Ever since Steve Jobs put a camera into the iPhone, everyone has become a photographer. However, just because you have a camera, it doesn’t necessarily follow that you are a great photographer. Anyone can point a lens and press a button.
While some photos are works of art, others need editing, and we’re not just talking about slapping an Instagram filter on it. This means you need some easy-to-use photo editing apps. Here are the best photo editing programs for beginners.
While many photo editing programs have interfaces that are similar to Photoshop, this app goes a completely different way. It aims to be easy for beginners, and once you get the hang of the interface, you’ll have a lot of power at your fingertips.
Photoscape is also one of the best ways to open a PSD file.
Irfanview is an oldie but also a firm favorite among my friends and colleagues. Many people who don’t need to do a lot of image editing can make do with Irfanview. Which, as a bonus, is completely free.
One of the best features of IrfanView is its handling of batch conversions. You can rename a huge number of files in seconds, as well as resize them. You can also scan directly from a flatbed scanner, make screenshots, set wallpaper, and install plugins to extend the features even more.
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SnagIt is a simple photo editing software. Even though it’s surrounded by free rivals, the developer TechSmith seems to think that SnagIt is worth $50. But in its defense, the screenshots are 100 percent perfect.
The current version is tightly integrated with all other TechSmith products. You can also upload to Google Drive and Microsoft Office, record your screen, and edit your screencast by trimming out the parts you don’t need. Other features include the ability to blur sensitive details, highlight important parts, and annotate images.
At first glance, you could be forgiven for thinking that this was Windows Explorer, as it does bear some similarity with its yellow folder tree-like structure. However, this image editing app boasts some impressive features, and once again, it’s completely free.
As well as covering all of the usual image formats, FastStone also supports RAW image formats from all of the major camera manufacturers. You can then crop and resize your images, as well as apply the usual filters like red-eye removal and color adjustments. There’s also flatbed scanner support, the ability to edit EXIF data, and batch processing to rename and resize quickly. A portable version of FastStone is available.
The venerable Paint.NET seems to be the crowd-pleaser, being installed on pretty much everyone’s PC. Starting life as a Microsoft product, it is now being compared to Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Photo Editor, and GIMP. It prides itself on being “immediately intuitive and quickly learnable,” making it the ideal photo editing software for beginners.
Images open in their own individual tabs and you have an unlimited history, so you can undo and redo image alterations as much as you want (disk space permitting). You also have Photoshop-like tools such as the Magic Wand feature, the Clone Stamp feature, and Layers.
And if you get stuck, you just need to consult the forum where someone should be glad to help out.
GIMP is the best photo editing software for beginners who want to have Photoshop-like features but with a slightly easier learning curve. But unlike Photoshop, GIMP is free of charge and open source. It is also cross-platform and comes with a portable version that you can throw on your USB stick.
What is really great about GIMP, though, is the army of plugins and scripts which make it even more useful. From the GIMP extensions pack for Windows, to 3D screenshots, to turning photos into comic book images—there are a huge amount to choose from.
Photos is the photo viewing and editing app for macOS. Photos is backed up by iCloud Photo Library, meaning that your photo collections are available on all of your Mac and iOS devices.
You can connect your camera to have your photos imported, drag a photo directly into Photos with your mouse, and also take advantage of the editing and sharing options. And if you want an easy-to-use photo editor, look no further—Photos offers one-click enhancements of a photo’s colors.
8. XnView MP
XnView MP supports over 500 file formats, with all the usual suspects (JPG, PNG, GIF) as well as some lesser-known ones such as Amiga IFF, Amstrad CPC, and Kodak RAW. Cross-platform for Windows, macOS, and Linux, you can also do batch conversion tasks and use the program under various translated languages.
Ratings, color labels, and categories ensure that your photos remain completely organized.
Zoner has a free edition and a paid edition. When you download it for the first time, you are immediately put on one month of Pro. After the 30 days are up, if you choose not to pay for Pro, then you are switched to the free version.
The Pro version costs $89. At that price point, you would be hard-pressed to find a reason to buy the app. As a comparison, the professional Adobe Lightroom is only $9.99/month.
Zoner has extras such as photo frames and templates, a script to view PS and EPS files, and several extras for RAW file formats. Other features include camera photo imports, batch renaming, batch re-organizing, a range of editing tools, and more.
Pixlr is a web app for editing photos. This is another easy-to-use photo editor that’s ideal for beginners. You can use the app to open an image from your desktop or from the web.
There’s support for masks and layers, plenty of adjustment, effect, and filter options, and a way to add text to your images. It should be noted that Pixlr is ad-supported.
Editing Photos on Your Smartphone
The photo editing apps for beginners in this article all work on your desktop. However, there are times when you might need to edit photos on your smartphone. To learn about some of the options available, check out our articles listing the best photo editors for Android and the best photo editors for iOS. If you’re looking for web apps instead of mobile apps, try these simple single-purpose online apps for editing photos.
When you’re ready to share your photos with the world, try one of these Squarespace photo site templates before you set up a website from scratch. And if you ever want to reward yourself or a fellow photography enthusiast for leveling up in a major way, pick from one of these top gifts for photographers.