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There are dozens of free photo editors out there, so we've hand-picked the very best so you can make your pictures look amazing without paying a penny.
We've spent hours putting a huge range of photo editors to the test, and picked out the best ones for any level of skill and experience. From powerful software packed with features that give Photoshop a run for its money to simple tools that give your pictures a whole new look with a couple of clicks, there's something for everyone.
How to Resize Pictures (for Macs) In this Article: Resizing an Image in Preview Cropping an Image in Preview Community Q&A Resizing an image on your Mac is simple with Preview, a free image utility that comes pre-installed on OS X. Preview helps you crop images easily and adjust their dimensions without having to install additional software.
Many free photo editors only offer a very limited selection of tools unless you pay for a subscription, or place a watermark on exported images, but none of the tools here carry any such restrictions. Whichever one you choose, you can be sure that there are no hidden tricks to catch you out.
The best free photo editor for advanced image editing
GIMP (the GNU Image Manipulation Program) is the best free photo editor around. It's packed with the kind of image-enhancing tools you'd find in premium software, and more are being added every day.
The photo editing toolkit is breathtaking, and features layers, masks, curves, and levels. You can eliminate flaws easily with the excellent clone stamp and healing tools, create custom brushes, apply perspective changes, and apply changes to isolated areas with smart selection tools.
GIMP is an open source free photo editor, and its community of users and developers have created a huge collection of plugins to extend its utility even further. Many of these come pre-installed, and you can download more from the official glossary. If that's not enough, you can even install Photoshop plugins.
2. Ashampoo Photo Optimizer 2019
Fuss-free photo editing with automatic optimization tools
If you've got a lot of photos that you need to edit in a hurry, Ashampoo Photo Optimizer 2019 could be the tool for you. Its interface is clean and uncluttered, and utterly devoid of ads (although you'll need to submit an email address before you can start using it).
Importing pictures is a breeze, and once they've been added to the pool, you can select several at once to rotate or mirror, saving you valuable time. You can also choose individual photos to enhance with the software's one-click optimization tool. In our tests this worked particularly well on landscapes, but wasn't always great for other subjects.
If you want to make manual color and exposure corrections, there are half a dozen sliders to let you do exactly that. It's a shame you can't also apply the same color changes to a whole set of pictures at once, but this is otherwise a brilliant free photo editor for making quick corrections.
For more advanced editing, check out Ashampoo Photo Optimizer 7 – the premium version of the software with enhanced optimization tools.
Professional-level photo editing and templates in your browser
Canva is a photo editor that runs in your web browser, and is ideal for turning your favorite snaps into cards, posters, invitations and social media posts. If you're interested in maintaining a polished online presence, it's the perfect tool for you.
Canva has two tiers, free and paid, but the free level is perfect for home users. Just sign up with your email address and you'll get 1GB free cloud storage for your snaps and designs, 8,000 templates to use and edit, and two folders to keep your work organized.
You won't find advanced tools like clone brushes and smart selectors here, but there's a set of handy sliders for applying tints, vignette effects, sharpening, adjusting brightness, saturation and contrast, and much more. The text editing tools are intuitive, and there's a great selection of backgrounds and other graphics to complete your designs.
One-click enhancements to make your photos shine in seconds
Fotor is a free photo editor that's ideal for giving your pictures a boost quickly. If there's specific area of retouching you need doing with, say, the clone brush or healing tool, you're out of luck. However, if your needs are simple, its stack of high-end filters really shine.
There's a foolproof tilt-shift tool, for example, and a raft of vintage and vibrant colour tweaks, all easily accessed through Fotor's clever menu system. You can manually alter your own curves and levels, too, but without the complexity of high-end tools.
Fotor's standout function, and one that's sorely lacking in many free photo editors, is its batch processing tool – feed it a pile of pics and it'll filter the lot of them in one go, perfect if you have a memory card full of holiday snaps and need to cover up the results of a dodgy camera or shaky hand.
5. Photo Pos Pro
Advanced photo editing tools packaged in a simple interface
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Photo Pos Pro isn't as well known as Paint.net and GIMP, but it's another top-quality free photo editor that's packed with advanced image-enhancing tools.
This free photo editor's interface is smarter and more accessible than GIMP's array of menus and toolbars, with everything arranged in a logical and consistent way. If it's still too intimidating, there's also an optional 'novice' layout that resembles Fotor's filter-based approach. The choice is yours.
The 'expert' layout offers both layers and layer masks for sophisticated editing, as well as tools for adjusting curves and levels manually. You can still access the one-click filters via the main menu, but the focus is much more on fine editing.
Looking a little dated, but still a dependable all-rounder
More is not, believe it or not, always better. Paint.NET's simplicity is one of its main selling points; it's a quick, easy to operate free photo editor that's ideal for trivial tasks that don't necessarily justify the sheer power of tools like GIMP.
Don't let the name fool you, though. This isn't just a cheap copy of Microsoft's ultra-basic Paint – even if it was originally meant to replace it. It's a proper photo editor, just one that lands on the basic side of the curve.
