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5 Best Free Photo Editing Software for Windows PC in 2022

Last Updated on Dec. 23, 2021 – by David Morgan
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5 Best free Photo Editing Software for Windows

Whether you make a living taking pictures or just do it for fun, the software you use to retouch, edit, and enhance images can have a more significant impact on how your photos look than your camera. While some software provides users with a significant number of high-quality editing tools, the product may lack sufficient organizational features. On the other hand, a free program may feature a clean, streamlined interface but limit your ability to use advanced features such as object removal, AI-powered sky replacement, and other professional-quality tools without a hefty subscription fee.

If you've found yourself wondering, “What is the best free photo editing software for Windows?” you're in the right place. In this article, we'll outline the best features and surprising creative elements you can find in the top five choices of free photo editing software. Each pick will help streamline your editing process and enhance your workflow.

Top 5 Free Photo Editors

1. PhotoDirector Essential

As the all-in-one best free photo editing software, Windows-optimized PhotoDirector empowers creators of all experience levels to dive in and turn their photos into works of art. It combines Lightroom's photo processing and organization functions with Photoshop's powerful editing, enhancement, and altering tools into a clean, user-friendly platform. Guided modules help remove the learning curve, producing high-quality photo effects in seconds. At the same time, the unique video-to-photo and animation tools surpass all other editors in capabilities and eye-catching results.

Organizing features and processing capacity can prove invaluable, especially when dealing with thousands of photos. PhotoDirector allows you to batch sort and order tag names, locations, and other metadata. It's AI powered facial recognition technology will also help streamline your organizational process, making it the best photo organizer for beginners. Use AI facial recognition to sort photos accurately, search for images using the platform's convenient calendar layout, or customize hierarchical tags to keep your photos clearly labeled and categorized. You can combine photos using the automatic slideshow creator and add background music for a quick, sharable creation.

PhotoDirector also features an abundance of photo adjustment options and editing tools. Rather than moving between products to process and edit photos, you can immediately open images in the interface and access precision color replacement tools, HSL and HDR effects, and one-click, customizable presets.

Even beginners can use the software's interactive guided modules for quick, wow-worthy results. Choose from dozens of options, including:

  • AI-powered sky removal
  • Content-aware actions
  • Multi-exposure
  • Lighting tricks, like light hits and light rays
  • Photo animations
  • Moving dispersion

The image editor also efficiently manages complex, layered edits for expert-grade projects. Advanced editors may notice a few similarities between the PhotoDirector console and Photoshop's editing platform, but the ease of use and UI optimization take the hassle out of complicated edits.

Apply masks, layer filtering, experiment with blur effects, adjust alignment, or return to previous edits using the layer history function. Additionally, PhotoDirector's unique photo editing functions allow you to experiment with 360° editing. Transform 360° photos into panorama shots or a little planet image for a zany addition to your portfolio.

Use the video-to-photos tools to create panoramas from video footage, transform film into the perfect group shot, and experiment with multiple exposure images sourced from your latest video clip. Share laugh-out-loud scenes with friends and family by crafting animated GIFs from videos or create high-definition motion stills in minutes.

You've got a powerful vision. Don't let your budget, experience, or mediocre editing software slow you down. Download the free PhotoDirector Windows 10 editor now.

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2. GIMP Photo Editor

GIMP interface

GIMP – also known as the GNU Image Manipulation Program – features a surprisingly well-rounded amassing of complex and basic photo editing tools that rival those of Photoshop and similar paid programs.

Unlike other editing products, GIMP software doesn't offer tiered features or subscriptions to the platform. Simply download the free version of the photo editing platform to access a vast assortment of high-quality editing tools, including:

  • Adjustable brushes
  • Auto-enhanceable features
  • Custom color adjustment and gradient tools
  • Advanced animation capabilities

While the base software comes well-stocked with flexible features like layer editing functions, masking, and effects, you can also download free plugins created by other GIMP users. Further, the software's customizable layout and ongoing developments ensure that it stays on pace with rival platforms like Photoshop.

That said, while you can access the platform's wide array of tools, GIMP falls short in one significant area: user optimization. The loaded interface often feels overwhelming, while beginners and intermediate editors may struggle to find solutions for complicated editing techniques.

Navigating the cluttered editing platform may prove difficult as well, especially if you're unfamiliar with the whole gamut of editing features available to you. Additionally, GIMP offers very little help for their users outside of the community discussion panels.

Best Features:

  • Comprehensive line-up of editing tools
  • Quick interface customization
  • Easy expansion using community-created plugins or written code

3. Movavi Picverse

Movavi Picverse interface

Movavi Picverse has built its reputation on one key function: quickly and easily removing unwanted objects from your pictures. While beginners can cut distracting or disruptive elements from their photos, even the most inexperienced users may feel that Movavi's actual editing features fall short of expectations.

The minimalistic interface makes it easy to clear the background of your photos. Simply select the object you want to remove, then click “Remove” for a flawless finish. The software also offers a simplified alternative to AI-powered background removal: Users can upload images into the platform then clip and insert elements from one photo into another.

Beyond object removal and element movement, however, the software features a limited array of tools. You can adjust the size and orientation of your photo using the crop, rotate, level, and resize features or apply stylistic filters such as sepia, black and white, and oil painting.

Movavi also provides users with a few photo adjustment options. It allows you to manually tweak the color, brightness, contrast, and saturation of your photo, apply Magic Enhance for one-click edits, or add text, titles, and captions for fully customized photos.

