

Of course, all photo editing applications follow some rules in their program. They all support and save some specific photo formats, and you must use photos of only those formats while using such software.

GIMP and Photoshop have yet another tie-tie situation in this regard. They both support most image formats such as PNG, JPEG, GIF, TIFF, etc. Most software does not support PSD format, which works best for complex images. The good news is that GIMP and Photoshop support this format as well.

User Interface

When using a new application, the user interface can be challenging to understand and keep up with. So if you are a newbie, Photoshop and GIMP user interfaces will seem overwhelming. However, what separates them is one is more accessible than the other when it comes to customizing options.

gimp vs photoshop User Interface

GIMP has no customizing option for its users except for a few panels. You must use everything as they are and cannot change any part of the interface based on your preference. As a result, you are stuck with a much more complicated thing to deal with.

On the contrary, Photoshop ensures its users find ease as they learn the software and its features over time. This application allows you to change the look and location of the toolbar, menu bar, and other panels per your preference. GIMP’s recent updates have added some new features to its user interface. But it is still not as user-friendly as Photoshop.

Learning The Software

As I said in the previous section, learnings something new comes with odds and challenges. That is why new users should look for the ones that come with tutorials, hints, and guidelines for learning all about the software and its tools. Some applications even come with discussion or support forums to seek help.

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Everyone knows how infamous Photoshop is when learning about it inside. Though it did not have a guideline feature or option before, photoshop has now added guidelines, hints, and forums to make the application more user-friendly. These features will show when you open and use Photoshop.

On the other hand, finding guidelines or forums for free or open-source software can be challenging. Even if you find any external forum, they might not offer helpful information. And GIMP does not provide any built-in guideline feature.

GIMP vs Photoshop: Costs Comparison

The cost of using such software is always a vital question everyone wants to know the answer to. So let’s start with what you get easily between GIMP vs Photoshop.

GIMP is open-source software, meaning it is entirely free and does not require any fee for in-app purchases. You get to use every tool and option without any subscription charge. It is one of the best parts of using this application. And it is highly appreciated how the people behind it work so hard to ensure it does its best.

On the other hand, Photoshop comes with a monthly subscription option that allows you to use it without any obstacles. The basic monthly subscription charge for Photoshop is $20.99 with cloud storage. However, if you are a student in the US, you can get it for $19.99.

Then there are annual subscriptions and package plans that seem very expensive yet cost-effective. And the package plans give you storage and access to other applications like Lightroom, Photoshop CC, Illustrator, etc.

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It’s challenging to declare which one is better here when both software offers win-win benefits. With GIMP, one can access incredible tools for editing photos and creative work. On the other hand, despite paying a fee, Photoshop is an excellent way to explore more of the editing world.

Advantages And Disadvantages Of GIMP

Here are the advantages and disadvantages of using GIMP


  • The best thing about GIMP is that it’s free
  • Has many advanced features like creating layers and paths
  • Allows you to remove backgrounds from images
  • It is a beginner-friendly software
  • Easy to go through and work with
  • Editing small images run smoothly and faster
  • Allows you to open Photoshop files
  • Has some handy tools for image masking
  • Its menu features are more convenient than that of Photoshop
  • Most importantly, you can run it on your device from the cloud or drive without installing it


  • GIMP has a limited capacity to handle grayscale or indexed images.
  • Offers only a limited number of third-party plugins
  • Not highly useful for editing larger images or designs
  • Has fewer features and tools compared to Photoshop
  • Doing advanced-level graphic work with GIMP is challenging

When To Use GIMP?

You can use GIMP when you require the following.

  • Basic Software: If you are not looking for something highly professional but still want some excellent work, you will need GIMP. It has pretty much most tools and functions that you will find in top-notch software like Photoshop.
  • Lightweight Project: GIMP is a convenient software if you need something for light work.
  •  Need Something Less Complex: GIMP is the best choice for starters and lightweight projects.
  • Tight On Budget: If you are looking for a free alternative to Photoshop, you can get GIMP.

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When To Use Photoshop?

You can choose to use Photoshop if you need the following.

  • Need Professional Software: Photoshop is a high-quality and the best application for photo editing and design, making it suitable for pros.
  • Access Without Obstacle: If paying for built-in tools and functions is not an issue, Photoshop is highly recommended for all. It gives you access to everything you need for top-notch work.
  • Want To Work On Tablet Or Smartphone: Photoshop can be your go-to software if you need something convenient for your smartphone or tablet.
  • Need Something Non-Destructive: Photoshop maintains image quality and ensures improving them. So if you need a non-destructive application, go for Photoshop.

Use Updated Tools: If you are looking for uninterrupted working tools, Photoshop is your best hope. The software is always up to date, and its latest tools will ensure the best results.

Frequently Asked Questions

GIMP is generally less complicated than Photoshop, and its features are easier to catch up with. So when it comes to learning to edit photos or creating designs, GIMP is a more user-friendly option than Photoshop.

While GIMP is excellent software and has multifunctional editing tools, it is not always the best go-to software for all. Since professionals require high-quality editing software with a wider variety of tools and functions, Photoshop works best for them. That is why professionals do not usually use GIMP.

GIMP is a free application with limited resources. On the other hand, Photoshop offers more diverse tools and options than most other editing software. So, you cannot work using GIMP the same way Photoshop does.

GIMP may not work similarly to Photoshop, but it does have many useful tools and settings. That makes it an excellent alternative to Photoshop. The best part is, unlike Photoshop, you get to use it for free.

Final Verdict: Which One Is The Best?

So, which one do you think is the winner of the GIMP vs Photoshop comparison article? It was not a competition, and it is difficult to announce a winner as both GIMP and Photoshop are excellent photo editing software. While GIMP is free and has limited resources, Photoshop requires a subscription charge and offers access to unlimited resources.

So your choice should be based on your requirements to find which one you need. And if the cost keeps you from using Photoshop, you should know that you can get a 30-day trial option before purchasing any package.

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