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The 16 Best Photo Editing Applications

The 16 Best Photo Editing Applications

As a company that specializes in turning your photos into lifetime memories, we know a thing or two about taking great photos, but that’s only half the story. After a photo shoot, professionals and amateurs alike develop their photos in what’s called post-production.

Most of the time this is either accomplished in software programs like Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop. Whether it's tweaking the color balance or changing a color photo into a stunning black-and-white photo, simple tweaks in such software have powerful effects.

However, given the rise of smartphones and their photographic capabilities, the need to export photos to a desktop application has been slowly going away. To fill this niche, a multitude of applications have sprung into existence. 

Names like Canva, Pixlr, Snapspeed, and more dominate the app market with a variety of filters, tools, price points, and more. All add together to create a dizzying array to choose from, especially for the fledgling photographer.

Fear not, has compiled an exhaustive list of our thoughts and reviews on some of the most widely used photo editing software for mobile as well as desktop. 

The Results

The Best

It shouldn’t be a surprise that the best photography software program is Adobe’s Lightroom. It’s been setting the standard for photo editing software since its release in 2017. From its robust ecosystem of off-line and online editing, its cross-operating system functionality, its support of multiple file formats, wide-ranging editing tools, and lower price point Lightroom is the all-in-one solution for the beginner who wants to take the hobby seriously as well as the industry professional

The Best for Budget

For those looking for software that’s just as robust, but a little lighter on the wallet, Pixlr is our top pick. With features and functionality nearly identical to Adobe’s suite of programs, Pixlr comes in at just two dollars less a month than Lightroom and is just as easy to learn. The only true drawback is that Pixlr doesn’t offer RAW support nor the same level of customer service as Adobe.

The Best for Beginners

We think that the best application for beginners is Canva. Its ease of use and its free, entry-level package are great for both the absolute tech-illiterate as well as those who have some idea of how to improve their photos both on their desktop and mobile devices.

However, professional photographers and graphic designers may be turned off by its lack of other features standard in other flagship software and its high price points for its subscription plans.


Rather than break down this list even further into sections specific to Android and iOS mobile applications, we thought it best to group them together into a cross-platform list for not only our sanity but yours as well. 

For this mobile list, we’ve also included a star rating system, links to the application either via the Google Play Store or the Apple Store, a short statement about what makes the app special or different when compared to the rest of the list, and finally a breakdown of price points.


  • Star Rating
  • Our Thoughts
    • Founded in 2013, Canva has consistently been the most user-friendly application when it comes to graphic design. Whether you're creating a logo for your side hustle or a multinational corporation, Canva’s intuitive design system allows even the most tech-illiterate user to create beautiful designs with just a few clicks.
    • That said, Canvas is more of a graphic design tool than a photography editing application, although that can be done in a limited sense. There are sliders for brightness, contrast, and saturation, alongside some filters and a few other easy-to-apply features like drop shadows, blurs, and duotone.
    • In addition to its mobile versions, Canva has desktop browser functionality not available with other mobile-exclusive applications.
  • Price
    • Free
      • $0.00
      • Only requires you to create an account
      • For users that need to design something quickly
    • Pro
      • $119.99/year
      • For more professional designers, small companies, and freelancers
      • Limited to 1 user
    • For Teams
      • $149.99/year
      • For large teams of 5 or more users

Adobe Lightroom Mobile

  • Star Rating

  • Links to Download
  • Our Thoughts
    • This is the mobile version of Adobe’s Lightroom application. However, the availability to bundle this application within a more extensive plan is a double-edged sword.
    • If you’re all in on the Adobe ecosystem then Lightroom makes total sense. On the other hand, if you’re not fully integrated into Adobe’s line of products, it makes little sense to solely use Lightroom, especially when some of its key features are paywalled, and it only interacts with Adobe’s other applications
    • Because Lightroom Mobile belongs within Adobe’s product line there are some differences and additional features that aren’t included in the free version. Having a specific plan unlocks these paywalled features. These features include the ability to sync photos across all devices, access to premium Photoshop features, and the ability to access your Lightroom photos in other Adobe applications.
    • All that being said, if you are a serious hobbyist or a seasoned professional there’s a reason why Adobe Lightroom is the top choice in the industry; its robust set of features that set the industry standard, RAW file support, and great customer service make Lightroom the absolute pinnacle of photo editing software.
  • Price 
    • The base app is free
    • Lightroom (1TB) $9.99/mo
    • Photoshop (20GB) $9.99/mo
    • Lightroom (1TB) $19.99/mo
      • This price tier bundles Lightroom and Photoshop together and you get a 1GB of cloud storage as well
    • All Apps Creative Cloud $39.99/mo

Google Photos

  • Star Rating

  • Links to Download
    • The good news is that if you already have a Google account, Photos is available for you to use. A dedicated mobile app can be downloaded through your App Store.
  • Our Thoughts
    • Google Photos editing software leaves much to be desired; a range of pre-set filters and a simple three-bar slider for highlights, color, and saturation.
    • While its editing capabilities are severely lacking, Google’s ability to offer seamless integration with a pre-existing Gmail account, storage capabilities, and sharing potential make it a great choice for photogenic families or freelancers who are looking for cheap and cost-effective storage solutions. 
  • Price
    • Like most Google integrations, the service itself is free until you surpass 15GB. Storage is charged at scalable prices with 100GB of storage starting at $1.99/mo. 
    • Additionally, the paid version also includes access to Google’s excellent help desk, “advanced” photo editing tools, and the ability to link multiple accounts together.


