The best free photo editor 2017

The best free photo editors can place professional level software in the reach of anybody – regardless of the budget – and there's an editor for everyone.

Whether you're looking for a complete Photoshop replacement that permits you complete exacting control over every detail of your photos, or a basic Instagram-style photo editor that offers a range of one-click filters, there’s going to be a free photo editor that will fit your exact needs.

The vast number of free photo editors available to download can be mind-blowing, so we've pulled up the very best free photo editors to help you find the one that's gonna make your day.

If you have a collection of photos collecting dust on a smartphone or SD card, this is the perfect time to get them looking pristine before sending them to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or having them printed professionally.

All the photo editors we've included here are great, but different needs necessitate different tools. If you're already content with the general look of your pictures and just want to tweak them a little before sharing them with your friends or followers, a simple editor that allows you to resize, crop and apply filters will be ideal. Many of these have social media sharing built in, removing the hassle of saving, then uploading them separately.

If you're going to print your work, you'll be better off considering more advanced photo editors that will give you the precise control you need to make your photos look flawless at high resolutions. You'll also need to make sure your free photo editor allows you to work with large files.


Download GIMP free

GIMP is an incredible free photo editor, and is getting better all the time thanks to its enthusiastic community of contributors

If you've ever played with Photoshop, GIMP (the GNU Image Manipulation Program) should be instantly recognizable – particularly if you select the single-window mode, which arranges all its canvases and toolbars in an Adobe-style layout.

GIMP is filled with amazing tools that exactly match those you might find in premium software, and more are being added all the time.

GIMP's photo editing tool kit is great, and includes layers, masks, curves and levels. You can erase flaws with the excellent clone stamp and healing tools, create custom brushes, apply perspective changes, and apply changes to specific areas with intelligent selection tools.

Plus, GIMP is open source software, so its community of developers and users have created a huge variety of high-quality plugins to expand its capabilities even further. Many of these come pre-installed, and you can download more from the official glossary. And, if you want even more, you can even download and install Photoshop plugins.

Its power and adaptability make GIMP the best free photo editor for Windows. Give it a try – we think you'll be pleased, even if you're used to editing your pictures with premium software.

Review and where to download: GIMP


Download Paint.NET free

Paint.NET is a little less intimidating than GIMP, and still has all the essential editing tools you need to make your photos look great

Sometimes, it's best if your photo editor isn't overflowing with bells and whistles. Paint.NET's simplicity is one of its main selling points; it's a fast, easy-to-use free photo editor that's perfect for those trivial tasks that don't require the sheer power of GIMP.

Don't be bamboozled by the name, though. This isn't just a clone of Microsoft's super-simple Paint – even if it was originally intended to replace it. It's a full-fledged photo editor, just one that lands on the more simple side of the aisle.

Now, the layout will definitely remind you of Microsoft Paint, but as it's grown, Paint.NET has added fundamental editing tools, like layers, an undo history, a slew of filters, many community-created plugins and a great 3D rotate/zoom function that's handy for reworking images.

Yes, it's lacking in some areas, but if your PC is lacking in power or RAM we can't think of a better choice.

Review and where to download: Paint.NET


Photo Pos Pro has a few limitations, but it’s very accessible, with a choice of two layouts – one for new users and another for those with a little experience

Photo POS Pro may not be quite as popular as and GIMP, but it's another high quality photo editor filled with fantastic image-enhancing tools. 

Its layout is cleaner and more user-friendly than GIMP's mess of menus and toolbars, with everything organized in a smart and consistent way. If that’s still too much for you, there's also an alternative 'novice' interface that looks kind of like Fotor's filter-based design. The point is, the choice is entirely yours to make.

The expert layout features both layers and layer masks for expert editing, not to mention tools for adjusting curves and levels by hand. You can still use the one-click filters via the main menu, but the focus is mostly on precise editing.

Photo POS Pro also has a clone brush for deleting unwanted blemishes, and there's additional support for batch-editing and scripts to help you save time when editing an entire folder of photos.

The free edition of Photo POS Pro only has one caveat: files can only be saved at a maximum resolution of 1,024 x 2,014 pixels, which may be too small if you're planning to have them printed professionally. If you need to remove this restriction, Photo POS Pro Premium is available for a license fee of £17.67, US$ 19.90 or AU$ 29.78.   

Review and where to download: Photo Pos Pro

Download Photoscape free

PhotoScape is a free photo editor packed with premium-level tools, including raw file processing

Take a glance at PhotoScape's main menu and you'll find a plethora of photo editing features that wouldn't be out of place in a premium photo editor: raw conversion, photo splitting and merging, animated GIF creation, and even a rather weird (but useful) function with which you can print lined, graph or sheet music paper.

The bulk, of course, is in the photo editing. PhotoScape's layout is among the most bizarre of all the free image editors we've looked at here, with tools grouped into pages in odd configurations. It definitely doesn't try to imitate Photoshop, and includes fewer features.

PhotoScape is an especially good choice for beginners, but is still capable of delivering amazing results. Its filters are especially strong, making PhotoScape a solid choice if you need to quickly level, sharpen or add subtle artistic effects.

Review and where to download: PhotoScape


Fotor’s free toolkit includes batch-processing, so you can tackle a folder full of photos at once

Fotor is an excellent photo editor for making quick enhancements. If you want to do a quick spot of manual retouching with a clone brush or healing tool you'll need to opt for one of the more powerful tools above, but Fotor's high-end filters that really do shine.

There's a foolproof tilt-shift tool, for example, and a raft of vintage and vibrant colour tweaks, all easily accessed through Fotor's clever menu system. You can manually alter your own curves and levels, too, but without the complexity of high-end tools.

Fotor's most brilliant function, and one that's sorely lacking in many photo editing packages, is its batch processing tool – feed it a pile of pics and it'll filter the lot of them in one go, perfect if you have a memory card full of holiday snaps and need to cover up the results of a dodgy camera or shaky hand.

Review and where to download: Fotor

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