Selecting Photo Editing Tools

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Regardless of the method you use to obtain photos whether you shoot them yourself or purchase them you will most likely need photo editing tools at some point in the development of your online business and social media marketing campaigns. You may simply need to crop a free stock photo or remove a red-eye or create an interesting filter to add uniqueness to the photo.

You will also at some point need to re-size a photo. I am sure you have noticed that different social media networks have different size requirements for their profile pictures, header images and background images. Word Press and Gravatar requirements have different picture and image size criteria as well.

This article is designed to help you select the right photo editing tool for you and your needs.

Free Photo Editing Tools

I always encourage everyone to seek out the free options first before purchasing any photo editing tools. There are plenty of free photo editing tools out there which you should first try before investing in a paid editing tool. In this training, I will first cover the free editing tools and then go into some of the more popular and easy to use paid photo editing tools.

Depending on your own needs, you may need to upgrade to a paid editing tool. In the next two pages, I will go over the different free editing tools for both Mac users and PC users. I, myself, am a PC user so if I do not cover the Mac user section as thoroughly as I should, please feel free to mention as such in the comments below.

Mac Editing Options

Most Macs come supplied with free photo editing software. On the Mac, I have seen the preview application with basic photo-editing functions. From the preview, you can crop, rotate and flip photos as well as adjust color and size. It can quickly meet your needs for basic adjustment.

In addition to the preview edits, the iPhoto editing option is included on most Macs. The iPhoto software allows users to fix red-eye and to rotate, add effects, straightened, enhance, crop, and retouch images. It includes most of the editing capabilities you need.

PC Editing Options

You have two options on a PC computer. First, most PCs come with the standard Paint program, which enables you to make basic edits to images, such as resizing, cropping and adding text. MicroSoft also has the Live Photo Gallery application, available for free as part of the download in the Live Essentials software package. Personally, I believe the photo editing capabilities of Live Photo Gallery are much more robust than in Paint. As an example, Live Photo Gallery allows you to adjust for red-eye and for noise reduction, color exposure, tint and saturation.

Additional Free Photo Editing Software

In addition to the free tools that come supplied with computers, a number of other free tools are out there. If you have time and are interested in branching out, spend some a little time becoming familiar with different tools and choose the one that works best for you and suits your needs and desires.

Here are a few of the popular free photo-editing applications:


Picasa is Google’s photo sharing and editing application. The biggest benefit of using this one is that it easily connects to other Google applications, such as Google+ which will make sharing easier. Picasas, in my opinion is free and simple to use allowing you to painlessly edit and organize your images and it can be used on your computer or online.


Foto is another free photo editing tool, but the catch is many of the images will come with a watermark on them unless you purchase the upgrade which ranges from $2.68 to $4.99 per month paid annually.  You can create images for your Facebook cover, YouTube Cover, Google+ cover or a social media post.   I created a new Facebook cover for my personal Facebook page which you can check out.  I used one that did not have a watermark on it.


One of the advantages GIMP is that it can work across different operating systems. This application has the same functionality as many high-end professional and expensive systems, but it is free to use. That being said, I installed it on my computer a while ago and although I have spent many hours trying to learn it, I still am not comfortable with it, so there is a huge learning curve with this product.

Paid Editing Tools

As you probably already guessed, the number one paid photo-editing software is PhotoShop by Adobe. It’s the photo-editing tool of choice of most professionals. The big challenge is that it is more difficult to learn. GIMP has some similar difficult features to learn as does PhotoShop, in my opinion. The advantage of free photo-editing tools is that they are simpler and more intuitive to use.

On the other hand, PhotoShop can truly pay off for you, once you learn it. With PhotoShop you can manipulate and edit photos dramatically. You can edit and otherwise correct photos down to the pixel. No free photo-editing software will provide you with that capability. PhotoShop is not a program to take lightly, because it is one of the most expensive applications to use, but if you want the best and most popular program, PhotoShop is the one for you.

One alternative to purchasing PhotoShop, is the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan which consists of Photoshop CC plus Lightroom for $9.99 per month.  It is sold by Amazon Digital Services, Inc. and you get both the mobile and the web version for that price.   Currently, however, this product is only available to customers within the United States.   Plus, you will have access to an extensive library of tutorials to help you get up-to-speed and master new photo editing skills.