  • Star Rating

  • Our Thoughts
    • InShot is more of a video editing app. However, don’t overlook its photo editing capabilities as well as its collage functionality. Its user-friendly layout has made it quite the popular app for social media influencers and other content creators alike. 
    • Its constant pop-up ads for its free version are an annoyance as well as its lack of support.
    • InShot is a relatively simple app that does its job exceptionally well, however, it excels more in video editing than photo editing. If your needs are a bit more robust, look elsewhere.
  • Price
    • The base app is free, though you can buy individual filter packages on an as-needed basis.
    • InShot Pro is their paid app and operates on subscription-based tier levels
      • $3.99/monthly
      • $14.99/yearly
      • $34.99/one-time purchase lifetime access


  • Star Rating

  • Our Thoughts
    • PicsArt is a nice blend of Canva’s easy to use templates, photo editing effect must-haves, VSCO filters, and more. It aims to be a swiss army knife, but its actual photo edit tools aren’t particularly in-depth.
    • PicsArt has a clean design with most photo editing effects and tools when compared alongside others along with the welcome addition of AI-powered filters that have become increasingly popular in recent months.
    • PicsArt tries to be everything all at once, which is hard for any app to do. Perfect for quick and on-the-go editing for social media.
  • Price
    • Free
    • PicsArt Gold - $11.99/month
    • PicsArt Team - $14/99/month
      • Scales for team members under 1 account


  • Star Rating

  • Our Thoughts
    • Perhaps a cheaper alternative to Adobe’s line especially in the desktop realm, though its mobile versions are just as robust. Sadly, Pixlr has a limit on file sizes and a lack of RAW support.
    • While this isn’t a huge deal as you can resize images, it’s still a detriment for those that like to work in RAW.
    • For those who are operating system agnostic, Pixlr is cloud-based allowing you to access your account on both Mac and PC systems.
    • It does have an interesting feature of being able to add photos via URLs, a feature that many other competitors are surprisingly lacking.
    • Structures itself with custom templates ala Canva and others.
  • Price
    • Free
      • Best for individuals, students, and those needing minimal tools.
      • Bothersome in-app ad pop-ups take away from the overall user experience
    • Premium - $7.99/month
      • Built for professional individuals, freelancers, and a team of 1 within an organization
      • Access to Mobile and other Pixlr apps
      • Ad free
      • AI tools
    • Team - $12.99/month
      • Small teams of 5+ more, agencies, built for team collaborations


  • Star Rating

  • Our Thoughts
    • The intuitive user interface resembles many of our favorite photo editing apps, with a healthy amount of preset filters and the ability to create and save your own to apply later.
    • It works offline but lacks the types of tools found in other free apps.
    • Those choosing to access the tools hidden behind the paywall may find its monthly price steep when compared to other apps that have the same tools at a free level.
    • In addition to Polarr’s high monthly subscription price, it lacks RAW file support unfortunately as well which is a big detriment.
  • Price
    • Free
    • Pro
    • $7.99/month - masks, layers, more tools, filters, etc


  • Star Rating

  • Our Thoughts
    • Snapseed was created by Google as a more robust option for photo editing software, and unlike other competitors, Snapseed is able to support RAW files.
    • Its user interface is intuitive, but unfortunately, it’s not as robust as other applications.
    • This makes it a great option for beginners, however, Snapseed’s biggest flaw is its weird saving features and destructive editing process that is unlike every other application we’ve tested in this list.
      • Save overwrites your original photo, but edits can be changed.
      • Save As creates a copy.
      • Export saves it as a second copy, but the edits can’t be changed.
  • Price
    • Totally free which is quite a shock with many others having both free and subscription-based models.


