Best Free Photo Editing Software

This article will attempt to solicit a few of the best photo editing programs available for personal computer users. While Photoshop is the industry standard for photographic editing and retouching, its three-figure price is enough to drive away thrifty users. Even Photoshop Elements, its less expensive sister suite, will set you back a good 80 to 100 dollars. IT may be a good idea to first download and test drive some of these programs to see if they will meet your needs before making the commitment to Photoshop or another payware program.

Paint.Net might be better thought of as a more powerful version of Microsoft Paint than a lesser Photoshop. That said, it is a lightweight program, with a far shorter load time than Photoshop, and offers intuitive, built-in features for performing simple actions. For instance, if you fire up and paste in a picture from the clipboard that is a different size than the default canvas, it will offer an illustrated dialog box with the options of resizing the image to the canvas, resizing the canvas to the image, or cropping the image at the canvas. For this reason, functions very well with Windows' built-in "Print Screen" function and as a simple, lightweight editor for basic crops, rotations, resizes, and simple canvas-wide effects. Of course, Paint.Net is also functional as a painting app (hence the name,) and offers brushes and pencil tools.


Photoscape, another free editor, bills itself as "fun and easy photoediting software." As well as an editor, Photoscape is a content manager, a conversion tool, a batch editor, a viewer, a print manager, and a screenshot utility. It also possesses the ability to combine multiple photographs into one and to create animated GIF images. Photoscape is rather lacking in serious editing features, but serves very well the user interested in simplicity, speed, and integration.

The GNU Image Manipulation Program

In contrast to the other two programs, GIMP is much more powerful and advanced. Compare its 160 MB download size to Photoscape's 15 MB and Paint.Net's 2 MB. GIMP is the most Photoshop-ish of the three suites considered herein, featuring very advanced features, wide device support, customization, and an impressive range of three- and four- letter photographic file formats, including JPG, RAW, and Photoshop's own proprietary format, PSD. Unlike the other two programs, GIMP offers muti-platform support, running on Mac OS X, Linux, Solaris, and FreeBSD, as well as Microsoft Windows. GIMP has the added advantages of being the oldest and most developed suite of the three, dating from 1996, and being released under the GNU General Public License (GPL.) This means that the user is permitted to modify the GIMP software and release their own versions of it.

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