Photography is an art, an art that captures the beauty in still form, representing living things and ideas on a digital canvas. Or at least, every photographer would like their work to be oohed and aahed at. Obviously, taking a fantastic snap with a fine gadget is half the battle. The other half? Photo editing.
Editing your photos is an essential part of digital photography these days. While professional photographers have already made their choices of digital photo editing tools, rookies in the business are generally more at sea regarding what applications to use to customize their photos precisely to their requirements. This guide comes to the rescue: we have rounded up the dozen or so best photo editing software tools for macOS and Windows in 2019.
Even if the pictures you took are truly average, that’s the bread and butter of a competent photo editing tool. By the time the so-so picture has been judiciously run through the myriad features of a tool like Adobe Photoshop, you might have succeeded in making photography lemonade out of a lemon. The point is, photo editing software can be used to bring an aspect of the photo into focus or give it just the right colour and texture.
However, there are a billion tools out there claiming to be the best editor the photography world can offer. Choosing the definitive best among them is an impossible task, but the correct combination of tools can be selected to complement the skills of the photographer.
Some tools are basically great. Canva, for example, has gotten a head of steam this year as the newish kid on the photography block. Others are paid but highly regarded mainstays like the offerings from Adobe — Lightroom and Photoshop. In between are many more tools that a lot of photographers will swear by. There are even some free but effective tools out there.
Trying to pick and choose the best among them all is a fool’s errand. We will gladly be the fools and gather 11 of the best photo editors around in 2019. You be the wise one and select from our list of the tools that best fit what you’re looking for at this point in your photography journey.
But Why Edit Photos?
There is a saying that the most accurate photograph is the one taken. So why edit photographs? What is the whole point of photo editing tools anyway?
- Photo editing software allows you to process your photo the exact way you envisioned the scene when you clicked the camera shutter.
- You can refine the default image captured by the camera’s native processor.
- You can massively reduce the size of your photograph.
- You can create thousands of effects, ranging from playful to somber, with just a few minutes of editing.
- Eliminate colors or objects you don’t like from the photograph.
If you’re a photographer, you will no doubt think of even more reasons to run that raw image through a competent photo editor. Without any more delay, here are 11 of the best photo editors you can get anywhere.
It is amazing that Luminar from Skylum launched just three short years ago. This wonderful photo editing and image manipulation tool has quickly blown some of its more storied competitors out of the water with awesome features that have quickly engendered a community of dedicated Luminarians.
Whether you’re an Instagram addict, take photography as a hobby, or have rather more grand ambitions with your trusty DSLR, Luminar has basically everything you need. What’s more, you don’t have to worry about forking out tens of dollars on a monthly subscription. You pay a one-time fee to subscribe to the service, and you’re granted instant access to dozens of tools, including skin enhancement and an AI-powered sky replacement feature.
Skylum has gone to great lengths to make sure there is a version of Luminar for you no matter what you need. Users on Windows can easily download the Windows version, while those in bed with Apple have their very own version for macOS. And if you don’t want to give up Photoshop or Lightroom (or both), you can easily use Luminar as a plug-in to create a super photo editing app. The plug-in is available for Apple Photos as well.
Luminar 4 has a streamlined interface that makes photo editing super accessible to everyone – from laymen to pros. Its system of slides is intuitive and easy to grasp, letting users enjoy brightening, clarifying, toning, and other basic adjustments. If you’re looking for a tool that gives Adobe’s products a run for their money while saving you some of yours, look no further than Skylum Luminar.
What you get in Skylum Luminar 4:
- Advanced sky replacement technology that lets you select a new sky for your image with one click or move of a slider
- An intuitive and easy-to-use interface divided into five major categories — Tools, Essentials, Creative, Portrait, and Pro
- AI portrait tools – Skin Enhancer and Portrait Enhancer – that combine to smooth skin, erase blemishes and make dozens of other skin-related adjustments
- A one-time subscription
Requirements: PC: Dual-core CPU or better, 8GB RAM, Windows 7 SP1 to 10 | Mac: Dual-core CPU or better, 8GB RAM, OS X 10.11.6 or later | Minimum screen resolution: 1280×768 pixels
Get discounts on Skylum Luminar Master, Expert or Guru Edition here.
PixStudio is from the universe of Wondershare, a platform that anyone with the faintest idea of photo and video editing recognizes as a hegemon in the graphics cosmos. Unsurprisingly, PixStudio exhibits the same flexibility and versatility that are synonymous with Wondershare. While other tools are designed with specific purposes in mind and often intend to sharpen your editing skills, PixStudio caters to different levels of editing expertise and can accommodate you whether you have never used an editing tool in your life or do so on a regular basis.
