Mobility

How to use Snapseed for easier mobile photo editing

Editing images on a mobile device doesn't have to be a challenge. Jack Wallen believes he has found the ultimate solution for that in Google's free Snapseed app.

snapseedhero.jpg
Image: Jack Wallen

I do a lot of work with images. Most often, I am doing said work at a standard desktop workstation, simply because I have yet to find a mobile tool that can stand up to the power of, say, GIMP or Photoshop. Although that may still hold true, I have found an image editor for Android that does an outstanding job of allowing me to do some graphic work while on the go. That tool is Snapseed, by Google.

Snapseed contains 29 tools and filters, including:

  • Healing brush
  • RAW Develop
  • Tune image
  • Details
  • Crop
  • Rotate
  • Perspective
  • White Balance
  • Brush
  • Selective
  • Vignette
  • Text
  • Curves
  • Expand
  • Lens Blur
  • Glamour Glow
  • Tonal Contrast
  • HDR Scape
  • Grainy Film
  • Vintage
  • Retrolux
  • Noir
  • Frames
  • Double Exposure
  • Face Enhance
  • Face Pose

It's not nearly what you'll find in the industry standard tools, but for a free mobile app, you'll be hard-pressed to find a better graphic editing solution. In fact, anyone looking to work with images on a mobile device should certainly look to this app before trying anything else.

Let's install Snapseed and see how it works.

Installation

Installing this free, official Google app is quite simple. I'll demonstrate on a OnePlus 3, running Android 7.1.1 (Nougat). Here are the necessary steps:

  1. Open the Google Play Store on your Android device
  2. Search for Snapseed
  3. Locate and tap the entry by Google
  4. Tap Install
  5. Allow the installation to complete

Once installed, you'll find the launcher for Snapseed on your home screen, in your App Drawer, or both. Tap the launcher to open the app.

Usage

The Snapseed interface is quite intuitive. Even before you start working on your first image, you can tap the INSIGHTS button to check out some very informative instructions on getting up to speed with the various aspects of the app (from learning the interface to various how-tos on many of the app filters).

If you're ready to dive in, tap anywhere on the main screen to open an image for editing. You can open images from the device storage, Google Drive, or any cloud account you might have associated with your device.

I'm going to do a quick demonstration on how to add text to an image. Beyond just applying simple filters, this is one of the easier tasks you can undertake with Snapseed. Make sure you look through the insights to gain a better understand of the more complicated tasks (such as double exposure). Adding text to an image will show you how Google has done an amazing job with this interface.

Open up the image you want to add text to and then tap the pencil icon. This will place the image in edit mode. From the listing of TOOLS (Figure A), tap the Text box.

Figure A

Figure A

Adding text to an image is quite easy.

When you go to add text, a line will appear on the image reading DOUBLE TAP HERE TO CHANGE TEXT. Before you change the text, you need to first select the style of text to be used. To do this, tap the icon in the bottom menu bar that is to the left of the check mark. This will reveal the different styles of text objects you can add (Figure B). Swipe to the left or right until you find the style you like.

Figure B

Figure B

Changing the style of text.

Now you need to move the text element to where you want it on the image and resize it. You can resize and rotate the element with a standard two-finger pinch/zoom move (rotating is handled via two-finger twisting). Moving is simple; you tap and hold the element and drag it to where you want.

Once you have it where you need, you can then double-tap on the element and then type the text you want. When finished typing, tap OK and the text will change (Figure C).

Figure C

Figure C

Our cat is now saying what she really means.

You can also change the opacity of our new text element. Tap the center icon and then drag the handle to the right or left to edit the transparency of the element (Figure D).

Figure D

Figure D

Changing the opacity of the text element.

With the opacity feature, you could easily add watermarks to your images.

Adding filters

Adding filters is just as easy with Snapseed. With your image open in editing mode, scroll down until you find the filter you want to apply. Let's open a different photo and apply the Lens Blur filter. This one is a bit tricky in how you adjust the various settings of the filter.

Open your image for editing, scroll down, and tap the Lens Blur filter. In the next window, tap the center icon in the menu bar to open up the Lens Blur options (Figure E).

Figure E

Figure E

The Lens Blur filter in action.

You have three settings to alter:

  • Blur strength
  • Transition
  • Vignette strength

Tap to select the option you want to alter and then tap and drag your finger to the right or left to change the setting. You can then tap the settings icon again and select one of the other options and alter it.

After you've completed adjusting the options to your liking, tap the checkmark to apply the filter. Your newly filtered image is ready to be shared or used for PR purposes (Figure F).

Figure F

Figure F

Our image with Lens Blur applied.

That's all there is to working with Snapseed's Lens blur filter.

Easy and powerful image editing

Anyone that needs the ability to quickly and easily edit images on the go (be it for business or personal use), cannot go wrong with Google's free Snapseed editor. This tool is very user-friendly, offers plenty of options, and won't set you back a single penny. Give Snapseed a try and see if it doesn't become your go-to mobile image editor.

Also see

About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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