As an alternative to PhotoShop, you can get PhotoShop Elements which is a lighter version of PhotoShop. I used PhotoShop Elements for a long time and I found it much easier to use and costs only a fraction of the price of the full, more professionally designed version of PhotoShop.

Let’s Hear From You

You may also want to read my article on Comparison of Screencast Software as I provide brief reviews of many different programs to include FREE and the expensive Adobe products.  There are other paid photo-editing software out there such as Corel Paint Shop Pro. You probably are aware of other programs out there on the market and I would love to hear from you regarding your recommendations and experiences.  Please comment below and let me know your experiences.

Steph Hill

Greetings! It is a pleasure to meet you. My name is Stephanie and the aim of this website is to help newcomers to the field of internet marketing by providing free easy-to-follow tutorials, product reviews and resources. I hope you find the information useful and down-to-earth. My background is in librarianship, technical writing, special education, software training and web design. Please leave a comment with your questions and I will be happy to answer them.

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19 thoughts on “Selecting Photo Editing Tools

  1. Hey Steph. I’m surprised you didn’t mention Canva on this post.

    I’ve discovered it about a year ago and it has been great to work with.

    I really suggest you check it out, I would love to hear your thoughts and review about it.

    I’ve used both Picasa and Gimp in the past but since I’ve tried Canva, I never returned LOL!

    Great post!


    1. Hi Chris:

      Great hearing from you. As surprising as it might be until I had written this post I had not heard of Canva, but after I wrote the post I had many comments on Canva talking about how easy and simple it is to use. So, I promptly checked it out and yes, I know. Canva is amazing and just like you, I was using Gimp or trying to as is was the case and having difficulty, but you are right, Canva is easy and straightforward and you do not have to be photography editing genius to use it. And the price is right – FREE. There are, of course, images that do cost money such as they may ask for a $1 here or there, but I have found that there are plenty of free options there you do not need to spend your dollar.

      As a matter of fact, the featured image on this post has been updated and the one you see now was created using Canva. I might write a separate review on it as a post. Thank you for visiting and I hope to see you again soon.


  2. Hi Stephanie,

    This post caught my interest since I’m a photographer.

    I typically use software on my laptop (Photoshop or Lightroom), but I’ve found the following free apps to be useful: Snapseed, mobile Photoshop, and others

    Also photosharing sites like Eyem, Twenty20, Flickr, Instagram have their own photo editing tools you can take advantage of as well.

    1. Hi Ian:

      As a photographer, I am truly excited that you have found your way to my website. You have provided some awesome ideas for photo editing. You mentioned that you use PhotoShop or Lightroom, I am wondering if you were used Adobe Creative Cloud Photograph Plan which consists of PhotoShop CC plus Lightroom. With this program, Photoshop CC and Lightroom are tightly integrated for a complete photography workflow across your desktop and mobile devices. You can create composites in Photoshop Mix on your iPad and refine them on your desktop.

      It is also good to know that Eyem, Twenty20, Flickr and Instagram also have their own photo editing tools built in.


  3. Steph,

    Photo editing is very important to me as someone who loves design.

    I use Photoshop CS2, back in the early 2000s, Adobe gave away the free version of the software. It works great and saves a lot seeing how expensive PS can be.

    For more simple editing tools, I use Canva. Just an overall amazing tool with great pre-designed templates for just about anything you need for a website.

    1. Hi Anh:

      I am glad to hear you were one of the lucky ones who were able to grab Adobe PhotoShop when it was free in the early 2000s. It is indeed rather expensive now. There are lesser expensive options now such as PhotoShop Elements which you can get for around $60.00

      Canva is definitely popular and many small business owners use that as well. I recently started playing with Canva after someone else commented on this post and highly recommended it. And I have to say, it is pretty awesome and simple to use.

      Thank you for visiting. I hope you come back soon.


  4. Right now i have not used anything besides Paint for all my editing purposes. I really did not find the need for anything more advanced then Paint in my Line of Work !!!

    But after reading your article i have decided to try out Picasa. In fact i have already started downloading Picasa on my System.

    Thanks for this helpful review on Photo Editing Tools .