Perhaps the best incentive to use PixStudio is the vast collage of templates that you can access with your browser. PixStudio has a spectacularly robust base of templates, each of which can be adjusted to suit your preferences. Moreover, because this template library is designed for maximum effects, you can customize them to your heart’s content for free. That means that PixStudio is useful for a photo editor who is not interested in paying exorbitant fees only because they want to insert a different background into their designs.
The massive template offering also has a simple algorithm that allows you to drag and drop graphic elements. By implication, you can effectively use PixStudio while having never edited anything before and still be thought of as a pro. All you need in this instance is a hand or finger that can move your cursor from one end of the screen to the other. And that’s only templates – PixStudio has much more to offer.
PixStudio offers a sort of distinctive digital canvas that you can use to create graphic designs from scratch. The design kit allows anyone with a stable connection to the internet to use an almost limitless number and variety of colours, shapes and texts to create and edit family photos, selfies, business cards, and brochures, to name but a few. Because all these features are inbuilt, you would not need to subscribe to any paid plans to use them. Naturally, however, you get even more value, flexibility and design options when you subscribe to a paid plan.
PixStudio offers four subscription options: the Free Plan, which costs $0 and grants you access to all templates, photos, elements, and text, with 50MB of cloud storage; the Monthly Pro plan, which costs $9.99 a month and offers 1GB of cloud storage and a single-click feature to remove any background from your image; the Quarterly Pro plan, which costs $19.99 per quarter and offers the same perks as the monthly plan; and the Yearly Pro plan, which comes with the same benefits as the Quarterly Pro plan except that it costs less. Thus, you save $20.08 if you subscribe to the yearly plan and $9.98 if you subscribe to the quarterly plan.
The only minus to subscribing to the free plan instead of any of the paid plans is that you won’t be able to download your images as high-quality JPEGs or PNGs with transparent backgrounds. Other than this, and the 50MB or 1GB of cloud storage, you are good to go.
PixStudio works both on Windows and macOS.
What you get in Wondershare PixStudio:
- Click and drag functions for easily customizing templates
- Options for seamless editing from your browser
- A simple interface
- 50MB of free/10GB of paid cloud storage
Requirements: A connected browser. No options for package download.
Click here to download Wondershare PixStudio.
There is a reason most editors are familiar with the PicsArt family of editing tools—they are awesome. This universal assessment is based on the fact that PicsArt takes the most complicated and ambiguous features of editing, the kinds that separate master editors from greenhorns, and simplifies them. You are more likely to see a beginner using PicsArt to do stunning designs with an artistic flourish than any other tool. Still, accomplished graphic designers never tire of the nearly endless collection of photo outlines, texts, colours, shapes, masks, filters, and layers that make up PicsArt’s template library.
It is not every day that one gets an all-in-one photo editor like PicsArt. The tool offers a deep treasury of features that every kind of editor is likely to be entranced by. With 100+ million images and stickers, it is very difficult not to find a suitable template for your designs.
For beginners, PicsArt is a fantastic playground with offerings for tasks as simple as point-and-click colouring and as complex as image superimposition. For the professional, PicsArt is not only an enabler with its collage of stickers and images that can be customized and personalized but is also an enhancer with photo effects that border on the highlights of moving pictures.
Besides the template editor, there are many tools in the PicsArt kit that you are likely to find useful. One of the more popular of these tools is the image upscale, which allows you to increase the resolution of your image with a single click. In other words, you can remove that grainy look from your image with a single click while using PicsArt. Added to this, you can add stickers, slideshows, and all kinds of effects, whether light effects, sketch effects, canvas effects, or tightly fitted intersections and overlays. Truly magical.
Besides these effects, PicsArt offers the option of mimicking a format or style. This means that you can, again with a single click, create a perfect copy of any element from another image. You can manipulate the pixels in the photo to create interesting effects, brighten or soften the colours, remove or add objects from the PicsArt template library or some other image, and lots more.
The pricing is also quite fair. There are three options for subscription and usage: the Free option, which doesn’t require you to pay anything but guarantees access to standard editing tools and millions of templates to choose from and work with; the Gold option, which offers premium editing tools, an even larger library of templates (estimated to be more than 2 million premium stock images, photos, videos, and graphics), high resolutions with which you can save your photos, and the option to remove all watermarks —all for $4.66 a month or $55.99 a year; and the Team option, which allows multiple users to use the same account with every perk from the Gold option available to every member. The Team option costs $6.24 a month and $74.98 a year if you are adding 1 person to the team and $45.61 a month and $547.4 a year if you are adding as many as 10. Talk about an editing tool that is cost-effective and suitable for collaborative projects.
