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Posted by Jana Ferreira
Updated: December 1, 2023

7 Free Photo Editing Apps for Mac & PC

We've curated a list of useful free photo editing apps for Mac & PC, complete with the features, pros, and cons of each platform.

If you’re a hobbyist exploring your passion, and you’re not quite ready to take the leap into professional editing tools, this list is for you!

A novice photographer taking a photo

In this day and age, social media is swarming with zillions of beautiful pictures. The standard of quality is far beyond what it used to be just five years ago. 

For aspiring photographers, it is becoming easier to achieve that high quality without breaking the bank. 

If you’re ready to dip your toes into creative waters, the free editing tools in this article offer a range of features to transform your images with just a few clicks. 

Most of the options on this list are more suitable for beginner photographers but read until the end to see which editing tools we recommend for advanced photo editing (they are paid options that offer free trials)

All of the editing tools in this article are compatible with Mac and PC devices, with some offering mobile versions as well.

Free Photo Editing Tools

  1. Pixlr
  2. Fotor
  3. GIMP
  4. Darktable
  5. Adobe Photoshop Express
  6. RawTherapee
  7. Photopea

Please note: While these software solutions are free, some may offer premium versions or additional features through paid subscriptions.

Now, let’s talk about these free photo editing apps in more detail.

7 Free Photo Editing Apps for Mac & PC

1. Pixlr

Pixlr is one of the best free photo editing apps for Mac & PC

Pixlr is an online photo editor available in web, desktop, and mobile versions. 

It offers a variety of editing tools, filters, overlays, and effects, along with easy-to-use features like auto-fix and collage creation.

It's suitable for quick edits and sharing images on social media.

Pros: 

  • User-friendly interface
  • Supports layers
  • Variety of filters and effects
  • Templates for creative projects

Cons: 

  • Requires an internet connection for web-based use
  • Limited offline functionality
  • Occasional stability issues

2. Fotor

Fotor – free photo editing app for Mac and PC users

Fotor is a free online photo editor with a sleek interface and a range of basic editing tools.

The editor is also available as a desktop app for MacOS and Windows.

It offers features like filters, effects, borders, and basic retouching options. It also provides templates for creating collages, social media graphics, and more.

Pros: 

  • Intuitive to use
  • One-click enhancements
  • Batch processing
  • Collage creation options

Cons: 

  • Limited advanced editing capabilities
  • Occasional performance issues
  • Some features are restricted to the paid version

3. GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program)

GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) logo

GIMP is a powerful and versatile free photo editing software, offering advanced tools and features comparable to professional suites. 

It supports various image formats, offers extensive customization options, and is widely used for retouching, editing, and creating digital artwork.

Pros: 

  • Rich in features
  • Supports various file formats
  • Advanced editing tools
  • Extensive community support

Cons: 

  • There could be a steeper learning curve for beginners
  • The interface may feel cluttered
  • Lacks some of the more advanced features found in commercial software

Trustpilot Review:

“This software is really good if you want to make a YouTube thumbnail or cut something out of a photo. The layout is extremely easy and simple to navigate. It even has all the necessary keyboard shortcuts. If you're debating whether or not to take the 15 minutes to install this and try it out, I suggest you do it since it's only about 250 MB.”

4. Darktable

Darktable is one of the best free photo editing apps for Mac & PC

If you’re looking for a great Lightroom alternative to edit your RAW files, Darktable is probably the best free photo editing app out there at the moment. 

Similarly to GIMP, it’s completely open-source, thus you get free access to a very powerful photo editing suite.

Aimed primarily at RAW files, Darktable also works with TIFF, JPEG and other most popular file formats.

Essentially, it is both a photo management tool and an advanced RAW file development solution.

Pros: 

  • Layout quite similar to Lightroom
  • Supports various file formats
  • Completely free to use
  • Growing user community

Cons: 

  • May feel a bit too technical and advanced for beginners
  • Some reliability and support issues at this stage

Trustpilot Review:

“For a free program, it’s great. It successfully replaced a paid competitor for me. It has everything you need to process photos, and from what I can see, the program is constantly developing.”

5. Adobe Photoshop Express

Adobe Photoshop Express is a free photo editing app

Adobe Photoshop Express is a simplified version of the industry-standard Adobe Photoshop. 

It provides basic editing tools, filters, and adjustments for quick edits on desktop or mobile devices.

