The best free online photo editors

By Joe Bell

With desktop image editors sometimes not an option, web photo editors can often provide the same high quality results at no cost. Which ones should you use?

Web photo editors are becoming increasingly popular through their low cost and simple-to-use features. Being a web platform, they provide the opportunity to post to social media as well as providing cloud storage. However, issues arise over copyright control and the accessibility of the interface. Rather than implementing a photo editor into your content management system, why not take advantage of some of the fantastic online photo editors available. We've analysed 4 of the most popular online photo editors, rating them against key measures to help you make your decision.

Photoshop Express Editor

Screenshot of Photoshop Express Editor

Adobe's Photoshop is well known for being one of the leading photo editors in the market today, but at a minimum cost of £17.58 a month is it really worth the money for basic editing? In 2011, Adobe released its web based editor "Photoshop Express" allowing users to take advantage of some of Photoshop's features for free in a web browser.

Some of these features include:

  • Crop and rotate
  • Resize
  • Auto-correct
  • Exposure
  • Red eye
  • Various adjustments
  • A range of effect filters

The resize tool was the easiest to use, it provides templates for profile pictures, mobiles, e-mails and websites. As well as this, the editor provides you with 2 GB (Gigabytes) storage to keep your photos and easy methods of posting to social media. The features in the editor are outstanding, however, the interface suffers greatly from poor levels of contrast making it very hard to read.


Accessibility [1 out of 5]

Copyright [5 out of 5]

Storage [3.5 out of 5]

Image Quality [5 out of 5]

Social Media [5 out of 5]

Overall [3.9 out of 5]


Screenshot of PicMonkey

PicMonkey is another fantastic photo editor, created by two former Picnick employees after Google's buyout of the company in 2010. The site is mostly free with adverts, however some of the top features require a premium "royale" account which costs $33 a year.

Some of PicMonkey's features include:

  • Basic edits - crop, rotate, exposure control, colour control, sharpen and resize.
  • A range of effects and filters (mostly premium)
  • Touch ups - blemish fix, airbrush, wrinkle remover and more (mostly premium)
  • Text
  • Frames
  • Textures (mostly premium)
  • Themes - Halloween, Christmas etc.

The PicMonkey interface is fantastic with a bold, high contrast colour scheme that makes it easy to read and understand. The "image setting" tool allows the user to tweak the canvas size to match the performance of your computer. PicMonkey's features are great, however most of the best ones require a premium account. The lack of a photo storage makes the process of posting to social media a little tedious.

Accessibility [4 out of 5]

Copyright [5 out of 5]

Storage [1 out of 5]

Image Quality [4 out of 5]

Social Media [2 out of 5]

Overall [3.2 out of 5]


Screenshot of Google plus photo editor

The photo editor integrated into Google+ is one of the best web editors available, using many of the features from Picnik {they bought the company in 2010). With your Google account, you're entitled to upload an unlimited amount of photos at tablet resolution (2048 pixels) and you can use 15 GB of your Google Drive space for anything larger. If you have Google+ installed on your phone you can set all your photos (and even panoramas) to be instantly uploaded into your own private album.

Some of the editing features include:

  • Google+'s unique "Auto-fix"
  • Crop, rotate, exposure control, colour control, sharpen and resize
  • A wide range of effects and filters
  • Decoration and stickers
  • Text layers

The editing interface is brilliant with high contrast colours which make it easier to read. Although the Google+ features are incredible, the Terms of Service may change your mind. Terms of Service; Didn't Read provides a summary of the Google terms of agreement, in which it states "The content you post on a particular Google service can be used by Google on other services you may not be aware of". Effectively, Google can use your content for all their existing and future services. As well as this, the editor limits your posting to its own social network Google+, making the process of posting to other social media sites longer.

Accessibility [5 out of 5]

Copyright [1 out of 5]

Storage [4 out of 5]

Image Quality [5 out of 5]

Social Media [3 out of 5]

Overall [3.6 out of 5]

Flickr (Winner)

Screenshot of Flickr photo editor

Flickr's photo editor, built using Aviary, is without a doubt the best web photo editor available. Since its creation in 2004, Flickr's been widely known as one of the best websites for photography, notably through its copyright control and ability to embed in social media. With its editing interface provided by Aviary in 2012 and recent redesign with 1 TB (terabyte) of space, Flickr has kept its name as the best photo website available

Its editing interface includes:

  • Auto-enhance
  • Plenty of filters (the most attractive out of all sites tested)
  • Frames and stickers
  • Orientation, crop, resize and focus
  • Warmth, brightness, contrast, saturation, sharpness and splash
  • Draw, text, redeye, teeth-whiten and blemish

Flickr's interface is extremely easy to use with a bright, high contrast colour scheme and large icons. Overall, with its large storage space, easy-to-use editor, copyright control and links to social media, Flickr is a clear winner.

Accessibility [5 out of 5]

Copyright [5 out of 5]

Storage [5 out of 5]

Image Quality [5 out of 5]

Social Media [5 out of 5]

Overall [5 out of 5]

We help clients make the most of visual website content:

Call us now to discuss your requirements.

Joe Bell of Ecru Joe Bell of Ecru

This article was written by Joe Bell of Ecru. If you have any questions regarding this article or would like to discuss your next web site project please call us on 01702 479 677 or get in touch via our contact form.

Email us or call us on 01702 479 677 to discuss how we can help you.