7 Free Online Photo Editors

Category: Photography

A reader asks: 'What do you recommend for quick photo editing when you're away from your own computer and you don't have PhotoShop or something similar available?' It turns out there are quite a few online image and photo editors, and the features they offer are quite impressive. Check these out...

Online Photo Editors

The Internet offers many venues for sharing photos and images. In response to the popularity of sites like Flickr and Facebook, several websites have popped up offering online image editing services that you can use for free. Some of them rival the features found in expensive professional image software.

Because they're free and web-based, these programs don't require cash, downloads or commitments. However, they do have some limitations. Let's take a look at some of these web-based photo editing tools, to see what they offer and how they can make your digital photography tasks easier.

online photo editing

Pixlr

The folks behind Pixlr aren't shy... they claim to have "the most popular online photo editor" in the world. And wow, I was amazed at the breadth and depth of the editing features they offer. Both casual and professional users will find the tools they need to accomplish the most common photo and image editing operations. I recommend that you start with Pixlr Express, a simplified (but powerful) interface that offers crop, resize, rotate, autofix, sharpen, red eye removal, color effects, image overlays, borders and text annotation. You can open an image from your hard drive, a web address or webcam. The Express version can only save images on your computer's hard drive.

The full Pixlr photo editor has a fully stocked image editing toolset, offering all of the above, plus drawing tools, layers, dozens of image adjustment tools, format conversions (JPEG, PNG, BMP, TIFF), and the ability to fetch or store images via Facebook, Flickr or Picasa account. Pixlr runs on any computer with a web browser and an internet connection - there's nothing to download or install. You can also find mobile versions that run on your iPhone, iPad or Android devices. Did I say wow? Wow.

FotoFlexer

FotoFlexer also makes the bold claim to be "the most advanced online image editor." FotoFlexer lets you upload your own image, or grab one from your Photobucket, Facebook, Flickr, Picasa or Smugmug library. You'll find a wide range of tools, with a focus on photo editing. Auto fix, red eye correction, cropping, resizing and rotating are all wasy to find on the Basic menu. The effects menu lets you posterize, "heartify", go retro, pixelate, or apply a variety of cool effects such as Blur Edges, Comic, Blueprint or Painting.

You'll have a blast playing with these. The Decorate menu lets you add text, stickers, draw, do color fills, or add borders. The Beautify menu lets you focus on the face, with options to smooth, sharpen, fix blemishes or remove wrinkles. Advanced users will want to explore the Distort, Layers and Geek menus. FotoFlexr might not have all of the advanced image editing tools found in Pixlr, but I give it an A+ for the fun factor, and ease of use.

Sumo Paint

Sumo Paint claims to be the most versatile photo editor and painting application that works in a browser. It has all the features you'd expect in a basic image editor, such as crop, resize, rotate, and the ability to add lines, text and shapes. Advanced features include transforming objects, layering, color adjustments, and a variety of filters (sharpen, pixelate, textures, blur, noise, light effects, and edge detection).

I especially like that you can start working right away without creating an account or logging in. Images can be opened or stored from either your local hard drive or cloud storage. Sumo's interface and feature set reminds me a lot of the PaintShop Pro software that's installed on my office computer. The one thing lacking on the website is a description of the features available, and how to use them. There are some Sumo Paint video tutorials on Youtube.

Adobe Photoshop Express

If you want to work with an online photo editing site that is associated with a well known and trusted brand name, then consider Adobe Photoshop Express. This browser based photo editing site is free to use, and provides you with many of the most common editing tools offered by Adobe Photoshop products. Some of the tools offered on this site include crop, straighten, rotate, flip, adjust color, and red eye removal. You can adjust colors, add effects and finish off your creation with a border or frame.

PicMonkey

PicMonkey starts you off in the Basic Edits tab which offers crop, rotate, exposure, colors, sharpen and resize options. If you need more, explore the Effects, Touch Up, Text, Overlays, Frames, Textures or Themes. The Effects tab lets you apply a variety of photographic effects to your image; Touch Ups are great for fixing faces. You can open files from your hard drive, Dropbox, Facebook or Flickr, and save them back to your local drive or Dropbox.

BeFunky

With so many claiming to be the World's Best Photo Editor, why not toss another into the fray? BeFunky makes that bold claim on its home page, and starts off by letting you load a photo from your hard drive, webcam, Facebook, Flickr, Photobucket, Picasa, or BF's own cloud storage. The Essentials tab lets you crop, resize, rotate, change colors & exposure, sharpen, blur, or Beautify. The Touch Up tab lets you smooth, fix redeye, change eye color, add lipstick whiten teeth, or remove wrinkles. Other tabs let you apply text, effects, and borders. You can save your work in any of the source options, with the obvious exception of the webcam.

Flickr

While researching this article, I made a discovery. Flickr, the online photo storage and sharing service, also has a pretty awesome built-in photo editing tool. This might be old news to some Flickr users, but it sure wasn't obvious to me. To use the photo editor, open a photo in your Flickr photostream, then click the icon that looks like a pencil in a box, in the lower right of the Flickr window. The "Enhance with Aviary" option will open the photo editor.

Pros and Cons of Online Photo Editing Sites

So, online photo editing sites provide you with basic editing, markup tools and some advanced image manipulation options. This is great if you're away from your home computer and have photos you want to share, or when you don't have photo editing software of your own. Another advantage offered by these sites is that they are usually connected to social network sites and you can quickly send your images to your favorite websites. (See also my companion article: Free Online Photo Storage and Sharing.)

