Photo editing software is necessary to organize, manage, and edit digital photos, regardless of whether you simply take pictures with your smartphone camera or you are a professional photographer working in a studio.
Smartphones have significantly simplified the process, and their built-in photo editor provides good editing features. However, you’ll probably want to switch to your laptop or PC and utilize specialized photo editing software when you need to go further and do more than just applying filters, tweaking contrast, and cropping.
Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom are the obvious choices of the best photo editing software. However, you’ll be looking for other best free photo editing software that provides a similar range of features without the cost unless you’re willing to purchase Photoshop Elements for a still-considerable one-time fee or sign up for a subscription for the full version.
Additionally, there are various best free photo editors available for no cost. Many best photo editors can fix your photos with a few clicks or taps. By compiling a list of the best photo editing software for PC, including some free photo editing software for beginners, we’d assist you in finding the appropriate one.
10 Best Free Photo Editing Software
If you’re not handling professional workloads that call for all the essential pro-level editing capabilities, the top free image editing software for PC should be just what you need. In addition, you’ll be astonished by the sheer number of free picture editing software that is just as effective at removing unattractive flaws and adjusting colors as their premium alternatives. So, let’s explore the 10 best free photo editing software that would really help you out.
GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is an open-source program that depends on a community of volunteer developers to maintain and enhance the product. It is frequently hailed as the most incredible free alternative to Photoshop. It is compatible with Linux, Windows, and macOS.
Additionally, it offers a variety of high-quality editing and retouching capabilities, making it ideal for designers who cannot or do not like to spend hundreds of dollars on Adobe Photoshop. After starting the software, you’ll see a separate window showing the image. Two floating docks will also be visible: one for managing layers, paths, brushes, and other objects, and the other for controlling the toolbox.
You’ll have a roomy workspace to edit your photographs if you use a big display or two monitors. Specific tools, including scale, pencil, paintbrush, bucket fill, airbrush, smudge, and others, are represented by icons in the toolbox. In addition, you can use a variety of effects, such as eliminating red devil eyes, adding a neon look, adding a glass tile, dropping a shadow, and more.
The GIMP community of users and developers has produced a sizable number of plugins to expand the functionality of this open-source, free photo editor. You can download more of these from the official dictionary, many of which are already installed. You can even install Photoshop plugins if that is insufficient.
The layout of this free photo editing software is similar to Photoshop, so anyone who has used Adobe’s editor would find it familiar immediately. Of course, it doesn’t have every feature that Photoshop does, and some tools don’t function quite as well, but you can’t whine when something is free.
Pixlr offers one major advantage over the majority of other best photo editing software. Since it is totally browser-based, you can use it on any PC or Mac without installing anything. Additionally, Pixlr offers two free tools that you can use: Pixlr X (express) and Pixlr E. (advanced). Both offer fundamental editing features, a small number of layers, and a few stickers.
Although you may upgrade to Premium ($5/month when paid annually) or Creative Pack ($15/month when paid annually) to get rid of the advertising and unlock more features, these tools are ad-supported. In a Pixlr E vs. Pixlr X comparison, Pixlr X provides faster editing and a more straightforward, user-friendly interface.
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There are 12 critical tools in this picture editing software, including tools for cropping and applying filters and sketching on layers. Then there is Pixlr E, a basic photo editing program that provides 24 valuable functions. In addition, quick shape drawing, photo sharpening, cloning, and many other features are available to users.
Pixlr is a combination of desktop and online editing tools. There are desktop versions for Windows and macOS, but access to them requires a paid subscription. The Pixlr app is still available for download and uses on smartphones and tablets.
The name might make you think of MS Paint (which this was originally intended to replace), but thanks to supporting layers, effects, and a wide range of other tools, Paint.NET can do much more than Microsoft’s basic editor.
One of Paint.NET’s most outstanding advantages is that it still retains some of Paint’s simplicity. As a result, this free image editing software is perfect for quick, straightforward adjustments because it is lightweight and fast. It’s also fantastic for people who want something more potent than Paint but don’t want all of Photoshop’s intimidating bells and whistles.
Layers support, an “infinite undo” ability to reverse any mistake, no matter how terrible, special effects, and other utilities are all included in Paint.NET’s user-friendly interface. While Microsoft Paint could resize images, Paint.NET photo editor can accomplish more complex photo-altering tasks that you might think were reserved for Photoshop and other premium software.
It’s important to note that Windows 10 and 11 feature a new version of Paint that you can use to play about and build 3D objects, but it can’t be used to edit images. You can instead experiment with the built-in Photos app.
Canva is a web-based photo editor that works best for converting your favorite pictures into greeting cards, posters, invites, and social media posts. It’s the best photo editor for you if you’re interested in keeping a professional internet presence.
Although Canva has two premium and free tiers, we believe the free level is ideal for home users. You may get 1GB of free cloud storage for your photos and designs when you sign up using your email address. You’ll also have access to 8,000 editable templates and two folders to keep your work organized.
Clone brushes and smart pickers are unavailable here, among other sophisticated tools. Nevertheless, there are several valuable sliders for adding colors, vignetting effects, sharpening, modifying brightness, saturation, and contrast, among other things. In addition, there are many backdrops and other graphics to finish your designs, and the text editing tools are simple to use.
Fotor is the best free photo editing software for novices that’s perfect for giving your images a quick boost. Of course, you’re out of luck if you need to use the clone brush or healing tool to retouch a specific region. However, if your demands are straightforward, its stack of premium filters really shines.
One may simply use a reliable tilt-shift tool and a plethora of vintage and color changes using Fotor’s innovative menu layout. Of course, you can manually change your own curves and levels, but it won’t be as complicated as using sophisticated tools.
