7 Best Photo Editing Software of 2021 (Both Free and Paid)

| | September 18, 2021

Gone are the days when you search for photo editing software and you'd get one or two as the best. These days, there are several photo editors available for use that makes it a bit complicated to choose which one is best.

Photo editors are software that enables corrections and adjustments to be made on images. Technology has so advanced that little or no skills sets are required to use this software, you just have to pick the right ones.

It is used for both professional and casual editing to edit photos like a pro.

This guide contains ways on how to pick the best video editing software and some of the best software available for use.

How To Choose The Best Photo Editing Software

Check the software’s compatibility with your device’s camera

The photo editor you choose to use should be compatible with your device's camera and lens. This compatibility is important for accessing customized editing tools and maintaining color and details.

Check the software’s compatibility with your device’s operating system

Not all software can run on both mac and windows. Some are exclusive for mac users while some are made only for Windows operating system. The software you choose should run on both windows and mac in case you change your device. In addition, your device must have the specs (processor and graphic cards) required to run the software without crashing.

The software’s editing performance

Your software selection is also determined by the software’s performance. The performance is either landscape or portrait, fine art, or nature photography. Not all photo editors can perform all four functions, you should go for the software with the most performance.

Flexibility and workflow

A good photo editor should be flexible and with fluid workflow for editing multiple photos and for supporting multiple formats. In addition, it should be easy to use with good performance speed. It should also be able to upload to the cloud for easy access from other devices.

File management

The editor software you choose should be able to manage and organize multiple files into categories for easy search and export. It should also be able to label and sort files easily.

The Kind of editing tools it contains.

For editing's sake, this is very important. A photo editor with a wide range of tools and effects is a very good option. The numerous array of effects will fine-tune your pictures to the way you want them.

Based on these criteria, below are the top photo editing software of 2021 you should try out

7 Best Video Editing Software

Adobe Photoshop Photo Editing Software

overview

Adobe Photoshop is developed by Adobe Inc., and it runs on both Windows and Mac operating systems. It is seen as a standard photo editor and its name “photoshop“ has become a trademark for other editors.

It is a raster graphics editor, that is, pictures are in pixels, for interactive creation and editing of pictures. It also saves these pictures in raster graphics formats (bitmap image) like JPEG and GIF.

Photoshop photo editing software can be used on desktop and iPad with ease. Subscription package comes with 100GB of cloud storage and useful apps like Adobe Fresco, Adobe Portfolio, Adobe Fonts and Adobe Spark.

key features

Plugins

Plugins are add-on programs that stretch out the functionality of the software. Most of these plugins are available for free with the Adobe Photoshop software, while some standalone ones need to be purchased separately. Examples of such plugins are the color correction plugin, special effect plugin, 3D effects plugin and filter plugin, also known as 8bf plugins.

Photoshop tools

There are several of these tools available on the sidebars. It includes drawing tools, selection tools, painting tools, and navigation tools. In case you get confused, you can hover your cursor over a particular tool to get a glimpse of that tool.

Clone stamp

This tool duplicates a part of an image either fully or partly. It also removes defects from an image.

Selection tools

Photoshop also supports different selection tools. These tools are is used to pick part or all of a picture for editing. It includes;

  • Cropping tool that removes a portion of an image outside the selected area to create a focal point.
  • Slicing tool that works just like the cropping tool in removing parts of an image. The difference is that it slices images into separate sections.
  • Marquee tool that makes selections in either rows or columns without affecting other parts of the image. It allows better adjustments to be made to the selected part before cropping.
  • The Lasso selection tool allows customized selections to be made by sketching by hand. It can be regular lasso, polygonal lasso, and magnetic lasso. Regular lasso requires manual drawing using the cursor. Polygonal lasso makes a selection in a straight line from one point to another. Magnetic lasso is a combination of the regular and polygonal lasso. It is smart enough to location edges in an image once the starting point is indicated, usually in a straight line.

Neural Filters

Adobe Photoshop photo editing software also comes with simple sliders and AI technology that helps to colourise a scene, zoom in on parts of an image, remove any scratches or change someone’s expression, age or pose within few seconds.

3D printing tool allows the creation and editing of images for 3D printing. It involves adding color, rotating and adjusting the shape, or even designing a new 3D image.

The color replacement tool changes the color of an image without making any added changes to the image.

adobe photoshop pricing

Adobe Photoshop comes with the following pricing plans:

  • Annual Plan (paid monthly): $20.99 per month
  • Annual Plan (prepaid): $239.88
  • Monthly Plan: $31.49 per month

Prices are subject to change. Check the latest price of Adobe Photoshop here.

free trial

Adobe offers a 7-day free trial on Photoshop that includes all the premium features. Get started with the free trial to see whether Photoshop is the right photo editing software for you or not.

