The following is a list of (mostly) free image editing tools, software and apps available online. It is by no means exhaustive! I will add to it as I come across new things (or at least things that are new to me)… and I’ll try to delete anything that gets out of date.
Downloadable Image / Photo Editors
GIMP is a fantastic, free, open-source graphics editor. It can be used for photo editing, free-form drawing and much, Much, MUCH, more. It supports many different file formats. GIMP contains many painting tools (for example, Brush, Pencil, Airbrush, Clone), it supports layers and channels, Undo/Redo (which is only limited by the disk space available), has editable text layers, contains many transformation tools (including rotate, scale, shear and flip) and selection tools (for example, rectangle, rounded rectangle, ellipse). In other words, GIMP is a good alternative to Photoshop!
Paint.NET is brilliant photo/image editing software for Windows. It is user-friendly and has an intuitive interface. It supports layers, unlimited undo, special effects (e.g. blurring, sharpening, red-eye removal, distortion and noise), and a wide variety of tools for drawing shapes. You can download it for free, or you can help fund ongoing development by paying it through the Microsoft Store (currently £6.69).
PhotoScape is a user-friendly photo editor for Windows that also allows you to fix and enhance photos and images.
Pictomio allows you to easily archive and organise your photo collection.
Photo Pos Pro
Another good free image and photo editor. However, files can only be saved at a maximum resolution of 1,024 x 2,014 pixels. (This might be too small if you want them printed professionally.) However, it does have a choice of interfaces – one for beginners (which is simpler) and one for experts.
An open-source photo editor and manager. Features include RAW processing, non-destructive editing (so you can make changes to an image without overwriting your original), professional colour management, the ability to automate repetitive tasks, to name but a few. It is also cross platform – Darktable runs on Linux, Mac OS X and Windows.
An open-source, free, portable (you can run it from a USB stick, for example) program for Windows. PhotoDemon supports layers, infinite undo, and many filters and effects. It also supports many different file formats, including .psd (photoshop) files and .ico (Windows) files.
Icecream Photo Editor
No ads, no subscription and no limited features. Supports JPG, JPEG, PNG, GIF, TIFF and BMP. Really intuitive interface. Easily add text and images, crop and resize, add filters and create collages.
Browser-based / Online Image Editors
Photopea is an advanced image editor. It includes all of the standard image editing tools, lots of templates and supports many different file formats. Photopea’s goal is to create the most advanced and affordable image editor. There is a paid version, which allows you to undo up to 60 edits, but even the free version allows you to undo 30 changes.
Polarr is an online photo editor that allows you to upload and edit .jpeg, .tiff and .png formats. It also supports .raw files. Available for iOS, Android, Mac and Windows and includes many professional photo editing tools. Premium features, such as masks, some filters, flares etc are only available with the paid version. No sign-up necessary.
Adobe Photoshop Express Editor
This brilliant browser-based image editor is actually a cut-down version of Adobe Photoshop. It is very user-friendly to use. It contains many easy options for quick fixes or adding effects to photos. However the only downside is it only supports .jpg files smaller than 16MP (and no wider than 8,191 pixels). The background remover is really easy to use (one click) and works really well.
Another good online photo editor. It includes effects, filters, overlays and so on. You can use Pixlr X to easily create Facebook covers, profiles, Instagram stories etc.
Fotor is probably best-known for simple one-click filters and enhancements to photos. However, it does support many different image file formats and can be used to create a photo collage quickly and easily. In addition, Fotor can also be used to create social media covers and posts (For example Facebook cover, Twitter cover) with its templates.
LunaPic is well known for it huge range of filters and effects. It also includes basic photo editing tools, such as cropping, rotating and amending contrast etc. You can save your image or share it to your social.
A very user-friendly online photo editor. A login is required. There is a free version and a paid-for version (with more features). Pizap allows you to add text, borders and stickers, apply filters and effects and has many editing tools. You can easily edit photos, create collages, design Facebook covers, Twitter headers and You Tube channel art.
