16 Best Free Photo Editing Software for Mac & Windows

If you want to retouch your photos for free, you will need to find the appropriate photo editing software for exactly what you want to achieve. There are many such software programs out there for both the Mac and Windows platforms. But many of them are not really that great in the free category.

computer with photo editing software open

To save you time and frustration, I will share the best free photo editing software programs that you can use to post-process your pictures. There are some real gems if you know where to look.

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Free photo editors for Linux, Mac, and Windows

Can’t afford Photoshop? Can’t justify the expense? What do you need in a good photo editor anyway? To me, the absolute essential features necessary for any photo editing app are:

  • Layers and layer masks (alpha editing). These features let you selectively apply edits and filters to portions of the image that you control.
  • Painting tools. Brushes in varying sizes and hardness. For painting masks, mostly.
  • Curves. Essential. A curves adjustment tool lets you control color, color saturation, contrast, brightness, and black white points. Curves is often the only tool I use.
  • Color adjustment. Hue and saturation adjustments.
  • Channel mixer/B&W converter. Some way to make black and white photos.
  • Filters. Blur and sharpen. You don’t need page curl or lens flare.

Without further ado, and in alphabetical order, some free apps that fit the bill:

Aviary Phoenix (Web app–All platforms)

The only web/online app in the list that supports layers and masks. “From basic image retouching to complex effects,

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