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Best Free Photo Editing Software for Amateur Photographers

best Free Photo Editing Software

Best Free Photo Editing Software

Depending on the way you edit your images, you may choose among the variety of photo editing programs. To help you choose the best photo editing software. I tested 6 programs that are partially or completely free. They have thousands of downloads but do they really edit photos like Lightroom or Photoshop?

Why Do You Need It?

Photo editing software is a program that is equipped with diverse photo editing and retouching tools and has an appropriate interface. Nowadays, the number of people engaged in image editing is rapidly developing, so these programs are popular not only among pro shooters and digital artists but among ordinary users as well. People enjoy taking pictures with mirrorless/DSLR cameras and even smartphones, thus they need an effective tool to enhance their quality. Getting paid or free image editing software, you can effectively and quickly organize your shots, adjust different parameters, share them on the web and prepare for printing.

6 Best Free Photo Editors 

1. Polarr

Alternatives: Photoshop CC, Lightroom Classic CC

Price: FREE or $19.99/mouth


  • Professional tools for image editing
  • User-friendly & touch-friendly interface
  • Raw camera import
  • Great features for designing logos, banners, postcards
  • Gradient Masks


  • No bokeh or tilt-shift
  • Weak photo sharing features

Polarr is often called the best photo editor thanks to a great collection of original filters and image editing tools. It offers lots of features that make image editing process fast and enjoyable. For example, you can monitor the photo editing history, professionally improve coloring, adjust the light, improve small details, specify authorship by adding watermarks and do many other operations. Besides, you get a chance to compare before & after images to see the changes made.

Being initially designed as an online image editor, Polarr enabled users to download and enhance RAW files absolutely free. If you wish to get more functions, namely, layers, batch editing, masks, resizing, vectors, text, renaming, you’ll need to spend $19.99 on the paid (Pro) version. Still, some people manage to use this photo editing software for PC free of charge. Since Polarr offers a 30-day trial version with all the functions available, you may download it and check how everything works. It is very convenient if you are just looking for a suitable program.

This software somehow resembles Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. You’ll find advanced color correction tools, diverse effects and filters for batch photo editing. The biggest Polarr advantage is its simple interface, so even beginners will quickly figure out how everything works. All in all, this software has interesting functions for both newbies and professionals.

2. Pixlr X

Alternatives: Photoshop CC, Gimp

Price: FREE or $22/mouth


  • Free photo editing software
  • Many tools for photo retouching
  • Understandable interface
  • Great tools to work with layers and masks


  • Limited features in a free version

Pixlr is primarily known for its big collection of basic picture retouching tools. The functions are logically subdivided for easy work. The developers called this program a simple image editor with a standard interface for PC. However, nowadays Pixlr is a universal professional photo editor online that is similar to Photoshop. Using its tools, you can improve images, work on design projects, draw and create different banners. If you don’t want to spend $22 monthly, you can opt for a free version which comes with slightly limited features.


Alternatives: Photoshop, Pixlr X

Price: FREE


  • Free
  • Open source photo editor
  • User-friendly interface
  • Deep image retouching tools


  • 16-bit channel support isn’t available
  • Poor optimization

Gimp photo editing software can boast of understandable interface with professional image retouching tools. Though it is an open source app, it has many features similar to Photoshop.

From the release date, you could use this software to work with graphics, create logos, crop and enhance images, draw and cope with basic photo retouching tasks. Thanks to its open source structure, Gimp enables every user to manually improve the functionality. Nowadays, Gimp is positioned as the best free editing software like Photoshop with such tools like layers, masks, filters, effects, etc. You can use the available features or download additional ones to fully satisfy your photo retouching needs.

4. digiKam

Alternatives: Lightroom, Photoshop, RawTherapee

Price: FREE


  • Powerful photo manager, organizer
  • Tools for basic photo editing
  • Compatible with all platforms
  • Open source


  • Isn’t suitable for professional photo retouching

DigiKam is the best free photo organizing software, manager and image editor created for Linux, but also available for Windows and Mac. One of its strong points is a powerful image organizing mechanism that ensures accurate picture arrangement. You can import images in various ways, organize them into albums, browse and search in your collection by location, time, tags and people. You can adjust various effects, filters, work with brushes, etc. As for shortcomings, I will note that DigiKam can’t fully replace Photoshop, as most image editing tools are poorly-developed and have very few additional settings. Moreover, the picture editor is not optimized for weak PCs, therefore, in some cases, it may lag. 

5. PhotoScape X

Alternatives: Polarr, Lightroom Classic CC

Price: FREE or $45/mouth


  • Diverse photo retouching options
  • Great color correction tools
  • RAW format support
  • Works even with weak PCs


  • Too expensive compared to analogs

PhotoScape X is a professional photo editor online, which can please specialists and average users with many cool features. You can view, organize, edit, and resize your photos, create collages and GIFs, adjust colors, add interesting effects, etc. Besides, it is possible to perform batch photo editing, group several images and simultaneously rename them. When you are satisfied with the result, you can proceed to photo printing in any format you wish: for passport, calendars, templates, schedules, etc. Making a screen capture, you can later transform it into an image file as well as convert JPEG files in RAW and vice versa. Of course, you can easily share your photos on the web. This free photo editing software for Mac is also available for Windows and Linux.

6. Raw Therapee

Alternatives: Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom

Price: FREE


  • Convenient cataloguer
  • Powerful color correction and image retouching tools
  • Open source


  • It isn’t convenient to work with masks and layers

RawTherapee is a free photo editor designed for easy cataloging and working with RAW files. Initially, the program was designed for basic photo retouching – the improvement of minor flaws in photos. There are also many tools for color correction, noise reduction, rotation, exposure control, changing shadows and light, adjusting tone settings, vignetting, processing EXIF data, cropping, white balance settings, and more. RawTherapee is something in between Photoshop and Lightroom. The most important shortcoming is that some tools work with delay and you may face some inconveniences applying masks and layers.

As an additional resource, check out 26 Best Photo Organizer Software and Apps of 2021



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