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Adobe Photoshop is the king of image editors, but it costs a pretty penny. But don’t worry, you can get most of its best features for free through a few online tools.
No, we aren’t talking about the usual popular cloud-based photo editors like PicMonkey, Pixlr, SumoPaint, and others. These are relatively little-known image editors that make it easy for anyone to apply basic effects on their photos.
Naturally, none of these apps are going to be as powerful and full-featured as Photoshop itself. Adobe has hundreds of engineers working on a single product, while these online apps are usually labors of love.
Photopea (Web): The Best Free Online Photoshop Alternative
There is no debate about this. Forget about Pixlr, forget about SumoPaint, forget about anything else you’ve tried. Once you use Photopea, you can’t go back. It’s as close to the Photoshop experience as you’re going to get.
The web app looks and feels like Photoshop, so you’ll get used to it instantly. There are detailed tutorials available for it so that you can learn how to use any feature. All the popular Photoshop features are available, like clone stamp, layers, filters, and so on. You can even open a PSD file or save an image as PSD.
Photopea’s best part is that it does all its computation offline, so your pictures are never sent to the cloud. Open the website and that’s it, the rest of the work is happening on your computer. That not only makes it faster than working online but also protects your data.
Photopea has been around for some time, but never really got its due. After recently getting some great updates, it has been gaining some popularity. Hop on this bandwagon now. Chromebook users should especially give this one a whirl.
Mara.Photos (Web): Swiss Army Knife of Tools and Effects
Mara slipped under most people’s radar when it launched, but it’s a brilliant and simple image editing app. It has a whole bunch of effects, filters, and tools, all of which can be applied to an image for free.
First, you need to select the effect you want to apply. Options include Resize, Crop, Rotate, Type, Sketchpad, Pop, Vintage, Art, Frame, Overlay, Stickers, Converter, Auto Fix, Red Eye, Color Picker/Converter, Dropper, Brightness/Contrast, Hue/Saturation, Vibrance, Curves, Blur, Sharpen, Smooth, Noise, Grayscale (Black & White), Threshold, Vignette, Pixelate, Mosaic, Straighten, Skew, Perspective, Twirl, Bulge/Pinch, Wave, Splitter, Color Tint, Bump, Invert Colors, Palette Extractor, Optimize Palette, GIF Editor, APNG/AWebP Editor, Mirror, Kaleidoscope, ASCII Art, 3D Anaglyph, Glitcher, RAW, EXIF, PNG Metadata, Steganography, ANSI Art, Vector Graphics Editor.
You can then upload the image from your desktop, cloud drive, or share a URL. Each effect has multiple tweaks you can make, choosing how deeply to apply the effect. And yes, once you apply an effect, you can transfer the image to another tool or effect.
Remove BG (Web): Automatically Remove Backgrounds of Photos
Remove BG is one of the simplest single-purpose online photo-editing apps available. It’s almost magical. In Adobe Photoshop, the magic wand tool lets you select the main subject of an image and then remove the background in the picture. Well, Remove BG is the free tool to do that online.
You have to try it out to see how well it works. Upload a picture from your computer or paste a URL. Remove BG will work on it for a few minutes and then you’ll get a result of the before and after version of the picture. You can download and save it to your computer for free, without any watermark. It’s fantastic.
Remove BG is by far the best online tool we’ve seen for this feature. Others don’t offer the same accuracy or make you pay to remove watermarks. Bookmark this one, you’ll need it.
Image Toolbox (Web): Easy Batch Image Resizing and Converting
Photoshop’s scripts make it easy to resize a batch of images quickly. If you want to do that online, Image Toolbox has your back.
The web app lets you resize a bunch of images at the same time. You can resize them based on specific resolutions for width or height, or by percentage of the original picture.
At the same time, Image Toolbox can also convert all images to JPEG or PNG, depending on what you want. As always, you can choose the quality of the JPEG or PNG file, which determines the file size too.
One nice feature is that you don’t need to re-upload the pictures if you don’t get it right the first time. There’s an option to “Re-edit and retry”, which saves you the time and energy of uploading a huge number of images a second time to get it right.
Promo Social Media Image Resizer (Web): Every Social Size, All at Once
This isn’t technically a Photoshop feature, but Photoshop scripts do make it easy to convert one image into several different sizes for different social media uses in one click. Now you can do that online with Promo’s handy tool.
It’s surprisingly easy to use. First, upload a picture or add it from a URL. Then scroll down to select the types of image sizes you want. Promo has templates for everything you’d need in Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Email and Blog, and Google Display Network. These include every type of profile picture, cover image, story, and other space where you can upload the image.
The downloaded package of zipped files has the image type in the file name, so it’s easy to know what to upload where. It’s a fantastic tool that makes life much easier.
One-Click Tools for Easier Image Editing
The multitude of options and features in Photoshop isn’t for everyone. Many people need something simpler. This is why we’ve also looked at great alternatives to Lightroom.
And did you know that the popular drag-and-drop design tool Canva not lets you create stunning graphics, as well as editing images?