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Full-featured photo freeware

Edit and manage images and libraries with this extensive but free tool.

Free photo and image tools are getting so sophisticated they more than rival expensive premium tools. Case in point is Zoner Photo Studio Free, an up-to-date graphics app that is packed with features. It can sort and manage image libraries; resize, enhance, and correct images; create albums, slideshows, calendars, panoramas, and other displays; and upload your images to popular photo-sharing sites. It incorporates full-featured Browser and Editor functions, but it also works with a wide range of other photo tools.

Zoner Photo Studio offers Standard and Custom Installation options; we chose the standard installation. A First Run Wizard walked us through the steps of setting up Zoner, though the program can also import settings from previous installations, if available. The setup options included file-type associations, destination folders, whether the program should open images in the Browser or Editor views, and whether or not to integrate it with Windows. We could change these and other settings at any time on Zoner's Preferences menu. Zoner's Browser interface sports the dark-gray tones, white font, and tree-view navigator typical of modern graphics apps, but there's also an interesting built-in folder view in the main window. Zoner handles layers, offers autocorrect functions on its Quick Fix menu, and features a palette of tools such as clone stamps, a morphing mesh tool, red-eye correction, and other useful effects. It works much like other graphics and photo editors, too; although it doesn't resemble Photoshop as closely as some of its competition, many of the functions, controls, and options will be familiar to anyone who's spent much time with similar programs. We browsed to and opened an image and quickly applied a variety of tools and effects to it in the Editor, including watermarks, brush strokes, and cropping. Zoner can use EXIF data to sort image collections automatically. One surprising but nifty extra is the ability to assign GPS data to images using Google Earth.

Zoner Photo Studio Free has all the tools and options to satisfy most users, even pros. It has a stylish interface, well-configured controls, excellent Help and Tutorials, and more settings and features than we can address in this space. Definitely recommended.

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