10 of the Best Photo-Editing Apps You Can Get for Free

Thanks to smartphones, most of us now carry high-quality cameras around in our pockets. But what happens when the pictures you take are less than ideal and need edits or color adjustments? Well, that’s where photo-editing apps come in — they let you turn decent photos into digital masterpieces you can share across social media. However, you don’t have to shell out big bucks for programs like Adobe Photoshop to edit your favorite photos. Instead, use any of the amazing free photo-editing apps we’ve rounded up below.

1. GIMP

GIMP is one of the most widely used open-source raster photo editing apps out there, and for good reason. It’s a free, powerful editing tool for anyone, regardless of their experience with photo editing.

Photo Editing Apps Gimp Main

Pros

  • Compatible with Windows, macOS, and Linux
  • Setup similar to Adobe Photoshop (good for experienced editors)
  • Advanced manipulation tools included
  • Can export images to over 40 file types
  • No ads

Cons

  • Advanced tool (requires extensive knowledge to use)
  • Can handle only 8-bit RGB images
  • Has a layers cap

Why Use GIMP

If you’re looking for a free, open-source alternative to Adobe Photoshop, GIMP is it. It has many of the features people love about Photoshop, including layers, an eraser tool, and utilities for color transformation. While there’s a bit of a learning curve for newbies, there are tons of great tutorials online thanks to GIMP’s popularity.

2. Canva

If you’re looking for a free, cross-platform photo-editing app, Canva is the way to go. It’s a simple, yet versatile, web-based photo editor that also works with Windows, macOS, and Linux, plus has mobile apps for both Android and iOS.

Pros

  • Works across multiple platforms with easy access to projects from anywhere
  • Templates available for quick editing or file creation
  • Includes tools to adjust brightness, contrast, and saturation
  • Allows you to add tints, graphics, or text to photos in seconds
  • Exports finished product as JPG, PNG, or SVG

Cons

  • No fine editing tools
  • Some features require the paid version, Canva Pro

Why Use Canva

Canva is perfect if you want to make a few small adjustments to photos before posting them online. It’s also handy if you make social media graphics or mock up photos for marketing purposes. Canva doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles of an advanced photo editor, but that also means it’s easy for anyone to use.

3. Fotor

Fotor is a free, web-based photo editor that works with nearly any device. It’s easy to use and offers lots of enhancements without making the interface or workflow too complicated.

Pros

  • Has apps for Windows and macOS
  • Includes tools for background removal, blurring, and framing
  • Offers retouching tools, including red-eye removal and teeth whitening
  • Can handle batch processing

Cons

  • Does not allow layers
  • Some features included only in the premium version

Why Use Fotor

If you’re looking for a simple, free photo-editing app to create a collage or to touch up vacation photos quickly, Fotor is a great option. It includes all the basic features expected in a photo editor, plus some lovely additions like background removal and batch processing. Fotor also allows you to enhance portraits by blending them with various backgrounds.

4. Adobe Photoshop Express

If you love Adobe Photoshop but don’t want to shell out money for the full version, check out Adobe Photoshop Express.

Pros

  • Desktop app for Windows
  • Mobile app for Android and iOS
  • Can open Photoshop (PSD) files
  • Supports red-eye removal
  • Built-in social media templates
  • 2GB storage included

Cons

  • Requires Adobe account (free)
  • Can be a bit overwhelming to newbies

Why Use Photoshop Express

Photoshop Express offers every possible photo editing tool you could ever need, all wrapped up in a single, free product. What’s more, you can easily transfer your knowledge to the paid version of Adobe Photoshop, which makes it a no-brainer option for anyone who plans to edit photos professionally. While there’s a steep learning curve for those who have never used advanced photo-editing apps, there are plenty of online tutorials and how-to guides to help.

5. Darktable

Darktable is an open source raw photo editor that works with Windows, Mac, and Linux devices. It’s one of the few non-destructible photo-editing apps out there, and it’s a great option for anyone who wants to perform basic or more advanced photo edits.

Pros

  • Completely open source
  • User-friendly design
  • Saves edited files separately from original file
  • Compatible with Windows, macOS, and Linux

Cons

  • No web-based or mobile version
  • Can lag a bit at times

Why Use Darktable

Explore Darktable If you work with raw files or want to do advanced photo edits. It’s a user-friendly app, making it simple for anyone to operate. It can be especially handy for those who want to edit a photo in multiple ways, since it doesn’t save over the original version. Darktable also makes a great, free alternative to Adobe Lightroom.

6. Pixlr X

If you’re looking for a web-based photo editor that gives premium desktop apps a run for their money, try Pixlr X.

