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HELP & SETTINGS

Edit Your Images Like a Pro With These Photo-Editing Apps

We have the best recommendations -- from free to premium.

Apps in this Guide

Don't settle for Microsoft Paint. It's gotten better over the years, but you and your photos (which we're sure are amazing) deserve better. The good news is that you don't have to break the bank, ormore

Don't settle for Microsoft Paint. It's gotten better over the years, but you and your photos (which we're sure are amazing) deserve better. The good news is that you don't have to break the bank, or even spend any money at all, to find better options. Let's show you what they are.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the "CC" tag that I see on the names of a lot of Adobe software, like Photoshop CC?
"CC" stands for Creative Cloud, which is Adobe's subscription-based service. Instead of paying a large amount for Photoshop once, you pay a small subscription fee every month. The CC version is kept up-to-date with the latest patches and new features, and you get up to 20GB of cloud storage to keep your work material synced across devices. Adobe no longer provides pay-once versions of most of its software.
Why shouldn't I just use Windows' built-in image editing tools?
They tend to provide a limited number of features and can be confusing to navigate.

The best photo editors for Windows

Best pro editor: Adobe Photoshop CC

Best pro editor: Adobe Photoshop CC

One of the original stumbling blocks of getting Photoshop was its steep asking price, but now you can have it for $10 a month, and it includes Adobe Lightroom, a companion program that specializes in organizing image collections for pro photographers. If you're working full-time as a shooter, $10 a month should be pretty manageable, and it gets you arguably the best digital photo software on the market.

Best free photo editor: Paint.NET

Best free photo editor: Paint.NET

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Paint.NET is a very polished, light, and intuitive image editor that you would expect to pay good money for. Instead, dotPDN has relied on donations since the program was launched in 2004. It doesn't have the sheer number of tools you'll find in Photoshop, but you can choose from hundreds of plug-ins if what you need is not built in.

Best Value: Adobe Photoshop Elements

Best Value: Adobe Photoshop Elements

Adobe switched to a subscription model for most of its software in 2013; Photoshop Elements, a simpler version of Photoshop that costs a fraction of the price, remains one of the few programs of theirs that you can pay for once and keep using for as long as you like. The list price for this very capable image editor is $100, but you can frequently find it on sale for much less if you shop around. If Paint.NET and its plug-ins don't have the tools you need, Photoshop Elements is the next logical step for most point-and-shoot photographers.