For some of us, photos are near and dear to our hearts. They often remind us of great memories from the past, whether it was a daughter’s wedding day, a son’s first steps as a child, and many more. With that in mind, we want to take special care of our photos and often share them with others. This, more often than not, requires a level of photo editing, whether it be as basic as cropping photos, adjusting the size down to optimal dimensions, and so on.
However, editing photos has always been a difficult process, often involving professional image editing suites like Photoshop, Gimp, and other offerings from Autodesk. But as time goes on, developers are always coming up with new programs and tools that allow even the most basic users to easily crop photos, adjust brightness levels, add filters, depth, and so on. There’s no need for professional knowledge of image editing anymore, as almost anyone can do it thanks to these easy-to-use tools.
We’ve searched and personally tested a handful of different tools for the iPad, Mac, and PC to bring you a comprehensive list of easy-to-use photo editing options. These are tools that are often free or require little financial risk. These tools focus on efficiency, speed, and ease-of-use during the photo editing process. Not only that, but these programs have an extensive amount of documentation and step-by-step tutorials posted online, which is a huge help if you don’t know what you’re doing anytime during the process of editing photos. From basic tutorials on cropping and resizing photos to more advanced tutorials of adjusting brightness, hue, filters, and so on, these tools have it all.
And without further ado, here are what we feel are the eight best photo editing applications for iPad, Mac, and PC:
1. Picsart Photo Studio
Picsart Photo Studio for the iPad is one of the best mobile photo editing applications out there, allowing users to easily and quickly edit photos in almost anyway possible. Not only can you edit photos with this tool, but you can also make detailed collages of your photos, create beautiful digital drawings, and easily share your images with friends and family through email and social networking platforms.
As far as photo editing tools themselves go, Picsart Photo Studio gives you access to hundreds of editing options that’ll help you transform your photo into anything you can imagine. Picsart will allow you to easily crop and resize photos, all while offering some extra goodies, such as a complete drawing suite that gives you access to a variety of artistic brushes, overlays, emoji, and so on. Again, these all take little to no experience to use. It’s truly a “with the touch of a finger” style application.
2. Pixlr by Autodesk
Another great photo editing application for the iPad is Pixlr. Designed and created by Autodesk, Pixlr is an entirely free photo editor, featuring over two million different combinations of effects, overlays, filters, and more. There’s an unlimited amount of customization available to you, and it’s all very easy to use. Pixlr will allow you to create collages out of your arsenal of photos, balance colours, layer multiple photos, work some magic with exposure, add borders, effects, and much, much more.
The best part about Pixlr is that it doesn’t take a genius to use. Software from Autodesk has traditionally been difficult to use, but Pixlr, their mobile photo editing application, has become one of their easiest programs to grasp. Not only is it available for the iPad and iPhone, but it’s massive suite of tools is also available on Mac and PC, which you can download for free here.
3. Adobe’s Photoshop Express
Similar to Autodesk, Adobe’s programs have always traditionally been difficult to use right off the bat. As a result, there’s some powerful things you can do with those programs, however, for those that are just interested in basic editing tools, Adobe has brought Photoshop Express to mobile. It aims to put that difficulty aside, allowing users to quickly and easily edit and alter photos. There’s little to no learning curve in Photoshop Express, allowing you to immediately start editing your photos with a suite of tools to make that image look picture perfect.
It has all of your basic functions, such as cropping, resizing, adding filters, and the ability to make one-touch adjustments to contrast, exposure, and white balance. It also has a suite of its own tools if you’re looking to take your photo to the next level. Things like raw photo support, its new image-rendering engine, and a variety of correction controls will all help make your photo something special.
VSCO (Visual Supply Company) is a photo editing application that cuts the fluff and sticks with the basics. And they do that very well. They may not have all the frills of Pixlr and Photoshop Express, but you can make some gorgeous edits with its suite of photography tools. Users will be able to take advantage of configurations like exposure, contrast, clarity, crop, straighten, temperature, and much more.
VSCO also doubles as a camera, which is only helpful if you usually take photos on your smartphone, and not some other device. However, VSCO claims to take superior shots to many default camera applications by adding in features like manual focus, shutter speed, ISO, exposure compensation, and so on. When it comes down to it, even if you don’t use VSCO’s camera feature, it’s a great all-in-one photo editing app to have.
Photos (iPhoto on older Mac versions) is a free photo editing program created by Apple for the Mac. Photos has some deep photo organization capabilities as well as many basic photo editing capabilities. One of the great aspects of Photos is its “Quick Fix” tab, allowing users to quickly and easily fix things in their photos, such as red eye, rotation, straightening, and other little touch ups.
Photos is most definitely a basic photo editor, as it doesn’t have a whole out of advanced features like you’d find in Gimp, Pixlr, or Photoshop Express. With that in mind, don’t expect to be able to adjust white balance, exposure, contrast and other things. Keep in mind that this isn’t a bad thing, as the goal of Photos is to help with those basic touch-ups, and it does that very well.
If you’re on Mac and have the most recent operating system update, Photos should already be installed on your machine. If not, it’s called iPhoto on older versions of Mac, but is also a much slower and basic program.
Gimp is a great photo editing application for both Mac and PC. It, however, is not available on mobile devices. It’s certainly a more complex option than the rest of the photo editing apps on this list, but it offers a much wider range of photo editing abilities. It’s an all inclusive piece of software for resizing, cropping, touching up images, and so on.
There is a bit of a learning curve to Gimp, as it’s often referred to as the free alternative to Photoshop. But if you’re in for a challenge, it has a vast suite of photo editing tools, whether you need to adjust contract, exposure, white balance, and so on. Gimp has it all, and it has a thriving community of users and developers alike. With that in mind, there’s plenty of step-by-step tutorials and documentation posted online to help beginners work there way around Gimp.
Here’s another basic photo editing tool called Photoscape, available for both Mac and Windows. The idea behind Photoscape is ease of use, and from my experience, Photoscape nails it. Photoscape claims to be a basic photo editor, but users can still adjust white balance, resize, make colour adjustments, crop, filter, remove red eye, and much more.
The unique thing about Photoscape is that you can actually edit photos in batches, which is a huge time saver if you’re going through a large album. It’s available for free for Windows, which can be downloaded below. If you’re a Mac user, you’ll need to download Photoscape X, which is a much higher quality version of the software. You can download that here.
We’re not going to into great detail with this one, as Picasa is one of the most common photo editing applications to date. Owned by Google, Picasa will let you organize, edit, and seamlessly share your photos with friends and family. Considering that it is owned by Google, Picasa is one of the best photo editing programs, simply because of the search giant’s commitment to long-term support for the software.
As far as editing tools go, there is an array of standard tools available at your disposal, such as Auto Contrast, Auto Colour, Straighten, and much more. Picasa also offers a variety of effects and tuning options that users can add to their photos to make them pop. Not only is it an all-around excellent photo editor, but it’s free, too!
And that wraps up the top eight ways for editing your photos quickly and easily. All of the applications and desktop software on this list all work phenomenally, and they certainly won’t let you down as far as functionality goes. There’s a lot of different programs on this list, but one thing’s for sure: there’s something here for everybody. If you just want a bare bones photo editor, iPhoto is the perfect option. If you need something with more advanced options, Photoscape and Pixlr might be right up your alley. And if you don’t mind something with a learning curve, there are some truly amazing things you can do with Gimp.
All in all, there’s something for everybody here, and the best part? It’s all free!