These free photo editors are the best of the best and will get you just as good results as the expensive Adobe Photoshop.
Among these options are tons of features and tools that you let you change or enhance your photos in just about any way you can imagine. You can also customize the interface of many of them to build the perfect working environment for you.
This list includes apps that you have probably heard of as well as some hidden gems that for sure are worth checking out.
Similar to Photoshop in interface and capabilities.
Add-ons, including those created for Photoshop, add great functionality.
Generate files in all common image formats.
Interface not as sleek or pleasing as Photoshop.
Can be a bit buggy.
Lacks layer grouping, adjustment layers, and some other common Photoshop elements.
GIMP is likely the most popular free photo editor program. It's full of professional features and provides a very friendly and flexible interface.
Its toolbox, layers, and brushes panes are separated from the main canvas so that you can truly adjust how you want to work without losing any of the features you need access to.
Various input devices are supported, add-ons can be installed to extend GIMP's functionality, and file formats like TIFF, PSD, PNG, JPEG, and GIF are supported.
There are tutorials on the GIMP website if you require help along the way. You can learn about layer masks, asset folders, brushes, and more.
Supported operating systems include Windows 11, 10, 8, and 7, as well as Linux and Mac.
Lots of plug-ins available.
Clean, easy-to-use interface.
Good choice for intermediate users.
It's for Windows only.
Lacks some advanced and commonly used features, such as burn and dodge.
Similar to GIMP, Paint.NET provides the ability to move its window panes around to customize the interface to your liking. It also provides plug-ins to support new file formats and add new effects.
Included are layers, effects, and a whole host of basic and advanced things like a clone stamp, pencil, text maker, and paintbrush tool.
Several image file formats like BMP, JPEG, TGA, and DDS are supported.
Starting with v4.4, only 64-bit versions of Windows 11 and Windows 10 are supported. There's a portable edition of Paint.NET over at GitHub.
Large, active community; lots of help and tutorials available.
Excels at detailed drawing and line-specific editing.
No PMS or CMYK color support.
Sizeable learning curve.
Rendering can take a while.
Inkscape is a vector graphics editor, more akin to Illustrator as opposed to a photo manipulation package, but still has a lot of useful features.
The interface can be a bit cluttered, but that's only evidence of the vast number of tools it includes. Nearly all the tools you'll often be using are planted along both sides of Inkscape for easy access.
Circles, arcs, 3D boxes, ellipses, stars, spirals, and polygons can be created. You can also draw straight or freehand lines.
Tons of file types are supported, both when opening and saving. Among many other useful features, you can work with layers, apply a huge number of filters to a picture, and use spell check along with the text tool.
Like most photo editing programs, Inkscape supports extensions.
It works with Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems. The latest version requires at least Windows 7. Windows users can also download a portable version that's perfect for editing straight from a flash drive.
Familiar interface for Photoshop users.
Control intensity of tool effects.
Limited format support.
Adobe has the free Photoshop Express program that you can use as a Photoshop alternative if you don't want to pay for their full software. Of course, it is missing some of Photoshop's features, so it's not as functional, but it still does a lot.
When you first open this image editor, you can load a picture from your computer or take a new one directly from your webcam. Once a photo is imported, the menus make it really easy to access all the one-click options like filters, crop tools, image corrections, the red eye remover tool, and more.
This photo editor also has borders, a spot healing brush for one-click touch-ups, effects like grain and fade, and a noise reducer. There's also a button you can click to quickly see the original photo for comparison with your edits.
Something really great about this image editor that you won't find in some similar programs is that with nearly every tool, you have full control over the intensity. This means you can slide a bar left or right to decrease or increase a tool's effect to get it just right.
Windows 11, Windows 10, Windows 8, Android, iPhone, and iPad users should have no problem using Photoshop Express.
Quick access to full-screen mode.
Particularly well-suited for comics and manga.
Lots of well-designed tools and brushes.
Tool settings not easily accessible.
Lacks some features of other programs.