Adobe Photoshop is available for both Windows and Mac users.

Paintshop Pro Photo Editing Software

overview

Paintshop Pro 2022 is the latest offering by Corel. Coupled with AI and impactful tools and features, it is one of the most popular photo editing software after Adobe Photoshop.

This software combines both raster and vector photo editing. Meaning that it makes use of Cartesian points (scaled points) and matrix dots (pixel) for editing. No doubt, this combination of graphics will produce the best result. However, it only runs on Windows operating system.

key features

Clutter-free Interface

The interface shows recent images, tutorials, and plugins for sale. Everything is AI integrated; AI artifact removal, AI denoise, AI style transfer, AI Upsampling. The interface has four workspaces, photography, complete, sea to sky, and essential.

Corel Paintshop Interface

The complete workspace has just three tabs; home, manage and edit. The photography workspace contains; rotate, crop, color adjustments, white balance, and AI integrated tools. It also supports touch bars. The interface can be customized to make color and element adjustments.

Frame Tool

Paintshop Pro 2022 has added a new feature - Frame tool that is very intuitive to use and makes placing raster objects into shapes quick and easy. It enhance and accelerate the digital layout creation process and you can also add a variety of frame shapes and sizes to achieve a desired look. Plus, you can draw frames to use as handy placeholders or draw frames over a selected object, image or text for a clear crisp result.

Manage Mode

Contains tools for exporting images and organizing them. However, it does not import images, rather it opens them from folders stored in the device. This feature makes collections in file size, file name, file tags, and file date. It allows keyword tags, place tags, and people tags for organizing.

Photo correction feature

It includes auto-correction, a one-two step photo fix to correct lighting issues, a smart photo fix to allow more control, and the time machine tool that gives images an old picture look; similar to pictures of the '90s.

Image tool and effect features

This feature is AI integrated. It includes AI background replacement, AI portrait mode, AI denoise to remove noises from the image after analyzing it. AI upsampling converts the image into a higher resolution while simultaneously removing the noise in it. AI artifact remover compresses images (JPEG images) into small resolutions without distorting them. The AI style transfer, earlier known as pic-to-painting converts images into artwork, while copying the painting style of notable artists.

Advanced editing features

This feature creates raster, masks, and makes adjustments to picture layers. It contains the curve tool, retro lab to adjust blur, glow, etc., It has two selection tools; smart selection (edge detection) and auto selection. It also contains the smart clone tool.

paintshop pro pricing

PaintShop Pro can be bought at a one-time of price of $79.99. With your purchase you also get ParticleShop and Artistic Effects Script Bundle worth $110 for free.

It also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee on your purchase.

Check out the latest price here - PaintShop Pro Pricing.

free trial

If you want to try Paintshop Pro before purchasing, you can sign up for a 30-day free trial with the link given below. No credit card required to sign up for the trial.

Skylum Photo Editing Software

overview

If you're looking for a photo editing software with cutting-edge features or a simple editor to quickly enhance your photos then Skylum Luminar is the right choice for you. It runs on both Windows and Mac operating systems. It is a versatile photo editor and can be used alone as standalone software or with other software as a plugin, like Adobe and Apple products.

You don't need to watch lengthy and difficult to understand tutorials to use Luminar. It is the first image editor that is fully powered by artificial intelligence (AI). At each step you're guided by its smart algorithm that also recommend the best editing options. 

key features

Adjustment Features

This feature includes:

  • Skylum adjustment tool. This tool is the luminar default adjustment tool. It is a RAW file converter for developing RAW profiles.
  • AI filter is an automatic enhancer for adding dark shadows or reducing bright highlights simultaneously.
  • The advanced contrast adjusts the contrast to either highlight, mid-tones, or dark shadows.
  • The noise reduction tool smoothens out low-quality images
  • It also has a lens-based profile tool for adjusting geometrical distortions and color defects.
  • The transforming tool allows you to adjust perspectives into the vertical, horizontal aspect, as well as rotation and scale.
  • Dehaze tool removes the blue color cast on white background, like snow pictures
  • Split toning tool that uses program layer for adjustments, multi-exposure, and stamps. It also adds watermarks to images.

