Adobe Photoshop vs. GIMP – A Brief Comparison on Their Utility


Every invention gets challenged by an equally good or slightly better same type of other inventions. It is the law of the world. The sphere of graphic design is not an exception. Photoshop and GIMP are two software which appears to be equally suitable for any type of image editing.

Between these two applications, there are some shortcomings. They also contain many important features, options, tools, plug-ins, and some other resources that have made one is better than another for personal and professional use. One is rich with some features, and another is different with other some extra advantages. There are many users, many experiences. Some like GIMP, and some other like Photoshop. They argue for their loving tool, taking forth the extra things provided by the tool.

This content is enriched with the similarities and dissimilarities, compare and contrast, and other facts that can help the users to know the details about these two programs before installing and using, or purchasing.

GIMP Overview

GIMP stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a free and open-source photo editing software that is compatible with almost all the operating systems like GNU/Linux, OS X, Windows, and so on. Its source code is changeable and you can distribute your changes. It is much enriched with many sophisticated tools and 3rd party plugins that are very useful for graphic designers, photographers, illustrators, scientists, and mores.

You can do here whatever you want in relation to photo editing like high-end image retouching, restoring, cropping, resizing, drawing, creative photo manipulation, color correction, etc. It gives designers the power and flexibility to transform photos into unique creations. It allows them to create icons, graphical design elements, user interface components and mock-ups, and more.



Adobe Photoshop is also a photo editing software developed by Adobe Systems. Older version of Photoshop offered in 2 versions- basic and extended. However, with the development of Photoshop CC, Adobe decides to travel with only 1 version of Photoshop which will be featured with all types of options as the name itself indicates. The extended version incorporates a lot of useful options and tools.

It is used for any kind of photo editing service we provide. Such as photo retouching, background removing, clipping path, old & damaged photo restoration, ghost mannequin effect, etc. A Photoshop document (PSD) is a highly modifiable file type, which can store a photo in any other format as needed. The PSD file can often contain layers, masks, color areas, transparency, spot colors, channels, selections, text, Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) profiles, duotone, clipping path settings, and many more.

Some Basic differences

Various modern businesses require various types of photo editing services to make their product more appealing. And to ensure that, graphic designers are responsible for image beautification. In many cases, they are not confined to a single software, since many tools offer distinctive features and you cannot get all from one single software.

By the way, considering the simplicity of usage, tools, resources, and the reviews of the designers, we have found some differences among the photo editing tools: Photoshop and GIMP.

Adobe Photoshop GIMP
Photoshop is a little bit difficult to use and you must learn it from various tutorials. GIMP is easy to handle for all kinds of users viz beginner or advanced.
It usually takes up 1GB from your PC or Mac to perform It is very small and light. Usually not more than 25 MB.
It needs a High amount of RAM and other hardware resources. GIMP does not need large amounts of RAM or other hardware resources.
Photoshop is a proprietary product and it would cost you money to purchase. GIMP is absolutely free and open-source software.
Being proprietary, Software Update of Photoshop is confined only to Adobe. Being Open Source, GIMP’s Software Update is open for all those who can develop and contribute to Open Source Software.
The fact is that the designers and the photographers prefer Photoshop to GIMP. i.e. Usually the people that make a living from Photoshop use it more often. GIMP is best for hobbyists or amateurs as a free alternative to Photoshop. i.e. People that have immediate photo editing needs and do not want to spend on software, go for GIMP.
Photoshop is the photo editing software that is industry-standard. GIMP is free and community-centric software.
Photoshop has clients and customers. GIMP has users, well-wishers, and contributors
Photoshop has many proprietary tutorials. GIMP has open-source and voluntary tutorials.
Photoshop offers Pantone colors. It doesn’t support GIMP’s native file format i.e. XCF files. You can open Photoshop files in Gimp because it can read and edit the PSD files.

When to use it?

If you are a Linux user, you can prefer GIMP to Photoshop. You can use this software from a USB stick or device in case of a shortage of your hard disk as it is lightweight. If you cannot afford to purchase and don’t like to use pirated Photoshop, you can use open-source software i.e. GIMP. To get a more user-friendly photo editing software, you can like to use GIMP over Photoshop. GIMP is free to upgrade, whereas photoshop will cost you money. If your system is lower than 16 bits, then use GIMP as it supports an even 8-bit system.


Use GIMP If You’re On a Budget

If you are on a budget and still not professional, this software is not for you. Adobe Photoshop has a high price tag. It costs much more than most of the other photo-editing software. It is offering different prices and bundle offers that start from $9 to $79 for a month. You can also choose an annual price package that is pretty much less. For a learner, it is difficult to buy such paid software. But, if you don’t like to use Photoshop or want to save money for other reasons, then you can use GIMP simply because it’s free.


Use Photoshop if you’re a Professional

Adobe’s tools are the main choice for its multi-purpose tools and options to the professionals. Most of the clients also like Photoshop works. If you work with someone who likes it, they might send you a PSD or other Adobe proprietary formats. If you don’t have the tools to handle the files, you won’t be able to work with them a long time. So, you need it.

But, if you’re a non-professional guy, you have enough reasons to use GIMP instead of Photoshop.

