Magic for Nothing: The Best Free Photo Editors

If you are serious about photography, you’ll likely want to start editing your photos soon. Or maybe you’re already editing photos, perhaps on a work or school computer, and you’re ready to set up your own photo editing station at home.

Magic for Nothing: The Best Free Photo Editors

Either way, the most popular photo editing options, such as Photoshop and Lightroom, while fantastic programs, might be outside your budget.


Perhaps the phrase “you get what you pay for” comes to mind when you hear about free alternatives to the top paid programs. That’s understandable, but you might be surprised. If you’re wondering whether or not you can get industry-standard results from a free program, we’re here to tell you the answer is yes.

We did some investigating and came up with a list of free photo editors. Some are user-friendly while others might have a bit of a learning curve. Some give you basic, but effective, options for touching up an image. Others offer extensive controls that allow you to manipulate photos on a professional level. And best of all, they’re all free!




Windows, Mac and Linux


GIMP gets the first mention on our list because it’s probably the most popular freeware photo editor in existence. GIMP has been around since 1995, when two college students developed it for a school project. Since then, developers have been fine-tuning GIMP, giving it the ability to do just about anything the top paid editors can do.

Magic for Nothing: The Best Free Photo Editors

Another benefit of GIMP is that it runs on Windows, Mac and Linux. And GIMP can open saved Photoshop, or .psd, formatted files. Saving .psd files in GIMP can be tricky, though. GIMP doesn’t handle layers the same way Photoshop does, so layer groups made in GIMP will open as one layer in Photoshop. Keep that in mind if you’ll be switching back and forth between the two.


There’s a website dedicated to simple, easy to follow tutorials called Gimp Users. The site covers everything from GIMP basics to advanced projects, such as adding effects and painting digital images.




While it might seem that Mac users end up with the best graphics apps, Irfanview is a great Windows-only photo editor. Irfanview is lightweight; it will run on just about any computer, even it it’s an old clunker you dug out of the closet.







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