Don’t want to break the bank on Photoshop? We’ve rounded up 11 of the best free photo editing software for you to try out, with links to download each app directly.
Even the most basic digital cameras will often produce very detailed photos with great colours. However, you might still find that there are issues with white balance, red-eye, lighting or perhaps the odd cropping problem which need to be corrected. It’s therefore a good idea to have photo editing software on your computer.
Those with very advanced needs (or those with lots of cash) will probably opt for Photoshop, and while there’s no doubt it’s a great program, there’s a lot of other great photo editing software out there, too – as well as a number of intriguing alternatives that won’t cost you a thing!
Below we’ve rounded up 11 of the best free photo editing software that you can use to make meaningful edits to your images.
It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for something with sophisticated editing power or something easy and quick, there should be something here among these free photo editing apps to meet your needs.
Best free photo editing software: 1. Gimp
Just shy of 20 years old, GIMP (aka the GNU Image Manipulation Program), gets regular updates and is widely known as a great and fairly powerful free photo editor.
With this program you can make corrections to colours, enhance contrast, brightness and much more. You can also sharpen or blur images, fix perspective problems, remove red-eye, add special lighting photos and experiment with effects such as making a photo look like an oil painting.
Use the paint tools for lots of different effects, while there’s also support for layers and ways to extend the program.
It’s not a program that’s quick to get to grips with, but if you put in the effort to learn its nuances and quirks, then it’s a very useful program indeed.
If you’ve used an older version of Photoshop, but don’t want to pay to upgrade to the latest iteration, you’ll probably be familiar with GIMP pretty quickly.
Best free photo editing software: 2. Paint.NET
If you’re looking for something a little more basic than GIMP, Paint.NET is a great alternative. You’ve got plenty of options for resizing and rotating photos, a good range of selection and paint tools, and there’s some great special effects too.
Luckily, there’s support for layers which means you can apply edits to only certain parts of an image. Plugins mean that you can extend and customise the program to suit your needs.
Perhaps most encouragingly, the basic interface of Paint.NET makes it easy to learn and get to grips with, even if you’ve never edited an image before.
Best free photo editing software: 3. PhoXo
A simple but effective editing program, PhoXo is a useful editor which has some great fun applications as well as more serious uses. You can customise images with cartoons and the likes, while the ability to add a custom watermark to a group of images can be useful for edits in a hurry. There’s also drawing and paint tools along with image transformations, effects and more.
Best free photo editing software: 4. Funny Photo Maker
If it’s effects you’re after, Funny Photo Maker is a great option. While you won’t advanced tools such as layer support or smart selection tools, you can turn someone’s face into a movie poster or bank note, transform still images into animations or add weather effects. Interesting frames, collages and other options are also available.
Best free photo editing software: 5. Photo Pos Pro
Probably one of the more dated looking options on the market, don’t dismiss Photo Pos Pro immediately. If you spend some time experimenting with what it has to offer you’ll find plenty of options including paint tools, colour corrections and selection tools.
There’s also a degree of support for layers and masks, configurable effects (and lots of them), and a tool which allows you to automate editing tasks.
Keep an eye out for some of the fun features too, like the “Magical” effects which allow you to add fireworks, stardust, bubbles and the like to your photographs.
Best free photo editing software: 6. PhotoScape
If all you want is something quick and easy to add a special effect to a photo, PhotoScape could be the tool for you. Those looking for layer support and the like should avoid it though.
Here you’ll find hundreds of clipart images, the ability to add custom speech bubbles, great special effects and even the chance to create animated GIFs.
You can even get a little bit creative with the options, with the ability to customise some of the artistic styles on offer.
Best free photo editing software: 7. IrfanView
Despite what the name suggests, there’s also editing possibilities with IrfanView. For instance, you can rotate and resize and image as well as tweaking colours, brightness and contrast, add text captions and watermarks, sharpen your photos, remove red-eye and even apply a range of special effects.
Best free photo editing software: 8. PhotoFiltre
If you’re looking for something to retouch your photos, then PhotoFiltre gives surprisingly impressive results. Bear in mind that it’s only free for personal use, though.
Use the PhotoMask tool to apply contour and transparency effects to your photos. There’s also paint tools, the ability to correct colours and add filters.
Best free photo editing software: 9. PixBuilder Studio
If you want something to make basic, but useful, edits, then PixBuilder Studio has a fair amount to offer.
You won’t find some of the fun and frivolous features here of other photo editing programs, but if you want to crop, resize, rotate or correct colours, then it’s a good option.
There’s also some sharpness and blur filters, along with some practical print tools.
Best free photo editing software: 10. Chasys Draw IES
There’s lots of useful tools on offer with Chasys Draw IES. You’ll find quite an extensive set of painting and drawing tools, support for layers, smart special effects, the ability to adjust colour and lighting, Photoshop plugin support and more.
You can also use it if you need to create CD or DVD labels, icons and so on.
If you’re shooting in raw format, there’s also a processor, viewer and converter included for those files, making it a great and versatile program.
Best free photo editing software: 11. Google+
Edit your photos directly from the web from any computer (installed with Chrome) or on your Android phone using Google+.
There’s a surprising array of options available here, simply upload your shot to Google+ and then you’ll find that you can click Edit to make changes.
For starters, there’s basic edits such as cropping, brightness and contrast. And when you want to get a bit more creative, you can add special effects to give it an HDR look, make it look vintage or add lighting effects.
There’s also frames to choose from and you can create a miniature scene using the tilt-shift simulator.
Best of all, edits are non-destructive so you can go back to your original image at any time.
For more free downloads of everything from recovery software to antivirus and video editing programs, visit our sister site TechRadar’s Free Downloads page!
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