Free photo editing programs are sprouting up all over the place. There’s a great variety of them now, from basic tools to a very advanced online photo editor like Photoshop. Even if you are a pro using a fully-featured, paid photo editor like Photoshop, it still pays to be familiar with these online photo editor free options to use when away from home.
Before you sit down and start playing with the choices, you’ll want to give some thought as to how you’re going to use the app. Will you be editing mostly on your smartphone or tablet? Or will you always have your computer with you? Many options come with web apps and mobile apps for maximum flexibility. And a few are programs you download and run off your computer.
Here is our list of the top 15 free online photo editors:
Aviary is a free web and app-based online photo editor from Adobe, the same company we know and love for making Photoshop and Lightroom. There’s nothing very fancy about Aviary, but it’s entirely web-based, and it works fast. It only adjusts eight lighting adjustments, like brightness and saturation. You can crop and frame your photos, and there are some fun overlays. There’re more than enough tools to create fun memes and social media posts. When you’re done with art creation, you can easily download the finished product to your computer. The app is ad free and works very smoothly. The mobile version is available in the Apple App Store or on Google Play.
Adobe’s photo editor online free offering is available for mobile devices (iOS and Android) and PC. This simple app allows users to overlay text and graphics on their photos, as well as watermarks. There is a built-in collage feature.
Photoshop Express is really set up to be a smartphone app. There are preset “looks” which others might call “filters.” You can control the basics, and there are some fun creative ways included to improve your photos. There is a basic blemish tool and an auto red-eye removal too.
If you have an Adobe Creative Cloud account, you can easily import photos from your account and save them back. But the app also opens from Facebook, Dropbox, and many other accounts.
Chances are you’ve heard of GIMP, or more appropriately the GNU Image Manipulation Program. It’s a free and open source program that’s been around awhile and has recently gotten more and more attention from the pros since Adobe switched to its less-than-popular subscription-based pay model. Unlike most of the online photo editor apps from our list, GIMP is a real program you download and run from your Windows, Linus or Mac OS X computer, making it the only online photo editor like Photoshop.
GIMP focuses on photo manipulation, original artwork creation, and creating graphic designs. The software is robust and offers pretty much anything you might ever need as a working photographer. You can even open PSD layered documents from Photoshop and work on them.
This free mobile app from Google just might rock your world. Sure, it includes an Instagram-like user interface for adding preset filters. But if you dig a little deeper, you’re going to really like the toolkit of 29 tools that are packed in Snapseed. HDR, healing, perspective, white balance, and curves adjustment are all easily accessed. It even does RAW editing!
Fotor offers three modes: edit a photo, make a collage, or create a design. With the edit a photo app you get a very clean user interface with a lot of functionality. All of the basics tools you would expect are present and accounted for, along with some bonuses like vignette control and curve adjustments. There are plenty of effects for you to exercise your creative muscles and some great beauty tools like a wrinkle remover and reshaping. To top it all off, the site has many tutorial videos about how to use the app and best practices to get you started.
Not everything on Fotor is free, however. Many features, effects, and borders have an icon symbol indicating they are premium content. You can use these tools and play with them, but your image will be watermarked unless you sign up for a Pro account. Even so, there are plenty of free options, and it’s a great site to use on the road or
Photoscape X is a photo editor program that you can download to your PC or Mac computer. It features an impressive number of features, including batch processing and nearly every editing tool you could imagine. Since it's a local program, you don’t have to worry about uploading and storing your photos online. To help you get started with the program, the website features lots of screencasts walking you through how to use each tool. New tools are being added with each new revision.
Pixlr offers a variety of product options, from their downloadable photo editor Pixlr X to their mobile and web apps. Pixlr offers four different web apps, all HTML5 applications that load right in your browser. Pixlr Pro is a paid tool that provides a free trial, but it’s the only tool on our list that can load a Photoshop PSD file and save it as a PNG or JPG. Pixlr Editor is their best free web app, and it offers a lot of features, even layers and color replacement tools. Pixlr Express is a toned down version, with simplified user experience and lots of preset filters. Finally, Pixlr Today is a task manager extension for the Google Chrome Browser.