It integrates with Adobe Creative Cloud for seamless workflow across platforms.

Pros: 

  • User-friendly interface
  • Seamless integration with other Adobe products
  • Basic editing tools for quick enhancements

Cons: 

  • Limited functionality compared to the full version of Photoshop
  • Requires an Adobe account
  • Some features are restricted to the paid version

6. RawTherapee

Raw Therapee free image editing tool logo

RawTherapee is an open-source RAW photo processing software with advanced editing capabilities. 

It offers comprehensive tools for adjusting exposure, color balance, noise reduction, and more. 

It's designed for photographers who shoot in RAW format and need precise control over their image processing.

Pros: 

  • Advanced tools for RAW image processing
  • Non-destructive editing
  • Extensive customization options

Cons: 

  • User interface may not be as intuitive for beginners
  • Limited support for non-RAW image formats
  • Some features may require technical knowledge

7. Photopea

One of the best free photo editing apps for Mac and PC is Photopea

Photopea is a free online photo editing software that offers a unique combination of convenience, versatility, and powerful features. 

Unlike other online editors, Photopea runs locally on your device without the need to upload files to a server, ensuring your privacy and allowing you to work even when you are offline. 

Whether you have basic or more advanced editing skills, Photopea caters to your needs with its comprehensive toolset, including brushes, layers, masks, smart objects, adjustments, filters, and layer styles. 

One of the standout advantages of Photopea is its broad file format support, including PSD, XCF, Sketch, XD, and CDR files.

Pros:

  • It works offline 
  • Great selection of brush tools
  • Suitable for beginners and more advanced users

Cons:

  • The learning curve can be steep for beginners
  • Limited integration with other creative applications
  • Support and updates are slower than other tools

Trustpilot Review:

“Great tool, but too many ads. Overall, it’s a good alternative if you don't have any photo editing software installed.”

Editing Tools for Advanced Users

While we’d all love to save a few bucks, investing in paid editing software is the way to go if you want to unlock advanced editing features.

Luckily, most paid photo editing tools offer free trials so you can test the waters before committing to a subscription.

The following platforms are the most popular and trusted photo editing tools for professional photographers.

Lightroom

Lightroom is one of the best image editing tools for photographers

Adobe Lightroom is a powerful and versatile photo editing software that is widely regarded as the industry standard among professional photographers. 

It offers a comprehensive range of features designed specifically for managing, organizing, and enhancing photographs. 

Lightroom's key features include non-destructive editing, which allows photographers to make adjustments without altering the original image file, as well as a robust set of editing tools for color correction, exposure adjustments, cropping, and more.

It also provides advanced features such as batch processing, presets, and the ability to work seamlessly with RAW files, making it an indispensable tool for photographers who require precision and efficiency in their editing workflow.

Price:

  • 7-day free trial
  • $9.99/month

Pros:

  • Intuitive interface and user-friendly design
  • It offers a seamless workflow; from organization and culling to editing and exporting
  • Integration with Adobe Creative Cloud
  • Extensive presets and customization

Cons:

  • There’s a steep learning curve for new users
  • It’s an Adobe subscription-based model
  • It can be resource-intensive, particularly when working with large files or editing multiple images simultaneously

Photoshop

Photoshop logo

Abode Photoshop is renowned for its extensive features and capabilities. 

It provides professional photographers with a wide range of tools and functionalities to manipulate and enhance images.

Photoshop offers advanced features like layers, masks, brushes, and filters, enabling precise control over every aspect of the editing process. 

Like Lightroom, it also supports non-destructive editing techniques, allowing photographers to experiment and make changes without compromising the original image. 

From retouching and compositing to graphic design and digital art, Photoshop offers unparalleled flexibility and creativity for photographers looking to push the boundaries of their work.

Price:

  • 7-day free trial
  • $20.99/month

Pros:

  • Its versatility makes it suitable for a wide range of editing tasks
  • Extensive third-party plugin support
  • Integration with other Adobe Creative Cloud applications offers seamless workflow integration

Cons:

  • Photoshop's extensive capabilities can be overwhelming for beginners
  • It can be demanding on computer resources, especially when working with large files or complex compositions
  • Like other Adobe software, it is available through a subscription-based model, which may not be ideal for users seeking a one-time purchase option

Capture One

Capture One editing software for photographers

Capture One is a professional-grade photo editing software known for its robust features and exceptional image quality. 