Krita is really easy to work with and is certainly an advanced image editor. Like some of these other programs, you can work with layers in addition to many other tools located in a floating toolbox off to the side of the program.
There are plenty of other features available as well, such as brushes and blending modes, advanced selection, and masking tools, drawing aids, filters, symmetry tools, and effects.
One thing worth mentioning is that, with the press of the Tab key, you can maximize the canvas to fit your entire screen, getting rid of all the menus and tools so that you can have a huge space for working without any distractions.
Krita works with Windows 11, 10, and 8; there's a portable version, too. You can also get it for Linux and macOS 12 through 10.12.
Broad format compatibility.
Desktop app is for Windows only.
This free photo editor from InPixio is designed for simplicity, but that doesn't mean it's void of helpful features. The program itself is easy to understand and navigate, and you can do everything from add frames and designs to crop, change the brightness, and more.
With the one-click presets and frames and easy-to-access editing tools, you can finish editing in no time and even share your picture directly on Twitter or Flickr from the Share menu.
Lots of image file types can be opened in this program, and if saving to your computer, you can pick from JPG, PNG, and TIFF.
Some features are only available in the premium version; those are marked off in the program with a large "Premium" banner.
InPixio Photo Editor runs on Windows computers, iPhone, and iPad. If you need help using this photo editor, you can refer to their online tutorials.
Compatibile with common file formats.
Open files directly from clipboard, camera, and scanner.
Rich enough in features to satisfy advanced artists.
Interface is outdated.
Pixia has an outdated and unappealing interface, but the functions and tools aren't at all undesirable for a free photo editor.
Layers and layer masks are supported, as well as creating shapes, selecting objects, and common photo editing tasks like changing the color adjustment and tone balance, color filling, and selecting from different paint brushes.
All the standard image file formats can be opened with Pixia, and photos can even be imported directly from the clipboard, a camera, or a scanner.
The latest 64-bit version was built for Windows 11, 10, and 8. There's a 32-bit version that works on Windows 7.
Full-featured and easy to use.
Good variety of brushes and effects.
Detailed brush control and higher performance aren't free.
No Mac or Linux version.
Artweaver manages to include tons of useful image editing tools in an easy-to-use program. It has a tabbed interface to avoid clutter, supports using pen tablets, and works with some of the most popular image file formats, such as JPEG and PSD.
Standard editing tools like a crop, text, paint bucket, and gradient tool, among others, are included, but Artweaver also lets you save and replay events, use brushes, create and work with layers, customize the layout of the palettes, and import images directly from a scanner or camera, among other things.
The screen mode can be changed from regular to fullscreen to have even more room to edit images.
The website lists the minimum OS requirements as Windows 10, 8, or 7.
Easy to use.
Compatible with both Windows and macOS.
Lacks functionality typical of other programs.
Can be slow.
Only PhotoScape X still gets updated.
PhotoScape has several sections at the top of the program where you can open different tools to perform different actions. Viewer, Editor, Combine, and Create GIF are a few.
The editing feature has dozens of frames to choose from, each with the option to round the corners and adjust the margin and frame line settings of the frame.
You can also add objects and text and crop an image freely or use one of numerous presets (e.g., 16:9, Legal Ratio, and US business card ratio).
Some more tools include a red-eye remover, clone stamp tool, spot remover, paintbrush, and, among others, an effect brush (like grayscale, blur, darken, and brighten).
PhotoScape is available for Windows 8, 7, Vista, and XP, while PhotoScape X is for Windows 11/10 and macOS.
Another program attempts to install during setup, but you can easily skip this by deselecting it.
Very powerful, despite being free.
Works with images and videos.
For Windows only.
CinePaint's interface is very mundane, colorless, and boring, but that doesn't mean the tools aren't useful because they are.
Layers are supported so you can overlay images on each other, change their blend mode, and edit their opacity. You also get a selection tool with CinePaint, among many other common tools.
The first thing you'll notice when you use this editor is that when you're opening a photo to work with, you're unable to preview it to know that you're selecting the correct one, which is too bad.