Creative Effect

This feature includes effects such as sunray, overlay, fog, glow mystical, etc. it also has;

  • AI sky replacement tool to replace the sky in your picture with a deep blue uplifting one.
  • AI sky augmenting tool has options for placing and adjusting astronomical effects like aurora, moons, etc. It also adds mountains for a more realistic look.
  • AI skin enhancer removes blemishes from the image and adds enhancing effects like teeth whitening.
Skylum Luminar Creative Effect

Luminar Look Feature

The luminar look is similar to Instagram filters but with a professional look. It comes in varieties from black to white, soft portrait to golden hour. There are over 70 luminar looks available in the software, but you can purchase more from their in-app market.

Sharing and export

Exporting an image after editing it with Corel Photopaint is very easy. Just click on the up-facing arrow icon. This software has three exporting options. You can either export it to email, SmugMug or 500px as JPEG, PDF, PSD, PNG, etc. It also creates rooms for printing out the image.

Advanced Features

This feature includes tools like exposure, contrast, highlight, shadow, clarity, curve tool, advanced contrast, foliage enhancer, and polarizing filters.

skylum luminar pricing

Skylum Luminar has three pricing plans for both one-computer license and two-computer licecnse:

  • Master: This plan cost $79 one-time fee. For a limited time, you get  Enchanting Twilight skies for free and Save $25. Claim the offer by visiting this link - Get Master Plan.
  • Expert: Total cost of this plan is $148. Under this plan you get Luminar ($79) and Aurora HDR at $69 (normal price $99) together with Enchanting Twilight skies (free). Claim the offer and Save $55 by visiting this link - Get Expert Plan.
  • Guru: This plan will cost you $207 and include all the products and features of Master and Expert plan. Additionally, you also get Luminar X membership for $59 (normal price $99) (billed annually) which include exclusive creative assets. Claim your $75 discount by visiting this link - Get Guru Plan.

Each of these plans offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.

free trial

You can try all the premium features of Skylum Luminar for 7-days by signing up for the free trial.

Canva Photo Editing Software

overview

Canva is a photo editor software used for social media presentations, posters, and other visual content. It designs Instagram posts, Instagram stories, logos, posters, Facebook posts, Facebook stories, YouTube thumbnails, flyers, invitations, cards and more.

It is also one of the best infographic maker tool. You can also create photo collage, desktop wallpaper, book cover, magazine cover, worksheet, marketing proposal and more.

Canva is one of the most used photo editing tool by digital marketers. It has lots of photo editing features, tools and templates to create professional quality photos and grahics. Plus it also has collaborating features for people who prefer working online with their team members.

key features

In-built templates

Canva has several templates designed by professionals for quality content and image layout to give you an idea of how to start designing.

Collaborating features

With Canva, you can either work alone or as a team. It has an option for inviting others to create a team or edit with you. They can leave their feedbacks, scale your content, or give approval.

Editing features

It includes:

  • Vignette tool to enhance your picture with old photo characteristics.
  • Frame tool to mimic real-life frames. It adds frame effect to your picture.
  • Stickers to add more fun to your photo from Canva Library. This library has millions of stock pictures and stickers with different themes.
  • Design and photo grid lays out pictures in grids to boost creativity. The grid is designed to crop pictures to make them fit. To add pictures to the grid, drag and drop them into it. You can also add text and narratives to photos in the grid.

Transparent image tools

This tool lets you create soft and transparent images with adjusted transparency. You add texts to it or use it as a background for other editing. It can also be used as a watermark

Canva Transparent Image Tool

Photo straightening effect

This effect has a precision ruler for accuracy measurements to rotate photos and straighten the surface and horizontal line. When fully mastered, it adds tilts to give an angle to our pictures.

Image cropping tool

It crops out photos for precision to resize the picture. It is accessed by double-clicking on the image to crop it.

Speech bubble tool

This tool adds speech bubbles to your picture by dragging and dropping it. You can add text to it and also edit the bubble to change its color and size.

Photo effect feature

It includes advanced options and filters. The advanced effect includes;

  • Blur slider
  • Black and white effect
  • Color saturation tool
  • Tint slider to alter the picture’s color palette.

The filters include the Nordic filter, Epic filter, Street filter, etc.

canva pricing

Canva offers two plans for its users:

Free Plan - Under the free plan you get the following benefits:

  • 250000 plus free templates
  • 100 plus designs related to social media, presentations, letters and more
  • Free graphics and templates
  • Collaboration with team members
  • 5GB Cloud Storage

Sign up for the Canva Free Plan here.

Pro Plan - It include all the features of free plan and also include the following benefits:

  • 100+ million premium stock photos, graphics, audio and videos.
  • 600000 plus premium and free templates
  • Save your brand colors for future campaigns
  • Background remover feature
  • Save designs as templates for later use
  • 100GB of Cloud Storage
  • Schedule social media content

It also has Enterprise Plans for bigger brands and agencies.

free trial

Canva offers a 30-day free trial to give users access to all the premium features before they decide to purchase. Sign up for the free trial with the link given below.

