7 Best Easy-to-Use Photo Editing Software for Beginners

Last Updated on May. 10, 2024 – by David Morgan
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With the rise of Instagram and other photo-sharing platforms, the bar for quality photos is moving up... fast. It may seem like everyone is a professional photographer these days and that it’s impossible to compete. The fact is, anyone can do it! With the power of the best photo editing software for beginners, you can transform even the most mundane image into a work of art.

If you’ve looked for photo editing software recently, you’ve likely encountered an overwhelming number of options. Knowing which software is right for you can be difficult, especially if you’re new to photo editing and unfamiliar with the best brands. Fortunately, we are here to help.

We’ve reviewed and rated the best photo editing software for beginners based on their price, value, workflow, and features. Our goal is to connect you with a product that is easy to use, meets your needs, and lives If you’ve looked for photo editing software recently, you’ve likely encountered an overwhelming number of options. Knowing which software is right for you can be difficult, especially if you’re new to photo editing and unfamiliar with the best brands. Fortunately, we are here to help.up to its critical reviews. Keep reading to find our top picks for the best photo editing software for beginners.

Snapshot of Our Top 3 Free Voice Changers

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1. PhotoDirector - Best Overall

PhotoDirector is the best photo editing software for beginners, with a sleek and inuitive interface and guided edits. It is a full photo editing workflow, with tools to organize, design, share, print, and edit photos. It is filled with automatic, one-click tools for beginners, but also has manual adjustments for those who need them. Detailed Review >

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2. PaintShop Pro - Best for Learning Editing

PaintShop Pro from Corel is on our list of the best photo editing software for beginners thanks to tons of learning resources. It also lets you edit photos automatically with AI-powered features and Smart Selection tools. Detailed Review >

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3. Luminar Neo - Best AI Enhancements

Luminar Neo is loved by beginners and photographers alike for its powerful AI enhancement tools. It’s one of the best photo editing software for beginners looking to produce pro-level results. Detailed Review >

How to Choose the Best Photo Editing Software for Beginners

Choosing the best photo editing software for beginners depends on a few factors:

Ease of Use

Look for software with clear menus and tools that are easy to understand. Some software offer Guided Edits that help beginners learn how to edit photos with advanced tools. You’ll find most beginner-friendly software also have various AI-powered tools for accurate, one-click edits.


Basic editing tools like cropping, exposure adjustment, and color correction are essential for users of any skill level. Otherwise, the best photo editing software for beginners depends on the user’s editing needs. If you plan to edit photos into YouTube thumbnails, flyers, ads, or posts for social media, then easy-to-use graphic design tools like templates, stickers, and filters are a must. If you are an amateur photographer and need photo management features, look for AI-powered tagging for automatic photo organization.


Free software is a great option for beginners. There are many powerful free photo editors available. Some are completely free, others offer a free trial of premium software, and some have a limited free trial. Paid software may offer more features and better performance, but it’s a good idea to test any software before downloading to make sure it’s a good fit.

How We Test the Best Photo Editing Software for Beginners

We test the best photo editing software for beginners using a variety of test photos with different lighting conditions, complexities, and resolutions. Here's a breakdown of what we look for during our tests:

User Experience

Is it easy to install? Does it require a powerful computer to run smoothly? Is the interface intuitive and user-friendly? Can you find the tools you need easily? How quickly does the software load and perform edits on different image sizes and formats?


Does it support the file formats you typically use (RAW, JPEG, PNG etc.)? Does it allow you to export your edits in various formats and sizes for different uses (web, print etc.)?

Editing Tools

We test the core editing tools like exposure, contrast, white balance, and saturation on all the best photo editing software for beginners to see how precise and intuitive they are. Next, we edit photos using selection tools to see if they are accurate and easy to handle.

If the software offers advanced features like layers, masks, or HDR editing, we test those as well to see if they work properly and are easy enough for new users to learn. We also check out any AI features like object recognition, automatic adjustments, and generative AI tools to check for accuracy.