Overall, PicsArt is the photo editor’s super tool with ready options for any kind of user – with any level of skill.
What you get in PicsArt:
- 100+ million stickers and images for easy and fast content creation
- Options for creating personalized stickers
- Batch editing for multiple images
- Reasonable pricing options
Web browsers: Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, or Edge
OS: Windows 10, x64 or x86 / macOS 11.0 or later and a Mac with an Apple M1 chip
Movavi Picverse Photo Editor
It is fine to use photo editors that are an all-purpose set of tools. It is better to use one that is designed with an editor’s preferences in mind. This is Movavi Picverse—as exquisitely unique as its name. Beyond the usual collection of tools and kits for editors of all skill levels, Movavi Picverse offers smart options for more efficient and time-saving editing. With this particular editing tool, the process of element insertion, background removal, toning and retouching, or any of the many other strokes of your cursor is so much easier to do. Did we mention enjoyable?
Movavi Picverse is modern. There is no other way to describe its organisation of tools for photo editing. The typical photo editor throws a million features at you and expects to wow you with an identical variety of fonts, colours, masks, and filters. Not Movavi Picverse. The tools are presented in a modernist fashion, so high-tech that it appears minimalist. So if you are interested in a photo editor that does not clutter your probably already cluttered screen, Movavi Picverse is for you.
One of the strongest points of this editing tool is the flawless integration of AI features, meaning that the tool runs on smart algorithms that were formulated to provide you with the best experience. Again, there is much to wow you, from the very process of editing to the results. The interface appears to read your mind and therefore provides you with quick alternatives. This does not only help you save quality time but also takes your efficiency to the next level! In other words, even a photo edited by a beginner can look like something from an expert who has put in several hours. This is AI at its best, thanks to the smart features of Movavi Picverse.
Another advantage that Movavi Picverse has over other photo editors is the degree of freedom and control it gives you. This is also because it runs on AI. As a result, every pixel in your photo is essentially available for touching, stretching and any other kind of adjustment. This way, you can renew old photos, soften wrinkles and erase facial spots, if that is what you need. Even though AI is involved, your photo will look as real as one that is freshly taken.
The good news is that all these benefits are available to both Windows and Mac users. There are paid options for yearly renewals ($44.95) and lifetime usage ($59.95). There are also options for using Picverse with the Slideshow Maker ($59.95 a year per PC) or Picverse with the Slideshow Maker and the Photo Manager ($79.95 a year per PC). The Slideshow Maker alone costs $39.95 per year, and the Photo Manager alone costs the same $39.95 for the same duration. There are also business options, and the costs and perks can be gotten here.
The size is only 57.4MB (version 1.3) at the moment, and the interface is in about 12 known languages.
What you get in Movavi Picverse Photo Editor:
- A modern-looking minimalist interface
- AI-powered photo editing
- Editable metadata before exporting
- Paid options for the Slideshow Maker and the Photo Manager
Requirements: Windows 7/8/10 64-bit / Mac OS X® 10.10 or higher / Intel Core i5 or higher / 6GB of RAM and 500 MB of available hard disk space for installation / 1280 × 768 screen resolution, 32-bit color.
Click here to download Movavi Picverse Photo Editor.
If you have ever been—or are still—a Windows user and have come across Windows 8, CyberLink should be familiar to you. The company provides different multimedia packages. CyberLink PhotoDirector is one that stands out. The tool offers a systematized toolkit that heightens the excitement of photo editing. The catchphrase here is “add, add and add again!” Whether these are customizable graphic elements, filters or effects, CyberLink PhotoDirector is a perfect digital canvas for you.
CyberLink PhotoDirector does not only offer options for a multitude of editing demands; it also grants you access to modern AI-powered effects that ensure that even the most out-of-place stroke is as artistic as a flick of Picasso’s brush. Essentially, CyberLink PhotoDirector turns you into an artist even if all you are is a photo editor.
With over 2.5 million stock images from Shutterstock, the template library of CyberLink PhotoDirector is a favourite among editors. This mesmerizing box of attachments allows you to create content without expending too much brain juice. With CyberLink PhotoDirector, editing is usually a process of adding, adjusting and reviewing, rather than brainstorming. And this is all without the AI advantages.
With AI, features in your photo are recognized, and options for colouring, shaping and other graphic attributes are suggested as you go along. The most popular option here is a tool called Sky Replacement, which allows you to replace the colour varieties (including contrast, sharpness, etc.) of your photo so that it looks real enough to touch. Other tools like Dispersion Effect, Motion Tool and Photo Animation Tool grant you wizardly powers over your photos. In the blink of an eye, a scanned photograph can be edited into a masterpiece.
