The Best 23 Photo Editing Software Tools to Edit Like a Pro

Photo editing has taken on new importance as everybody has a camera with them at all times. We aren’t just talking about professionals anymore, it’s an area that has gone truly mainstream. Whilst it is true that cameras and phone cameras are getting better all the time, producing fantastic results, it is equally true that the sheer numbers of photos out there (from social media to stock images) mean that nowadays your shot needs to be extra special to really stand out. Luckily photo editing software is doing its best to keep up with technology and volume, with an increasingly wide range of choices, from free to paid for, from the professional level to beginners. There is absolutely something for everybody.

This article will take you through some of the very best photo editing software around at present and whizz you through the main features, prices, and overview without getting too technical. A few minutes can make all the difference with the right software, you’ll get a reputation in no time.


1. Skylum Luminar Neo

Price: Free Trial, $69 one-off purchase / $99 bundle – Luminar Neo + Aurora HDR + Spring Adventure LUTs + Souful Panoramas
Runs on: Windows & Mac
Toolset: Great image creation & editing tools, AI enhancement & replacement tool

For a fast-rising star on the market, Skylum Luminar Neo will take some beating. The latest version has made giant steps to become a true all-in-one editor from the organization to the editing with excellent workflow features. The addition of AI one-click improvements, to an already clear, easy-to-use UI really makes a difference. Features such as the great Sky replacement filter and enhancement tools add further pluses. As a stand-alone editor or plugin for others, Luminar 4 really hits the mark.

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2. Corel PaintShop Pro

Price: free trial available for 30 days, $79.99, Pro Ultimate – $99.99, Photo Video Bundle – $179.99
Runs on: Windows
Toolset: Large selection of editing tools, content library.

PaintShop Pro from Coral is another of those world-famous editing software packages that you’ve heard so much about. It might take a bit of working out but. once you’ve got it you can really make a difference to your images. An impressive range of editing tools, a great content library plus you have the option of drawing and painting features too. This makes PaintShop Pro a really flexible package for graphic designers for a relatively cheap one-off fee. There are educational tutorials galore, and it’s suitable for all levels.

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3. Adobe Lightroom

Price: Free trial, $9.99 per month
Runs on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and tvOS
Toolset: Editing and organizational tools

Adobe Lightroom starts us off, and you perhaps wouldn’t be blamed for choosing this straight away as it’s got such a glowing reputation for image editing. Lightroom manages to be packed full of fantastic editing features, and still be easy to use. It’s an all-around image editing package that includes cataloging tools that are perfect for enhancing and organizing your photos. As part of the Adobe creative cloud you’ve got great options, and support including tutorials. Features include presets and filters, auto backup to the cloud, and access from different devices. All very useful and very easy to set up, a quality photo editing software that is as good on mobile devices as on desktops. Great photo editing software with awesome reviews.

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4. Pixlr Editor

Price: Free (with ads) & Premium – $4.90/month, Creative Pack $14.99 per month
Runs on: Web, Android & iOS
Toolset: Editing and manipulation tools, effects, etc

Pixlr E is a powerful straightforward easy-to-learn online photo editor offering 23 separate tools for all the usual functions for editing and manipulation of images. It’s free if you keep the ads or you can upgrade to the ad-free Advanced version or even more impressive Pro version, and move up as you improve your skills. There are over 2 million effect variations, and many overlays and filters to allow you to get really creative with your picture editing prowess.  The mobile possibility aids versatility but keeps the power. Another top-quality free product, with no risk but plenty of rewards.

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5. Adobe Photoshop

Price: Adobe Creative Cloud Photography plan from $9.99
Runs on: Windows
Toolset: Powerful editing tools

Photoshop is so well known that it has become a byword for all photo editing and it’s not difficult to see its influence on most of the other photo editing software packages available. It is a much loved, much praised go-to editing tool for professionals and hobbyists alike, and the sheer volume of positive feedback should tell you all you need to know. Whilst it doesn’t offer cataloging tools the integration with Adobe lightroom makes up for that, allowing PhotShop to fully focus on the great, powerful state fo the art editing tools for which it has become renowned. The masking, layering, and retouching tools are still some of the best around even up to the pro level. There are extensive filters and brushes as well as fly-out animations, explaining tools for more inexperienced users, but of course, there are also Adobe tutorials to ease you through everything. Add this to the number and quality of YouTube video guides and you should have no problem picking Photoshop up. A market leader.

