Tired of everything being a subscription to edit photos? Need to edit photos without subscribing or downloading an app? The cost and impatience around this can be high. Adobe Photoshop may be the industry standard. But there are plenty of free alternatives for it out there. Before looking at some of those in detail, let us first understand what the best photo editing software has to offer.  

What Are the Features of the Best Free Photo Editing Software? 

  • Not Just Providing Basic Features: Adjusting brightness, contrast, cropping are some of the basic features available in all editing apps. What sets the best apart are advanced features like curves, clone/healing brushes, blending modes, RAW support, and more. 
  • Easy Usage: The basic layout of Photoshop has remained the same for almost 30 years now. This is because it is intuitive, and it works. The best free photo editor apps also aim for the same easy usage. 
  • Adding Text and Design Elements: Today’s tools are required to include trending fonts and templates, graphic elements and so on to make creating social media content easier and faster. 

Based on the above criteria and other usual metrics, the following apps are considered to be some of the best in the field of free photo editing: 

Best alternative for maintaining brand consistency across emote teams

Canva is targeted for beginner designers, but it does have features that most pro editors have. But its best strength is achieving brand consistency on the free version. You can do this by just keeping your logo files and brand colors image in Uploads or a shared Google Drive folder imported to Canvas.  

Best alternative for artistic effects 

Colorcinch is not only for adding special effects. You can add graphic layers and text as well. Colorcinch is good for effects as it does not overdo it. There are subtle overlays, like sun flares, light leaks, and textures, and dramatic ones, like falling snow and fog. Each of these categories has at least one free option. 

Best alternative for an authentic Photoshop experience

Pixlr E and X – Pixlr E is the advanced version and Pixlr X is the one for beginners. Pixlr E is a convincing replica of Photoshop. Layers management is one of its highlights. You get separate layers with the same blending modes and opacity settings as in Photoshop.  

Best alternative for advanced photo editing

Polarr has a clean and minimal design. It has combined features of both Lightroom and Photoshop. For more advanced features like gradient, color, text, liquify, and brush mask effects, you have to get the Pro version though.  

Best alternative for retouching and curves control

Fotor has sophisticated options like editing curves, grain, and noise level, all for free. Some effects though are paid features, like their AI-powered “1-tap enhance” and the background and object removers.