    1. Hi!

      I am glad you have found this article useful. Be sure to come back and let me know how you like. The benefit to Picasa is that is is easy to share your photos with all of your social media outlets. I hope you come back soon!


  5. Hi Steph,

    You have a great resource of photo editing tools.

    Have you tried befunky? It has web-based and apps version. What I like about it is its ‘beautify’ tool, which will transform your so-so photographs into nicer-looking photo.

    For online tools, I’d recommend Canva, it’s very easy to create a beautiful -looking images. You should try it.

    I heard about pixlr, but never tried before.

    Then there’s piktochart, it is an online tool useful for creating infographics for your article.

    1. Hi Nina:

      Those are some awesome ideas for photo editing tools. I actually had not heard of BeFunky but when I checked it out, I could see why you liked it. There are options to not only edit your photos, but also a collage maker and an area that allows you to design your masterpieces easily and seamlessly. I will be looking into it further. Canva I have heard of and is popular one.

      I had not heard of Piktochart so I had to check that out as well. What a great find! Although I would not consider it to be much of a photo editing tool, it is a powerful tool for creating unique advertisements, banners, posters, reports, presentations and other infographics as you said. I have to thank you for sharing this resource. And I will have to check out pixlr as well.

      After I have received enough comments and suggestions from amazing folks like yourself, I might write an article listing all of the incredible tools that are out there for creating aesthetically appealing imagery, because there are just so many out there to choose from, it would be impossible for everyone to know what is all out there.

      Thank you for providing some great additional resources for everyone to check out. I really appreciate it.


      1. Pixlr is a very good program. It is web based and completely free for their web based version. It’s really closer to PhotoShop than Gimp. I like it much better than Gimp and Photoshop, and you can’t beat free.

        They do have a paid version of Pixlr too. It’s a desktop application that is $14.99 or something like that. It’s a yearly fee, but I think you can get it for $1.99 a month.

        I recently bought FX Photo Studio Pro which is a Mac application. It’s really a neat program for $20. Have you tried it out yet?

  6. Gimp is great. I like it because it works with Windows and Linux(my OS of choice). You can modify different layers of the photo, just like you can with Adobe Photoshop. For anyone who does not have the money to purchase Photoshop I highly reccomend GIMP.

    I found Canva a few months ago, and if you are not doing in depth editing, like you might need to do in GIMP, it is a great option. Another use of Canva is that you can use it to create PDF’s, even if you use the free version. For people like myself with little artistic talent Canva is very nice tool to have at our disposal.

    1. Hi Adrian:

      Thank you for visiting my website today and leaving a comment. You are absolutely right about Gimp – if you do not have the money for Adobe PhotoShop, which can cost a thousand dollars or more, than Gimp is the next best thing and works very similar. The downside is the learning curve as it is complicated, at least I think it is. I have heard of Canva and have played around a little bit with it. And it does seem pretty straightforward and simple to use.

      Have a Happy Holidays and thank you again for visiting.


  7. I am a great Paint user. LOL.
    Because I don’t know anything about editing an image.

    What would you recommend for me? The next step after Paint? I am a very slow learner and GIMP features are overwhelming me. Do you have anything in between?


    1. Hi Areif:

      I used Paint on my PC for many years so I know what you mean about trying to learn a new photo editing program. And yes, GIMP does have a steep learning curve. It is similar to Adobe PhotoShop which is very expensive. In answer to your question, I would starting out with Picasa. It is easy to start with and will aid in your creativity growth.


  8. Photoshop is naturally the photo editing choice for most professionals but it definitely comes with a learning curve. Your free recommendations like Picasa, Foto, and Gimp are probably much easier for beginners to learn. I’ve personally used Canva many times and it worked quite well. Pretty simple to figure out too. Thanks for the additional tools.

    1. Hi Matthew:

      Thank you for recommending Canva. I have not used that particular one myself but I have heard of it and many other professionals and small business owners use it as well. Many thanks for checking out my article today. I hope to see you again soon.


  9. Hey Steph,
    Wow I’ve never heard of Foto, great list you have here definitely giving it a try. As for photo editing software, I would really recommend using Snagit by TechSmith.

    I’ve been using it for a year now and they are very fun and simple too. I love their screenshot feature, and they even do screencast recording which is pretty convenient.

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