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If you are interested in Photoshop CC, you can start learning it with our collection of beginner-friendly tutorials.


6. Affinity Photo

Price: $54.99 one-off purchase on Windows and Mac, $21.99 on iPad
Runs on: Windows, Mac, Ipad
Toolset: Great powerful editing tools

Affinity Photo is often seen as a direct rival to Photoshop, and it’s easy to see why given their UI and a similar focus on retouching tools and well-known features. However, Affinity is available as a one-off single purchase, unlike the subscription-based Photoshop. This latest version has many updates including improved RAW processing for speedier loading and a great new panel for assets with drag and drops functionality for well-used elements. a powerful feature full option that ranks highly in the world of best photo editing software.

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7. Pixeluvo

Price: $34 including future updates
Runs on: Windows, Linux
Toolset: Good selection of usual editing tools, filters, and effects

Pixeluvo is a lesser-known photo editing software that perhaps deserves more acknowledgment. With a wide range of advanced features for color correction, excellent brush tools, layers, and masks plus text addition possibilities it sits nicely in the field covering all the key areas and covering them very well. There’s also a great selection of filters and effects to transform your image into something special. It also gets high marks for UI design and is a pleasure to use. Great option as an advanced one-off payment model to free you up from subscriptions.

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8. DxO PhotoLab 5

Price: Free Trial (30-day), $219 one-off purchase for PhotoLab
Runs on: Windows & Mac
Toolset: Excellent Image processing tools and new HSL tool (hue, saturation & luminance)

DxO PhotoLab 5 is a powerful all-around photo editing software suite that can take you right to the heights of professional photo editing with both processing and correction tools. An updated and improved version since the addition of Nik software, it gives really excellent filtering, and organizational housekeeping (Photo Library) but its true stand-out feature is RAW processing. The paid versions are on the costly side and the Elite version is certainly a step up from the Essential if you need all the top quality features but Essential still has excellent raw conversions, Smart Lighting, the Micro contrast tool, local adjustment mask management features, and a great HSL color wheel.  the free 30-day trial is worth experiencing to really consider if it’s worth the price comparison with its nearest competitors.

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9. Cyberlink Photo Director 365/ 11

Price: Annual subscription £36.99
Runs on: Windows & Mac
Toolset: Excellent enhancement tools, transfer tools, and workspace organizational tools.

Photo Director 365 is a photo editing and enhancement program, designed specifically for photographers as a subscription alternative to PhotoDirector Ultra image editing software. Strangely, little-known Photo Director 365  should be a real player in the market. As a tool for organizing photos, it’s good as n image editing software its really good. A  smart range of tools, including AI tools and style effects. , layer-based editing, supportive of multiple formats, and access to a huge number of plugins it is an effective, creative, and flexible package. There are also frame packs and clip art and other extras to be added over time as automatic upgrades, that will keep you at the cutting edge of photo editing. A subscription that will ensure your moving forward all the time.

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10. CaptureOne

Price: Free 30 day trial, $179/per year or $299 for Capture One Pro 22
Runs on: Windows
Toolset: Great editing and Cataloging tools

Camera company Phase One’s Capture One 22 is the latest high-end photo editing software package in its highly thought series. Raw processing is very much the focus but has improved cataloging functions as well. New, updated features and support for newer camera models make this photo software a great option. Its customization properties, user-friendly UI, and improved tools (color editing, etc) are worthy additions, and its speed, especially when coping with larger pictures and smoothness are pluses too.

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11. ACDSee Photo Studio

Price: Free Trials on all packages. Different prices depending on packages starting at $89 per year
Runs on: Windows, Mac & iOS
Toolset: Good editing & organizational tools, excellent most go-to tool.