Pros

  • Compatible with any virtually any device since it’s web-based
  • Supports layers
  • Includes templates and advanced editing tools
  • Has multiple cutout options to remove bits of images

Cons

  • Offers to save as JPG, PNG, or PDF only
  • Some features available with a premium subscription only

Why Use Pixlr X

Try Pixlr X if you want advanced features but don’t know how to navigate some of the more advanced photo editors out there. The interface is easy to use, and it doesn’t take long to locate the tools you need. It’s a great option for someone who primarily edits photos for social media posts or similar.

7. RawTherapee

RawTherapee is an open source photo-editing app that works similarly to Adobe Lightroom.

Pros

  • Compatible with Windows, macOS, and Linux
  • Offers option to create presets for batch editing
  • Has an amazing color correction tool
  • Can open multiple raw formats, as well as other image file types

Cons

  • Interface is difficult to navigate
  • Doesn’t have many online tutorials or how-to guides

Why Use RawTherapee

Although it’s a bit clunkier than some of the other desktop editors on this list, RawTherapee is a must-have for anyone who does a lot of color correction or color editing on their photos. It also excels at batch editing images.

8. PhotoDirector

If you’re looking for a photo editor that’s specifically designed for use on a mobile device, look no further than PhotoDirector, a mobile app available on both Android and iOS.

Pros

  • Easy-to-use interface and included tutorials
  • Includes tools for photo retouching, red-eye removal, and beauty retouching
  • Has removal and cloning tools
  • Numerous advanced effects, including background swaps and animation elements
  • Ability to share edited images directly to social media
  • Has apps for Windows and macOS

Cons

  • Some features require a paid subscription
  • Not many lens profiles
  • Lacks a teeth-whitening feature

Why Use PhotoDirector

The user-friendly app is one of the best photo editors designed for mobile devices. It includes many of the same features found in desktop apps. The app is easy to navigate and use even if you don’t have a background in photography or photo editing.

9. Fotoxx

While there are several great photo-editing apps available for Windows and macOS users, there are fewer options that work exclusively with Linux. Fotoxx is one such app.

Image source: Fotoxx

Pros

  • Compatible with most flavors of Linux
  • Includes many editing and retouching tools
  • Options to save final version as JPG, PNG, or TIFF
  • Access to metadata

Cons

  • No option to save for compatibility with Photoshop (.PSD)
  • Difficult to navigate for newbies
  • Mostly made for enhancing photos, not complex edits

Why Use Fotoxx

If you use Linux and want a free photo-editing app that allows you to retouch photos, improve the lighting, and make other minor adjustments, Fotoxx is a great choice. While it may take you a bit of time to adjust to their menu setup, there are lots of great tutorials to help you learn.

10. PhotoScape X

If you know absolutely nothing about photo editing and want an easy-to-use tool to get you started, check out PhotoScape X.

Pros:

  • Beginner friendly
  • Allows GIF animation
  • Includes tools for cutouts and image transformation
  • Several export options, including JPG, PNG, TIFF, RAW, and SVG

Cons:

  • Not compatible with Linux
  • No mobile apps
  • No background removal tool

Why Use Photoscape X

If you’re new to photo editing or you don’t consider yourself tech savvy, PhotoScape X is a great entry-level option for you. It’s also a good choice for someone who wants to create GIFs or needs to save images in a variety of file types.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I use images that I have created while trying premium features?

In most cases, you can use images edited with premium features only if you pay for an upgrade.

Many photo editors allows you to explore premium features with free trials. However, they usually bar you from using the final images either by overlaying them with a watermark or blocking their download.

2. Will a photo-editing app allow me to add text to the image?

While the majority of the apps on this list do include options for adding text to an image, some do not. Therefore, it’s always best to test an app to see if it meets your needs.

3. Do all photo-editing apps include background removal?

Unfortunately, very few free photo-editing apps include AI background removal. That being said, there are several other ways to replace or remove the background on an image by using tools like the lasso tool or magic wand that will select similar and or contiguous pixels.

Image credit: Pexels

Megan Glosson

Megan Glosson is a freelance technology writer based in Nashville, TN. She has extensive experience working with everything from printers to smart home systems, and serves as the go-to “tech guru” for a small business that sells digital products. Megan has created thousands of articles for online publications and company blogs, including How-To Geek, Clean Email, and Review Geek. When she’s not writing, you will probably find Megan playing board games with her partner and two children or swimming in the pool. You can check out Megan’s entire portfolio on her website, https://www.meganglosson.com/.

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