Paint.NET’s interface will remind you of its namesake, but over the years, they’ve added advanced editing tools like layers, an undo history, a ton of filters, myriad community-created plugins, and a brilliant 3D rotate/zoom function that's handy for recomposing images.
Raw image conversion, batch processing and much more
PhotoScape might look like a rather simple free photo editor, but take a look at its main menu and you'll find a wealth of features: raw conversion, photo splitting and merging, animated GIF creation, and even a rather odd (but useful) function with which you can print lined, graph or sheet music paper.
The meat, of course, is in the photo editing. PhotoScape's interface is among the most esoteric of all the apps we've looked at here, with tools grouped into pages in odd configurations. It certainly doesn't attempt to ape Photoshop, and includes fewer features.
We'd definitely point this towards the beginner, but that doesn't mean you can't get some solid results. PhotoScape's filters are pretty advanced, so it's if good choice if you need to quickly level, sharpen or add mild filtering to pictures in a snap.
8. Pixlr X
A comprehensive browser-based photo editor for quick results
Pixlr X is the successor to Pixlr Editor, which was one of our favorite free online photo editors for many years.
Pixlr X makes several improvements on its predecessor. For starters, it's based on HTML5 rather than Flash, which means it can run in any modern browser. It's also slick and well designed, with an interface that's reminiscent of Photoshop Express, and a choice of dark or light color schemes.
With Pixlr X, you can make fine changes to colors and saturation, sharpen and blur images, apply vignette effects and frames, and combine multiple images. There's also support for layers, which you won't find in many free online photo editors, and an array of tools for painting and drawing. A great choice for even advanced tasks.
9. Adobe Photoshop Express Editor
A convenient way to correct lighting and exposure problems
As its name suggests, Adobe Photoshop Express Editor is a trimmed-down, browser-based version of the company's world-leading photo editing software. Perhaps surprisingly, it features a more extensive toolkit than the downloadable Photoshop Express app, but it only supports images in JPG format that are below 16MB.
Again, this is a Flash-based tool, but Adobe provides handy mobile apps for all platforms so you won’t miss out if you’re using a smartphone or tablet.
This free online photo editor has all the panache you’d expect from Adobe, and although it doesn’t boast quite as many tools as some of its rivals, everything that’s there is polished to perfection. Adobe Photoshop Express Editor is a pleasure to use. Its only drawbacks are the limits on uploaded file size and types, and lack of support for layers.
A fun photo editor for preparing your pictures for social media
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Free online photo editor PiZap is available in both HTML5 and Flash editions, making it suitable for any device. You can choose to work with a photo from your hard drive, Facebook, Google Photos, Google Drive, Google Search, or a catalog of stock images. This is an impressive choice, though some of the stock images are only available to premium subscribers, and you'll need to watch out for copyright issues if you use a pic straight from Google Images.
piZap’s editing interface has a dark, modern design that makes heavy use of sliders for quick adjustments – a system that works much better than tricky icons and drop-down menus if you’re using a touchscreen device.
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When you’re done, you can share your creation on all the biggest social media networks, as well as piZap’s own servers, Dropbox and Google Drive. Alternatively, you can save it to your hard drive, send it via email, or grab an embed code. You can only export your work in high quality if you’ve opened your wallet for the premium editor, but for silly social sharing that’s unlikely to be a problem.
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In my everyday work, resizing images is a fairly common task—for example, I frequently need to convert high-resolution product images down to 200-pixel versions for use in Playlist’s online Product Guide. Although there are a good number of graphics applications out there that can perform such a task—including the excellent GraphicConverter ( )—many of those apps are overkill if all you really want to do is resize a folder of images. (Not to mention that some are quite expensive for such a basic task.) So I’ve been looking for a quick-and-easy-and-cheap solution.
My search was further limited by a particular feature need: the ability to specify the maximum size of an image in either dimension, height or width. You see, many graphics apps let you resize images to a maximum height or width. But if your source images are a mix of horizontally- and vertically-oriented pictures, such an approach results in one of those groups being improperly resized. (For example, if you choose to proportionally resize images to 200 pixels wide, your vertical images will end up being taller than 200 pixels.) I needed an app that lets me say, “Resize these images so that the longest side is 200 pixels.”
For a while I was actually using an Automator workflow I’d created for just this purpose. But I recently found several better solutions, all “donationware” (payment requested, but not required for use). Note that these app are all limited to working with JPEG images.
The first is KStudio’s Resize 1.4.2 ( ). Although it hasn’t been updated since January of 2005, it worked flawlessly in my testing. Drag a folder of images onto Resize’s icon in the Dock or Finder (or into its window if the application is already running), and a dialog pops up with options for resizing the images in that folder. You choose the size and proportionality of the resize action—in my case, I set the Size value to “200” with the option for “Biggest,” meaning the longest side, chosen. (One other unique feature here is that you can choose the desired height and width—many apps let you choose only one or the other.) You can also choose the quality of the resulting JPEG images; to increase the size of smaller images to fit your preferred image size; and to reformat image names to remove spaces and special characters (or even to use “8.3” DOS file names). Resize creates a new folder, at the same level as the source folder, containing the altered images, which are in JPEG format regardless of the input format.
