Best Photo Editing Software and Apps

What kind of photographer are you? Do you snap and immediately share from your smartphone, share after a bit of tweaking, select and edit special pictures to use in projects or photo books, or are you a serious or professional photographer who takes pride (and time) carefully editing only your very best pictures?  

Depending on what you want to do with your photographs, there’s a slew of photo-editing programs and apps from which to choose. To help you select the best software, we tested six popular photo-editing programs, all either free or under $100: Apple Photos, Corel PaintShop Pro, GIMP, Google Photos, Adobe Photoshop Elements and Serif Affinity Photo.

Our Recommendations

Adobe Photoshop Elements ( on -) is our top pick for its robust yet accessible editing tools. Available for PCs and Macs, it also has a gentle learning curve for novices.

While it doesn’t offer much in the way of editing tools, Google Photos is the best at aggregating and organizing all of your photos, no matter which device they’re on. And, it’s free.

For pros or more advanced users, we recommend Affinity Photo Affinity Photo ($49.99 on Affinity) . While it will be harder for novices to pick up, it has a great range of powerful tools.

How We Tested

We considered the following criteria when evaluating these programs:

  • Organizing, syncing and accessing your photo library
  • Photo editing versatility and depth
  • Ease of use
  • Power
  • Sharing options
  • Device and file format support
  • Creative freedom
  • Fun

Each of the programs we tested didn't try to be the end-all, be-all for everyone. Therefore, we gave the various criteria different weights in our final ratings, depending on what the program's objective was and the kind of photographer to whom it would appeal.

Photography Guides

Looking for some tips to become a better photographer? Then check out our tips for taking great photos on your vacation, at weddings, of your kids, of your food, fireworks, and more.

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The Best Photo Storage Sites
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5 comments
    Your comment
  • zer0c00l587
    The average user only needs GIMP, unless you're photographer, the rest is a waste of money in my opinion, long as the camera is good and you know hot to take shot, those programs is for when you do not know how.
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  • Michaelfx
    Thank you!
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  • Kora C
    Great list! I personally would add the app Deep Art Effects. Cool art style filters and a lot of fun!!
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  • STSinNYC
    Nice article. Affinity looks interesting. Nikon shooters can get two free editing programs from Nikon, View NX-i and Capture NX-D. View is easy to learn, has essential tools for editing RAW, esp. White Balance and Exposure, and then convert to TIFF or JPEG for further editing. Capture NX-D has more features but also not hard to learn. I am a working photographer, advertising and events, I do nearly all of my RAW (NEF) work in these two programs.
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