Photoshop has become synonymous with photo editing. It is so common that people now use the name as a verb. If you want to edit a picture, you simply “Photoshop it.” However, Photoshop is not the only software that allows for intricate editing.
There is a variety of free photo editing software out there, which is perfect for anyone who’s not a professional designer and doesn’t want to spend a ton of money. Here are our top picks for the best free photo editing software.
Great for: Making edits on the go
Available on: Web
Many people view Photopea as a great replacement for Photoshop. It offers a lot of the same features, such as an assortment of filters, layers, quick selection tools, and the ability to work on several pictures at the same time. It even lets you edit PSD files.
Since it’s web-based, you don’t have to download anything, and can open it on any computer. It doesn’t even require you to sign up. However, since the tool is online, you may encounter glitches, especially when you have to make heavy edits.
Additionally, some features are a bit more tricky to perform in this app. For example, if you want to make a background transparent, it’s a more involved process that doesn’t always generate the best results.
- Can open PSD files
- Lets you edit from any computer without installation
- Has a large number of editing features
- Performance can falter with heavy editing
- Some features don’t work well
Great for: High-level editing
Available on: Web and desktop (Windows and macOS)
Just like Photopea, Pixlr E is an online and desktop-based photo editor that has an interface reminiscent of Photoshop. That said, it’s much easier to use if you’re already familiar with Photoshop.
Similar to Photopea, it offers levels and exposure adjustments, as well as layers and masks. However, it has several features that make it even more extensive. For one, you can open pictures directly from a URL. It also has a library of royalty-free images and recommended templates if you’re creating a design.
However, some tools are only available in the Premium version, and you can only work on one picture at a time.
- Offers templates and free images for graphic designs
- Opens files from multiple locations
- Provides extensive image editing features
- No need to install
- Has ads
- Some features require a Premium subscription
- Can only work on one image at a time
Great for: Users with advanced knowledge
Available on: Desktop (Windows, macOS, and Linux)
Unlike the previous two image editors, GIMP is not available from your web browser. GIMP is free to download, and is available on Mac, Windows, and Linux computers. And if you need to bring it on the go, you can put it on a portable drive.
GIMP is easily considered one of the best Photoshop alternatives out there. You can customize its interface to fit your needs, personalize your brushes, and even install additional plug-ins. This is open-source software, which means it evolves to fit the needs of its users.
It also has some more advanced features, like face swapping, Intelligent Scissors for easy selection, layer masks, and even gives you the ability to create GIFs. Even if you’re just a beginner, you can still enjoy cropping, applying photo enhancements, and experimenting with GIMP’s many filters. Just keep in mind that GIMP’s interface is not the most intuitive and can take a while to figure out.
- Offers advanced image editing features
- Opens most file types and can save in a variety of formats
- Runs smoothly on most operating systems
- Cluttered interface with a high learning curve
Great for: Beginners
Not everyone needs control of every single pixel in a picture. Sometimes, you might just want to make small adjustments or add a vignette effect. PhotoScape X is the best free photo editing app for one-click touch-ups.
The interface is incredibly intuitive and comes with a huge variety of filters, making it suitable for beginners. It also lets you quickly make collages, combine images, and even perform batch edits. If you’re unsure of how to use a feature, the website has video tutorials to take you through it, step by step. For more advanced users, there’s even RAW conversion.
Its power lies in its simplicity. Every tool is labeled and is self-explanatory. You can play around with the different options to your hearts’ content, and always hit Undo or Undo All if you go too far.
- Provides a wide range of editing tools with one-click effects
- Comes with a series of filters
- Supports RAW files
- Might take time to get used to the layout
- Advanced options are only available with a Premium subscription
Great for: Templates for digital design
The last app on the list is less of a free picture editor, and more of a design tool. Canva is a web-based software that requires registration, and also offers a paid version. However, the free version is more than enough if your main focus is to create digital designs.
There are endless templates to choose from, for anything from an Instagram post, to an animated presentation, or even company logos. It has a simple drag-and-drop interface, and its templates are tailored to users with little to no graphic design knowledge.
There is also a large royalty-free image library, elements, and even sounds. Plus, you can upload your own if you wish. The mobile app gives you access to your designs on the go, so you can easily post them to social media as well.
However, if your goal is to improve on an existing image, the options are limited. There are a few filters, color options, and an opacity slider, but not much more.
- Hundreds of great templates for graphic designs
- Easy drag-and-drop functionality
- Includes 5GB of free cloud storage
- Lacks detailed photo-editing tools
- Certain templates, stock images, and elements are only available with a subscription
Find the Best Free Photo Editing Software for You
The free picture editing apps on this list all have strong points and weaker areas. They can be amazing for one person, and useless for another. If you want to know which one will be best for you, you need to look at your end goal.
Do you need software for minor touch-ups or something on a more professional level? Do you need to be able to use it from any computer or just on your desktop? Answering these questions will help you pick the best solution for you.
If you need to create a stunning design on the go, the Canva app can help.
About The Author