These days, even the most basic digital cameras can produce great photos – ones you feel happy instantly sharing. Yet once in while you might also need to tweak something – remove red-eye, correct the white balance, crop and/or level the horizon. Adobe Photoshop still remains, of course, the gold standard for editing programs, but if you don’t have the time or energy to learn it and/or aren’t up for paying a monthly subscription for it’s services, you might want to check out some of the free editing software that’s out there.
These days its not hard to find free editing software that’s not only powerful, but is also easy to learn and can be found on just about any platform you want to edit on. Check out the list below to find some of our favorite free editing software.
GIMP (the GNU Image Manipulation Program) in an open source program that’s been around since 1996 and continually updated by some of the top open source programmers ever since. As a result, it’s probably the most powerful free image editor you’ll find anywhere. It has many of the tools Adobe Photoshop has, including full layer support and animation. Of course, all this power means that GIMP, like Photoshop can take a while to learn, but if you’re looking for free editing software with a punch, GIMP is your best bet. If you’re used to Photoshop, you might find you do not like the interface, but that’s now easily corrected. All you need to do is download Gimpshop (for Windows, Mac or Linux) -it offers the power of GIMP, but with a Photoshop-like interface. And like all open source software, it’s free!
Photoscape is a great all-around editor that packs plenty of punch. It has just about any tool you might be looking for – white-balance correction, color correction, brightness and contrast, etc. It even has a batch editor, GIF animation, and will convert your RAW images to JPG. You can also customize your toolbar into the features you use most, combine and split images, and make slideshows. The only real downside to Photoscape is that it runs ads for other “recommended” software – the price you pay for “free.”
If you’re into sharing your photo on socail media -particularly Google+, Picasa might be the free software you’re looking for. More of a photo organizer and slide show creator, Picasa still offers a decent amount of basic editing tools and photo effects. More importantly, it allows you to effortlessly gather all the photos on your computer or drive and format them for sharing. It’s most recent incarnations include geotagging and face recognition.
If you’re new to photo editing and/or just want a simple, easy to use program Fotor fits the bill. It’s features are super-simple, spelling out the different options available and making it easy to compare your before and after photos. Fotor also offers a wide selection of filters, a tilt-shift tool, and collage-building options. You can use it on the web or as a downloaded application, and it works equally well on tablets and mobiles as it does on desktops.
5. Irfan View
Irfan View is a compact and image viewer/editor whose aim is to be both simple enough for beginners and powerful enough for professionals. Though mostly a viewer, its editing capabilities are quite substantial; they include color correction, brightness and contrast adjustments, sharpening, red-eye removal, text captions and watermarks, and a variety of special effects. Other features include multi-language support, batch conversion/editing, and lossless JPG operations – all in a compact tool which requires less than 2MB of disk space.
There are, of course, may other free photo editors out there, but these are our favorite non-app-specific programs.