Best Photo Editing Software for Beginners Comparison Chart

Product Best For Notable Feature Price Download Link
PhotoDirector Professional tools in a beginner-friendly package Automatic image enhancements including AI upscaling tools, facial retouching, and object removal Free; Premium: $3.75/month
Secure Download
PaintShop Pro Learning editing and graphic design Content-aware tools like SmartClone, Magic Move, and Magic Fill $79.99 Download
Luminar Neo AI image enhancements Generative AI tools like GenErase, GenExpand, and GenSwap Explore: $99/year Pro: $119/year Download
PhotoPad Quick edits Selection tools for regional effects Free; Home: $60 Pro: $70 Download
Pixlr Graphic design with templates Local color effects and replacements Free; Plus: $.99/month Premium: $4.90/month Team: $9.91/month Download
DxO PhotoLab Noise reduction Lens and camera-based autocorrection Essential: $139 Elite: $229 Download
Lightroom Lighting adjustments Automatic keyword tagging of images for quick searches $9.99/month Download

PhotoDirector vs

Best For

Professional tools in a beginner-friendly package


Notable Feature

Automatic image enhancements including AI upscaling tools, facial retouching, and object removal



Free; Premium: $3.75/month


Best Photo Editing Software for Beginners - Ranked

1. PhotoDirector

Best For: Users looking for an affordable and beginner-friendly alternative to professional software that maintains pro-level tools and workflow

Imagine if someone combined a fully-featured photo editor with a robust organization system into one seamless package. PhotoDirector packs a ton of powerful features into an approachable workspace that manages to accommodate beginners, hobbyists, and experts, alike. Whether you need to organize and edit photos, create graphic designs, or generate images using AI, PhotoDirector has you covered.

We picked PhotoDirector as the best photo editing software for beginners due to its crisp aesthetic which makes it easy to find the tools you need and move seamlessly within the application. Users can also stay on top of their content with automatic image organization, featuring AI-powered facial recognition and Smart Collections.

PhotoDirector’s adjustment sidebar gives you everything you need to color correct, resize, stylize, and repair images with easy-to-use sliders. Along with the familiar exposure, contrast, hue, and saturation tools, PhotoDirector allows you to take even further control by localizing these effects to specific exposure ranges of your image. Additionally, you can remove any defects with tools like Dehaze, Defringe, and Denoise, which automatically remove unwanted haziness or grain from images.

Beginners will also find PhotoDirector to be an excellent graphic design tool, with ready-made project templates, text templates, stickers, backgrounds, and over 130 million stock images and music tracks. There are also advanced layer editing options with 27 blending modes for more seasoned users. You can export to any format you need from social media to print-ready files.

What really sets PhotoDirector apart as the best photo editing software for beginners is its huge selection of AI-powered tools. Fix and enhance images, remove backgrounds and objects, and apply face and body touchups, all with one click. PhotoDirector also features the latest in generative AI tools, including AI Image Creator, AI Sticker Maker, AI Scene Generator, AI Replace, and more. You can replace backgrounds for online selling with generated backgrounds specifically for products or models. Furthermore, you can generate AI Headshots, Avatars, and Outfits for stunning profile pics and business headshots without paying for a photoshoot.

The award-winning PhotoDirector is a gold standard in photo editing and the best photo editing software for beginners available today. It is easy to use and incredibly affordable, with a robust free version that never expires. It’s also continually updated with the latest AI models and technology.

With PhotoDirector, you can create art, edit photos, and share content as far-reaching and creative as your imagination. As long as you can dream it, PhotoDirector has the tools to help you make it.

  • User-friendly interface makes it easy to find and use any tool
  • Millions of design assets including royalty-free stock images
  • Huge feature set including photo organization and generative AI
  • Tons of one-click tools and effects
  • Stock content is only available with a subscription

Key Features

  • Animated effects such as Dispersion and Sparkle add a glitter effect to photos
  • Automatic color effects like Color Replace and Color Splash
  • AI Retouching tools for face, skin, and body
  • AI Replace swaps out one object for another using a text prompt

Compatibility:Windows, Mac

Beginner-Friendly Tools: 5/5

Price: Price: Free

*Premium subscription available for $3.75/month

Try the best photo editing software for beginners for free today with the link below.

