The best free photo-editing software for 2022 | Digital Trends (2023)

Professional photo-editing applications aren’t cheap, nor are they easy to master without formal training. That’s why we’re taking a look at the best free photo-editing software on the market.


  • GIMP
  • Paint.NET
  • Photoshop Express
  • Pixlr
  • Adobe Lightroom mobile app
  • Photo Pos Pro
  • Cyberlink PhotoDirector Essential
  • FAQ:

Our top pick is GIMP, an open-source photo editing software available for the big three operating systems. It offers a huge workspace and a wide variety of professional editing tools.

We provide more than 7,000 how-to articles, news articles, and best-of lists to help you build your photography skills, choose the best gear for your photography needs, and make the most out of your photo equipment. And if our top pick isn’t for you, be sure to check out the other options on this list. There are great choices for both conventional desktop software, mobile apps, and web-based solutions that don’t require installing software.


The best free photo-editing software for 2022 | Digital Trends (1)

Often heralded as the best free alternative to Photoshop, GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is an open-source application that relies on a community of volunteer developers who maintain and improve the product. It’s available for MacOS, Windows, and Linux. It provides many professional-level editing and retouching tools — perfect for designers who can’t or won’t shell out hundreds of dollars for Adobe Photoshop.

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Once you launch the program, you’ll find a dedicated window that displays the image. You’ll also see two floating docks: One with the toolbox and another for managing layers, paths, brushes, and more.

When using a large display, or two monitors, you’ll have an expansive workspace to edit your images. Icons in the toolbox represent specific tools, like Scale, Pencil, Paintbrush, Bucket Fill, Airbrush, Smudge, and more. You can apply numerous filters, too, such as dropping a shadow, adding a neon effect, adding a glass tile, removing devilish red eyes, and so on.

Overall, GIMP may feel like a free version of Photoshop, but it sports a unique look and experience. Making the jump from one to the other will take a little time, but you’ll save yourself a monthly subscription fee if you do.


The best free photo-editing software for 2022 | Digital Trends (2)

Paint.NET is a case where the apprentice becomes the master. Created as a college undergraduate senior’s design project mentored by Microsoft, Paint.NET continues to be maintained by alumni of the program. The software initially was developed as a free replacement for Microsoft Paint, which comes standard with Windows. Paint.NET has surpassed Microsoft Paint in functionality and also provides more advanced features.

Paint.NET features an intuitive user interface that supports layers, an “unlimited undo” tool to back out of any mistake no matter how disastrous, various special effects, and other utilities. While Microsoft Paint could do little more than resizing images, Paint.NET can handle advanced photo editing you’d expect only Photoshop and other paid programs could perform.

Paint.NET is available as a free, traditional desktop program for Windows and a $7 app in the Microsoft Store.

(Video) Best Free Photo Editing Software

Photoshop Express

The best free photo-editing software for 2022 | Digital Trends (3)

If the above options seem too derivative or you want more of the Adobe experience without the associated price, Photoshop Express is another option worth considering. Although pared down compared to the premium Photoshop model, the Express variant does have several excellent options for editing photos with a much more gradual learning curve.

With an interface that betrays its mobile roots, Photoshop Express offers quick-and-easy access to slide bar adjustments and one-touch fixes for photos of all types. Prepackaged effects make rapid and dramatic changes to images to improve coloring and contrast; crop and transform tools let you tweak a photo’s orientation and focus. And Details gives you control over sharpening and noise.

Its file type support is limited to raw camera files, TIFF, JPG and PNG files, but Photoshop Express is a freely available app that you can use on your Windows, iOS, or Android device without hassle.


The best free photo-editing software for 2022 | Digital Trends (4)

Pixlr provides two tools you can access for free: Pixlr X (express) and Pixlr E (advanced). Both provide essential editing tools, limited layers, and relatively few stickers. These tools are ad-supported, though you can upgradeto Premium ($5/month when paying yearly) or Creative Pack ($15/month when paying yearly) to remove ads and unlock additional features.

In a Pixlr E vs. Pixlr X showdown, Pixlr X offers quicker editing and a simpler, user-friendly design. This software is accompanied by 12 essential tools, from drawing on layers to applying filters and cropping pictures.