PicMonkey Photo Editing Software

overview

If you want to boost engagement and followership on social media websites by posting regularly stylish posts, cover images and even ads, then PicMonkey is the photo editor you may want to use.

Like Canva, it also has loads of pre-designed templates for your banners, logos, thumbnails and more.

If you're a business looking to keep your brand identity - logo, font and colors, uniform across your website, social media profiles then PicMonkey can help you achieve that. You can save your logos, fonts, colors inside brand kit and use it later on your future campaigns.

PicMonkey is available for use through your browser or downloaded on your device. It is used for designing different kinds of cards and wedding invitations. It runs on both Windows and Mac operating systems. You can also use the free mobile app or start a free trial on desktop.

PicMonkey’s online photo editor tools can help you edit your photos, designs, and social media posts with its in-built filters and editing tools to create something which is truly creative and professional.

Key features

Smart Resize Tool

This tool easily formats your images into different sizes without loosing the image quality. So, reformatting your creatives for multiple social sizes is quick and easy with PicMonkey.

Photo Editing Tool

Editing features include texture, overlay, cropping, color adjustments, etc to mention a few. There is also the background remover, smart resize tool, filters, and color-changing tool to add different solid colors to images in the pictures.

Photo Filters

The filter tool can easily change your camera looks, tweak lighting, and add popular effects like Color Changer Effect with just a few clicks. Color Changer effect can help you make color changes like - make black car red, blue jeans black, white boat yellow and more.

Collage Tool

Collage features for customizing your photo collection with color adjustments, flexible sizing, text, and auto-fill tool.

Instant Background Remover

Premium account at PicMonkey allows to remove your photo’s background with a single click. You can use this feature for your product shots, creating logos, YouTube thumbnails, and more.

Touch Up Tool

Touch up feature to remove the blemish from your photo and enhancing its features, like skin tone adjustments, changing hair color and teeth whitening.

Other Notable Features

You can create, enhance or edit your photos or graphics from million of stock photos from Unsplash and iStock by Getty. If you don't want to start from scratch, you can choose from its thousands of pre-built templates. Plus, make your campaign more attractive my adding from 9000 plus graphics and icons. The graphics feature adds images or/and icons to your photo in form of stickers gotten from the stock photo library.

picmonkey pricing

PicMonkey comes with three premium subscription-based plans - Basic, Pro and Business.

Basic Plan - If prefer paying monthly then the subscription will cost $7.99 per month. Else, if you could pay upfront for a year then it will cost you $72 giving you a good 25% discount. The Basic Plan offers the following benefits:

  • 1GB cloud storage
  • Download images in jpg or png format
  • Loads of graphics and templates
  • Touch up tools to beautify your images
  • Email support

Check out the price of PicMonkey Basic Plan here.

Pro Plan - It will cost you $12.99 per month. When billed annually it will cost $120 with 23% discount. It include all the features of free plan and also include the following benefits:

  • Unlimited cloud storage
  • Download images in jpg, png and PDF format
  • Smart Resize feature to reformat your photos in multiple sizes
  • One click background remover tool
  • Brand Kit to save your brand colors, fonts and logos
  • Animate your design elements
  • Premium stock photo library
  • Priority email support

It also has Business Plans for bigger brands and agencies with more advanced features.

free trial

If you want to try PicMonkey photo editor tool before committing to purchase the premium version, sign up for the 7-day free trial. Visit the link is given below.

Stencil Photo Editing Software

overview

Stencil is a popular photo editor among blog post owners and social media marketers. It is cloud-based, that is, it stores image files to the cloud from it is accessed from different devices.

key features

Templates

Stencil has over 1300 plus pre-built templates to suit your need. It makes editing fast and easy. Just fill in the customized templates with images to create a collage. These templates too come with 100000 plus quotes that may come handy while creating inspiring quote images.

Stock Photos

Stencil library has close to a 5 million or more license-free photos that can be used as image background, for making illustrations, or icons.

Graphics

3100000 plus icons and graphics to make professional quality images. All the icons and graphics are royalty-free which means it can be used for personal or commercial purposes.

Customizing features

  • Optimized size

It has 38 different sizes for each social media platform. The resizing setting is already preset – automatic, but you can customize it to suit your posts.

  • Text upload

In addition to the 2,000 different Google fonts it has or more, you can upload your fonts to use them for your content creation. The texts are in different shapes and sizes and can be customized, like adding a drop shadow to them.