On the other hand, while these sites are free, fun and functional, there are limitations to what they have to offer. First of all if you have a dial up or satellite Internet connection these sites will be very slow or laggy. Also, if you're a power user of PhotoShop or other advanced desktop image editing software, you may not find all the fancy tools to which you're accustomed. But for most people, the range of features offered by the online photo editors is more than adequate.

And here's one important tip to remember... Don't hit the Back button in your browser while editing a photo. Always use the navigation buttons provided by the website, or you could lose all your edits in a single click.

I'm finding more and more free software that's totally web-based, meaning that it runs right in your browser, and there's nothing to download. I like this trend, because it really simplifies my life. Nothing to install, and I can access my programs and files from any computer with an Internet connection. Web-based software will also insulate you from operating system upgrades that sometimes cause software to stop working.

All in all, free online photo editing websites are very useful. For many users, they can serve as a replacement for the traditional "download and install" photo editing software. These sites are still being perfected and some bugs are still being worked out. In the future, you can look forward to many more features and options to choose from when editing your photographs online.

Do you use an online photo editor? Tell us which one you like by posting a comment below...

 
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Most recent comments on "7 Free Online Photo Editors"

Posted by:

JP
18 Jul 2014

One of my favorite online photo editors is LunaPic: http://www160.lunapic.com/editor/ In addition to being able to perform basic editing functions, it also offers color and exposure corrections, scaling, watermarks, and the ability to create animated GIFs. If you already have an animated GIF, you can edit it, too. There are also several video tutorials that show how to use many of its features. You can save your edited image to your computer or to several web sites including Facebook and Tumblr.


Posted by:

T E McGinness
18 Jul 2014

The requested URL cannot be provided

URL: http://www.sumopaint.com/home/

Blocked by Web Anti-Virus
Reason: phishing URL

Click here if you believe that the web page has been blocked mistakenly. Detection method: heuristic analysis

EDITOR'S NOTE: False positive


Posted by:

Phil
18 Jul 2014

Well, Bob......I accessed all but 3 of these apps. The others either required more info. than I wanted to give them....or...as in one case, I could not access it at all. Perhaps because of my Ghostery tracker blocker...not sure. Anyway....my favorite of the bunch is still Adobe PhotoShop Express. The quality of the resulting cropped and adjusted image was noticeably higher quality than the others. I notice that if one wants to print, after adjustments are made, one has to save the file on the computer and then print from the computer. I assume that is because the printer software and, in my case, wireless access is required. At least I could not find a way to print from any of the ones I tried.
I think it was the SUMO Paint that brought up a message that a new version was coming soon.
This was a very good and informative article and I've forwarded it to several friends and family members who are also photo hobbyists.


Posted by:

Adolf
19 Jul 2014

Why in the world would anyone pay for Adobe Photo Shop? I got a free version when I bought a Computer a few years ago. You know all that crap ware included with QVC or HSN. Which after a few months says you may continue using it for free if you allow a Watermark on every Photo. Like a Mug Shot from the PD. Pay a Couple of Hundred bucks for a one year subscription, renew get 10% off.


Posted by:

cybercipher50
19 Jul 2014

IMHO... Gotta include IrfanView (with plugins) and GIMP in any list such as this.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Those are good for what they do, but they're not web-based tools.


Posted by:

john
19 Jul 2014

I have found some other sites fail to mention Picasa, too. Am I using something out of date?

EDITOR'S NOTE: Picasa is still available, but not web-based, which is why I didn't mention it here.


Posted by:

Larry
20 Jul 2014

Do any of these support RAW images?


Posted by:

trish
21 Jul 2014

Hi, love your emails,

I had picasa, google, on my other computor, when it broke down totally....and I signed in on my laptop, I can't remember the details, but I no longer have those pictures, which was a few thousand,almost, or so.
Even though I used same email accounts etc.


Posted by:

Jim Peabody
21 Jul 2014

With Fotor (www.fotor.com) you can make quick and easy edits (1-Tap Enhance, resize, crop, rotate, straighten) or turn it up a notch by adjusting the lighting curve, brightness, contrast, saturation, sharpness, or tone and colors. That's just in the basic edits!

Other tools allow adding photo effects, Lomo Effects, Cool Effects, Funky Effects, Tile Effect, Blur Effect, Webcam Effects, photo frames, stickers, text, or color splash, mosaic, webcam, and tilt shift tools.

I haven't tried the ones you listed, but this is my "go-to" when not on my home computer.

-JimP


Posted by:

Fronia
16 Aug 2014

There is no other photo editing software that is as great as Adobe Photoshop. I employ it often on family photos and the photos i take when i am travelling abroad. Adobe Photoshop has so many great features.


Posted by:

kamran
15 Sep 2014

great list of photo editors, picasa is not really a photo editor, instead you can try http://www.onlinephotoshopfree.net which is a good photo editor for me.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Looks like Pixlr, is it any different? If so, how?


Posted by:

Johan
07 Oct 2014

I found another one Retouch Passion. It is fast and easy to work with using drag and drop filters and tools. The tools are pretty basic but you can achieve some really cool effects.


Posted by:

jenny
14 Feb 2015

Hello Admin,as a profestional photographer i can understand, how much this tools are important in our life. You List are really amazing, When i am away from my pc, or at friends place i always miss my real photoshp tool, this tool will really give me a lot more edting function to do my work. IN your list PIcasa was closed, Pixlr is best but instead of pixlr you can addd http://www.toolpic.com do check it out and then only add in your list. as this toolpic have all function which pixlr have in paid version . like shortcut effect and animation template.


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