2. PaintShop Pro

PaintShopPro Interface

Best For: Beginners who want to learn photo editing and graphic design

PaintShop Pro is one of the best photo editing software for beginners who want to learn photo editing because it is affordable and easy to use, yet it is filled with advanced tools. Like PhotoDirector, it is an all-in-one photo solution, with wide-ranging features such as 3D modeling, typography, various photo enhancements, layer-editing, and photo organization. There are plenty of resources for beginners, including a library of tutorial videos in the Welcome tab, and a DiscoveryCenter, Learning Page, and User Guide available from the website. If you want to take a deep dive into the world of photo management and manipulation but aren’t sure where to start, give PaintShop Pro a try.

There are many automatic features with manual options to cover users of all skill levels. For instance, the Selection tool offers multiple ways to mask an object for removal or local edits - Freehand, Magic Wand, Smart Selection Brush, and Auto Selection, with an added Refine Brush for adjustments. Busy creators will appreciate the time-saving features, including batch processing and Scripts, which records a series of edits to use on other photos with just one-click.

PaintShop Pro has a similar feature set to Photoshop, and is often referred to as an easier and more affordable alternative. This makes it one of the best photo editing software for beginners looking to learn advanced editing techniques. However, we’ve placed it #2 on our list behind PhotoDirector for several reasons. While PhotoDirector is updated monthly, PaintShop Pro is only updated annually, and as of this writing, we’ve yet to see a version for 2024. A year may not seem like too long, but for AI-powered tools, it feels like a century. PaintShop’s AI tools are way behind the ones found in similar programs. We also found PhotoDirector’s interface and workflow to be much more streamlined.

  • Similar feature set to Photoshop, but much easier
  • Affordable one-time fee
  • Clunky workflow
  • AI tools lag behind those found in competing software

Key Features

  • Built-in templates for collages, greeting cards, social media images, and more
  • RAW, HDR, and 360-degree photo editing
  • Content-aware tools like SmartClone, Magic Move, and Magic Fill

Compatibility: Windows

Beginner-Friendly Tools: 5/5

Price: $79.99

3. Luminar Neo

luminar-neo Interface

Best For: AI image enhancements

Luminar Neo has a large selection of AI tools to enhance images with one click. Each tool also comes with an easy-to-use slider which gives you control over the strength of the enhancement. In our test, we found the tools were very accurate and we could tell our images had been drastically improved. These tools include Enhance AI, Accent AI, Relight AI, and Atmosphere AI. Sky Enhancer AI deepens the colors of the sky, and Sky AI allows you to replace the sky completely with one of 35 options.

We chose Luminar Neo as one of the best photo editing software for beginners because of its intuitive, straightforward interface and simple, one-slide tools. It automates complex tasks, allowing new users to improve photos in seconds. The program is organized into 3 separate modules - Catalog, Presets, and Edit. The Presets tab has 120 different filters you can apply automatically, plus 50 image overlays, and 40 LUTs.

Like our top 2 pics for the best photo editing software for beginners, Luminar Neo has tons of AI-powered tools and manual adjustments for those who want more control over automated outcomes. However, while PhotoDirector and PaintShop Pro offer a complete photography workflow, Luminar Neo’s organizational features are sub-par, lacking keyword tagging and facial recognition. Also, the AI tools weren’t always accurate in our tests. But in our research, we found Luminar Neo has a good history of listening to user feedback and making improvements accordingly.

  • A very user-friendly interface
  • Continuously improved
  • Some AI tools do not work as expected, such as the Noise Reduction tool
  • Poor organizational features

Key Features

  • Mask AI automatically selects architecture, water, sky, people, and more
  • Generative AI tools like GenErase, GenExpand, and GenSwap
  • Dodge and burn tools for lighting fixes

Compatibility: Windows, Mac

Beginner-Friendly Tools: 4.5/5

Price: $99/year for Explore and $119/year for Pro

4. PhotoPad

photopad Interface

Best For: Quick edits

​​PhotoPad from NCH Software is the best photo editing software for beginners who wish to enhance and edit photos quickly, with little fuss. The interface has been revamped to provide even quicker access to basic features like crop, rotate, resize, and flip. Automatic tools and adjustment sliders will have you retouching, color correcting, and adding effects to photos in no time.

Although it looks simple from the outset, PhotoPad packs a punch with a large feature set to cover most editing needs, especially for beginners. There are selection tools to remove objects and add effects locally, layer editing features, HDR image support, and graphic design tools. There are built-in tools to make collages, calendars, cards, contact sheets, and even passports. PhotoPad has a robust set of color effects, including Color Boost, Remove Color, Colorize, Color Burn, and Color Dodge.

