I am a big fan of PhotoShop, but it can be pricey and a bit cumbersome to learn if you do not have a lot of time to dedicate to it.  For amateur photographers, without all the time and money, there is good news.  There are a lot of photo editing software alternatives out that that are priced just right to fit anyone’s budget.  They are free!

I am listing six of the more popular ones here although there are plenty more out there.  Keep in mind that none of these are going to be quite as robust and feature rich as PhotoShop, but in most cases they will get the job done perfectly well.  These free photo editors are in no particular order.


Photoscape Photo Editor ScreenshotPhotoscape is touted as being fun and easy to use.  It is great for the point-and-shoot photographer as well as the amateur looking for some more professional features in a photo editor without the cost of commercially available programs.   In addition the ease of use is supported by a good array of how-to videos on the Photoscape site.

Some of the features of note are:

  • View, edit, batch edit and combine photos
  • Built in templates to create collages, comics and other creative works
  • Supports RAW image file formats
  • Re-size, crop, and filter images
  • Red eye removal feature
  • Brightness, color and white-balance adjustments as well as noise reduction


GIMP Free Photo Editing Software ScreenshotGIMP, which stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program, has been called “One of the most powerful general-purpose image editors around…” by cnet.com.  GIMP is often recognized for its comparability to PhotoShop in features as well as being compatible with all the major operating systems, Windows, Mac and Unix.

A few of the features GIMP offers are:

  • All the paint tools you would expect – brush, pencil, airbrush, clone
  • Layers and channels
  • Transformation tools such as rotate, flip, and scale
  • Filters and effect
  • Editable text layers
  • Some very rich animation tools
  • A whole lot more…


Paint.net Free Photo Editing Software ScreenshotFor all the basics you may need without some of the complexities and overkill of more advanced photo editing software programs Paint.net is ideal.  For what it lacks in “professional” elements (no RAW file support for example) it more than makes up for with an array of photo editing attributes to keep even the advanced hobby photographer happy.  To top it off Paint.net is an easy to learn, intuitive program.

Here are a few of the things you can expect to find in Paint.net:

  • Layer support
  • Action manager
  • Editing tools such as crop, resize and rotate
  • Color enhancement and correction tools
  • Red eye correction – although this has been reported to not be its best feature
  • Magic Wand, Clone Stamp and text Editor tools


Pixia Free Photo Editing Software ScreenshotPixia’s website definitely lacks the flash and “professional” appearance of many other photo editing software sites, even the free ones.  But don’t let that fool you.  What started as a Japanese language program has produced a very popular English language version.  It is limited to the Windows operating system however and is not ideal for the less tech savvy user due to its steep learning curve.  Yet it does a good job of packing some useful tools into a free photo editing application and is worth the extra trouble if you can spend the time to conquer its complexity.

Pixia has the basics you would expect and then some:

  • Supports masks and layers
  • A wide array of filters including black & white and sepia effects
  • Drawing and paint tools
  • The photo editing basics including crop, rotate and color adjustment


Paint Star Free Photo Editing Software ScreenshotPaintStar is a versatile and feature rich photo editing software program.  The interface is relatively intuitive allowing those unfamiliar with image editing programs to master PaintStar without too much trouble.  Like many of the free programs discussed here if you need RAW file support or are working on a Mac PaintStar is not going to be the program for you.  Otherwise it is well worth giving it a try.

Here is a brief list of what you will find in PaintStar:

  • Numerous painting tools including all the basics as well as customizable brushes
  • Image morphing
  • Support for more than 30 files types – JPEG, GIF, TIFF and then some
  • Over 100 filters and effects
  • All the transformation tools you’ll need including rotate and scale


Photofiltre Free Photo Editing Software ScreenshotPhotofiltre has ease of use and intuitiveness  on its side.  It has menus and icons you will easily recognize making the learning curve on this one less steep than some of it s competitors.  Some have gone so far as to say its features rival some commercial photo editing software packages on the market.  In addition it has optional plug-ins that can be downloaded and added; something most free image editors do not offer.

Photofiltre offer these and many more features:

  • A wide range of filters
  • Magic wand and clone stamp
  • Image effects, photo masks and image adjustments
  • The paint brush and drawing tools you would expect
  • Batch processing capabilities

The bottom line is that there are a lot of options out there for photo editing and you do not need to spend a fortune to take advantage of their features.  Many people have put a lot of time and effort into some excellent free alternatives to the commercial programs.  Although none may be as rich as PhotoShop most will do just about everything the amateur photographer needs.

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