9 Best Free Photo Editing Software Tools for 2018

Patrick Szakiel
Patrick Szakiel  |  July 30, 2018

Are you looking to dive into the world of photo editing but hesitant to sink hundreds or thousands of dollars into an expensive tool that may be unwieldy in your unpracticed hands? 

Luckily for you, there is a wealth of free photo editing software options. Some are completely free, while others offer a free trial — but you can use a solution in either category as an introduction to these types of tools.

Images are everywhere. Our eyes are inundated with digital photos from the time we wake up until we drift asleep — phone in hand and Instagram feed up. Businesses use photos as a marketing tool, while individuals use them to capture special moments in their lives. Images are an integral part of business today, particularly in the marketing world, and image editing goes along with that.

Photo editing is vital to marketing content creation, so let’s take a look at which tools you can use to cut your teeth and figure out whether upgrading to a paid option is worth it.

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Using reviews from real users, our list of free photo editors is ordered by highest user satisfaction as of June 22, 2018.


The best free photo editor software

The list we’ve outlined here includes any photo editing solution with an available free offering. It should be noted that six of the nine offerings offer versions of the product entirely for free, while the remainder offer at least a limited trial version for new users. The free and paid options for each product are listed above. Scaling, however, will often require full investments for products.

These products alone have well over 5,778 validated user reviews on G2 Crowd as of June 22, 2018, and only represent a small portion of the 41-plus photo editing software offerings listed on our platform. Whenever possible, the products are ranked by user satisfaction score.

1. Adobe Photoshop

adobe photoshop free photo editor

Image courtesy of Adobe

Adobe Photoshop, perhaps the most well-known photo editing tool, enables users to create and edit photos, illustrations and artwork. You can use the tool to design websites and mobile apps, as well as simulate painting styles.

Features

  • Stroke smoothing
  • 360-degree panorama workflow
  • Various pen tools
  • Paint symmetry
  • Variety of enhanced tooltips
  • Group layer arranging
  • Custom path color and width

Free option

  • Free trial for 30 days
  • All features are accessible during the trial period

Paid options (for a single application)

  • $20.99/month for an individual
  • For businesses: $33.99/month per license

2. Pixlr Editor

pixlr free photo editor

Image courtesy of Pixlr

Pixlr is a robust HTML5 photo editing tool with which users can edit vector graphics. The software supports multiple file formats and contains a ton of editing tools, including overlays, prebuilt filters and a wide range of effects. You can find a more in-depth overview of Pixlr photo editor here.

Features

  • One-click manipulation for a variety of tasks
  • Instant effects tool
  • Saturation and hue alteration
  • Vector editor
  • Detailed layering functionality

Free option

  • Free to download and use without any restrictions
  • Free trial of Pixlr Pro available

Paid option

  • Pixlr Pro ($5/month): Supports PSD, XCF and Sketch formats

3. Affinity

 affinity free photo editor

Image courtesy of Affinity

Affinity is a powerful image editing suite for Mac designed for professionals. The software contains a robust feature set designed to give the user as much control as possible over the end product.

Features

  • Complex channel controls
  • Detailed coloration
  • Vector drawing
  • Layer effects (shadows, glows, outline, etc.)

Free option

  • Free trial for 10 days

Paid option

  • One-time fee of $49.99

4. Pablo Editor

pablo free photo editor

Image courtesy of Buffer

Pablo is a fairly basic free image editing tool that businesses and individuals use to alter images for use in commercial and personal projects. The software’s focus is on image editing for social media use and touts the speed with which users can edit and publish images as its defining characteristic. Pablo also contains a massive image library from which users can select and utilize images free of charge.

Features

  • Choose from a free content library of 600,000-plus images
  • Light alteration tools
  • Insert text and graphics
  • Repositioning and resizing tools

Free option

  • The tool is completely free to use

5. Ribbet

 ribbet free photo editor

Image courtesy of Ribbet

Ribbet is a free photo editor and collage maker that provides a full set of features for users. The software places a heavy focus on collage creation, enabling users to create many different types of collages.

Features

  • Layering and watermarking
  • Lighting alteration
  • Huge selection of effects
  • Auto-fixing tools

Free option

  • Free to download and use

Paid option (Ribbet Premium)

  • Monthly ($4.95)
  • Twice per year ($19.95)
  • Annually ($29.95)

6. Photos

photos free photo editor 

Image courtesy of Apple

Photos is a multifaceted tool featuring cloud storage, image hosting and photo editing. This completely free application contains basic but powerful photo editing tools to help you polish the cache of images you are hosting on the software.

Features

  • Complex in-image search
  • Mobile photo editing
  • Light and color alteration

Free option

  • Completely free to download and use

7. GIMP

gimp free photo editor 

Image courtesy of GIMP

GIMP is an open-source image manipulation [tool] with which users can edit photos, create original artwork and retouch images. It is a multifaceted tool with a variety of features for professionals and hobbyists alike.

Features

  • Advanced digital photo retouching
  • Perspective distortion fixing tools
  • Customizable interface
  • Support for multiple file formats

Free option

  • GIMP is a completely free, open-source software

8. CorelDRAW

coreldraw free photo editor

Image courtesy of Corel

CorelDRAW is a professional photo editing and website design software. The software is optimized for professionals looking to create and edit graphics, illustrations, photos, art and more.

Features

  • Block shadow tool
  • Align and distribute nodes
  • Symmetry drawing mode
  • Corner control in dashed lines and outlines
  • Impact tool

Free option

  • 15-day free trial

Paid option

  • Perpetual license (one-time fee of $499)
  • Annual subscription ($198/year)

9. Capture One Pro

capture one pro free photo editor

Image courtesy of Phase One

Capture One Pro is commercial-grade photo editing software. Typically used by professional photographers, the photo editing software gives users full control over the editing process with a full complement of tools.

Features

  • Handwritten annotations directly on the image
  • Layered workflow
  • Feather and refine masks
  • Export crop to path
  • Color improvements

Free option

  • 30-day free trial with all features unlocked

Paid option 

  • $299 one-time fee

Next steps for selecting the best free photo editor

G2 Crowd has thousands of reviews in the photo editing software category to help you do your due diligence during your research process. Photo editing software often integrates with photo management software. The combination of the two provides users with an inclusive solution through which they can manage their photo repositories, edit images, and share them via the outlet of their choice. Take a look at the photo editing software on G2 Crowd to sort through the dozens of options and choose the one that is right for you.

Are you ready to take your photos to the next level? Learn how to incorporate elements and principles of graphic design into your photography.

* Please note: Reviews may have been edited for spelling and grammar.

Patrick Szakiel
Author

Patrick Szakiel

Patrick Szakiel is a Research Specialist at G2 Crowd. He focuses on the vertical software space, with particular emphasis on the legal and education industries, and recently helped launch G2’s Greentech space. You can find Patrick on LinkedIn.