PhotoPad does not announce new releases or updates with much fanfare, so we were pleasantly surprised to find out it has a maintenance release every few weeks. The makers also quietly add new features as they are ready, the latest being a Remove Object tool. We brought it onto our list of the best photo editing software for beginners above DxO PhotoLab because PhotoPad is easier to use and has a complete photo workflow, with digital asset management and excellent sharing/printing capabilities.

  • Supports RAW images and all popular image formats
  • Includes digital asset management tools such as tags and ratings
  • Outdated interface
  • Can run slowly with large files

Key Features

  • Automatically create an embroidery pattern or paint-by-number from your image
  • Retouch tools including auto fix, noise reduction, and portrait touchups
  • Selection tools for regional effects

Compatibility: Windows, Mac

Beginner-Friendly Tools: 4.5/5

Price: Free

*Premium versions available for $60 for Home and $70 for Pro

5. Pixlr

pixlr Interface

Best For: Easy graphic design with templates

Pixlr is a popular online photo editor that is also available as a download on Windows PC. It has different interfaces for various photo tasks, which make it easy to find what you need. There’s a module called Pixlr Designer with 10,000+ templates, plus design elements and animation effects. It also includes Pixlr Editor for advanced photo editing, Pixlr Express for one-click AI tools, a Remove Background Tool, and a Batch Photo Editor.

Like PhotoDirector, the site also has Quick Links to the most popular features, including an AI Image Generator, Generative Expand, and Generative Fill. Pixlr simplifies layer editing for new users and has a good selection of drawing tools with customizable brushes. It has an admirable number of one-click effects, including Dispersion, Glitch, Liquify, and Mirror.

Pixlr is constantly updating its interface - which is not necessarily a good thing. Many users complain that they prefer the old look, and some long-time users say it changes so often that they can never find what they need. And while it is always up-to-date with trending features, the generative AI tools seem behind other programs.

  • Simplified layer editing
  • Different interfaces for simple and advanced editing
  • No organization tools
  • Can be slow and glitchy, especially when uploading images

Key Features

  • Color Picker, Color Replace, and Sponge Color for regional color effects
  • Frame tool creates an automatic frame around a chosen area
  • Dodge and Burn tools to lighten/darken areas

Compatibility: Windows, Web Browser

Beginner-Friendly Tools: 4.4/5

Price: Free

*Premium annual subscriptions are available for $.99/month for Plus, $4.90/month for Premium, and $9.91/month for Team

6. DXO PhotoLab

DxOPhotoLab Interface

Best For: Noise reduction

DxO PhotoLab ranks favorably among the most established photo editing software programs. The standout feature is the DeepPrime noise reduction. DxO PhotoLab uses artificial intelligence to improve raw photos during the import. The before and after difference is equivalent to two ISO stops on a camera.

This RAW photo editing software is a great option for professional photographers, so why have we picked it as one of the best photo editing software for beginners? Many people are interested in photography and love taking pictures, but may not know how to edit photos. They may settle for images with perspective issues, faded colors, or slight noise, not realizing these fixes are a simple click away. That’s where DxO PhotoLab comes in, with effortless photo enhancements and organization. Beginners and busy professionals alike will love the ease and speed with which they can bring out the best in their carefully planned and executed photos.

DxO PhotoLab adds new Optics Modules every month and recently added support for Sony A9 III (the first ever full-frame global shutter sensor). The minute a new camera or lens type comes out, DxO is on the case! It has also been adding more presets, LUTs, one-click enhancements, and ease-of-use improvements, making it one of the best photo editing software for beginners, especially those who consider themselves amateur photographers. It is not quite as simple as our top 5 picks, nor is it a complete photo workflow, lacking sharing, printing, and creating options. Although it is the best photo editing software for beginners when it comes to DSLR format support, it does not support HEIC/HEIF images. This is a big con for any users who like taking photos with their iPhones and don’t own expensive cameras.

