Mobility

Three free apps to handle your photo editing needs

Easily edit your photos as you shoot them with these three photo editors.

So you have yourself an awesome camera on your smartphone. Or you picked up a steal of a deal for an amazing Sony RX100 camera. This means you have some spectacular photography as your disposal. You point, you shoot, you review... and you realize your images need a little touch-up. What do you do?

Here are three excellent photo editors available at the great price of FREE. These apps aren't just great options for your smartphone, either—there are also computer versions available to sweeten the deal. So with Wi-Fi enabled cameras available, you can choose to edit photographs from your DSLR or point-and-shoot on the computer or directly on the mobile device you have with you when you snap the pictures. These mobile apps can be found in the Apple App Store or Google Play. Let's check out the apps.

Pixlr

The Pixlr mobile app is simplistic and sorta "fun" for beginners getting into photo editing. Cropping, saturation, brightness, and other standard adjustment tools are readily available. You can also dabble with blurring and double exposure.

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Image: Ant Pruitt

Want to have some fun with a portrait of your best friend? Open it in Pixlr and do a little doodling on the image. Draw some extra dimples or a bigger smile. All for laughs, of course. I decided to show the emotion I thought this rabbit displayed as I tried to get its photograph.

You can acccess Pixlr on your computer with your browser. Just hop over to the website and check out the various editing tools offered. (See what I did there? I said "hop.") I enjoy using the Pixlr Express option as it is lightweight and allows me to do quick and simple edits on the fly.

SEE: Want better photos? Try these three basic tips

Snapseed

Snapseed has been popular with veteran professional photographers for many years, as it was part of the Nik Software company. This service grew into a mobile app, which saw consistent updates adding features beyond the standard adjustments. Filter options as well as tools to push the image manipulation limits have become part of the software. Recently, facial recognition was added to the app, allowing users to manipulate images with faces in it to fit a scene. The tool is similar to the Liquify tool found in Photoshop. In the image below, I gave myself a "smile" ...somewhat. I just tapped the options for Smile and moved a slider to my liking.

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Image: Ant Pruitt

Okay, maybe I overdid the adjustment, but you get the idea. It's a nifty option available on your mobile device (iOS and Android). "But Ant, you said these apps would be available on a computer as well." Yeah, I did say that. You can get a stripped-down version of Snapseed via Google Photos in a browser. If you click to edit a photo, the interface will give you the similar options of Snapseed. Google acquired Nik Software a few years back and its online photo editing option has looked more and more like Snapseed with each year.

Adobe Lightroom

Lightroom on Android and iOS is flat out awesome. I enjoy the different tools the app offers to allow for some seriously detailed editing. However, the mobile app isn't made for the faint of heart, and your device must have a powerful processor and RAM that can handle the edits and raw images. If you're using the recent flagship phones, you can surely use Lightroom.

The mobile app has a similar workflow to its desktop predecessor. Vertical categories with horizontal properties or details to focus on exactly what aspect you need to edit in your image. I also enjoy that the app lets you take photos from it. Similar to how Instagram allows you to snap photos directly from the app. The difference here? You can capture raw images (.dng) if your mobile device's camera is capable of shooting raw.

The app is free and you can use it on your computer via the Adobe Creative Cloud suite for as little as $10 per month. With Creative Cloud, you can easily sync images between your mobile device and computer. This comes in handy when you want to edit a photo on a larger screen without losing the editing progress you've already made. Yes, the sync keeps the editing adjustments intact.

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Image: Ant Pruitt

Lightroom is probably my favorite photo editor, but that's not to say I don't use the others. To tell the truth, a lot of the images on my Instagram page are shot on my Pixel XL, fine tuned in Lightroom Mobile, and finished in Snapseed. In reality, all three of the apps are great. But each of them has a specific role in my photo editing workflow.

Your thoughts

What's your favorite photo editor? Leave a comment below and share your opinions with fellow TechRepublic members. Feel free to tag me on my Instagram page with your best images.

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About Ant Pruitt

Ant Pruitt is an IT Support Professional with a passion for showing the non-geek how great technology can be. He writes for a variety of tech publications and hosts his own podcast. Ant is also an avid photographer and weight lifter.

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