  • Logos and watermarks

This option lets you upload pictures with watermarks. Once you upload your pictures with watermarks, every other picture you upload will have a watermark attached to it as far as this option is left on. You can also resize, reshape, or increase the transparency of your watermark.

Organizing features like image upload and exporting, image collections, and watermark to file management and easy file access.

Browser Extensions

Stencil also has extensions for modern-day browsers like Firefox, Safari and Chrome that enhance the software's functionality.

stencil pricing plans

Stencil has three plans for its users - Free, Pro and Unlimited.

Free Plan - Stencil has a free plans for users who want to try it before purchasing the paid plans. The free plan allows you to save 10 images per month, use limited photos and icons, upload up to 50 images, create up to 10 collections and other features.

You can see that the plan is very limited in feature. However, it gives you an opportunity to use the Stencil platform to see if it is the best photo editing software for you or not.

Pro Plan - It will cost you $9 per month and comes with the following features:

  • Save up to 50 images per month 
  • 5 million plus photos and 3 million plus icons & graphics
  • 1300 plus ready-made templates
  • Upload up to 250 images, create up to 25 collections

Unlimited Plan - This is the most popular plan that will cost $12 every month. It is a truly unlimited plan as all the features covered under the Pro Plan are offered for unlimited usage.

Each of the paid plans are backed by a 7-day money back guarantee. If you feel Stencil is not the right photo editor software, you can claim refund within 7 days from the date of purchase.

Try Stencil today.

Pixlr Photo Editing Software

overview

Pixlr is a popular online photo editor that you can right from your browser to edit your photos or create any type of campaign designs. So, you're not required to download or install any type of software. You can use this platform to perform professional-grade editing.

Image format such as PSD (Photoshop), PXD, JPEG, PNG (transparent), WebP, SVG and more are well supported by this photo editor.

You can either start from scratch or select any one of the professionally built templates. These are the pre-built templates that you get right inside your Pixlr account:

  • Instagram Post & Instagram Story
  • YouTube Thumbnail & YouTube Art
  • Facebook Post & Facebook Story
  • Pinterest Pin & Pinterest Long Pin
  • Twitter Post & Twitter Cover
  • Business Card and others

key features

Interface

Pixlr’s interface is similar to Adobe Photoshop, even with similar editing options. You can either upload pictures from your device, the web, or social media to start editing.

Photo editing features

It uses layers and masks for editing, which set it apart from other software editors. Photo editing with this software is easy and intuitive. It has several tools in this feature, one of which is the background remover.

Background Remover Tool

The background remover tool is AI-oriented. It either remove the background completely or make it thin and transparent. Background from portraits, selfies and profile pictures can be removed easily with this tool.

Adjusting Features

It includes color adjustments, lighting, and filters. Color adjustment can be in wide strokes or at a more advanced level with saturation and temperature changes. The lighting tool adds contrast and shadow effects to your photo. These tools can also be seen on the left side menu bar.

Cropping tool

This tool has a wide range of resizing and cropping effects. It is easily accessed from the left side menu bar. It trims and resizes the picture to fit. Alternatively, you can choose from the various preset sizes already customized for different social media posts.

Caption features

It allows you to add text to your image after editing. There are fonts available in the text menu. The fonts can also be adjusted to add color from a palette.

pixlr pricing plans

Pixlr offers three plans - Free, Premium and Creative Pack.

Free Plan - The plan is free to join and gives to Pixlr X and Pixlr E but lacks premium features. It allows you to try its basic editing tools with limited sets of overlays and stickers. 

Premium Plan - For advanced features, you need to join the Premium Plan. It will cost you $4.90 per month. It will give you full to access Pixlr X and Pixlr E, editing tools, 3000 extra overlays, 7000 extra icons and stickers, templates, video tutorials and more.

Creative Pack Plan - You can get access to the Creative Pack by paying $14.99 every month as subscription. You get everything that is included in the Premium Plan in addition to other advance features as highlighted below.

Check out the latest pricing plans of Pixlr here.

Apart from the full access to Pixlr X and Pixlr E, you also get unlimited access to stock content - 10 million graphics, templates, photos, videos, fonts and others. Plus you also get a 24 by 7 premium support from Pixlr.

free trial

You get a good 30-day free trial to try all the premium features to see if Pixlr photo editor is good enough to be upgraded to the paid plan.

Wrapping Up

There are several photo editing software dedicated to photography, but not all of them have good functionality or are very helpful.

Our top picks on best photo editing software were made based on compatibility, performance, workflow, and effects. Feel free to try them out today!

Which photo editing tool you like the most? Please offer your comment below.

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