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Top 5 free photo editing programs

Nikki Jong is a San Francisco-based author and editor who’s passionate about leading a planet-friendly lifestyle. She writes frequently about food and nutrition, health and wellness, natural healing, sustainable living and responsible co...

perfect your photos

No need to buy expensive, fancy-pantsy Photoshop. Try these top 5 free photo editing programs to edit, perfect and enhance your photos!

Photoshop Express

Photoshop Express is the web version of image editing software Photoshop and only recently became available free of charge. Take advantage of it—you'll find the same excellent quality you'd expect from the original Photoshop but without the big price tag.

Quick Take:

  • Good for beginners, intermediate and expert users
  • Edit, store and organize photos in one location
  • Create slideshows to share with friends
  • Quick and easy to share photos on Facebook and Twitter
  • Works with mobile devices including iPhone, iPad and Android

Picnik

Picnik is easy to use and offers versatile image editing tools and lots of creative effects, including shapes and frames.

Quick Take:

  • Best for beginners
  • Fix images with a single click, perfect for quick editing and/or beginners
  • Advanced controls for perfecting your photos
  • Quick and easy to upload photos from many popular online albums, including Facebook, Photobucket, Flickr, Picasa and more
  • Compatible with Mac, Windows and Linux

Pixia

Pixia is photo-fixing software that features superior editing technology. Originally developed in Japan for anime and manga, Pixia offers many great artistic features that can be applied to any image and thanks to worldwide demand, it's now available in ten languages, including English.

Quick Take:

  • Easy for beginners but also suitable for experts
  • Pixia's help files must be downloaded separately
  • Offers more editing functions than many free photo editors
  • User-friendly interface

Picasa

As you might expect from a photo-editing program owned by Google, Picasa is intuitive and super easy to use. With a good photo that requires little fine-tuning, you can get professional quality results in seconds, but Picasa isn't the best program for images that would benefit from heavier editing.

Quick Take:

  • Good basic program, suited to beginners and photos that don't need much help
  • User-friendly
  • Well-organized interface with 3 tabs: Basic Fixes, Tuning and Effects
  • Adjustable intensity on many features for extra user control
  • Easy to share photos by email, export, blog and more
  • Offers the basics with a few handy bells and whistles

GIMP

There's been a lot of comparison between GIMP and Photoshop Express. Like Photoshop Express, GIMP is incredibly versatile and offers lots of tools that will appeal to all skill levels. Since they're both free, take them for a spin to test and compare the tools and functionality for yourself.

Quick Take:

  • Best for intermediate and advanced users
  • Offers advanced features such as multi-layered image editing
  • Offers Photoshop-compatible extensions so you can share files with friends
  • Customizable interface so you can make efficient use of the screen as you edit
  • Great quick fixes to eliminate common problems like depth distortion
  • Excellent retouching capabilities
  • Works with Windows, Mac and Linux

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