Free photo editing software – review

Whether you’re an advanced digital darkroom enthusiast, or just a casual snapper looking to straighten horizons and remove red-eye, the internet is awash with free photo-editing software.
 
 
 

 

  • Mock up of photo editing software interface
    Audley Jarvis
    By   | Journalist
    Last updated: 12 June 2014, 10:35 BST

    While most new cameras come with some kind of photo-editing software supplied in the box, they tend to be fairly basic and aren’t always very user-friendly.

    You can, of course, shell out a wad of cash on something like Adobe Photoshop Elements or Corel PaintShop Pro, however there are plenty of free alternatives available to download via the internet that work just as well.

    The first thing to bear in mind about free editing software is that it comes in all shapes and sizes, so the first thing you really need to decide is just how advanced you really need it to be.

    there are plenty of free alternatives available to download via the internet that work just as well."

    Are you looking for sophisticated software that offers support for advanced image manipulation, or are you just looking for something easy-to-use that can straighten horizons, remove red-eye and perhaps add an artistic effect to your images?

    Here’s our pick of the best free photo-editing software from the web.

     
     

     

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  • Fotoflexer screengrab
    Audley Jarvis
    By   | Journalist
    Last updated: 12 June 2014, 10:35 BST
    BT rating
     

    Runs on: Windows and Mac

    Website: FotoFlexer 

    FotoFlexer is a cloud-based application that doesn’t require you to download any software, it allows you to edit your images via a web-based application.

    You will need a decent broadband connection and a desktop web browser to use it.

    While the FotoFlexer homepage doesn’t look all that special when you click on it for the first time, it’s actually a pretty handy image editor. Above all else, it’s especially easy to use.

    Expand the main editing page to full-screen mode to cut out the annoying ads at the top of the page.

    From here you’ll find a series of tabs running across the top with headings such as: Basic Edits, Effects, Decorate and Beautify. These are fairly self-explanatory, making FotoFlexer an easy application to navigate and use.

    In addition to uploading images from your desktop computer, FotoFlexer also allows you to upload images directly from a number of social networking and photo storage sites including Facebook and Flickr.

    All in all, while FotoFlexer might lack the grunt of more advanced image editors it’s still a fun and easy way to spice up your images.

     

     
     

     

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  • Gimp screengrab
    Audley Jarvis
    By   | Journalist
    Last updated: 12 June 2014, 10:35 BST
    BT rating
     

    Runs on: Windows and Mac

    Website: Gimp

    Gimp is one of the most advanced free photo-editing programmes available. In fact, it’s about the closest thing you can get to Adobe Photoshop without having to open your wallet – even the layout looks similar.

    You’ll need to download and install the software first, but once you’re up and running you’ll find all kinds of healing, cloning and selection tools to work with, giving you a great deal of control over your images.

    Gimp allows you to use layers, which essentially means you can cut out or isolate certain parts of your image to make big changes to them while leaving other areas of the image completely unaffected.

    You’ll also find a number of filter effects including ones for sharpness and noise control, as well as resizing and scaling options.

    If you’re new to image editing you may well find the Gimp interface a bit of a minefield to navigate, however advanced users already familiar with the likes of Photoshop are likely to pick it up quite quickly and will undoubtedly be impressed with the degree of control on offer.

     
     

     

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  • Pixlr screengrab
    Audley Jarvis
    By   | Journalist
    Last updated: 12 June 2014, 10:35 BST
    BT rating
     

    Runs on: Windows only

    Website: GetPaint

    Much like Gimp, Paint.NET is another Adobe Photoshop clone that offers an advanced palate of photo-editing options.

    Originally created as an alternative to the MS Paint software that first came installed with Microsoft XP, Paint.NET has since morphed into a fully-fledged image editor in its own right.

    You’ll need to download the software from the Paint.NET website first and sadly for Mac users, Paint.NET is Windows-only.

    The Paint.NET interface looks remarkably similar to Adobe Photoshop with a number of familiar sounding drop-down menu options listed across the top of the screen, flanked by a number of equally recognisable ‘Tools’ on the left-hand-side of the screen.  

    Navigation is, if anything, a bit simpler though.

    In addition to all the usual healing, burning and cloning tools, Paint.NET also offers layer support for advanced tinkering, as well as more basic cropping, resizing and exporting options.

    Overall, Paint.NET is a fairly decent photo editor, although we prefer the much neater user interface of Gimp. That said, if you’re running a Windows computer then Paint.NET is undoubtedly worth a closer look.

     

     
     

     

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  • Picasa screengrab
    Audley Jarvis
    By   | Journalist
    Last updated: 12 June 2014, 10:35 BST
    BT rating
     

    Runs on: Windows and Mac

    Website: Picasa

    Owned by Google, Picasa is an image-editing tool and photo-management system.

    The photo management side of things isn’t bad and, perhaps unsurprisingly, Picasa even allows you to share your images on Google+ (but not Facebook!) with a one-click button.

    The image-editing side of things, however, falls a little bit flat and feels especially limited compared to the other programs listed here.

    While the standard image editor does offer some basic tools, our tip is to select the "Edit in Creative Kit" option. However, even using fibre-optic broadband it’s much slower than Pixlr and FotoFlexr, but once everything’s in place the layout is at least a lot cleaner than the standard editor.

    Picasa's editing options are still pretty limited, with only a basic smattering of on-touch artistic effects to choose from, however this may well suit anyone who wants to keep things really simple.

    Overall then, not the best bit of software from Google, with superior alternatives.

     
     

     

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  • Pixlr interface screengrab
    Audley Jarvis
    By   | Journalist
    Last updated: 12 June 2014, 10:35 BST
    BT rating
     

    Runs on: Windows and Mac

    Website: Pixlr

    Pixlr, like FotoFlexer is a cloud-based program, although it isn’t so much a specific piece of photo editing software as a suite of applications, each of which comes with its own unique attributes suitable for different types of user.

    For the advanced user, the application of choice is Pixlr Editor. Perform edits on a webpage that looks remarkably similar to the Photoshop interface, complete with the same drop-down Menu options along the top and the Tools window to the left.

    Pixlr Editor also offers much of the functionality of Photoshop too (albeit in a ‘lite’ version), with a generous range of image-editing tools plus support for layers adjustment, resizing, filters and much more besides.

    Should the full-blown Pixlr Editor be more than you require then the Pixlr-o-matic and Pixlr Grabber applications can also be accessed via the Pixlr homepage.

    These are much simpler to use and offer plenty of one-click artistic effects to spice up your images with.

    For the ease of use and the range of options it offers, Pixlr is our worthy winner here.

     

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