Once again it's time to shell out $557 to upgrade Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and Acrobat. Are there alternatives that are easier to use and cost less? I've used Illustrator since about 1996 and never liked it. It's too hard to use. I just need to do simple ads, book illustrations, etc., every month or so. I liked MacDraw. Looking at http://www.apple.com/downloads/macosx/imaging_3d/ I see nine other image editing applications: DrawIt, LiveQuartz, Inkscape, Pixelmator, Acorn, ImagePlay, Art Director's Toolkit, Microspot MacDraft, and Lineform. Which ones should I try? I bought Acrobat Pro a few years ago because it had features I needed then. I no longer need those features but I need more than the Acrobat Reader features, e.g., crop pages, add and remove pages, fill in forms, etc. Acrobat Standard would be fine for me but I can't upgrade from Pro 6.0 to Standard 8.0. :-( I can either buy Standard 8.0 for $299 or upgrade to Pro 8.0 for $159. (Plus Acrobat Pro takes almost two minutes to open! No other application takes more than a few seconds.) I see there's an open-source PDF application (free?): http://ghostscript.com/awki Should I try GhostScript instead of spending $159 to upgrade to Acrobat Pro 8.0? I've used Photoshop since about 1996, like it, and use it almost every day. I see loads of other photo editing applications listed on http://www.apple.com/downloads/macosx/imaging_3d/. Is there an application as good ad Photoshop that costs less? I like Photoshop's "Adjustments...Autolevels" feature, the color balance, contrast, brightness, rotate, crop, etc., plus I use the "Save For Web" features to optimize file size and image quality. I could get the CS3 Design Standard suite for $699, which includes Illustrator, Photoshop, Acrobat, and InDesign. I tried InDesign 1.0 and it was awful. I sometimes design academic books and InDesign 1.0 couldn't handle references at all, you couldn't add or remove a verso without adding or removing a recto, no cross-reference ("see page 139") features, etc. Maybe I should try the latest version of InDesign and see if it has features for book design? I guess I've answered some of my own questions: try GhostScript instead of Acrobat Pro, and stay with Photoshop. That just leaves the questions of which drawing editor to use instead of Illustrator, and whether I should bother with InDesign.