5 Best Free Photo Editors in 2020

Using a free photo editor doesn’t mean you have to compromise on unreliable software.

There’s plenty of photo editing options that don’t cost as much as Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop does, yet still work wonders.

Regardless of whether you work as a professional photographer or just a hobbyist, almost anyone can benefit from having access to these tools.

Nicely-edited photos can go a long way when making a strong first impression, whether they’re posted on Instagram, lifestyle blogs, photography portfolio sites, or business websites.

Great visuals are an indispensable part of our online presence, but there’s no need to burn money to achieve great aesthetics.

In this article, we’ll explore some of the best free photo editors that you can use to bump your photo quality up a notch.

What is a photo editor?

Photo editors are software tools that let you alter images.

With these tools, you can manipulate your photos to the extreme or make subtle tweaks to colors or key elements.

Post-processing photos is important everywhere online, regardless of where you’re going to post your photos; let’s cover some more reasons why polished visuals matter.

Most people are skimmers, not readers, but there’s a simple trick to get them invested in your posts – adding images.

An infographic made by Venngage shows that having visuals in a content piece increases visitors’ desire to read by 80%.

Posts accompanied by images garner 180% more engagement than those without.

Not just any image will do though; visual consistency is key. It means ensuring that all visual elements you use for branding are consistent in quality.

According to MDG Advertising, 67% of consumers judge a product based on the quality of the image they see online.

When promoting your brand, high-quality visual content is a great way to make a statement, while leaving a lasting impression your audience can relate to.

You can establish your brand identity further by creating a unique logo for your website using Zyro’s logo maker and add watermarks to your images using photo editors.

After all, creating a catchy logo and consistently placing it on your images is one of the best ways to establish brand identity.

The 5 best free photo editors

Here are the five best online and offline picture editors available for free based on features and flexibility:

1. Pixlr

Pixlr editor dashboard

Hailed as the best free alternative to Photoshop, Pixlr is packed with features suitable for professional and casual photo editing. It’s web-based on desktop and app-based on mobile.

You can use layers, effects, advanced color pickers, and a range of other features you can find on premium photo editors, such as custom brushes, auto enhancement, and color correction.

You can purchase the premium version for $5/mo to access more templates, fonts, and premium stock images.

Pixlr Pro is compatible with popular formats such as PSD and Sketch, so you can use it to edit projects imported from other editors.

Key takeaways:

  • Pixlr’s strongest feature is its accessibility and comprehensive list of features, especially for a free photo editor.
  • Its interface is intuitive, designed to be as convenient as Photoshop’s.
  • While it’s optional, you can create an account to save your work in the Pixlr Library and edit photos saved in Google Drive, Facebook, Flickr, and Picasa.


GIMP photo editing software interface

GIMP is a free, open-source photo editor, recommended for advanced users.

Whether you use this tool to refine an existing image or create a new one from scratch, it has you covered.

Its key features include a customizable interface, advanced retouching options, as well as multiple OS support and format compatibility.

Notable editing selections include perspective changes, smart selections, and healing tools.

Being open-source, it can seamlessly integrate with popular programming languages such as Python and Perl. Plus, it has a registry filled with community-made plugins you can use to extend the software’s functionalities.

Key takeaways:

  • This software offers an impressive array of professional features with no strings attached.
  • No ads, no hidden price, and it’s open-source too.
  • However, casual users might find the tool a bit intimidating because of its steep learning curve and crowded interface.
  • It doesn’t work on mobile.

3. BeFunky

BeFunky photo editor's interface

If you want to make simple photo edits, BeFunky is a web-based tool you should definitely consider.

With a drag-and-drop interface, plenty of creative overlays and enhancement options, you can edit your photos in no time. It’s convenient to use, and available on Android and iOS.

This editor offers three editing modes: a basic photo editor, a collage maker, and a design creator that allows you to create banners, brochures, infographics, and other graphic design projects.

Its most remarkable features include batch editing, background textures, and easy-to-use filters.

You can unlock more features with BeFunky Plus starting from $6.99/mo.

Key takeaways:

  • BeFunky offers plenty of useful features for image retouching.
  • All three of the editing modes are intuitive and easy to navigate on the left side of the screen.
  • Users can get creative with colors, overlays, stock photos, and other design elements.
  • It has ads and most of its most useful features are not free. Therefore, it might not be an ideal choice for those who are on a budget.

4. Fotor

Fotor photo editing software's homepage

Much like BeFunky, Fotor provides three editing options recommended for casual photo editing and quick fixes.

Its drag-and-drop features are straightforward and designed more as an image enhancer than a complex editor.

Aside from basic settings, Fotor is loaded with an extensive library of special effects like premium-quality filters, stickers, and borders.

It supports batch photo-processing and one-tap enhancement for quick and easy editing.

The pro version can be unlocked starting at $8.99/mo.

Key takeaways:

  • Overall, Fotor is recommended for beginners who want to create quick and simple photo edits.
  • Photos edited with this tool can be exported as high-resolution files.
  • Its ad displays are a bit too intrusive, however, and its tools are not suitable for sophisticated editing.

5. VSCO (App)

VSCO photo editing software's landing page

VSCO is still the best contender when it comes to smartphone photo editors.

It’s perfect for those who love the combination of quick photo editing and social media sharing.

Although it has conventional editing tools for resizing and adjusting basic photo settings. VSCO shines with its great selection of ready-to-use presets.

Users can customize the order of the frequently-used tools for quicker access. Like the filters and adjustments you’ve made? You can also create a template to reuse them later.

While the free version is already perfectly convenient, VSCO X offers more filters, more sophisticated tools, and exclusive educational content. All for a $4.99/mo subscription.

Key takeaways:

  • This is definitely one of the best free photo editor apps for smartphones.
  • Its extensive number of user-friendly presets and settings, you can polish your graphics in a few taps or less.
  • The only real downside here is that many nifty presets and features are hidden behind a paywall.
  • You can only save one template at a time in the free version, while the paid version allows up to ten.

Free photo editors recap

Polished photos are great for branding, but editing images to make them look more professional doesn’t have to be costly.

The five best free photo editors you can try:

  1. Pixlr – simple, flexible and easy to use.
  2. GIMP – incredibly feature-rich, but comes with a steep learning curve.
  3. BeFunky – offers three intuitive editing modes, but crowds up the interface with ads.
  4. Fotor – easy to use and flexible, with additional powerful features you can only use if you subscribe.
  5. VSCO – a great mobile app with an intuitive interface, beautiful image presets and social media sharing capabilities.

Great images work the best when showcased on an amazing-looking website.

With Zyro’s user-friendly features, drag-and-drop interface, and beautiful templates, you can make your dream website a reality in no time.

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