Very much like their web app, the mobile version of Pixlr offers collage creation, auto fix and fine-tuning of basic lighting adjustments, and stylistic filters. The app is free but offers in-app purchases of things like effect packs. When you’ve completed your work, the app can save directly to your social media accounts or email.
Canva is way more than a simple photo editing program. Canva was formed to help empower everyone to create their design work. While the graphic designers in the crowd might be unimpressed, the easy layout and professionally made templates make Canva an excellent resource for bloggers, webmasters, and small business owners.
Canva makes its business from the finished product. You can order the physical prints, cards, or posters made from your designs with one click. Saving the file to your computer is free. If you’re looking for a program to add text or graphic elements to your photos, be sure to give Canva a try.
Befunky is a web-based photo editor, collage maker, and design program. Unlike some others, it offers batch processing and a host of features not found on many other sites. The site is not ad-supported. Instead, they charge to upgrade to a pro account which unlocks even more features.
The online photo editor free version features lots of the most commonly used tools, including some that are rarely seen on free sites. Smoothing, softening, tint, and blemish fixing are all available for free. If you like the interface, the paid membership opens up a lot of touch-up features for portraits like skin touchups, teeth whitening, and eye fixes.
Befunky is a pleasant site to use, and it allows you to use the full functionality of the site without paying. If you like the site, you’ll probably land on a filter or feature you want to play with.
Picasa was a popular photo storage site for many years. It was acquired by Google, who carried the torch for a few years. Now, Google has retired Picasa and rolled its feature set into the current version of Google Photos.
Google Photos is still mostly a storage and organization tool. It has a limited feature set, but it’s a handy place to make some basic color adjustments, crops, and straighten out your framing. They have added a filter set that looks to be at least somewhat Instagram-inspired.
IPiccy is another ad-supported website that entirely free for use and available to everyone online. The Flash-based program features three main modules: edit a photo, create a collage, or make a design.
The Editor module has a clean user interface and has a lot of nice features. Some gems you’ll find buried in the menu include dodge and burn tools, clone tool, liquify, and levels adjustments with a histogram function. You can use the layers menu to add effects, texts, and filters with all of the same blend modes you’d find in Photoshop. Their selection of textures is excellent, and the light leaks texture is cool. Impressed yet?
What makes Ribbet stand out from all of the other online photo editors? Its collage function. You can create shape collages made up of as many photos as you like and choose their layout based on preset shapes like dog paws, music notes, stars, hearts, and smileys. How fun is that?
Ribbet easily imports photos from direct upload, Facebook, Google, or any website URL. It includes all the basics like cropping, straightening, filters, and text. The blank canvas feature allows you to create your collages or even use the program for design and publishing. You can save your works of art to your local hard drive or sign up for a free account to store them and work on them later.
If you like Ribbet, give Ribbet Fly a try on your iOS devices. The Android version is coming soon.
PiZap is an ad-supported web editor. It features a clean interface that includes necessary edits like brightness, contrast, and color corrections. The site makes it very easy to create web graphics and memes with a few clicks. There is an extensive library of stickers and emojis included, as well as fonts and borders. You can add text easily or freehand it with the paint feature. If you like the free version, give the pro version a try for an ad-free experience.
FotoFlexer bills itself as “the world’s most advanced online image editor.” With features like retouching, layers, distortions, recoloring, and morphing, it’s no wonder why. The editor also includes all the basics too like fonts and effects. It all works seamlessly inside your browser so you can use it anyway, and the program conveniently will take photos directly from your Facebook, Flickr, Picasa, or Photobucket accounts.
If you have a PC, you might remember Microsoft Paint. For long, dull days during computer class, Paint allowed you to doodle and make basic edits to photos. Microsoft still includes Paint inside of Windows if you know where to look, but Paint.net offers a free download that, while inspired by the original Microsoft program, now offers a lot more features and creative options. Among other things, it provides unlimited undo history and the ability to work with layers.
If you're looking for a free online photo editor, there are indeed plenty of choices. They are handy to know, even if only when teaching the next generation how to use the tools that are available to photographers today. The best photo editor online free tools give you the flexibility to work anywhere, on any computer, and that's a beautiful thing.
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