Then there’s Pixlr E, a bare bones photo editing software that gives you access to 24 useful tools. Users can easily draw shapes, blur, sharpen, or clone a photo, and much more.

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Overall, Pixlr is a mixture of desktop and web-based editing software. Desktop versions are available for MacOS and Windows, but you have to have a paid subscription to use them. That being said, you can still find and download the Pixlr app on your smartphone or tablet.

Adobe Lightroom mobile app

The best free photo-editing software for 2022 | Digital Trends (5)

Adobe might be better known for its more expensive Photoshop editing software, but you don’t have to break the bank to take advantage of Adobe-quality photo editing — especially if you know you’ll be doing most of your edits on a mobile device. With Adobe Lightroom on mobile, you can expect to make many of the adjustments you’d normally do with other editing apps: cropping, adjusting the lighting, customizing the color, adding effects, sharpening, or adding filters. The app itself is easy to navigate as it has a minimal interface with clearly labeled icons and simple to use sliders and toggles to help you quickly adjust certain aspects of your photos.

But Lightroom doesn’t just help you with the quality of your edits, it also has its own camera controls to help enhance the quality of the photos you take with your mobile device. Depending on your devices, you can choose from camera modes such as Auto, Professional, and HDR.

Some features are locked behind a paid subscription paywall, but you usually can easily spot those features as they are labeled with a blue and white star icon. You don’t need a subscription to use most of the editing features.

Photo Pos Pro

The best free photo-editing software for 2022 | Digital Trends (6)

Photo Pos Pro is a decent free photo editing option for Windows users. And the first thing you need to know is that the software really tries to emphasize ease of use and customizing the user experience. In fact, when you first open the software, you’ll be greeted with a series of questions about how you want to use the software. The most important question it will ask is when it prompts you to choose between two main interfaces (based on your own level of photo editing experience): An interface for experts (PRO) or one for newbies (Novice). And the interface you choose will determine how you’ll edit with the software going forward. (Don’t worry: Photo Pos Pro allows you to easily toggle between the two interfaces as needed.)

The PRO interface looks a bit like Photoshop and as expected comes with an abundance of advanced editing features. You can expect to see layers, curves, cropping, paint brushes, effects, rulers and grids, and color and lighting adjustment options. This interface is packed with tools for more intensive editing and as such, the interface can be a bit overwhelming with its many, small icons and various kinds of menus.

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The Novice interface is best for beginners or just those who need to make a few quick edits to their photos. The interface is similar to what you would encounter with simple desktop or mobile photo app: Just a bare bones selection of features. In Photo Pos Pro, these features would include: cropping, flipping and rotation, resizing, a few brushes, auto fix, color and light adjustments, deformation effects, and adding frames.

One drawback of using the free version of this software is that it has a limit on the size of the photos you can save: It can’t be bigger than 1024 x 1024 pixels. If your photo is bigger than that, you’ll need to upgrade to the premium version of the software to save it or resize the photo.

Cyberlink PhotoDirector Essential

The best free photo-editing software for 2022 | Digital Trends (7)

When you first install Cyberlink PhotoDirector Essential, you automatically get temporary access to a few premium features along with the free version of the software. These features include: unlimited monthly effects, no watermarks, and premium images from Shutterstock. The free trial of the premium features only lasts for 30 days.

When you first open the software, like Photo Pos Pro, you’ll be given a choice between two interfaces: Full Mode (with all the bells and whistles) or Express Mode (for when you just want to edit something quickly and easily). Full Mode isn’t particularly intuitive: You’ll have to do some clicking around to figure out where all of your desired tools are, but there are a lot of tools and they’re displayed in a detailed way that’s perfect for photography geeks. Express Mode has less features, but if all you want to do is add fun filters and templates to your photo, then that’s the mode for you. You can add a wide variety of presets to change the coloring or lighting of a photo. Or you can add a template which is a combination of a filter and the ability to add text to your photo. You can even add something called an AI Style Transfer, which allows you to add painterly effects to your photos, so that they look like paintings instead of photos.


What is the easiest free photo-editing software to use?