One glitch I found with Resize is that whenever I accessed its Help system, I was presented with the following message: “This application uses unregistered plugins from Monkeybread Software. Please visit out website at www.monkeybreadsoftware.de/realbasic and register the plugins. Thank you.” Which leads me to believe that KStudio used Monkeybread’s RealBasic plugin for Resize’s Help dialog, not for the application itself. Odd.
A similar solution, more powerful but not quite as simple to use, is Fabien Conus’s SmallImage 2.0.6 ( ). Like Resize, you drag a folder—or multiple folders—of images onto SmallImage’s icon or into its window; you’ll then see a listing of the folder(s) and enclosed images. (One advantage of the list approach is that you can selectively remove images from the list to avoid altering them.) You choose the type of scaling (resizing): Relative (percentage) or Fixed, with the latter providing options for width, height, smallest side, largest side, maximum width, or maximum height. You can also add a suffix to the names of resized files, remove or add thumbnail icons, and re-compress the resulting images. A unique option is the ability to strip any or all ICC, EXIF, IPTC, Finder, or other profile information from images—for privacy or to reduce the size of images. (This “information scrubbing” can be performed without actually altering the image.) SmallImage saves the modified images in the same directory as the originals; you can even replace the originals if desired.
SmallImage 2 also has a few other features that go beyond resizing. By clicking the Info button in the toolbar, you can view detailed information about each file: quality, file info, dimensions, metadata, camera info, and EXIF info. You can also view a small preview of an image (although you have to manually click the preview button for each image). Finally, you can save presets of image settings for future use.
Finally, fans of contextual menus will enjoy Pixture Studio’s PhotoToolCM 2.0 ( ). You don’t need to launch a separate application to access PhotoToolCM’s features; simply right/Control-click on an image or a group of images in the Finder to bring up the Finder’s contextual menu. The Photo Tool submenu provides a number of useful options, one of which is Batch Resize.
Choosing this option brings up the Batch Resize dialog, where you can choose how to resize images (Long Side satisfies the task described above); the resulting image quality; the output location and file name; and whether or not to create thumbnail icons. An especially useful feature is the sharpness filter, which can improve clarity and readability on downsized JPEG images. Depending on PhotoToolCM’s preferences, you can save the modified images in the same directory as the originals or a different location.
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In addition, a number of other options are available directly from the Photo Tool submenu: You can rotate, flip, or transform (rotate and flip) selected images without any loss in quality; edit Finder comments or EXIF date information; “clean” images (remove thumbnails and photo information to reduce size) losslessly; and rename files using EXIF date information. You can also add one of 56 “frames” (actually masks) to each image. PhotoToolCM’s preferences dialog provides a number of additional features and customizations.
PhotoToolCM is the most feature-rich of the three products I’ve covered here. Unfortunately, it’s currently incompatible with Intel Macs.
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(I also tried another utility that looked promising, photo Drop, which lets you create individual drag-and-drop “droplet” applications that each perform specific image manipulations. Unfortunately, whenever I tried to use one of these droplet applications, a dialog popped up with two options: More Information or Quit. Clicking the first took me to the developer’s Web site and quit the droplet; clicking the Quit button did what it claimed. In other words, I couldn’t use these droplets at all. Which is too bad, as photo Drop looked like a neat app.)
So what’s the quality of resized images produced by these utilities? Suprisingly, it varies quite a bit. Below are samples of the same screenshot—SmallImage 2’s main window—resized by each app from its original size of 738 pixels wide down to a smaller image, 470 pixels in width:
The resulting files were between 56k and 68k in size. As you can see, when I resized the image in SmallImage 2, the resulting image was very grainy, even when I chose the highest quality output. Resize and PhotoToolCM produced much better results, with PhotoToolCM’s sharpness filter offering slightly better text readability (although with a bit of graininess itself).
The biggest drawback of SmallImage and PhotoToolCM, at least in my work, is that they can’t convert to JPEG from other image formats (or convert between any formats, for that matter); Resize will convert from any QuickTime-supported image format to JPEG. But if you need to quickly resize batches of JPEGs, any of these utilities will fit the bill...and then some. Resize is the easiest to use, but SmallImage and PhotoToolCM offer more options. PhotoToolCM provides the best image output, SmallImage the poorest. My personal favorite is PhotoToolCM; too bad I can’t use it on my Intel Macs.
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Resize! is available for Mac OS 8—yes, 8—and later. SmallImage 2 works with Mac OS X 10.3.9 and later and is a Universal binary. PhotoToolCM works with Mac OS X 10.2 (Jaguar) and later; it does not currently work on Intel Macs.
Update 7/12/2007: Corrected information about Resize's conversion functionality.