  • Star Rating

  • Our Thoughts
    • VSCO originally was similar to an Instagram clone, but its range of photo editing allowed it greater flexibility between casual and professional users.
    • This flexibility gave it an air of a more “artsy” than other photo-editing apps, more so in its “vibe” than any particular feature.
    • Because of this the app became famous for that “VSCO girl aesthetic
    • History aside, for a mobile exclusive app, VSCO's range of photo editing features and tools is quite deep, however, most of its preset filters are paywalled.
    • Additionally, we feel that VSCO attempts to do two things at once which leaves its overall user experience in a strange limbo. It tries to be a combination of a social media app and a photo editing platform which creates a strange experience.
  • Price
    • Free
    • Membership - $19.99/year
      • 200+ presets
      • Video editing
      • More editing tools
      • Access to editorial content

Prisma Photo Editor

  • Star Rating

  • Our Thoughts
    • While Prisma markets itself as a photo editing application, it actually lacks a ton of editing capabilities. 
    • It’s simple to use UI relies on applying AI-type filters such as “impressionist”, “nightmare”, and beyond.
    • Sadly, most of the more intriguing of these AI filters are paywalled behind a rather steep monthly fee when compared to similar competitors.
    • Unfortunately, Prisma seems more interested in developing its AI-generated filters than becoming a photo editing app. Although its AI filters are quite good.
  • Price
    • Free
    • $7.99/month
      • Unlocks over 500 filters


  • Star Rating

  • Our Thoughts
    • Afterlight is, in our opinion, a blend of Instagram-like features that replicate similarly to VSCO and other apps with the social sharing functionality, and manual tools found in Adobe’s ecosystem - offering RAW support!
    • It also has a dedicated video editor feature as well with film-like pregen filters, but its filters are a bit more experimental compared to other apps like Prisma, Pixlr, or Polarr.
    • While iPhone fans are sure to love Afterlight, the Android version of the app hasn’t been updated since 2014. We aren’t sure exactly why this is the case. So Android users should be mindful of this fact if Afterlight sounds intriguing to you.
  • Price
    • Free
    • $2.99/mo


  • Star Rating

  • Our Thoughts
    • Similar to Pixlr and Polarr, LD relies more on filters, pregen overlays, typography stickers, and some interesting out of the box ideas like dynamic lighting.
    • However, while these are truly great features, LD again falls short in the photo editing department when compared to Adobe and others.
    • Sadly, the app also lacks tablet support and perhaps worst of all, no batching edit, which is truly a shame.
  • Price 
    • Free
    • LD+: $9.99
      • Which has more layers, effects, and the like


Adobe Photoshop

  • Star Rating

  • Our Thoughts
    • Photoshop is one of the most powerful photo editing software tools available.
    • Its selection and capabilities are nearly unrivaled with so many tools, filters, and more.
    • Adobe also provides plenty of customer support as well as tutorials to help those new to the software become experts in no time at all.
    • While perhaps a decade or more ago, you could have purchased a license, that’s no longer the case as subscription-based models now reign supreme, which makes this an expensive option for the simple hobbyist
    • Additionally, upgraded assets can become expensive quickly so the program can  be very costly depending on your needs.
  • Price 
    • $20.99/mo


  • Star Rating

  • Our Thoughts 
    • GIMP is a standout compared to the rest of our list.
    • It’s totally free and open source, working across Windows, iOS, and Linux operating systems.
    • GIMP stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program.
    • Because of its open source there is a robust creator community that has nearly any imaginable plug-in that you could need.
    • That being said, GIMP has a reputation as being hard to learn when compared to other applications, but that seems to be fading. It can also be used for graphical work in addition to photography.
    • “Out of the box” GIMP does lack some features that Adobe users know and use (but these can be easily found and added as plug-ins) such as 3d commands, and adjustment layers.
  • Price
    • Free and open source


  • Star Rating

  • Our Thoughts
    • Luminar is another desktop exclusive, but unfortunately, it doesn’t offer a free version and even with the paid aspect it still plays what it calls “extensions” or new features that it regularly puts out. 
    • Some of its unique AI tools like “Remove Power Lines” and “Dust Removal” are quite useful and powerful.
    • While it boasts it works on both Mac and Windows systems, truth be told it performs better on Macs
    • The good thing about Luminar is that it can either work as a stand-alone application, or it can work as a plugin for Photoshop.
    • If you ask us, using it as the plugin is the better option!
  • Price 
    • Explore: $9.95/mo
    • Pro: $14.95/mo
    • $99/lifetime

On1 Photo RAW

  • Star Rating

  • Our Thoughts
    • On1 Raw blends some of the nondestructive editing aspects of Lightroom and photo retouching available in Photoshop.
    • The application can work separately or even as a Photoshop plugin itself
    • While it has unique, high-quality AI filters as well as your standard range of tools, it should be said that importing RAW files has less “definition” when compared to Lightroom.
    • Additionally, we found its interface a little different from most, causing some confusion as to where specific tools are located.
  • Price
    • On1 Photo Raw 2023: $99.99/yr ($79.99 if upgrading from a previous version)
    • On1 Everything: $89.99/yr
    • On1 Everything Plus: $179.99/yr


As you can tell the amount of photo editing applications for mobile and desktop is quite extensive, and we didn’t even include all of them in our list! With such an array of options, price points, and features the decision-making process can be a difficult one.

Hopefully, our list and rankings helped assist you in your decision. Perhaps we even introduced you to a different application that fits your photo editing needs that isn’t Canva or even Adobe. Whatever application you choose, we at can’t wait to see your lovely photos!