ACDSee entered this field several years ago as really good photo viewing software but this latest version elevates it into an all-around photo editing package. This 2020 edition is regarded as one of the best photo editing software packages for professional-level photographers, and it deserves more attention due to its high-end performance and an amazing selection of tools and new features, such as a blended clone tool and text tool updates. Ultimate is also excellent for organizing and categorizing with the help of new facial recognition and detection features.  It’s certainly comparatively priced for quality and range but it does have a learning curve that has to be dealt with before you can truly utilize all the features.

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12. Skylum Aurora HDR 2019

Price: $99 one-off purchase in a bundle
Runs on: Mac & Windows
Toolset: Advanced HDR tools

And straight into another Skylum product this time Aurora 2019. Where Luminar is great for single exposure editing and enhancement, Aurora excels at merging multiple images and exposures. The HDR can help create natural tones and color gradients but also let you add your own creative vibe, being especially good for landscape photography. It’s full of clever features and can be bought as a  stand-alone, a plugin, or together with Luminar 4 for a complete up-to-date Skylum package.

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13. Photopea Photo Editing

Price: Free & Premium starting from $10 (removes ads)
Runs on: Web browser
Toolset: Usual editing tools plus some new ones such as Puppet warp and Oil filter.

Photopea is a web-based raster and vector-based graphics editor that is not only for image editing but for creating illustrations, and web design and supports different image formats (sketch, PDF, PSD, etc)  and allows conversion. The free version is advertisement-supported but the Premium version removes these ads. Being compatible with multiple web browsers, including Opera, Edge, Chrome, and Firefox, it is great if you don’t want to download software. It’s fast, it got a simple drag and drop form and you can’t adapt very easily if you have knowledge of Photoshop as some of the shortcuts are the same. There are plenty of features to keep you busy and whilst it may be a little basic in certain areas it is a great free photo editing alternative.

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14. GIMP

Price: Free
Runs on: Windows, Mac, Linux
Toolset: Editing and enhancement tools

A free photo editing software package that comes with many of the classic features that the paid-for versions are awash with. As it’s free, it can be seen as the ideal way to take the plunge into the world of photo editing before spending your hard-earned cash, but this is a little unfair. Many of the tools featured in GIMP – filters, brushes, cloning tools, and built-in file management –  are good enough long-term options. there is super format support and plugin support too, so this isn’t just a money-saving alternative.

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15. Ashampoo® Photo Optimizer 2019

Price: $39.99, discount available
Runs on: Windows
Toolset: Automatic correction

Photo editing is made easy with Ashampoo’s free Photo Optimizer 2019.  Aimed mainly, but not exclusively at Social Media marketers or batch photo editors the idea is to automate the process as much as possible. Select a picture, click on optimize -and it’s done. Color correction, lighting correction, exposure correction, element removal, cropping, there are a great many pluses to save you time and effort but of course, it does stifle your creativity rather. A nice, useful option to have in your tool bag of photo editing software -especially as the free version is available at the moment.


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16. PhotoScape – Free

Price: Free version, Pro version $39.99
Runs on: Windows, Mac
Toolset: Editing tools, creative tools.
Photoscape X is very user-friendly and great for beginners to learn with quick, easy, light filters for editing photos. The free version is a good start but the paid-for pro version has many more features and an awesome range of tools for both editing and creation. There is a focus on one-click enhancement, es[pecially in the free version but also literally thousands of filters, cloning technology, cut-out tools, and batch editing tools with the pretty cheap Pro version.  Each tool has video tutorials so you really can’t go far wrong. Recommended to start with the free version and if you like the style upgrade.
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17. Wondershare Fotophire

Price: a free trial is available, $49.99 annual license / $79.99 one-off purchase
Runs on: macOS, Windows
Toolset: Great editing features

Fotophire’s editing toolkit has everything you need to create a professional look on your photos. It has a well-designed, usable interface with some lovely correction tools, erasers, and filters for correcting blurs, sharpening intensifying, and adding effects. The background removal feature is particularly effective and functional. It supports a great range of file formats too. Perhaps it’s not exactly for very beginners but it doesn’t take much effort if you have some experience.