One interesting offering from CyberLink PhotoDirector is an audio library that provides you with captivating music tracks to hasten or add that oomph to your editing. This way, any hastiness to end your photo editing session is treated to a variety of mood-setting music, from oriental sounds to easy listening, holiday jingles and drama and suspense. Who knew that editing could be more than a face-off between you and your PC screen?
Perhaps the best thing about CyberLink PhotoDirector is that its design packs are cheap. For Windows and Mac users, the standard pricing is $3.17 a month and $37.99 a year. There is a slightly costlier option at $8.08 a month and $96.99 a year. One of the differences between the standard PhotoDirector 365 option and the Director Suite 365 option is that you get 100GB for the latter and 50GB for the former. There are lifetime subscription options that range from between $51.99 and $134.99, depending on certain terms and conditions. You can get these here.
What you get in CyberLink PhotoDirector:
- Sky Replacement tools for family photos and selfies
- Glitch art effects
- An audio library for slideshows
- Affordable pricing
Requirements: The minimum requirements for Windows users are Microsoft Windows 10, 8/8.1, 7 (64-bit). For Mac users, the requirements are macOS 10.14, macOS 10.15. In both use cases, a 4GB RAM is acceptable – although higher options are best for AI-powered editing.
Click here to download CyberLink PhotoDirector.
ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate
Among the expanding number of contenders in the photo editing field, a few still fly under the radar despite several years of continuous excellence. ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate is as good as Lightroom in several respects and surpasses its more famous rivals in areas like the customizability of the user interface and speed of everything, from generating RAW file previews to batch processing.
Arguably, what sets ACDSee apart is its import function. Unlike Lightroom and most other photo processing programs out there, it doesn’t need to import image files into its own catalog or database. It accesses the user’s hard drive and does everything from there. Even when it has to copy files from an external source such as a card reader, it imports those directly into the local hard drive.
With ACDSee, you can easily and quickly categorize your images through advanced face detection and facial recognition. This way, you can always group your photos according to the people in them or quickly search for specific people. The presence of every kind of editing tool you can ask for is supplemented by an easy-to-use interface through which you can quickly find what you need to give your image the desired look.
ACDSee has a version for Mac users, and a full license on Windows or macOS entitles up to 5 users to its complete range of tools along with 500GB of cloud storage hosted on SeeDrive. Add in the ACDSee Web Gallery for online showcases and the option to use it as a plug-in to Photoshop, along with such underrated tools like Smart Erase, Liquify, and Color LUT support, and ACDSee is easily in the conversation of the best image processing tools available now.
What you get in ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate:
- A friendly and intuitive interface
- No need to import images into catalogs
- Customizable keyboard shortcuts
- Face recognition, giving you the ability to quickly index images
- Options for a lifetime purchase or monthly subscription
Requirements: PC: Dual-core CPU or better, 8GB RAM, Windows 7 SP1 to 10 | Mac: Dual-core CPU or better, 6GB RAM, OS X 10.12 or later | Hard drive: 2GB | Minimum screen resolution: 1024×768 pixels.
Click here to download ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate 2021.
What is better than a lifetime license or a low-cost monthly subscription model? High-quality freemium, that’s what. Canva offers this pricing model, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In comparison to photo editing behemoths like Lightroom and Capture One, Canva is simpler but also more expansive. It goes beyond a mere image editor to encompass the whole gamut of graphic design.
With Canva, dragging and dropping files has never been more colorful or enjoyable. It comes with an exciting suite of features that turn ideas into stunning designs within just a few cursor movements. You can use your own images or borrow from Canva’s collection of professional photographs grouped by subject.
If you haven’t yet caught on by now, photo editing is just one aspect of Canva, but it isn’t an aspect to be scoffed at. Though it isn’t as robust as the more mainstream offerings, it isn’t meant to be. Gone are the confusing UI and mishmash of options in other tools. With Canva, simply drop your image and get to work using the customizable filters to get the perfect brightness, contrast, and saturation.
Canva is available online and runs on Windows, macOS, and mobile platforms, giving users the ability to do what they want to their images from practically any device on earth. Since 2012, the app has become the go-to for those who wish to do a little bit of refining to make sure that their photos stand out from the pile.
With Canva, you can easily upload a photo, choose a design, edit the image to your heart’s content, add descriptive text, and upload the finished product to Instagram or your website — all without breaking a sweat. You can get all these options and more with a monthly subscription of $9.95. With its array of features perfectly suited to the social media age, Canva is a design enthusiast’s dream.