This is one of the best photo editing software that provides a great collection of photo improvement tools that you can use straight in your browser, like Pixlr, to add filters and perform some simple editing rapidly. Additionally, this free photo editing software offers an HDR function that enables you to combine many images with various exposures to produce a single picture that perfectly captures color and detail.
The one thing that many best photo editors badly lack, in our humble view, is Fotor’s batch processing tool, which is its highlight feature. It will filter the entire batch of pictures you provide in one shot. Perfect for hiding the effects of a shoddy camera or an unsteady hand if you have a memory card full of vacation photos.
6. Photo Pos Pro
Although Photo Pos Pro is a less well-known photo editor than Paint.net and GIMP, it is a top-notch free photo editing software with a comprehensive set of cutting-edge image-enhancing capabilities.
The menus and toolbars on this free photo editing software are more rationally and consistently organized than those on GIMP, making it smarter and easier to use. There is also an extra “novice” layout similar to Fotor’s filter-based strategy if it’s still too frightening. Your decision is yours.
The “expert” layout provides tools for manually tweaking curves and levels and layers and layer masks for complex editing. The one-click filters are still available from the main menu, but sound editing is now the primary focus.
Beginners or those who only need to make a few short edits to their images should use the Novice interface. The user interface is comparable to that of a straightforward PC or mobile photo app: A minimal number of features. These options are included in Photo Pos Pro, resizing, a few brushes, auto fix, color and light tweaks, deformation effects, and adding frames.
This software’s free edition has the limitation of the size of the photographs you can save: It cannot exceed 1024 by 1024 pixels in size. To save or resize an image larger than that, you must upgrade to the software’s premium edition.
PhotoScape may appear to be a straightforward free image editing software, but when we explore its main menu. There is a tonne of capabilities available, including raw conversion, photo splitting and combining animated GIF creation, and even the rather peculiar but helpful ability to print lined, graph, or sheet music paper.
Of course, photo editing is where the meat is. The interface of PhotoScape is one of the most complicated photo editors we’ve examined so far, with tools arranged in strange groups on pages. There is no way it would try to mimic Photoshop, and it has fewer functions.
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The standard circular tool menu causes some controversy. However, a more conventional grid is still an option, and you can access the usual selection of editing and retouching tools, including different effects and filters.
Although we would absolutely recommend this best free photo editing software for beginners, you can still achieve some excellent outcomes. Because of how sophisticated PhotoScape’s filters are, it’s an attractive option if you need to rapidly level, sharpen, or add mild filtering to images.
PiZap is a free photo editing software that works on all devices and is available in HTML5 and Flash versions. Working with a photo from your computer’s hard drive, Facebook, Google Photos, Google Drive, Google Search, or a collection of stock photos are all options. This is a great option; however, some stock photos are only accessible to premium members. Also, if you use a photo directly from Google Images, you’ll need to be careful about copyright concerns.
The dark, contemporary appearance of piZap’s editing interface relies heavily on sliders for quick edits. In addition, this technique functions significantly better than confusing icons and drop-down menus if you’re using a touchscreen device.
After finishing, you can share your work on all the major social media platforms and piZap’s servers, Dropbox, and Google Drive. Alternatively, you can send it through email, store it on your hard drive, or obtain an embed code. Of course, if you have paid for the premium photo editor, you can only export your work in high quality; however, for foolish social sharing, that’s unlikely to be a problem.
9. Adobe Photoshop Elements
Full Photoshop can be a little too difficult to grasp if you’re just getting started with picture editing. Instead, you’d better use Photoshop Elements, a more straightforward substitute for Photoshop. Thanks to the Quick and Guided Edit modes, This best free photo editor is excellent for beginners, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t powerful.
The beginner-friendly version of full Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, offers many of the same tools for less than the cost of a year’s Photoshop subscription. To be clear, Elements are something you buy outright rather than subscribe to. Both Windows and macOS support it.
Photoshop Elements offer robust features in addition to all the standard photo editing options, such as content-aware object removal. That implies that removing undesired individuals or objects from photographs is simple.
Even better, many of the fundamental tools are “smart,” thus, for instance, the crop tool will present you with a variety of crops based on its study of your image. It is considerably more appropriate for power users who don’t want to pay for Photoshop CC since, unlike others, you may resize or crop pictures to a specified pixel size.
10. Ashampoo Photo Optimizer
If you need to edit a lot of pictures quickly, Ashampoo Photo Optimizer can be your option. Although you must first provide your email address before using it, its UI is clean, minimalist, and utterly free of advertisements.
The process of importing photos is simple, and after they have been included in the pool, you can choose many images at once to rotate or mirror, which will save you a lot of time. In addition, the photo editing software’s one-click optimization function allows you to select specific photographs to improve.
There are half a dozen sliders that will allow you to correct the color and exposure of your image manually. This is the best free photo editing software for making quick adjustments, but it would be great if you could also make the same color changes to an extensive collection of images at once.
The commercial edition of the photo editing software with improved optimization tools, Ashampoo Photo Optimizer 7, is recommended for more sophisticated editing.
Your expertise and confidence should be the first factors to consider when selecting the best free photo editing software. Imagine you only need to make a few changes (removing blemishes and improving colors, for example). A straightforward web solution that does the job properly without overloading you with alternatives would be ideal in that situation.
On the other hand, if you’re interested in more sophisticated editing, you should concentrate on desktop applications that provide features like layers and masks, giving you total control over the procedure. If you need to edit multiple images, desktop software is also an excellent option. Some best free photo editors even allow you to edit multiple photos simultaneously, saving you a tonne of time.