Hotpot AI Picture Restorer
Hotpot uses AI to automatically restore, sharpen, and repair pictures. It can remove scratches, sharpen colours, and enhance faces, transforming either black & white or colour photos. There is also a colouriser (to colour b&w images) and a background remover among other tools.
There’s no way to enlarge an image whilst also maintaining the original quality. If you resize an image in any photo editor, making it larger will reduce its quality. However, using PhotoEnlarger will minimise the extent to which the image is degraded. Simply upload your image, then use the slider to specify the new size. PhotoEnlarger will give you 4 versions of your image, each resized using a different algorithm. You can use the zoom slider to help decide which one is best.
Vector Graphics Editors
Info: Whereas raster images are made up of tiny squares (pixels), a vector graphic is made up of points, lines, and curves that are based on mathematical equations. When you zoom in on a raster image, the pixels become more visible and the details of the image may become blurred. Vector images remain smooth and crisp, even when they are scaled up or down. Vector file formats include –
- .ai (Adobe Illustrator document)
- .eps (Encapsulated PostScript)
- .svg (Scalable Vector Graphic)
Inkscape is fantastic, open-source vector graphics software which runs on Linux, Mac OS X and Windows. It can be used to create or edit vector graphics such as illustrations, diagrams, line arts, charts, logos and complex paintings. Inkscape is more than capable of producing professional quality images (as long as the user is too!). It has flexible drawing tools, wide file format compatibility, a powerful text tool and includes bezier and spiro curves.
Lunacy is a free, powerful vector design tool for Windows. The interface is really intuitive, and it’s not as complex to use as Inkscape. It is free (not freemium!) for both personal and commercial use, there are no ads or spam and no personal data collection. Brilliant!
Vectr is a free graphics software, which can be used to create vector graphics easily and intuitively. It is simple but powerful cross-platform tool that is available both online and on desktop. Vectr even supports real-time collaboration.
Libre Office Draw
LibreOffice Draw is a cross-platform, open-source, powerful graphics editor that allows you to create and edit raster images. You can use Draw to create technical drawings, brochures, posters and much more.
SVG-edit is an open-source graphics editor. It can be used to create or edit scalable vector graphics images from within a web browser (for example, Edge, Firefox, Opera, Safari and Chrome).
Canva is a web-based graphic design tool. Very user-friendly to use, with drag and drop design features, and a library of more than a million stock photos for you to use. With Canva you can easily create logos, posters, invitations, postcards, social media posts, business cards and much more. Canva integrates well with other platforms such as Mailchimp, Facebook, Eventbrite and so on. Canva can be accessed online in a browser, on a mobile, or downloaded for desktop. There is a free version and a paid-for pro version (with a few more added features).
Stencil is also a easy-to-use online graphic design tool and image editor built for business owners, social media marketers, and bloggers. Free for personal use and there are monthly plans for professional use.
Scribus is a powerful, open-source desktop publishing programme (like Microsoft Publisher.) With Scribus you can design your layout, typesetting and prepare your document for professional-quality printing. The aim of Scribus is to make DTP accessible to beginners without limiting the more professional functions. Available for Windows, MacOS, Linux etc.
IrfanView is a light and fast (just 5 MB) image viewer which is free for non-commercial use. Has many features, including a paint option – to draw lines, circles, arrows, straighten image etc, lossless JPG rotation, crop and EXIF date change (also in batch mode), slideshow options, multiple undo steps, email & print options cut/cropping, add overlay text/image (watermark), effects (including sharpen, blur etc.) and screen capturing.
If you want to quickly convert a black and white image to a colour one, one of the following may help…
Quickly drag & drop an image (less than 5MB and 3000 by 3000) onto the website then use the tools to colourise it. Supports .jpg .jpeg and .png files.
Click (or tap) the Upload photo button to colorize an image.
Note: please read the disclaimer before downloading or using any software.