The 10 Best Free Photo Editing Software – 2021

The 10 Best Free Photo Editing Software – 2021

This post was last updated on January 14, 2021.

Back when I played tennis, the coach used to tell us that a game is not finished until you shake hands with the opponent. Meaning, every point is just as important as the one before and after, no matter the timing or score. This same concept is highly relevant when it comes to pictures. Whether they're meant to be showcased on a photography website or used as part of a PR campaign, you should not present images as complete before the process has truly been finished. Here is where this list of the best free photo editing software comes to play.

One of the most common mistakes people tend to make with photos is ignoring just how important post-processing is. In most cases, this last step is skipped due to the high entry bar of the most popular photo editor software. For beginners and non-photographers, tools like Photoshop and Lightroom can feel quite daunting - and that's not even considering their cost.

But what many ignore is the long list of free photo editing software available online and for desktop use. Regardless of your skills, needs, and goals - these tools will allow you to take your images to the next level and achieve a professional look with minimal effort. Especially due to their cost (or lack thereof), these free alternatives to Photoshop and Lightroom definitely give Adobe a run for its money.

Ready to start editing your images like a pro? Here are the best free photo editing software you can use in 2021:

  1. Adobe Photoshop Express

  2. GIMP

  3. Paint .NET

  4. Pixlr E

  5. Pixlr X

  6. PhotoScape X

  7. Fotor

  8. Photos Pos Pro

  9. InPixio

  10. BeFunky

  11. Bonus: Wix Photo Studio

01. Adobe Photoshop Express

Best for: Mobile photo editing

For the longest time, people tried to find a free version of Photoshop, preferably online. Until one day, Adobe finally heard their prayers and launched Adobe Photoshop Express, a trimmed-down online and mobile version of the industry’s leading software.

Unlike its paid counterpart, Adobe Photoshop Express is not aimed at professional photographers and media creators, but to beginners or those looking for high-quality software for quick edits. This can be easily noted on the features offered and their accessibility.

With Adobe Photoshop Express you’ll be able to access basic image editing actions, such as contrast, perspective, saturation, exposure, and spot removal, as well as selecting preset dynamic effects. While there are not nearly as many tools as in the professional version, they are polished to perfection and offer a great user experience. The Express version of Adobe’s photo editing software also includes a “decorate” category, which allows users to add text and easily create fully customizable collages.

You can edit images that are saved on your device or share them directly from Adobe Creative Cloud, Dropbox, Facebook, or Google Photos. All edits made on Adobe Photoshop Express are non-destructive, meaning you can go back to the original photo at any time.

The + : Advanced filters, minimalist interface, professional results

The - : Only output format available is JPG, runs on Flash, limited tools

Platforms: Web and mobile (iOS, Android, Windows)

Paid version: Adobe Photography, which includes Photoshop and Lightroom, starts at $9.99/month

free Adobe Photoshop editor online

02. GIMP

Best for: Advanced users

GIMP is widely considered the best free photo editor available on the market. The software includes a wide range of tools, ranging from basic actions to professional-quality features. Beginners will highly benefit from its selection and montage tools, cropping, color adjustment, and automatic image enhancement tools. On the other hand, advanced users will find a number of tools catered to them, such as content-aware resizing, face swap, animated GIFss, layer masks, curves, and personalizable brushes.

All of these features make GIMP an amazing free Photoshop alternative for those who already know Adobe’s flagship software. On top of that, its interface is fully customizable and there are numerous plugins that can be added for free.

GIMP is an open source software with a large active community behind it. This means the platform is constantly updated and improved, all while users can continue to use it for free.

This photo editing software can be installed on desktop devices running on any operating system, or downloaded as a portable version that can be added into a USB key for usage flexibility.

If you want to give this advanced photo editor a try, but are not familiar with the discipline's jargon, you might want to start by taking a look at this glossary of photography terms.

The + : Professional tools and features, open source program, developer support

The - : Steep learning curve, no mobile version, cluttered interface

Platforms: Desktop only (Linux, OS X, Windows)