Can Photoshop Be Replaced: The Thrilling Conclusion

Dr. Mac’s Rants & Raves
Episode #294

In a February Rants & Raves column I explained my dilemma with Photoshop’s subscription pricing:

I like Photoshop a lot and have become proficient. I’ve used nothing else for my image editing needs for as long as I can remember. That being said, I’ve begun a search for a reasonably-priced image editing app I can buy (not lease). Put another way, I’m looking for an app that can serve all of my image-editing needs, but without monthly payments.

After months testing five contenders — Affinity Photo, Acorn, GraphicConverter, Photoshop Elements, and Pixelmator Pro— I’ve made the decision to terminate my Photoshop subscription, and save $119.88 a year.

The competition was tough. I could probably replace Photoshop with any of the five contenders and be relatively happy. But, after trying them all, I’ve decided the app that best suits my needs is Affinity Photo.

It Was Close…

For a while, I was favoring Pixelmator Pro, which is an awesome graphics app that has all the features I need, a slick user interface, a great online community, and plenty of tutorials.

Then I tried Affinity Photo, which has all that and more.

To reiterate, I’m not a graphic artist in any way, shape, or form. But I am a solopreneur, which means I’m responsible for ads, flyers, business cards, signs, and typesetting, and everything else. I’m also responsible for editing my photos and screenshots for books, articles, and online posts.

Which is to say I don’t need a lot of fancy features. My work consists mostly of improving images, adding text, cropping and recomposing, and combining multiple images with text. Affinity Photo makes those tasks fast and easy.

While Affinity Photo’s user interface differs from Photoshop in many ways and took some getting used to, I’m finding it even better-suited to the handful of things I do again and again.

Affinity Photo’s Inpainting Tool Rocks

One thing I do a lot is remove unwanted objects from photos. Whether it’s a zit on a face or a telephone pole sticking out of a car’s roof, I spend a good deal of time trying to make things in my photos disappear without a trace. All of the contenders include tools for this, but I think Affinity Photo’s Inpainting tool does the best job in the least time. With the other contenders, I had to spend much more time cleaning up after I removed an object. With Affinity Photo’s Inpainting tool, I just paint over that thing and it disappears like magic.

Removing the big brown dog was as easy as painting it with the Inpainting brush.
Removing the big brown dog was as easy as painting over it with the Inpainting brush.

I also like its non-destructive filters and effects, and layer management.

I’ve only scratched the surface of this powerful graphics program but am learning more every day from the more than 200 video tutorials online and the excellent built-in help.

If you’re looking for a powerful graphics program, download the free trial and see why Affinity Photo is an Apple Mac App of the Year winner, an App Store Editor’s Choice, and my new personal favorite image editor.

Affinity Photo. $49.99. Serif Labs.

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Robert Patrick Hartle

I agree that there’s great replacements and have played with Affinity Products which, as was said, can do some really cool things Adobe Can’t. I do prefer Adobe’s Workspaces to Affinity’s Personas.. I don’t want more “Personalities” just Custom Workspaces that follow a production workflow. The other problem is when your work involves outside people, ad agencies, graphic designers, printers, you need a consistent, stable workflow with no surprises. Like what if Affinity goes bankrupt by only charging $50 a pop! I don’t see how they can survive on that platform.. so then were all back on Adobe or searching… Read more »


Hi Robert, Thanks for the kind words about the apps. Just to put your mind at ease, Affinity developer Serif has been in the software business for almost 30 years now, so while the apps are new, the company isn’t. We’re also a comparatively small developer, so our sales model is based on economics that work for us – perhaps the question is not why Affinity is so cheap, it’s why others are so expensive! In terms of compatability, Affinity apps export in all the common file types including psd from Affinity Photo and all the industry standard vector formats… Read more »

Robert Patrick Hartle

Well said… i guess i’m too set in my old school ways.. I love playing with new tools but when i have to get work done .. my vast memorization of most of Adobe’s Keyboard commands, panels, pallets, menus and commands. Not to mention WELL TESTED Pro Workflow extensions such as Pagination and Imposition tools that save me hours of work.. not just a few minutes. i.e. we use a well known extension that automatically puts the ads where they belong in our layouts. When you have 100+ boxes to fill, try doing that manually! I can slap together a… Read more »

Mike Wiley

Love Affinity EXCEPT for one foolish decision: In Designer, they have apparently deliberately left out the feature to flow text around an object. According to a Forum post, they did this so as to not cannibalize sales from the now beta version of Publisher. For people who use Designer for flyers, business cards, etc, that is a crazy choice — and one apparently made to force people into buying another product — which most of us would buy anyway. That has never been a good strategy for any company. Designer is a daily driver for many and replaces Corel Draw… Read more »

Lee Dronick

Agree, for a poster, flyer or some such one page it is easier to use a vector art app.

I have Affinity Designer, but feel more comfortable in Graphic.

I have been using Pages for multi page documents. I will wait to see how Publisher compares before switching.


Hi Mike, thanks for the kind words about the app. Regarding the functionality you mention, one of the key attributes we want the Affinity apps to have is that they don’t have loads of features that would be more appropriate elsewhere, which has meant some tough decisions regardless of how tempting it might be. Ultimately, we feel that the text layout capability you mention should be a function of a desktop publishing app, not a vector design product. Similarly, Photo doesn’t have some of the features in Photoshop, because we felt the rightful place should be a design app, not… Read more »


I’ve just started learning Affinity Designer and am very impressed with it.
I don’t think it’s overstation it to say they may give Adobe a run for their money. At least in the amateur, prosumer, and SOHO markets. Rental software might make sense for big corporations but when you’re living on a tiny margen, a package that does everything you need without a monthly fee makes a lot of sense.

Lee Dronick

I made the switch from PhotoShop a few years ago. First to Pixelmator Pro then to Affinity Photo. Affinity, and Pixelmator, also pretty good apps for the iPad Pro.