Image Editing Software

There are many types of image editing software available today. Learn your options, free and otherwise, in this lesson.

Advanced image editing software

If you need additional editing tools, you may want to use an advanced image editing application. You can learn more about some of the most popular ones below, but keep in mind that these are just a few of the many available options.

Adobe Photoshop

Even if you've never done much image editing, you may have heard of Photoshop. Available for both Windows and Mac devices, Photoshop is an extremely powerful application that's used by many professional photographers and designers. It's also very expensive, so unless you need to edit photos professionally you may want to consider getting one of the more affordable (or free) options below.

screenshot of photoshop

Photoshop Elements

You can think of Photoshop Elements as "Photoshop Light"—it gives you access to some of the most popular features from the full version of Photoshop, but it usually costs less than $100. While some advanced Photoshop users may be frustrated by its limitations, Photoshop Elements is a good option for beginner to intermediate users.

screenshot of photoshop elements


While it's only available for Mac, Pixelmator includes many of the advanced features found in Photoshop and usually costs less than $50.


Originally designed as an open-source alternative to Microsoft Paint, Paint.NET now includes several advanced editing tools. While it's only available for Windows, Paint.NET is free to use.

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Designed as an open-source alternative to Photoshop, GIMP is free to use on both Windows and Mac. While it's a powerful application, you may find the interface confusing and difficult to use if you aren't somewhat familiar with other image editing software.


Like Pixlr Express, the full Pixlr Editor is a free application that runs in your web browser. However, it also includes many advanced features and in many ways is similar to Photoshop.

screenshot of Pixlr

Photo management software

Many professional photographers prefer to use a photo-management application, such as Adobe Lightroom, Aperture, Windows Photo Gallery, or iPhoto. With organizational tools like tagging and folders, these applications make it easy to view and manage many photos. Conveniently, they also include many editing tools, which means you can use a single application for all of your image editing needs.

screenshot of lightroom