10 Free Photo Editors

The best free photo editors out there

These free photo editors are the best of the best and will get you just as good results as the expensive Adobe Photoshop.

The free photo editors below have tons of features and tools that you let you change or enhance your photos in just about any way you can imagine. You can also customize the interface of many of the programs so you can get the perfect working environment for you.

This list includes free photo editors that you have probably heard of as well as some hidden gems that for sure are worth checking out.

If you're looking for more options for free photo editors, maybe a free online photo editor will have what you need; you can use one in your web browser without having to download the software. To edit photos on your phone or tablet, a free photo editing app is what you need. If you only need to resize some photos, there are resources for that, too.

01
of 10

GIMP

Screenshot of GIMP in Windows 7
GIMP.

What We Like

  • Similar to Photoshop in interface and capabilities.

  • Add-ons, including those created for Photoshop, add great functionality.

  • Generate files in all common image formats.

What We Don't Like

  • Interface not as sleek or pleasing as Photoshop.

  • Can be a bit buggy.

  • Lacks layer grouping, adjustment layers, and some other common Photoshop elements.

GIMP is likely the most popular free photo editor program. It's full of professional features and provides a very friendly and flexible interface.

The toolbox, layers, and brushes panes of GIMP are separated from the main canvas so you can truly adjust how you want to work without losing any of the features you need access to.

Various input devices are supported, add-ons can be installed to extend GIMP's functionality, and file formats like TIFF, PSD, PNG, JPEG, and GIF are supported.

There are tutorials on the GIMP website if you need help along the way. You can learn about layer masks, asset folders, brushes, and more.

GIMP works with Windows, Linux, and Mac operating systems.

02
of 10

Paint.NET

Screenshot of Paint.NET in Windows XP
© dotPDN LLC

What We Like

  • Lots of plug-ins available.

  • Clean, easy-to-use interface.

  • Good choice for intermediate users.

What We Don't Like

  • Windows only.

  • Lacks some advanced and commonly used features, such as burn and dodge.

Similar to GIMP, Paint.NET provides the ability to move its window panes around to customize the interface to your liking. Paint.NET also provides plug-ins to support new file formats and add new effects.

Included are layers, effects, and a whole host of basic and advanced things like a clone stamp, pencil, text maker, and paintbrush tool.

Several image file formats like BMP, JPEG, TGA, and DDS are supported.

Paint.NET is for Windows computers only.

03
of 10

Inkscape

Screenshot of Inkscape in Windows 7

What We Like

  • Cross-platform compatibility.

  • Large, active community; lots of help and tutorials available.

  • Excels at detailed drawing and line-specific editing.

What We Don't Like

  • No PMS or CMYK color support.

  • Sizeable learning curve.

  • Rendering can take a while.

Inkscape works with Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems. This is a vector graphics editor, more akin to Illustrator, as opposed to a photo manipulation package, but still has a lot of useful features.

The interface can be a bit cluttered but that's only evidence of the vast number of tools it includes. Nearly all the tools you'll be using often are planted along both sides of Inkscape for easy access.

Circles, arcs, 3D boxes, ellipses, stars, spirals, and polygons can be created using Inkscape. You can also draw straight or freehand lines.

Tons of file types are supported both when opening and saving. Among many other useful features, you can work with layers, apply a huge number of filters to a picture, and use spell check along with the text tool.

Like most photo editing programs, Inkscape supports extensions.

Windows users can also download a portable version that's perfect for editing straight from a flash drive.

04
of 10

Adobe Photoshop Express

Screenshot of the free image editor Adobe Photoshop Express

What We Like

  • Familiar interface for Photoshop users.

  • Control intensity of tool effects.

What We Don't Like

  • Limited format support.

  • Flash-based web access only.

Adobe has the free Photoshop Express program that you can use as a Photoshop alternative if you don't want to pay for their full software. Of course, it is missing some of Photoshop's features, so it's not as functional, but it still does a lot.

When you first open the Photoshop Express image editor, you can load an image from your computer or take a new one directly from your webcam. Once a photo is open in Photoshop Express, the menus on the left make it really easy to access all the one-click options like filters, crop tools, image corrections, the red eye remover tool, and more.

This photo editor for Windows 10 also has borders, a spot healing brush for one-click touch-ups, effects like grain and fade, and a noise reducer. There's also a button you can click to quickly see the original photo for comparison with your edits.

Something really great about this image editor that you won't find in some similar programs is that with nearly every tool, you have full control over the intensity. This means you can slide a bar left or right to decrease or increase a tool's effect to get it just right.

Photoshop Express works on Windows 10 computers only. You can get the same app on your phone, too, but it won't install on Windows 8 or earlier versions of Windows.

05
of 10

Krita Desktop

Screenshot of Krita Desktop
© Krita Foundation

What We Like

  • Quick access to full-screen mode.

  • Particularly well-suited for comics and manga.

  • Lots of well-designed tools and brushes.

What We Don't Like

  • Cluttered interface.

