Photo Editing Software that You Don’t Have to Pay For

Let’s face it, as incredible as Adobe Photoshop is at providing you with the necessary tools to make your pictures pop, its recurring annual price tag is a little more expensive than some small businesses are willing to pay, especially if photo-editing needs are only every once in a while.

Luckily, there are some pretty swanky options out there that are absolutely free to use. From an web design standpoint, high-quality, original photographs not only grab your reader’s attention, but they can also land you in some of the top slots of a Google image search. That reason alone should be enough to convince you to take a little bit of time to make your pictures stand out.

Here is a closer look at the pros and cons of each interface so that you can make the best decision on the right product for you.

Best Cloud Photo Editor:

Who doesn’t like cloud-based photo editors that are accessible anywhere?  Better yet, who doesn’t like free?  Photopea is both, and as of October 2018, it has 1.5 million active visitors.  And that was before the developer did an AMA (“ask me anything”) on Reddit, which was likely to have accelerated growth.

Photopea is supports PSD, XCF, Sketch, XD and CDR formats from programs like Adobe Photoshop and XD, GIMP, Sketch, and CorelDRAW.  Sweet!

Best in Show:

Unlike its namesake, this program does not limp along: it sets the pace. GIMP stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program, and, according to advanced online users, it rivals Photoshop in many ways.

Photo Editing Software

(Pixabay / Lalmch)

One of the reasons why it’s such an impressive program is because its open-source platform lets users and developers alike design and offer up plugin options to the masses. GIMP comes with many of the same Photoshop tools, layers, and features, and the interface is also very similar – which is a pro and a con in and of itself. All of the similarities to Photoshop plus the endless supply of new tools from the GIMP communities can make this program a little overwhelming to a photo-editing newbie.

Best Filters:

The main thing that Fotor has going for it is its ability to filter efficiently, quickly, and attractively. It doesn’t have as many different photo editing tools as, say, GIMP, but it has multiple one-click buttons that make some of the better enhancement options just a tap away. Another major benefit is that it has a mass processing option that lets you apply the same filter or edit to many different pictures at once. This is nice if you are dealing with bad lighting or if you have a consistent problem holding the camera steady.  The one major annoyance is that it runs a pretty aggressive ad campaign to offset the fact that it is free, so you have to decide if that’s worth it to you.

Best for eCommerce:

Pixlr is a good tool for eCommerce users because it runs through the internet and allows you to link your edited pictures directly to some online sites. It has a lot of different one-click buttons like Fotor, and its interface is very similar to GIMP (which is much the same as Photoshop, if you remember). Since its interface is comparable to GIMP, you might find that it is a little more difficult to navigate if you’re a novice to photo editing. Another downside is that it requires you to have a flash player which can be clumsy due to the internet’s recent push away from Flash. All in all, however, it’s still a good choice because #1. it’s free, and #2. it’s an incredibly powerful photo editor, all things considered.


Photo Pos Pro

Photo Pos Pro is pretty unique in the sense that it actually offers two different interfaces: one for novice users and one for advanced. Both have some powerful tools, but the novice is mostly about filtering, and the advanced starts getting lofty fairly quickly. The upside is that both interfaces are incredibly intuitive in their layout, so there isn’t as much of a learning curve as some of the other photo editing tools out there.

The one major downside to this software is that the free version limits your file size to a relatively small pixel count, so it’s not a good choice for printing large, professional banners or prints. They do offer a paid version that lets you save large file sizes. If large, professional banners or prints are your livelihood, you may want to go that route.


Photoscape is another editor that is good for beginners, but it is a little more basic than some of the other editors out there. It doesn’t have a split interface the way Photo Pos Pro does, but it does have a wide range of filters and features that are easy to master if you only need basic photo edits.

The Take-away

Editing your photos doesn’t have to break the bank or come with a daunting learning curve, and that’s important because quality photos are essential to your credibility. Few things are more uninspiring to your visitors than stock photography, even though it is an easier, cheaper, and less time-consuming option. In the long run, you owe it to yourself, your company, and your customers to provide beautiful images of your products and services.