I was never really a designer, but I always had to use Photoshop in support of web development I was working on. Over the years, Photoshop (as have most Adobe products) became more and more bloated, slower and complicated to use. I honestly, can’t even tell you what version of CS it’s on by now. It simply became too unwieldy for the simple tasks of cropping, resizing, optimizing that I was doing. About a year or two ago I stumbled across the free Paint.net .
I seriously think most web developers and also probably a good deal of hobby Photoshop user will find this great alternative software handles just about everything you need. Now, since it’s written in .Net it will only work on Microsoft operating systems, furthermore you will need to have the appropriate .Net libraries installed as well, but for most Windows operating systems they are installed by default.
Since Paint.net leverages the .Net libraries on your PC, the installer is incredibly small (I think its less than 4mb!).
Version 3.5.5 which I’m running has a feature set that I reminds me of Photoshop circa 5 or 6; things like Layers, a very familiar Tool palette, Effects, Filters, History, Lighting adjustments. Honestly, it would take me longer to list them all, then for you to download and try it! One downside is that it doesnt have as many filters and effects as Photoshop, but it does appear to have some way to add plugins (haven’ tried though).
The last thing I want to say is that it is SUPER FAST – startup, in use – shutdown. It’s simple, intuitive and gets the job done with none of the bloat.