The easiest free photo-editing software to use is Paint.NET, especially if you also need Photoshop-level editing capabilities. It perfectly combines a minimalist interface, a familiar simplistic layout, and many of the complex tools and features you can expect from higher end photo editing software. The only software on our list that’s a close second for ease of use is the Adobe Lightroom mobile app, which doesn’t offer very many advanced editing tools.

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Which is the best editing app in 2022? ›

  1. 13 Best Free Photo Editing Apps.
  2. PhotoDirector - Best Free Photo Editor App. ...
  3. Pixlr - Best Photo Editor For Filters. ...
  4. PicsArt - Best Photo Editor For Filters. ...
  5. Snapseed - Best Photo Editor App for Casual Users. ...
  6. Adobe Photoshop Camera - Best Photo Editor For Taking Pictures. ...
  7. Werble - Best Photo Editor For Adding Overlays.
8 Sept 2022

What is the best free software for photo editing? ›

  • Fotor. ...
  • PhotoScape. Included photo viewer and slideshow maker. ...
  • Photo Pos Pro. Best free image editor for background removal. ...
  • Pixlr. Browser-based Photoshop “clone” ...
  • Ashampoo Photo Optimizer. Photo “auto-optimizing” ...
  • PiZap. Basic graphic design. ...
  • Darktable. Batch processing and RAW conversion. ...
  • BeFunky. Fun overlays and textures.
19 Aug 2022

Which photo editing software is most popular? ›

The best photo editing software right now
  1. Photoshop. The best photo editing software overall. ...
  2. Affinity Photo. The best photo editing software that's subscription-free. ...
  3. CyberLink PhotoDirector 365. ...
  4. Luminar NEO. ...
  5. Luminar AI. ...
  6. inPixio Photo Studio 11. ...
  7. Pixlr X / Pixlr E. ...
  8. Corel PaintShop Pro.
20 Aug 2022

How can I edit my photos like a free professional? ›

What is the best free online photo editor?
  1. Taler.
  2. GIMP.
  3. Canva.
  4. Fotor.
  5. Photo POS Pro.
  6. Pixlr X.
  7. Photoshop Express.
17 May 2022

What app do photographers use to edit pictures? ›

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is a free, powerful photo & video editor and camera app that empowers you to capture and edit stunning images.

Is Adobe Lightroom free? ›

Edit on the go.

Lightroom for mobile is a free photo editing app for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. With its powerful editing features in your pocket, you can make standout shots from anywhere.

What is the closest thing to Photoshop that's free? ›

Top free Photoshop alternatives
  • Darktable.
  • Gimp.
  • Pixlr x.
  • Paint.NET.
  • Krita.
  • Photopea.
  • Photo Pos Pro.
  • Sumopaint.

Is there a free photo editor like Photoshop? ›

GIMP. Perhaps the most well known Photoshop alternative, GIMP has been around for ages and is one of the first programs that comes to mind for many people when they think “free Photoshop.” It's an open-source program available for Windows, Mac, and Linux, and the official website offers a lot of helpful tutorials.

Is GIMP as good as Photoshop? ›

Both programs have great tools, helping you edit your images properly and efficiently. But the tools in Photoshop are much more powerful than the GIMP equivalents. Both programs use Curves, Levels and Masks, but real pixel manipulation is stronger in Photoshop.

Who is the No 1 photo editor in the world? ›

The best photo editors of 2022 in full
  • Adobe Photoshop. Best photo editor overall. ...
  • Capture One Pro. Best photo editor for those with large budgets. ...
  • Affinity Photo. Best photo editor alternative to Adobe's subscription plan. ...
  • Luminar AI. ...
  • Exposure. ...
  • ON1 Photo RAW. ...
  • DxO PhotoLab.
16 Jun 2022

Is there anything better than Photoshop? ›

The best free Photoshop alternative for photographers is Photopea. The best free Photoshop alternative for artists is Krita. The best all-around Photoshop alternative has to be Pixelmator Pro. While not as strong as Affinity or Luminar at photo editing, Pixelmator's art tools gave it the edge.

