For a free image editor that lives within your browser (no software download needed), Pixlr is the best free dupe of Adobe Photoshop out there.
Pixlr has many of the same functions as Photoshop, and the layout is on-point, complete with a customizable user interface with resizeable and moveable menus. Pixlr even has the same keyboard shortcuts as Photoshop.
However, while many of the tools are similar to those in Photoshop, Pixlr’s still pale in comparison in terms of capabilities. For instance, be careful not to overdo and layer too many effects — the result can look really fake really fast.
Nevertheless, Pixlr is overall a great image editor as close to Photoshop you’re going to get, without paying a cent. You can upload images from your hard drive to edit, open images via URL or even open images from online libraries like your Facebook account.
Sumopaint is available online and can be downloaded as an app, as well. You’ll find free and pro versions; the former has basic tools enough for simple image editing.
Sumopaint is somewhat modeled like Photoshop, but the tools that come with the free version are not as capable as those of the latter. The Symmetry tool creates kaleidoscope-like patterns with ease, and the various Polygon tools make interesting star patterns. While these tools are fun, they may not contribute much to image editing.
But Sumopaint still has a load of other features, including basic image editing tools to mimic a watered-down version of Photoshop with mid- to high-performing capabilities.
PicMonkey is a web app good for fun photo editing with Instagram-like filters. Similar to other online image editors, PicMonkey offers free and pro versions. Because a lot of basics, such as the curves and burn tools, are not completely available in the free version, PicMonkey is not the greatest editor for in-depth photo editing.
PicMonkey has some interesting blemish-fixing tools, including airbrushing, wrinkle-removers and even “mascara” and lip tints. However, as expected, be wary of overuse; the result can easily appear fake and edited.
Additionally, PicMonkey has loads of sticker overlays, like mustaches and party hats, as well as a host of borders and textures to easily add flair to your photos.
Splashup (formerly Fauxto) is a simple online image editor good for beginners. You can import photos from third-party libraries like Flickr, Facebook, Picasa or even Photobucket, or upload from your desktop.
The Splashup setup is similar to a simplified layout of Photoshop, but with fewer tools. Splashup has basic utilities, but even so, tools like curves, levels, hue and vibrancy are absent.
Splashup is good for simple cropping, smudging and otherwise very basic tools for fast and easy touchups on the pixel level. One complaint is that Splashup does not have keyboard shortcuts.
Picfull prides itself in one-click photo editing. If you want to quickly throw an easy filter onto your photo, Picfull offers many simple options.
Within the online image editor, you can change the levels and other settings of each filter. With 21 filters to choose from, filters range from color- to level- to saturation-based filters. The image window is small compared to other editors, but since Picfull’s only feature is filters, this should not be a huge problem.
Fotor is an online image editor that shares similar functions with PicMonkey. Fotor hosts a wide selection of filters — seven filters under the black-and-white category alone — plus a cool tilt-shift tool. With sticker-like overlays, easily add hearts and bow ties to your pictures as you wish.
Fotor also has a Chrome extension for deeper browser integration. However, Fotor can be buggy sometimes, and the levels may not move as smoothly as expected.
GIMP, GNU Image Manipulation Program, is an open-source software almost as old as Photoshop itself, still going strong 17 years after its initial release.
The current version has improved drastically upon older versions, but GIMP still has a slow bootup time and many of the tools require several seconds before application.
However, GIMP is stocked with customizable editing tools and effects for close editing. You can cartoonify your photo or render fog or lens flare. While usability is not very smooth with GIMP, the program does offer a variety of tools, making it a worthwhile free image editor.
An open-source image editor for OS X, Seashore uses the same native file format as GIMP but uses a Cocoa UI for easy Mac workflow. Additionally, Seashore is a much simpler image editor with basic tools.
While some of the tools are customizable, it lacks filters and other special effects in more advanced image editors. Nevertheless, Seashore is a user-friendly free image editing software of OS X.
Chock-full of filters, overlays and effects, Image Tricks for Mac comes in lite and pro versions. While the latter provides even more effects, the former already has a great selection to choose from. For example, convert your photo into ASCII art or a blue print with stylized filters. There are borders as well as generators and customizable overlays.