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18. Fotor

Price: Free version, Pro – Starts at $8.99 per month, Pro+ starts at $19.99/month on an annual plan
Runs on: Windows, Mac
Toolset: Full editing and creation suite

A cloud-based photo editing suite that is very popular for its relatively powerful photo editing tools. The effect library (fonts, stickers, shapes) and templates (Facebook, Instagram, etc)plus collage layouts can give really interesting effects and a style to your photos and push your creative buttons. There is a really good batch editing function and plenty of format support for all cameras. It’s not the solution for pro-level advantage users but it is a super option for newbies and more experienced users.

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19. inPixio

Price: Free trial, Pro version $49.99
Runs on: Windows, Mac
Toolset: No-fuss editing tools

For a solid, no-fuss photo editor for users with only a basic knowledge Photo Clip 9 really stands out. Everything about it is designed for ease of use and whilst it may lack advanced tools it certainly has enough to make a difference to your shots. You can add backgrounds and textures, as well as the usual adjustments, and the before and after feature is a tremendous addition. You’ll be editing in no time at all with this cool piece of kit.

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20. BeFunky

Price: Free Basic Account, Subscription to BeFunky Plus -$4.99 per month billed annually
Runs on: Web
Toolset: Editing, collage, and design tools

A simple, yet powerful, Photo Editor, Collage Maker, and Graphic Designer for the web. Offering an amazing range of tools and design elements as well as customizable templates, it can add creativity to your editing. There are filters, cropping and resizing tools, and batch editing to add to the thousands of stock images and icons in the library. Particular pluses are the Cartoonizer and digital art tools. A lot of the better features are on the plus version only but the free version gives you a real feel for what you can achieve, play around with it for a while.

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21. ON1 Photo RAW 2020

Price: Free Trial, One-off $99.99, $79.99 for previous version update
Runs on: Windows, Mac, Mobile App
Toolset: Complete set of editing tools

On1 Photo Raw is rightly kicking up some heat regarding being a direct competitor for Adobe’s lightroom. A complete solution with all the latest technology such as AI auto adjustment and matching, it has a remarkable array of custom presets, filters, and enhancing options as well as 170 effects. It has built-in categorizing, cataloging, and browsing, plus additional search tools. Everything about this photo editing software package screams class, including the value for money. If you are a really keen photographer and can see yourself getting plenty of use out of your editor, then bear this in mind.

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22. Acorn 6

Price: Free 14 day Trial, one-off purchase of $39.99
Runs on: Mac and iOS
Toolset: Good image editing tools

A Mac photo editing app for editing, retouching, creating effects and adding text to a photographic image. The latest version is improved with added cloning tools, gradient filters, and great file support amongst other additions. It’s great value for money (take advantage of the free trial to be sure it’s what you want) for such professional-level tools.  A superb support system is in place, and it’s lightweight but feature full.

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23. Exposure X5

Price: Standalone – $129 ($89 for upgrade), or bundle options
Runs on: Windows, Mac
Toolset: Creative & editing tools

Aimed at photographers who want to turn their shots into more creative artistic pieces, Exposure X5 has a set of unique creative tools, including realistic grain look film, lens focus tools, and a whole array of light, borders, and texture effects. With over 500 customizable presets, 3D color masking, gradient tools, overlays, and much, much more Exposure X5 will let you push your photos to the very limits of your imagination. The super fast editing tools are fine too, as well as the organization tools and smart collection functions. A real rival for Lightroom, at a very competitive price.

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Final words

With so many great photo editing software packages to choose from, and our list is limited to 23 of the best, (there are more,) it isn’t easy to decide that best suits your needs. Many of the features and tools overlap, making it an even more tricky choice. Much will come down to your requirements regarding usage. If you are just editing to retouch or enhance your personal collections, then a lightweight free or cheaper editor could well do the job with no fuss at all. If you are a professional or very keen amateur who wants to really make a mark it is definitely worth assessing the wider options. Free photo editing software trials and free software are a no-risk starter point, spend a little time playing around, and they will give a much clearer idea of what you can and can’t achieve and a tremendously useful starting point on your editing journey.

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Lyudmil Enchev

Lyudmil is an avid movie fan which influences his passion for video editing. You will often see him making animations and video tutorials for GraphicMama. Lyudmil is also passionate for photography, video making, and writing scripts.

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