Is GIMP the best free Photoshop? ›

GIMP. The GNU Image Manipulation Program, or GIMP, is one of the best-known free alternatives to Photoshop on the market. As a very feature-rich solution for photographers, GIMP can do almost anything that Photoshop can.

What program makes photos look professional? ›

Adobe's Photoshop Lightroom remains the gold standard in pro photo workflow software. It's a complete package, with top-notch organization tools, state-of-the-art adjustments, and all the output and printing options you could want.

How do you make your photos look professionally edited? ›

  1. Develop a personal style. There is no “right” way of editing photos like a professional. ...
  2. Choose a photo editing program. ...
  3. Use filters and presets. ...
  4. Take advantage of automatic modes. ...
  5. Crop the scene. ...
  6. Straighten lines. ...
  7. Bring colors to life. ...
  8. Adjust the white balance.
1 Apr 2020

What app do most photographers use? ›

Best Camera Apps for Photographers
  • Bacon Camera.
  • Camera +2.
  • Camera Zoom FX Premium.
  • Moment Pro Camera.
  • Adobe Photoshop Camera.
  • Adobe Lightroom Mobile.
  • Snapseed.
  • Pixlr.

Is Photoshop better than Lightroom? ›

A head-to-head comparison.

On a high level, Lightroom is the best tool to manage and process the thousands of photos that live on your devices. Photoshop specializes in greater control to achieve more expansive edits that will help you make a few images look flawless.

What filter app is everyone using? ›

VSCO. VSCO is one of the most popular photo editor apps on iOS and Android. This app offers a set of stunning filters that take your selfies to a whole other level. There are 10 free presets that you can adjust with a simple slider, but you can purchase more from the library of over 200 filters.

How much is Lightroom monthly? ›

How much does Lightroom cost? You can purchase Lightroom with an annual plan starting at US$9.99/mo or US$119.88/yr. Get the Lightroom plan with 1TB of storage, or purchase a Creative Cloud Photography plan that includes Lightroom, Lightroom Classic, and Photoshop (20GB or 1TB).

What app is like Lightroom but free? ›

1. PhotoDirector Essential - Best Overall. Download from the App Store for iOS and Android. Download from the App Store for iOS and Android.

Can I use Lightroom without subscription? ›

You can no longer buy Adobe Lightroom as a standalone program and own it forever. To access Lightroom, you must subscribe to a plan. If you stop your plan, you lose access to the program and the images you have stored in the cloud. Now it's up to you to choose the option that fits your needs best!

What is a cheaper substitute for Photoshop? ›

If you're after free software for digital painting, Krita is an excellent Photoshop alternative. As an open source program, it's been created by artists who want to give others access to quality, affordable software.

Where can I get Adobe Photoshop for free? ›

For now, here's how you can enroll in a free 7-day trial of Photoshop, with no commitments required.
  • Step 1: Go to the Adobe website. In your internet browser, follow this link to ...
  • Step 2: Select your package. ...
  • Step 3: Checkout. ...
  • Step 4: Download and Install.
12 Aug 2022

How much is Photoshop a month? ›

How much does Photoshop cost? There are several Creative Cloud plans that include Photoshop. You can purchase it as a standalone app for US$20.99/month or opt for annual billing at US$239.88/yr. Both options give you access to all the latest Photoshop features and updates and 100GB of cloud storage.

Does Adobe have a free photo editor? ›

Adobe Express features built-in photo editing functions to make it the ideal tool for perfecting pictures. The easy-to-use free photo editor offers scaling, sizing, filters, enhancements, and excellent text overlay options for professional quality results right at your fingertips.

What is the best free online Photoshop? ›

Pixlr. This web editor is by far the most powerful free Photoshop alternative you'll find. Pixlr is easy to use and has many of the heavy-hitting editing tools that you can usually only find in paid programs, like cloning and color replacement. It's the closest thing to free Photoshop you'll find on the web.

Is there a free photo editor? ›

Welcome to Pixlr, the No 1 in photo editing and design tools. Edit photos and create stunning designs right in your browser, on your phone or desktop for free.

Do professionals use GIMP? ›

The GIMP is great for the price and is certainly usable on a professional level for screen graphics. It's not equipped to handle professional print color spaces or file formats, however. For that, you'll still need PhotoShop.

