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Photopea review: A free Photoshop alternative that works in your browser

Some powerful photo editors require a monthly subscription fee or a high initial investment. Photopea bucks both of these trends, and instead gives you a free option that doesn't even require you to download anything.

Photopea is a unique editing application — I've never used anything like it. It's a Photoshop alternative that you just open in your web browser. Both the interface and its feature list will be familiar to anyone who has used Photoshop. While it doesn't have every feature of Adobe's flagship photo editor, Photopea isn't a lightweight editor either. It has enough power and features to keep many users from having to purchase a photo editing software.

It's free and open source, with some ads that help support its development, but the ads aren't intrusive. You can upgrade to a premium account for $9 per 30 days to remove ads and support the developer.

Power within a browser

Photopea looks and feels like Adobe Photoshop, and that's a good thing because it feels very familiar to creators. If you've used any photo editing software that has a similar design, you'll be able to dive right into Photopea. You can make global edits like adjusting an image's HSL or brightness, and also make more specific edits like selecting an image from a background. It works with raster images and vectors and supports several file formats.

What's impressive about this to me is that it's all within your browser. Photopea doesn't require a download. It's a PWA that you can either use inside a normal browser interface or "install" as an app through browsers such as Google Chrome or the version of Microsoft Edge that's powered by Chromium. But even when "installed", you still don't have to download anything. The app is in your browser, but the editing is done on your machine. All of your work is stored locally, so nothing is put into a server or a cloud.

Because of how Photopea works, you can open it instantly on just about any machine, including PCs running Windows 10 in S Mode or even Chromebooks. It works with PSD files well and also supports the vast majority of file formats that image editors will need. It's a great photo editor for working across platforms and being able to jump into an edit on any device without having to download anything.

Editing anywhere

Photopea's most significant selling point is that it's so easy to use anywhere. It works very well with PSD files, with support for layer editing and saving a file as a PSD file. That means that you can take a file that you have on the cloud, a USB drive, or any device, and make some quick edits on any device without having to download anything.

For a professional user, Photopea isn't going to replace Photoshop, though that'd be a big thing to ask from a free piece of software. Instead, Photopea is an excellent companion for photo editors who need to make edits on a machine that isn't their normal setup.

If you're a prosumer or casual editor, Photopea will meet many of your demands. It's convenient, can handle a wide range of edits, and is easy to learn thanks to Photopea's online tools.

An impressive and convenient editor

I'm a fan of Photopea. It's unique, is a progressive web app, and can work on just about any platform. I love that it supports PSD files so well and plays nicely with other file formats. It's a good companion for professional users who have to make an edit on a machine other than their usual setup and a good editor for prosumers and casual editors looking for something more than a basic editor.

I ran into some performance issues when I tested it, which is unfortunate. Selecting a background to remove was a bit janky in my testing, but other edits ran smoothly. It's hard to judge how much that will vary for each person as hardware setups can differ significantly. What I can say is that editing in Photopea was less smooth than using my photo editor of choice, Affinity Photo (opens in new tab). That being said, Photopea still performed fairly well, and the fact that it's free and can be tested by literally clicking on a link makes it worth a try for anyone on the hunt for a photo editor.

Pros

  • Free version isn't restricted
  • Large feature set
  • Doesn't require a download
  • Can work in several browsers

Cons

  • Performance can stutter during edits
Sean Endicott
Sean Endicott

Sean Endicott is the news writer for Windows Central. If it runs Windows, is made by Microsoft, or has anything to do with either, he's on it. Sean's been with Windows Central since 2017 and is also our resident app expert. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com.

9 Comments
  • Cool, but not really Photoshop level. More like Paint.NET - or like Photoshop from 90s and even then lacking something...
  • Would you reckon Affinity Photo is the true PS competitor if there is one? I haven't tried it myself.
  • It's a great alternative if you are on the pro version with one time fee to buy the software rather than the monthly subscription
  • If this has everything I need in Photoshop then I can look at switching to Linux!
  • I checked it out. Won't be using it. Just like with Photoshop, I used the Selection marquee to select part of a bitmap, then moved the marquee. It doesn't actually select anything, so an empty marquee gets moved. I know there is some way to deal with this, but I won't be wasting any of my time trying to figure it out. There are many photo editors to choose from.
  • After you ever tried—after selecting the selection tool (M) and made your selection—to just click the move tool (V) again and to then to move the actual selection.
    Case closed.
  • just enough to make memes. nothign extraordinaire.
  • In this day and age is anything else required?
  • It's even a PWA!