Professional photo editing services can be expensive, however, there are a number of free services and software designed to help professionals and amateurs edit images to print, view, and share. You don't have to shell out hundreds of dollars to get the latest edition of Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom, and DigitalCameraReview has compiled a list of some of the best free photo editing software currently available. So put your wallet away and read our list of the best free photo editing software for desktop and mobile users.
Pixlr is a free web-based photo editing service that offers an impressive lineup of editing tools, meaning users won't be sacrificing much when opting for Pixlr over programs like Photoshop or Lightroom. Pixlr lets users adjust the contrast, brightness and saturation of photos as well as other basic editing elements. It also offers a few features that users will find in more expensive programs including burn, dodge, blur, sharpen, clone, erase, splice, layers, and even a history panel to track changes. The service offers a decent selection of ready-to-go filters, and when combined with the multitude of professional level features, it makes Pixlr a decent substitute for Photoshop. Users can opt to save images directly to their hard drive, a file sharing site from Pixlr called imm.io, an online Pixlr library, Facebook, Flickr, and Picasa. Since it is browser based, users will need an internet connection to make use of the editing tools, unlike programs that install to a computer's hard drive. This makes it a great option for editing on multiple computers, without having to install a dedicated program on each, which can cause licensing issues. In addition to the web-based service, Pixlr offers the Pixlr Express app for Android, iOS, and Chrome. The app has some pretty impressive features, including the ability to apply effects with a brush, so users can brighten just one part of a photo, rather than the entire image. The app also features a ton of Instagram-worthy photo effects as well as stickers, borders, collage templates, and the option to add text to images.
Gimpshop is a free program for OSX and Windows, offering a service that the company proudly compares to Photoshop. Unlike some of the other services that made this list, users can download Gimp as a dedicated program for Windows and Mac, rather than accessing it through a web browser. Since it is free, users can download it to as many devices as they would like, without worrying about purchasing extra copies. Gimpshop features a full host of editing options for professional level photo editing, including accessory compatibility and support for industry standard file formats. The user interface is even reminiscent of Photoshop, with the familiar slate grey coloring and a similar menu design. It isn't identical to Photoshop, so those familiar with the Adobe program will need to acquaint themselves with the various settings and options. However, once comfortable with the interface, users will be pleased at the extensive editing options offered for free.
Another free online photo editing service, PicMonkey is a great option for anyone less familiar with more intensive editing programs such as Photoshop or Gimp. It lets users make edits without having to learn an entire system, making it a fast and easy option for amateurs and pros alike. PicMonkey also allows offers a number of collage templates that let users import and quickly arrange a selection of images. PicMonkey also features built in templates to format Facebook cover photos as well as images for Pinterest and Etsy. For small business owners running their own social media accounts or Etsy stores, it lets them get in an out as fast as possible with a new collage or shop header, without having to mess with settings or image sizes. Chrome users can also download an app in the Chrome Web Store to use PicMonkey offline, making it a great option for Chromebook users looking to edit photos on their minimalist device.
Fotor joins the group of free web-based photo editing programs, and it brings an easy to use interface with basic features to the table. Fotor boasts a slew of ready to go photo filters such as lens flare, lomo, and vintage, which can easily be adjusted using slide dials. It is a great option for anyone looking to add fun effects, stamps, or text to their photos. Although the focus leans towards effects, Fotor offers basic photo editing features such as crop, rotate, tone, color, and more. Fotor also offers an easy to use collage builder, greeting card maker, as well as beauty features. With the beauty features tab, users can apply skin smoothing, wrinkle remover, blemish fix, fast reshape, and more to their images. There are even options to draw on eyebrows, apply eye shadow, add lip tint, and whiten the teeth of subjects. Users can upload edited photos directly from PicMonkey to services such as Facebook, Picasa, Tumblr, Flickr, and Twitter. Fotor also features a free app for iOS, Windows 8, and Android, so mobile users can use the platform across their devices when away from a web browser.
Adobe Photoshop Express
Smartphone photographers looking for an app that will let them edit and retouch photos on the go, for free, will want to check out the Adobe Photoshop Express app. It offers one step editing features where users can control contrast, brightness, exposure, sharpness, and apply filters. Adobe Photoshop Express is a straight forward program with no frills, letting users get in and quickly edit photos. Users can adjust the exposure, contrast, clarity, brightness, tint, vibrance, and more using basic sliders. It also features red-eye detection and a selection of fun frames. There are additional editing tools and filters that will require an in-app download, but the basics (and a little more) come free with the app. Adobe Photoshop Express is available for iOS and Android as a free download.
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