What are the disadvantages of GIMP? ›

The disadvantages of GIMP
  • No way to select multiple layers.
  • No way to apply same text styles to multiple text layers.
  • Can't add effects to editable text.
  • No way to export images optimised for web (possible with plugin)
  • Buggy – it does crash occasionally.
  • Hard to arrange layers – no ability to group layers as with Photoshop.

Is GIMP free forever? ›

GIMP is an entirely free open source program. Once you download it, you can use it forever. You can also download updates for free as the developers release them.

Which is the No 1 editing app? ›

1. PicsArt (Android, iOS) PicsArt is our top pick of the best photo editing apps, because it's fun, easy to use, yet covers just about all the bases for consumer mobile photography. It provides lots of creative control, excellent image-editing tools and a large variety of attractive filters.

What is the best editing app for edits? ›

The best video editing apps in full
  1. Adobe Premiere Rush (cross-platform) The best video editing app overall. ...
  2. Quik (cross-platform) The best video editing app for GoPro users. ...
  3. LumaFusion (iOS) ...
  4. KineMaster (Android, iOS) ...
  5. iMovie (Apple devices) ...
  6. FilmoraGo (Android, iOS) ...
  7. Apple Clips (iOS) ...
  8. Filmmaker Pro (iOS)
30 Aug 2022

Is CapCut a good editing app? ›

1) CapCut — The feature-rich mobile video editing app

CapCut has a mobile-friendly interface and offers some great features to enhance your videos, like auto-captioning and removing background colors for a green screen effect.

Is there a totally free photo editing app? ›

Pixlr. Pixlr offers a solid assortment of photo editing tools for free, including crop, rotate, color and brightness adjustments, along with special effects like selective blur and spot color.

Which Photoshop app is free? ›

Yes, Photoshop Express is free to download. Get it on the Apple App Store, Google Play, or the Windows Store.

Is there a free photo editor? ›

Welcome to Pixlr, the No 1 in photo editing and design tools. Edit photos and create stunning designs right in your browser, on your phone or desktop for free.

Which is the No 1 photo editing app for Android? ›

12 Best Photo Editing Apps For Android In 2022
  • Snapseed.
  • Photo Lab Picture Editor & Art.
  • Pixlr.
  • Photoshop Express.
  • YouCam Perfect.
  • Photo Editor Pro.
  • PhotoDirector.
  • Fotor Photo Editor.

How do you make really good edits? ›

We're going to discuss all the fundamentals you need to know.
  1. Use an Editor You're Comfortable With. ...
  2. Use High-Quality Clips and Images. ...
  3. Keep It Moving. ...
  4. Use Bezier (Ease) Interpolation. ...
  5. Add Motion Blur. ...
  6. Everything Looks Better in Slow Motion. ...
  7. Color Correct Before You Color Grade. ...
  8. Customize Presets.
17 Jan 2022

What app is better than PicsArt? ›

There are more than 100 alternatives to PicsArt for a variety of platforms, including Android, iPhone, Windows, Android Tablet and Online / Web-based. The best alternative is Pixlr, which is free. Other great apps like PicsArt are Pixelfed, Pixelmator, Photoscape and Instagram.

Which editing app does not have a watermark? ›

Picsart is undoubtedly one of the most popular and best video editing apps without watermark for androids we have in this era. It has an intuitive interface that is user-friendly for beginners. It's not only used to edit videos but can be used to edit pictures too.

Is CapCut owned by TikTok? ›

While TikTok does not technically own CapCut, the two companies share a parent company and are thus closely related. By investing in CapCut, ByteDance has demonstrated how much they believe in TikTok's continued success.

Does CapCut have watermark? ›

Does CapCut Have Watermarks? CapCut is a popular video editing app for Android and iOS mobile phones, it's completely free to use, but it does have watermarks in its video editing ending and video editing templates.

How many people use CapCut? ›

All told, the app has exceeded 250 million installs globally to date from across the App Store and Google Play, and nearly 9.5 million from U.S. app stores, Sensor Tower says. CapCut's rise is reminiscent of the Chinese photo editor Meitu.


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