Movavi's focus on object removal has limited its offerings, at least in the basic Photo Editor software. While you can upgrade to the Photo Studio package for more options, you will have to pay a monthly subscription for that premium version. Additionally, the software features limited sorting and organization tools that don't measure up with AI-powered processing technology like PhotoDirector's.

Best Features:

  • Powerful element removal features
  • Beginner-friendly editing capabilities
  • Simplistic, compact design without an overwhelming number of options

4. BeFunky

BeFunky interface

When considering the best free photo editing software, Windows users can't forget BeFunky. The free version of the photo editor offers many of the tools, features, and functions beginners need to enhance photos, adjust color and lighting, and create customizable collages or graphics.

With ten photo editing modules from which to choose, you can quickly browse through the software's editing interface to alter template layouts, upload images, and make minor tweaks. While the free version will only allow you to access about one-third of the platform's tools, novice users may enjoy the simplified functionality. However, proficient editors will likely wish for more options – and far fewer advertisements.

BeFunky organizes its tools into three different tabs – Essentials, Blur & Smooth, and Miscellaneous – with the most commonly used editing tools in the “Essentials” menu. Upgrading to BeFunky's premium subscription will unlock features such as cutout tools, background replacement, color replacement, and other highly impactful editing functions. Still, the free software will allow you to manually adjust elements such as:

  • Exposure
  • Fill light
  • Vibrance
  • Clarity
  • Blur edges
  • And more!

BeFunky does lack many useful features and the functionality of a fully-loaded editing suite like PhotoDirector.

Best Features:

  • Streamlined drag-and-drop interface
  • Customizable collage templates and presets
  • Full integration with Unsplash and Pixabay for free stock images

5. Pixlr

Pixlr interface

Pixlr's free, lightweight editing software works well for beginners and more experienced editors in need of a quick solution for basic edits. Beginners won't find much guidance within the platform, though advanced users familiar with Photoshop will likely manage to navigate through the software's toolbars.

While Pixlr supports layers and masks and features several essential editing tools such as customizable brushes and visual effects, the software doesn't provide users with a professional lineup of photo retouching options. You may also notice that the program renders slowly, resulting in frustrating, inconsistent movements of your mouse or touchpad.

Though the program rarely crashes, ad-heavy banners and poorly navigable pages reduce the functionality and aesthetic appeal of the platform. That said, Pixlr's streamlined layout and a minimalistic array of tools help simplify the editing process for absolute beginners.

Without a fully-loaded editing suite to search through, you can more easily locate tools like spot-healing brushes, stamps, and skin retouch or make minor adjustments to the photo's color and lighting. Casual users may enjoy making small tweaks to their pictures or creating collages within Pixlr's software, but if you need a user-friendly option with a more comprehensive array of tools, Pixlr won't make the cut.

Instead, a PC-optimized software like PhotoDirector will reduce lag and rendering time while providing you with a full suite of professional-quality editing features.

Best Features:

  • Quick integration between desktop and mobile editing
  • Somewhat customizable editing interface
  • Fairly solid collection of basic functions

How to Get the Best Free Photo Editing Software for Windows 10

No matter if you enjoy snapping photos on your phone or have built a career as a professional photographer, you should demand the best from your photo editing software. Creating extraordinary Photoshop-like effects doesn't rely on having the most expensive, complex photo editing software around.

No matter how much experience you have, PhotoDirector makes basic editing and advanced visual effects easy. From one-click corrections to AI-powered sky replacement and more, PhotoDirector guarantees an unmatched editing experience.

Click here to download PhotoDirector for Windows 10 and get started for free today.

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Free Photo Editing Software FAQ

1. What is a photo editing software?

An application used to manipulate or enhance images. This can range from basic apps on phones to professional industry-standard programs on PCs.

2. What is the best free photo editing software for mobile?

  1. PhotoDirector
  2. Adobe Photoshop Camera
  3. Pixlr
  4. PicsArt
  5. Snapseed

Check out our list of best photo editing apps for Android and iOS for an in depth look at each.

3. Should I pay for a photo editing software?

This is totally dependent on your needs and what kind of edits you want to make. If you’re making simple adjustments like cropping, rotating or flipping a basic free editor should be fine.

If you want to add photo effects or layer photos you will benefit from paying for a quality photo editor. Some free editors offer advanced features like PhotoDirector but it is an exception to the rule. Most are usually clunky and don’t provide the best results.

There is also a paid version of PhotoDirector that includes a 4,000,000+ stock library and lots of extra creative assets.

4. What is the best paid photo editing software for Windows PC?

  1. PhotoDirector (paid version)
  2. Photoshop
  3. Lightroom
  4. Paitshop Pro
  5. DxO PhotoLab

Check out our article about the Best Paid Photo Editing Software on Windows for an in depth look at each.

5. How much does a photo editing software cost?

Prices can vary quite a bit. We included a comparison chart with prices in our Best Paid Photo Editing Software in 2022 article to help you better understand cost.

6. What photo editing features should I look out for?

The top ten features you should look out for are:

  1. User-friendly
  2. organizational tools
  3. Color correction and filters
  4. Layer editing
  5. AI- powered tools
  6. Content-aware editing
  7. Photo animation
  8. Beautifying tools
  9. Color effects
  10. Light effects
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