  • Tool settings not easily accessible.

  • Lacks some features of other programs.

Krita Desktop is really easy to work with and is certainly an advanced image editor. Like some of these other programs, you can work with layers in addition to many other tools located in a floating toolbox off to the side of the program.

There are plenty of other features available as well, such as brushes and blending modes, advanced selection, and masking tools, drawing aids, filters, symmetry tools, and effects.

One thing worth mentioning is that, with the press of the Tab key, you can maximize the canvas to fit your entire screen, getting rid of all the menus and tools so you can have a huge space for working without any distractions.

Krita Desktop works with Windows, Linux, Mac, and Windows-based tablets.

06
of 10

InPixio Photo Editor

Screenshot of inPixio Photo Editor in Windows 8
InPixio Photo Editor.

What We Like

  • Broad format compatibility.

  • User-friendly interface.

What We Don't Like

  • Trial version applies watermarks to images.

  • Not all modules available for MacOS.

This free photo editor from InPixio is designed for simplicity, but that doesn't mean it's void of helpful features. The program itself is easy to understand and navigate, and you can do everything from add frames and designs to crop, change the brightness, and more.

With the one-click presets and frames, a before and after view, and easy-to-access editing tools, you can finish editing in no time and even share your picture directly on Facebook or Flickr from the Share menu.

If you like how you've edited something and want to apply those same edits to another photo, it's as easy as making a custom preset.

Lots of image file types can be opened in this program, and if saving to your computer, you can pick from JPG, PNG, TIFF, JXR, and WDP. 

If you need help using this photo editor, you can refer to their online tutorials.

Some features are only available in the premium version; those are marked off in the program with a large "Premium" banner.

07
of 10

Pixia

Screenshot of Pixia in Windows XP
© Isao Maruoka

What We Like

  • Compatibile with common file formats.

  • Open files directly from clipboard, camera, and scanner.

  • Rich enough in features to satisfy advanced artists.

What We Don't Like

  • Interface is outdated.

  • Windows only.

Pixia has an outdated and unappealing interface, but the functions and tools aren't at all undesirable for a free photo editor.

Layers and layer masks are supported, as well as creating shapes, selecting objects, and common photo editing tasks like changing the color adjustment and tone balance, color filling, and selecting from different paint brushes.

All the standard image file formats can be opened with Pixia including those with Photoshop's PSD extension. Images can even be opened directly from the clipboard, a camera, or a scanner.

08
of 10

Artweaver Free

Screenshot of Artweaver Free in Windows XP
© Boris Eyrich Software

What We Like

  • Full-featured and easy to use.

  • Supports layers.

  • Good variety of brushes and effects.

What We Don't Like

  • Photoshop plugins and screen playback work only with premium version. 

  • No MacOS version.

Artweaver manages to include tons of useful image editing tools in an easy to use program. It has a tabbed interface to avoid clutter, supports using pen tablets, and works with some of the most popular image file formats, such as JPEG and PSD.

Standard editing tools like a crop, text, paint bucket, and gradient tool, among others, are included, but Artweaver also lets you save and replay events, use brushes, create and work with layers, customize the layout of the palettes, and import images directly from a scanner or camera, among other things.

The screen mode can be changed from regular to fullscreen to have even more room to edit images.

09
of 10

PhotoScape

Screenshot of PhotoScape in Windows XP
© Mooii Tech

What We Like

  • Easy to use.

  • Compatible with both Windows and MacOS.

What We Don't Like

  • Lacks functionality typical of other programs.

  • Can be slow.

PhotoScape has several sections at the top of the program where you can open different tools to perform different actions. Viewer, Editor, Combine and Animated GIF are just some of PhotoScape's sections.

The editing feature has dozens of frames to choose from, each with the option to round the corners and adjust the margin and frame line settings of the frame.

You can also add objects and text and crop an image freely or use one of several presets (e.g., 16:9, Legal Ratio, and US business card ratio).

Some more tools included in PhotoScape is a red-eye remover, clone stamp tool, spot remover, paintbrush, and, among others, an effect brush (like grayscale, blur, darken, and brighten).

With each tool you select, a description of what it does and how to use it is displayed to the right, which is very helpful and not usually a feature included in programs like this.

PhotoScape is available for Windows. The similar PhotoScape X is for Windows 10 and macOS.

Unfortunately, another program attempts to install during setup, but you can easily skip this by deselecting it.

10
of 10

CinePaint

The workspace in CinePaint in Windows XP.

What We Like

  • Very powerful, despite being free.

  • Works with images and videos.

What We Don't Like

  • No Windows version.

  • Infrequently updated.

CinePaint's interface is very mundane, colorless, and boring, but that doesn't mean the tools aren't useful because they are.

Layers are supported so you can overlay images on each other, change their blend mode, and edit their opacity. You also get a selection tool with CinePaint, among many other common tools.

The first thing you'll notice when you use CinePaint is that when you're opening a photo to edit, you're unable to preview it to know that you're selecting the correct one, which is too bad.