10 Free Online Photo Editors
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 out these web-based image editing tools that are just a click away...
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.
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 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 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 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.
Another online photo editor worth mentioning is LunaPic. It offers basic editing functions, as well as 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. One nice feature that you'll find on the LunaPic home page is a series of links that take you directly to a specific editing function, such as Ctop Image, Add Text, etc. 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.
Fotor has some editing tools that let you fine-tune the look of a photograph. But I mention it also because it offers some nifty tools for social media. On the Design tab, you'll find a set of tools that help you create a cover image for Facebook, Youtube, Twitter or Google+. You can also whip up an image for an Instagram or Facebook post.
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.
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 "Edit 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. Do you use an online photo editor? Tell me which one you like by posting a comment below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 26 Jan 2016
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- 10 Free Online Photo Editors (Posted: 26 Jan 2016)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved