A short intro on how we rate the Best Free Photo Editor

It’s crazy how even the dullest of photos can easily transform into a stunning image thanks to a few photo editing tricks. With the very best photo editing software, it’s fair to say that there is almost nothing that is beyond your reach as far as photography goes. But then again, the best photo editors are super expensive, and if you are just starting your photography career, then a big majority of them will probably be far from your reach.

The best free photo editors are a great deal as they offer photographers a myriad of features to improve their photos without milking them dry of cash. It’s also a common notion that the best free photo editors are only good for starters. This is very inaccurate. There are several incredible software that offers brilliant features perfect for both beginner and advanced photo editors. Yes, some of this editing software may lack one or more key features, but they will still perform really well and even better than some of the paid photo editors.

So, which is the best free photo editor?

The best free photo editor is GIMP and here is why;

GIMP

This remarkable software was developed back in 1996, and it remains relevant to date not because it is free, but due to the performance it delivers. 

GIMP or GNU Image Manipulation Program has almost everything that a beginner and advanced photo editor would want. Talk of masks, layers, filters, blending modes, channels, color adjustment, and an array of other features that are more than capable of transforming your photography career completely. Perhaps this is why some people are even claiming that GIMP can completely replace Photoshop? What we love about this software is not just the inclusion of features that you’d typically find in premium software but also on how incredibly well these features are harnessed to improve your performance. While the features are very enticing for advanced photographers on a tight budget, the user-friendly UI makes sure that newbies are not intimidated. Instead, they will get to learn and work with simple software that will improve their skill-set from one level to the next. Speaking of UI, we’d also like to point out that GIMP has one of the most customizable user interfaces in a photo editor. This is highly welcomed as it makes it easier for one to create an interface that’s convenient for their unique needs.

GIMP is developed and maintained by a big community of highly-dedicated developers. This benefits the software in various ways, the key of which is in the department of plugins. With this editor, you will have dozens of extensions at your disposal, allowing you to expand the capabilities to your benefit.

The open source code nature of this software also means that you can add your own editing tools, change the program, and even fix some bugs that you may notice. It can also work with RAW files, but you will need to get all the relevant updates for it to work correctly.

The developers are also keen on giving users a comprehensive learning tool which is presented very well to avoid overwhelming you with lots of details. These learning resources are not just designed to help you learn how to use the software but also on how to improve your photo editing skills. As such, both beginner and advanced users will find them extremely useful.

GIMP is available on all the major operating systems i.e., Mac, Windows, and Linux.

Pros

  • Powerful and vast editing tools
  • Supports different image formats
  • User-friendly and highly-customizable UI
  • Zero ads
  • Open source code
  • Developer support
  • Vast educational resources

Cons

  • Rare updates
  • Online and mobile versions can be better
  • Some people may find the learning curve too technical or a bit steep

Alternatively, you can also try any of the two photo editing software below:

Pixlr X

Pixlr X is arguably the best beginner photo editor. 123RF develops this web application; the company that is also behind the Pixlr Editor and Pixlr Express. The Pixlr X is developed to replace the Pixlr Express by getting rid of the flash to improve the performance and security of the editor. It is also available as a mobile suite enabling you to edit photos directly from your tablet or smartphone. You also don’t have to worry about compatibility with your specific gadget because it works with both Android and iOS.

Since Pixlr X is designed to work directly from your web browser, it is a lot easier to use than most of the technical editors in the market. With this tool, you can simply upload an image, do all the editing you need through the various features available and download the fresh and refined image back to your gadget. You can do some cropping, adjust colors and saturation, blur and sharpen images, add vignettes and frames, etc. You will also have more than 80 ready-to-use filters that can bring all your photos to life with a single click. This is further enhanced by the History functions, which brings all the features you use frequently closer to you. As a result, you’ll never have to waste so much time finding your favorite editing tools. Pixlr also comes with the option of activating automatic tools that can enhance your images with a single click. In case you find the tool too intrusive for your liking, you can deactivate them and explore your full creativity by going manual.

The Pixlr X is also engineered to give you a Photoshop experience with several capabilities such as multiple blending options, transparency controls, and supporting layers. You can also include several images to your photo and even create a text. With all this capability, you might just become the King of memes in your social media timelines.

Pros

  • Portable
  • Mobile-friendly
  • Layer blending
  • Customizable interface
  • Simple
  • Stylish
  • HTML5-based instead of flash
  • Links with Facebook

Cons

  • Most tools are rather basic
  • Doesn’t support drawing tools

GETPAINT.NET

If photo editing is a casual thing for you that you do for fun and you don’t require any complex features, then PAINT.NET might just be the perfect fit for you. GETPAINT is a simplified photo editor that is designed to serve you will all the relevant photo editing features without overwhelming you with the extensive tools ideal for professionals. Therefore, this photo editor might not necessarily be the perfect choice for any advanced user who’s looking for more powerful software. Such guys are better off using GIMP.

Even though GETPAINT is geared towards simplifying photo editing, it still comes with incredible features that will do justice to your images. The software performs so well that it even surprised its developers by surpassing its predecessor the Microsoft Paint. The tool supports layers, several special effects, history, gradient, and numerous selection options including combined selections and magic wand. It also has an “unlimited undo” option that allows you to get rid of any mistakes that you might make. This feature is really useful if you are still learning, and you don’t want to restart the whole editing process every time you make a mistake.

The GETPAINT.NET UI is very simple to use. After interacting with the software a couple of times, you should be able to navigate, find, and use all the tools you need with ease. Also, the interface combines the looks of Adobe Photoshop and Windows paint. If you’ve used either of the tools in the past, you will find this software quite familiar, and this should make your interaction with it more seamless.

Although GETPAINT doesn’t support RAW files, you can still use it with JPEG, PNG, TIFF, BMP, and a couple of other image formats.

Conclusively, even though GETPAINT may not be particularly powerful and comprehensive in the department of features, it still does a decent job making it a great choice for all the guys who are into casual photo editing. Also, it works really well with gadgets that are not very powerful.

Pros

  • Plugin support
  • Easy to use
  • Special effects
  • Offers online support
  • Provides “how to” tutorials
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Cons

  • No mac version
  • Brushwork is limited
  • Not very comprehensive