Picture Perfect: Free Photo-Editing Tools

It’s Photography Week at Senior Planet!  To celebrate, we’re unlocking this article from 2023’s Annual Technology Review all about free tools to bring out your photos’ full potential.


A photo-editing app on your smartphone is a natural fit if you regularly use your phone’s camera. The default camera app may be all you’ll need, but these four apps could expand your creative options.

Snapseed (Android and iPhone) excels with a broad range of tools and filters, including a powerful Tune Image tool that automatically optimizes color and exposure. This one is completely free, as Snapseed doesn’t have a pay-as-you-go option.

 While the next three have in-app subscription options, the free versions are highly capable. Adobe Lightroom (Android and iPhone) has a strong set of professional-quality tools—but without the flashy gimmicks. VSCO (Android and iPhone) grafts a comprehensive array of filters and effects onto a basic editing engine. And Picsart (Android and iPhone) throws in some imaginative extras, including an image generator that turns overlayed text into art.

Windows PCs

If you’re running Windows 10 or Windows 11, don’t overlook the built-in Photos program. It has many of the usual photo-editing functions, including color and brightness adjustments, cropping, rotating, red eye correction, and blemish removal. You can also use it to sort your photos into albums or collections.

 Adobe’s Photoshop Express is especially well-suited for mobile phone photography. There’s a free version for Windows (Windows 8 and above), as well as for Android and iPhone. You’ll have the typical adjustment tools, but also be able to create collages, add watermarks, and upload photos to social media.

If you yearn for the simplicity of the Paint program in older versions of Windows, you might try Paint.NET. It’s free to download and use with Windows 10 or Windows 11. With its intuitive interface and unlimited undo, this one is a good choice for beginners.

Web-Based Solutions

The latest twist in photo editing is to do it through your Web browser. You could potentially have the same toolset on your computer, phone, or tablet.

Canva is a popular subscription site for designing invitations, brochures, and presentation materials. The company offers a free plan that provides access to a somewhat limited drag-and-drop photo editor, 250,000+ templates, and 5GB of cloud storage. Canva is also available as an app for Android, iPhone, iPad, Windows, or Mac.

If you’re just starting out, fotor sticks closer to its core mission of photo editing. It does have some unusual cosmetic tools, including teeth whitening, wrinkle removal, and body reshaping. And there are 686 templates for projects such as collages and greeting cards. Alternatively, fotor is available as an app for Android, iPhone, Windows, or Mac.

Typical Basic Functions

Adjust exposure, color, and contrast

Crop, straighten, or rotate the image

Apply filters or vintage styles

Add frames, borders, or text

Remove red eye or blemishes

Advanced Features

Auto adjust

Blur or erase the background

RAW file support

Create collages

Upload photos to social media

If you have tried any of these, or have any suggestions, let us know in the comments!

This article is an excerpt from the 2023 Annual Technology Review. To read the full review (in addition to receiving other impact-based benefits throughout the year) become a Senior Planet donor today. Click here to give!

David English has written more than 1,000 articles for a variety of publications, including Architectural Record, Attaché, CNET, Computer Shopper, Hemispheres, Omni, PC Magazine, PC World, Sky, and US Airways Magazine. You can read more about his work as an award-winning writer at He has created music videos that combine improvised music with computer graphics. View his music videos on his Youtube channel and his photography at 


4 responses to “Picture Perfect: Free Photo-Editing Tools

  1. Great article David! I think Snapseed might be the best starter for mobile apps because it’s so simple and easy to understand. There is a free PDF eBook from Photzy ( that is a great way to learn Snapseed. For Windows and Mac desktop application, I’ve recommended Photoscape X (free version) to a lot of folks. Easy to learn for beginners, with many tutorials on YouTube available, and it can become a more robust editor as your skills progress.

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