What do you do with all the photos you took with you DSLR or mirrorless camera? Rather than letting them languish on an SD card, good photo editing software will let you touch up your pictures so that they're looking their best when you share them with family and friends, or for when you want to print out your photos.
Regardless of 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.
Adobe PhotoShop Elements 2020 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, as well as tons of features to make the most of your photos.
However, Windows users will get even more out of Corel PaintShop Pro 2020, which has more tools and is in some ways even more accessible.
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. While it will be harder for novices to pick up, it has a great range of powerful tools.
1. Adobe PhotoShop Elements 2020
Best Photo Editor Overall
Easy photo editing for novices
Powerful creative tools for serious photographers
A great learning platform
Fun and useful AI-driven automation
Works with Macs and PCs
Can't turn off Auto Creations
Masks don't limit some edits
While there aren't a huge number of changes from last year's version, Adobe Photoshop Elements 2020 is our pick for best consumer photo-editing program for its ease of use, fun creativity and underlying power. As before, three interfaces (Guided Edits, Quick Edits, and Expert Mode) make this program accessible for users of all experience levels.
A new subject selection tool makes it easier to create cutouts of individuals and pets, and a Smooth Skin tool is great at getting rid of wrinkles. And, of course, PS Elements 2020 works on both Macs and PCS.
Read our full Adobe Photoshop Elements 2020 review.
2. Corel PaintShop Pro
Best for Editing Novices
Great help system with integrated learning tools
Powerful features and creative tools for advanced users
Intuitive for novices
Excellent content aware cloning
New ability to copy/paste layer styles
In many ways, Corel PaintShop Pro 2020 is superior to Photoshop Elements, as it's a powerful program, yet is easy for novices to grasp, and has some additional tools, such as 360-degree photo editing. It's also touch-screen compatible and has a new streamlined workspace. However, Photoshop Elements is available for both macOS and Windows PCs, while PaintShop Pro is a Windows-only program.
Read our full Corel PaintShop Pro 2020 review.
3. Affinity Photo
Best Budget Pro Photo Editor
Budget price, with no subscription fees
High-powered photo editing
RAW processing within workspace
Editing of very-high-resolution images in real time
Can read, open and edit Photoshop PSD files
Steep learning curve for novices
No 3D or internal vector tools
No custom workspace
Still working out a few kinks
Affinity Photo offers powerful tools, resolution-independent editing, RAW processing within the interface and most of the other features that professional photographers want and need — all for only $49.99. While its learning curve is steeper than most, you’ll be rewarded with a robust set of features, including Photoshop-like exposure controls, paintbrushes, layers and more.
Read our full Affinity Photo review.
4. Google Photos
Best for Sharing Photos
Consolidates your photo and video libraries from multiple devices
Auto-syncing among all your devices
Simple, quick sharing
Very easy to use
Minimal photo-editing tools
Imperfect face and object recognition
No user-applied keywords
Auto-generated collages and slide shows can't be edited
Google Photos is better than any other tool for organizing and consolidating all your photo libraries, no matter where they are. However, in terms of photo editing, it offers only the barest minimum, helping you quickly prepare pictures for easy sharing. In fact, it’s best used in tandem with another app that offers greater editing features, such as Adobe Photoshop Elements.
Read our full Google Photos review.
5. Apple Photos
Best Free Editor for Mac Users
Free and fun
Simple to use
Easy to create photo books, calendars and cards
Syncs your photo and video library through iCloud
Nice photo-editing tools
Print projects available only via the desktop version
Available only on Apple products
Though it doesn’t have editing tools that are as robust as those for paid programs, Apple Photos is a free, fun and very easy-to-use app for accessing, organizing and sharing your photos and videos. And, Apple Photos makes it easy to sync your library across multiple Apple devices.
Read our full Apple Photos review.
Best Open-Source Photo Editor
Free and open-source
Nice collection of both basic and advanced photo editing tools
Extensible via Python, Scheme and other scripting languages
Improved, more standard interface
Poor help, no real guidance
Steep learning curve
This free, open-source photo editor is beloved by many for its ability to help you get under the hood and customize the program. It also has a powerful set of editing tools, but it offers almost nothing in the way of guidance, which makes it more difficult to learn than other photo-editing software.
Read our full Gimp Photo Editor review.
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
- Sharing options
- Device and file format support
- Creative freedom
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.
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.
Best photo printing services
Once you've edited your photos, you'll want to show them off to your friends and family. We've tested a number of photo printing services; here are our the best for photo books, photo cards, and photo calendars.
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