Best (mostly) free photo-editing software

Don’t have a photo-editing program? Try these downloads, websites and apps.

Three editing palettes from Picasa

By Heather Camlot

For the beginner: Picasa 3

Don’t know the first thing about editing? Picasa takes care of the essentials with its stripped-down options. Everything you need is here — from fixing the basics like red-eye, contrast and size, to fine-tuning colour and shadows to adding special effects, such as black and white or film grain. Plus, you can organize your collections, create slideshows and share them online in a few simple clicks. To learn more about Picasa, check out the video on YouTube.

For the hobbyist: PhotoScape

A favourite of CNET and users alike (it’s been downloaded more than 22 million times) PhotoScape is not for the point-and-shoot novice. Although it doesn’t have the most advanced features needed for industry professionals, it does pack a powerful range of tools that can be used on all major formats. Along with basic editing functions like resizing, red-eye and cropping, you can get creative with mosaic mode, merging and combining photos, creating animations and more.

For the professional: Photo Pos Pro

Faint of heart, be warned: you need time and patience to learn just how this editing software works, but once you get it, you’re ready to play. Combining photo, image and graphics editing, Photo Pos Pro provides the tools – some automatic, others manual – to correct images, change textures, repair old photos, add special effects and much more.

For the memory-challenged: Pixlr

If you can’t or prefer not to download software to your computer, you can edit your photos right online by opening the image from your computer. In Pixlr Editor, the tools are similar to what you’d find in Photoshop, like Paint bucket, Colorpicker and Lasso, and can get frustrating if you don’t know what they mean. If you’re looking for a quick fix, opt for Pixlr Express, which offers three options – basic (crop, resize, rotate), adjustment (sharpen, teeth whitening, red-eye) and photo effects (kaleidoscope, art poster, tilt shift).

For the road: PicSay (Android), Photogene (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, $2), Photo Editor (BlackBerry, $1)

If you need to edit on the run – and on a mini screen – these options are best. The apps will get you through the basics, like color correcting and cropping, plus they bundle a few fun extras like word balloons or vignette.


First published January 20, 2011, on

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