Use GIMP If You Don’t Need It All the Time

GIMP, despite its limitation, is a more powerful tool than many of the other free photo-editing apps. It might not be the simplest tool to use, but you can do a lot with it. If you occasionally need powerful tools for image editing purposes, then GIMP is probably the best application for you. Plenty of apps will let you crop images or add some brightness or contrast, but with GIMP you can do some real editing work. For most people, apps like Apple’s Photos or even Instagram will be enough for their editing needs, but if you want more, you can’t go wrong with GIMP.

Use Photoshop If You’re A Designer

If you’re a designer, then GIMP really isn’t an option. While GIMP can be a decent replacement for Photoshop for some uses, it doesn’t hold a candle to Illustrator or InDesign — two of the other apps in the Creative Cloud. Also, if you’re designing for print, GIMP’s lack of CMYK support is available in Photoshop.

Resource Requirement

System Compatibility for GIMP

GIMP is integrated in most Linux OS. This software can also be installed in most other operating systems and that is why it reaches all users. It can be installed in 8 bits operating system. But, With GEGL (Generic Graphics Library), GIMP can supports 16-bit image depth at most. It is light software and can be used from an external hard disk.

System Compatibility for Photoshop

Photoshop is a heavy-weight photo editing software. It is available only for Mac and Windows operating systems, but it is not for Linux. Your system must be more than 16 bits to install any version of Photoshop. It is heavy software and it will take Gbs free disk space. Photoshop CS5 requires 1GB of space on your hard disk. It can make slower your computer.

What you can do with them?

What you can do in Gimp only?

  • GIMP provides a customizable interface. You can change widget theme, colors, widget spacing, icon sizes, etc.
  • Gimp can read and edit PSD files.
  • GIMP is free software and anybody can change and distribute its source code. You can use many programming languages including Scheme, Python, Perl, and more.
  • It provides a full-screen preview of your artwork and editing work.

What you can do in Photoshop Only?

  • There are two strong color modes that photoshop offers: RGB and CMYK. RGB mode is used to capture images on the camera and to portray them on a digital screen. CMYK is for printing your work. Anyway, GIMP does not offer CMYK color mode.
  • Photoshop offers easier non-destructive photo editing techniques. As a result, professional high-end editing needs this software.
  • Adobe photoshop has been providing better support. You can take help even by a phone call. Constantly, its developers’ team improving it by bug fixing and adding new features.
  • Photoshop offers more power tools for high-end image retouching i.e. it offers multiple Healing Brush tools. GIMP repeats the tools that Photoshop offered at a few versions ago.
  • Photoshop is an app of Creative Cloud that offers Lightroom, Illustrator, InDesign, and more software. This software supports the work of each other.
  • The modern camera creates RAW or JPG files. If you need to edit, you can open both of these files in Photoshop.
  • Photoshop is easy to learn because of its countless awesome tutorials. You will get answers to every question and can fix every editing solution.

What you can do with both?

Both the software allow you to do the basic photo editing works. You can do all the simple changes to your photos. Both the tools allow to resize, crop, and rotate an image. You can modify or change the color. It will let you restore damaged photos. This software will help to fix blemishes or remove unwanted things using many powerful tools. You can add a guide and text layer mask. All kinds of image editing services like clipping path, image masking, background removing, damaged photo restoration, etc. you can do using these two software.

Likes and Dislikes

Likes of GIMP

  • GIMP has almost all the same tools: This software is providing many tools that look the same as the photoshop tools. So, anyone who knows PS tools can learn the use of these tools easily.
  • Free & open-source, similar interface: GIMP is fully free and open-source photo editing software. It is community-based and its interface is almost similar to PS.
  • Super lightweight in Linux: It is a very lightweight tool and easy to use for Linux users.

Likes of Photoshop

  • Adobe suite compatibility: Photoshop is a part of Adobe suite. In its creative cloud, there are many powerful tools like Lightroom, Illustrator, InDesign, etc. Photoshop can read and edit the files from these tools.
  • Online support and vast community: Photoshop has its own developer team. It has great online support and a vast community. There is hardly any question, you won’t get an answer related to image editing is this tool.
  • Tons of plug-ins, tools, and filters: Adobe provides a huge number of free and premium Photoshop plugins, tools, and filters for making the user experience smoother.

Dislikes of GIMP

  • Tools not as polished as Photoshop: GIMP doesn’t provide its tools as polished as that of photoshop i.e. GIMP gives one Healing Brush tool whereas PS is providing multiple Brush for smooth retouching works.
  • Less support and popularity: Since GIMP is a community based tool, it provides less support and popularity. You have to wait for getting any support.
  • Windows version takes a while to load: Though this tool works well in Linux, it struggles in Windows OS. It takes time much to load.

Dislikes of Photoshop

  • Photoshop elements & extended files costly: Many people don’t like Photoshop for its high price. Its element files cost minimum $100 and the cost of the extended files is $1000.
  • Estimated half of users have pirated copies: As photoshop is costlier to purchase, there is a tendency to use pirated copies. Most beginners use pirated copy.
  • Plugins don’t carry over with upgrades: There are lots of photoshop plugins that don’t carry over with upgrades and as a result, the users experience backdated services.
  • Constant license validations: Photoshop’s frequent license validation is a money consuming and painful fact.


Selection one app between GIMP and Photoshop will be easy if you think about what you need it for. If you’re a professional or someone who wants to use extra add-ons or features for some special effects, then Photoshop can be the first choice. If you have a Linux machine and you are unable to manage a budget, or only need to use an editing app occasionally, then you can take GIMP for editing your photos.