Free Photoshop Filters and Plugins

Customize Photoshop with these free filters and plugins

Using the computer to design in Photoshop
PeopleImages.com / Getty Images

You can change the look and feel of your Adobe Photoshop images with these free Photoshop filters, and improve your working environment with free Photoshop plugins. They're a great way to easily and quickly customize your Photoshop experience.

The Photoshop filters are image effects or settings used to change the way a picture looks, and the plugins are extended features like rulers or guide lines, that aren't included with Photoshop by default.

You can also use free Photoshop actions, templates, shapes, brushes, and textures to change your Photoshop images.

How to Install and Use Photoshop Filters

Once you've downloaded a Photoshop filter, you'll want to copy the 8BF file into Photoshop's Filters folder to install it. This is usually C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop (version)\Plug-ins\Filters\.

Installed filters can be accessed from Photoshop's Filter menu.

However, some Photoshop filters are installed through an EXE file so that it installs like a regular program. In those instances, you don't need to copy any files into any program folder; just open the EXE file like you would any application.

How to Install and Use Photoshop Plugins

Photoshop plugins are ZXP files that must be installed using Adobe Extension Manager (unless it downloads as an EXE program file). Just choose Install to browse for the ZXP file.

Installed plugins can be accessed from Photoshop's Window > Extensions menu.

Note

Some of the websites below will explain that they are offering plugins when really they're installed under the Filter menu in Photoshop, and vice versa. 

Adobe's Free Photoshop Plugins

Creative Cloud website with Adobe's free extensions

What better place to get free Photoshop plugins than Adobe's own website? You can sort the resources by title or rating as well as by newest added or most popular.

Not only plugins and filters are on this page. You'll find extensions, actions, and other things as well.

Adobe's Photoshop plugins are installed a bit differently than the others in this list. You must have a free Adobe account and the Creative Cloud program installed to use the plugins.

To find just the free Photoshop plugins at Adobe's website, be sure to choose Photoshop from the filtering area on the left, and then on the right, sort the results by Price (Low to High).

What We Like

  • Many are rated, from one to five stars.

  • Easy to search for and find what you need.

  • Enormous variety.

What We Don't Like

  • Requires free Creative Cloud program.

  • You must create an Adobe account if you don't already have one.

Mehdi's Free Photoshop Filters

Mehdi Plugins website

Mehdi has dozens of free Photoshop filters. Each download page has a thorough explanation of the filter as well as screenshots. 

Kaleidoscope, Projection, Sorting Tiles, Blots, Weaver, and Contrast Balance are just some of the free filters you can download here.

What We Like

  • Thorough explanation of each plugin with examples.

  • Dozens of plugins available.

  • FAQ page and ability to contact Mehdi for support.

What We Don't Like

  • Dated but useable interface.

  • Windows only; not for MacOS.

The Plugin Site's Free Photoshop Filters

The Plugin Site web page

Harry's Filters (formerly VideoRave) is a download at The Plugin Site that lets you get around 70 image effects for Photoshop in one download.

The Plugin Site has other downloads as well, such as Photoshop actions.

On the download page, scroll past the commercial downloads to find the free options. When you're ready to download something from this website, you'll need to fill out the download form, where you'll get the download link in your email.

What We Like

  • Single download saves time.

  • Fast access without layers of menus.

  • Easy to use.

What We Don't Like

  • No MacOS version.

  • No updates since October 2017.

Lokas Software's Free 3D Shadow and Photoshop Filter

Lokas Software web page with 3D Shadow 2.0

Lokas Software has only one free Photoshop filter, and it's called 3D Shadow. I include it in this list because while Photoshop has its own text shadowing feature, I find this one to be much more useful.

You can adjust the blur, axis and offset angle, perspective, and color, as well as select a preset shadow effect, such as Cast in Front, Flat Faint, and Rear shadow.

This software only works on Windows.

What We Like

  • Broad range of shadow effects.

  • Easy to use.

What We Don't Like

  • Windows only.

RichardRosenman.com's Free Photoshop Plugins

Free Photoshop plugins at RichardRosenman.com

RichardRosenman.com has one page of free Photoshop plugins. Some of them include ones called Diffuse Glow, Box Fitting, Pinch, 3D Sphere, Pixelate, and Solid Border.

The plugins you'll find at RichardRosenman.com have a short description and sample picture to show you what the plugin does.

All downloads are direct links to ZIP files.

What We Like

  • Easy to browse through available plugins.

  • Thorough explanation of each plugin’s function.

What We Don't Like

  • Windows only.

  • No new releases since April 2015.