What you get in Canva Pro:
- Freemium software, usable for free online
- Thousands of customizable templates to choose from
- An ability to add stickers, badges, and bubbles
- Drag and drop functionality
- Seamless integration with social media, chat, cloud storage, and productivity applications
Requirements: Web Browsers: Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari or Edge | Android Phones: Android 4.1 Jellybean or later | iPhones: iOS 10 or later | Stable internet connection on all platforms
Paying through the nose for Adobe Lightroom or Capture One Pro is all well and good, but what’s the point if they can’t work as quickly as you’d like? Not everyone has the time to sit down in front of a PC to process every facet of an image. If you’re after a quick fix for your graphic design and editing needs, you can do worse than take a chance on Snappa.
Snappa is designed for fast and easy editing and helps you create online graphics in a snap. If you want to make a quick image for Facebook, Twitter or Instagram or perhaps you need a YouTube thumbnail or channel art pronto, Snappa has the right image size for you, which you can select from its list of clickable presets.
What about creating that leaflet or invitation card for your best friend’s birthday? Snappa has tons and tons of pre-made templates that you can use and skip the tortuous process of starting from scratch. You just need to apply your own customizations and you’re done. You can add texts, shapes and photo effects until you get just the right blend for your image.
And if you’re a professional designer, you don’t always have to jet across the Atlantic in pursuit of that oh-so-perfect view of dusk. Snappa is chock-full of professional-grade stock photos that you can use without paying for. If you use Buffer, you can even schedule that social media ad right from Snappa. What’s not to love?
For $10 a month, you get the full features of Snappa, such as unlimited downloads, thousands of HD photos and graphics and social media sharing. The Snappa team gets you everything plus team collaboration between up to five users for $20 a month. You can still sign up for free to get a taste of Snappa’s goodness.
What you get in Snappa Pro:
- 1,000,000+ HD photos & graphics
- Unlimited downloads per month
- Social media sharing
- Buffer integration
- Custom font uploads
Get started on the Snappa website.
Fotor gives you the flexibility to edit your photos online or with its desktop app. And it allows you to start in one medium and finish in the other thanks to its cloud technology, which has made Fotor the favourite for more than 300 million users.
You can edit a photo you upload, make a collage or create a design. You can give your creations an artistic feel with the software’s wide selection of beautiful collages. And should you find yourself at a loss for what to say to your loved ones at Christmas, Fotor will come to the rescue with its selection of beautiful greeting cards and Christmas collages.
It is in online photo editing that the app really excels. It gives you everything Photoshop does without the hassle of downloading a program to use it. You can try Fotor Pro with a 7-day free trial.
What you get in Fotor Pro
- Online photo editing tools comparable to Lightroom
- Windows, macOS, and mobile versions, alongside the web interface
- Loads of templates and presets for easier editing
- Advanced filters and beauty retouching
Click here to start using Fotor.
Crello is an extensive graphic design software that also stands as a full-fledged editing tool for almost all types of content. With its help any user – both not tech-savvy and advanced editors – can easily create their custom templates, add beautiful animations and make their visuals stand out on social media. Not only can you edit images, remove background, add sound & animation to the content, but also take advantage of themed templates for major holidays and events which is extremely time-saving.
With an abundance of fonts, photo effects, built-in content library, and lots more, you are equipped with every single option one may require to create impressive content pieces.
You can start using a free version of Crello to test its core features. Pro plan will take you only $7.99 a month.
What you get in Crello Pro:
- Access to Brand Kits
- 1M+ free images
- 50k+ graphic design templates
- Unlimited downloads of royalty-free files
inPixio Photo Studio
inPixio Photo Studio 11 is designed for everyone — not just career photographers trotting the globe with DSLRs in their hands. Unlike other programs, inPixio lets you create professional-grade images on your very first day of diving into digital graphic design. The learning curve is practically non-existent thanks to the tool’s simple and intuitive interface, which still lets you add a wide range of effects to stock photos and uploads.
inPixio is both user-friendly and family-friendly. You can choose from lots of frames to encompass a lovely family photo, bring out the vintage feel with black and white filters, or apply the correct tone curve to achieve the perfect lighting.
You can make a customization and use batch mode to apply it to a set of images or save it as a preset for future use. And when you’re done, you can share your images on social media with a click or email them as postcards to loved ones. You can access the tool’s basic functionality with a free version called InPixio Photo Editor or unlock everything by paying $49.99 a year.
What you get in inPixio Photo Studio:
- Lots and lots of customizable frames in different themes, colors, and designs
- Vintage and other effects
- Blurs and textures
- Batch mode and presets
Click here to download inPixio Photo Studio 11.