Free Photo Editing Tools

A sepia tinted photo.

Purchasing the Adobe Photoshop editing software just isn't in the budget for some photographers, so look for a free alternative to Photoshop if you have this problem. Many free options are available to those who seek them out.

Download Free Editing Software

A quick search will reveal plenty of alternatives to paying for Photoshop. Perhaps you used up your Photoshop trial period and weren't ready to buy, or maybe you didn't like the program itself. Try giving one of the many free photo editing programs available a try. If you do not like them, simply uninstall the program from your hardrive.


GIMP, which stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program, is one of the most well known free downloads available for photo editing. Some of the program's features include:

  • Painting tools, including gradient and blender
  • Layers and channels
  • Editable text layers
  • Multiple selection tools
  • Extraction tool
  • Supports multiple file formats (including gif, jpeg, tiff and more)

GIMP users can also find plenty of online tutorials that are aimed at beginner, intermediate, and expert levels, along with some designed specifically for script authoring, web and photo editing.


Paint.NET is another free program that you can use to edit photographs. Features of Paint.NET include:

  • Tabbed document interface
  • Layers
  • Online forums for instructions, questions and help
  • Automatic updating
  • Special effects, like blurring and embossing
  • Adjustments, such as contrast, curves and levels
  • Unlimited history, which allows you to undo every change you have made to the photograph


PhotoPlus SE is a free download offered by Serif. Options you will find for enhancing photographs using PhotoPlus SE include:

  • QuickFix Studio, which allows standard image editing, such as cropping and red-eye removal
  • Deform Tool, for getting a different perspective of your images
  • Text plus text enhancements
  • How To guides for help
  • QuickShapes, featuring ready-to-use shapes like speech bubbles, starbursts and more

PhotoPlus SE is the free version; however, PhotoPlus 9 is available for a fee. If you decide to download this free editing software, make sure you select the SE version or else you will be asked for payment.


Picasa is the free photo editing software from Google. It works in conjunction with Picasa Web Albums. Between the two of them, you can:

  • Make collages and slideshows
  • Organize using nametags and geo-tags
  • Edit using one-click fixes for red-eye, lighting and other problem areas
  • Try out one of the 12 effects for photos, like sharpen or filtered black-and-white

Unlike other software downloads, however, Picasa does not actually store your photos within the program. Instead, it finds photos on your computer, displays them and saves the final edited photo, so that your original is still available to you on your computer.

More Free Photo Editing Options

Sometimes, you may not want to download additional software from the Internet onto your computer. If this is the case, you have two other options for a free photo editing alternative to Photoshop.

  1. Use the photo editing software that came with your camera. Since you paid for the camera, you might as well give the editing software that was included a chance before looking for editing alternatives.
  2. Use the tools provided from a printing service. If you plan to print 4x6 photos or make photo gifts, the program you choose to upload your images to usually includes a few editing options. For example, you can upload your images at an in-store kiosk or online with Wal-Mart and edit before you print.

While Photoshop may be one of the most popular editing software programs available, it is not the only choice. Before you spend your hard-earned money on a version of Photoshop, give one of the numerous free alternatives to Photoshop a try.

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Free Photo Editing Tools