It offers a comprehensive set of tools designed specifically for professional photographers, including precise color grading, tethered shooting, and powerful adjustment layers. 

It also boasts exceptional RAW image processing, delivering unparalleled image quality and allowing photographers to extract the maximum amount of detail from their RAW files.

With its intuitive interface and efficient workflow, Capture One enables photographers to enhance and optimize their images with speed and precision.

Price:

  • 30-day free trial
  • Plans start at $17.15/month

Pros:

  • Outstanding RAW image processing 
  • Advanced editing tools
  • Tethered soothing lets you capture images directly into the software, review them in real time, and apply adjustments on the fly
  • It enables an efficient workflow with file management, batch processing capabilities, and the ability to create customized workspaces

Cons:

  • The learning curve can be steep, particularly for photographers transitioning from other editing software
  • Limited plugin support
  • It can be demanding on computer resources, particularly when working with large RAW files or applying complex adjustments

Aftershoot EDITS

Aftershoot EDITS is the best AI photo editing software on the market

Aftershoot EDITS is unique in that it automates the editing process for professional photographers who already have a Lightroom or Capture One subscription.

The AI-powered software requires that you create an AI Profile (which is like your personal preset) so it can learn your precise editing style and automatically apply your editing preferences to images.

To create an AI Profile, upload a minimum of 2,500 of your previously edited images from your Lightroom or Capture One Catalogs for training. 

Once your AI Profile has been created, you’re just one click away from getting thousands of images edited in minutes with Aftershoot’s intuitive editing software.

For photographers who don’t have enough images to create their own AI Profiles, there are over 20 stunning AI Styles (pre-built AI Profiles) to choose from. They’re like editing presets, only smarter!

Price:

  • 30-day free trial
  • $9.99/month
  • Aftershoot EDITS is free for a limited time (included in the Culling subscription) – pricing will be unveiled soon

Pros:

  • Automated editing saves photographers hours of valuable time
  • The AI is intelligent and continues to learn from further adjustments made to the images
  • Photographers can edit an unlimited number of images with Aftershoot
  • Photographers retain complete control over their edits

Cons:

  • Only suitable for Lightroom or Capture One users
  • You’ll have to figure out what to do with all the time you’re saving

Here’s what Australian maternity and newborn photographer, Linda Hewell, had to say about Aftershoot EDITS.

Aftershoot EDITS review on Trustpilot

In conclusion

There is a wide range of free editing tools to choose from. We’ve condensed the options into this list of 7 free photo editing apps for Mac & PC to help make your choice a little easier. 

However, it's important to keep in mind that there are always limitations associated with free solutions. 

Here are the 5 most common limitations you may encounter:

1. Limited features 

Free software often lacks some of the advanced features and functionalities found in paid alternatives. 

You may not have access to advanced retouching tools, complex selection options, or specialized editing capabilities. 

This is especially true for solutions that integrate AI-powered tools, which are often reserved for paid plans.

2. Advertising and watermarks

Some free photo editing software may display ads or impose watermarks on your edited images. 

This can be a drawback if you're looking for a clean and professional result or if you plan to use the images for commercial purposes.

3. Restricted file format support

Free software may have limited support for certain file formats, especially when working with RAW files or less common formats. 

This can be a headache if you regularly work with specific file types that require advanced editing.

4. Performance and stability issues

Free software may occasionally suffer from performance or stability issues, especially when dealing with large file sizes or complex editing operations. 

You could experience slower processing speeds or encounter occasional crashes.

5. Limited customer support

Free software usually provides limited customer support compared to paid alternatives. 

While some projects have active communities that offer assistance, it may be more challenging to find prompt and personalized help when encountering issues or seeking guidance.

Despite these limitations, free photo editing software can still be a valuable resource for casual users, beginners, or those with basic editing needs. 

They provide an accessible platform for enhancing and retouching images without the need for a substantial financial investment.

On that note, if you’re ready to level up your professional editing game, we recommend considering the 30-day free trial of Aftershoot – the most advanced AI-powered photo culling and editing software. 

You'll love Aftershoot's time-saving features, AI-driven culling, automated editing that reflects your unique style, and personalized support. 

Start a free trial of Aftershoot and automate your image editing process with AI

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