  • First-in-class lens corrections and noise reduction
  • Excellent support for the newest cameras and lenses
  • No support for HEIC/HEIF images
  • Few photo workflow tools for printing or sharing

Key Features

  • Innovative ColorWheel for easier color manipulation
  • Nik U Point for accurate local adjustments
  • Lens and camera-based autocorrection

Compatibility: Windows, Mac

Beginner-Friendly Tools: 4/5

Price: $139 for Essential, $229 for Elite

7. Lightroom

Lightroom Interface

Best For: Lighting adjustments and night photography

Lightroom is one of the best photo editing software for beginners who need to make adjustments to their images. Easy-to-use sliders allow you to adjust exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, and more. You can adjust individual colors, or individual objects with masking tools. We found it is an excellent tool for making lighting adjustments, especially on night shots, where its powerful tools make dark images pop while removing noise.

It also has healing tools to remove distractions and a great selection of AI-powered presets, that go beyond what similar programs have to offer. Lightroom is favored by photographers for its digital asset management features, and by beginners for its automatic tagging. Lightroom automatically tags images by facial recognition, date, keyword, GPS location, camera model, focal length of lens, shutter speed, and more.

If you are new to photo editing, you might shy away from Adobe products because they are notorious for having steep learning curves. This is true of Photoshop, however, Lightroom is much easier to use. It has gradually been adding more smart tools making it one of the best photo editing software for beginners. It also has excellent resources, including Lightroom Academy, a collection of articles explaining the ins and outs of photography. There’s also a gallery filled with photos for inspiration. Run your mouse over an image to see the “Before” photo, then click on it to read the steps it took to achieve the look. Lightroom is a great choice for making your images look better, but if you want to edit photos with layers or create graphic designs, this is not the best photo editing software for beginners for you. We moved it to #7 on our list because we don’t think beginners will want to shell out a high monthly fee for adjustment tools.

  • Great image management/organization/cataloging tools
  • Excellent preset library and lighting adjustments
  • No layer editing tools
  • No graphic design tools

Key Features

  • Camera-based corrections
  • Gradient and brush adjustments
  • Streamlined photo management

Compatibility: Windows, Mac

Beginner-Friendly Tools: 4/5

Price: $9.99/month

What is the Best Photo Editing Software for Beginners?

Each of the best photo editing software for beginners offers a distinct set of benefits to users. While all of the options we presented are easy to use, some also offer advanced tools with guided edits that lower the learning curve for new users.

We think our top pick PhotoDirector will appeal to the widest range of users from any editing background or budget. The all-in-one platform offers a comprehensive array of tools, consistent updates, and incredible value. It has one-click tools and effects, manual adjustments, guided edits, layer editing options, and graphic design features. There are advanced tools for photographers, photo management features, and animated effects - all in a beginner-friendly package.

You can try PhotoDirector by downloading the free trial today with the link below.

Best Photo Editing Software for Beginners FAQ

1. What is the easiest photo editor for beginners?

The best photo editing software for beginners is PhotoDirector. It is clean and intuitive, with different interfaces for photo editing and organization/adjustments. There’s also a launch screen with links to PhotoDirector’s most trending tools. Most of PhotoDirector’s features are automatic, and there are Guided Edits for any features with 2 or more steps.

2. What is the most basic photo editing software?

We recommend PhotoDirector for its basic photo editing features. You can edit photos quickly and easily with basic adjustments, one-click filters, automatic background removal, and tools like crop, rotate, and flip.

3. What editor do most photographers use?

PhotoDirector is an excellent choice for most photographers, with RAW and HDR support, lens corrections, pro-level adjustments, and AI photo management. Many photographers like using Adobe Lightroom, however, to get the full photo workflow found in PhotoDirector, you’d have to spring for Adobe’s Creative Cloud subscription which is very expensive. PhotoDirector is a much more affordable option and a good alternative to both Lightroom and Photoshop.

4. Is Lightroom better than Photoshop?

Lightroom and Photoshop are often used in tandem since they offer different functionality. However, if you need to pick one option for budgetary reasons, it depends on your needs and level of expertise. Lightroom is the best photo editing software for beginners and has all the adjustments and filters most people will need to edit photos. Photoshop includes all the same adjustments and filters plus generative AI tools, layer editing, graphic design, and photo effects. However, it lacks Lightroom’s organizational features which are crucial for photographers.

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