Best photo editing apps in 2021

(Image credit: Snapchat)

No matter your level of experience, whether you are a professional or casual photographer, the best photo editors can enhance any photograph. It doesn’t matter what subject you are working with: any photo, be it a dog picture or a meal shot, will look better if you’re using one of the best photo editing tools.

What then makes something one of the best photo editor apps? It should be intuitive and simple to use. No one wants to spend time looking through menus to find what setting they want.

The best photo editing software should offer an extensive range of tools that will make your photos stand out. The best photo editing apps should make it simple to share your images with loved ones and friends.

Best video editing applications

Photos and photos on cloud storage: both free and paid

What is the most popular photo editing software?

PicsArt has been voted the best photo editor app overall after testing more than a dozen apps. PicsArt is a powerful toolbox with many features including AI photo effects, stickers, and text overlays.

PicsArt also has tutorials and a daily challenge for photo-editing to help you get better at it. It also has a collection of images you are able to edit. PicsArt has a social component. This allows you to chat with other users, and to share your photos.

Snapseed also has features like non-destructive and advanced editing, curves RAW image processing, white balance exposure, and double exposure filters. Layered effects are also possible, which can be saved to multiple photos and applied. The product is meant for users who already have some knowledge of photo editing.

Even though Google Photos’ editing features are a little limited, it is second to none in terms of backing up your photos as well your videos and syncing them across any device you have, whether that be a PC, Mac, or tablet.

You can check out our list of top photo editing applications.

PicsArt (Android, iOS)

PicsArt is a top pick for photo editing apps. It’s fun and easy to use while covering all the bases of consumer mobile photography. It offers lots of creative control, powerful image-editing tools, as well as a wide range of filters. Additionally, you can create or select fun stickers and combine your photos into highly customizable collages. You can even add artistic text to share. The fully-featured camera module features pre-capture and photo tools.

Remix Chat can be used to create and share photos with PicsArt’s 150m monthly users. Users can follow the in-app tutorials and submit their creations as challenges. Winners will be selected by community vote.

PicsArt Premium ads pop up annoyingly during editing. To turn them off, and have the video editor plus additional tools and filters, you will need to subscribe to a premium membership for $11.99 per month or $55.99/year. A student discount is available.

PicsArt provides a wealth of photo-editing, collaging, and other tools for consumer photographers. You can be creative and have fun with it.

Download PicsArt: Android, iOS

Snapseed (Android, iOS)

Snapseed isn’t designed for casual users. Instead, it’s made for professionals who are committed to creating high-quality images on the go. Snapseed offers an impressive array of editing tools, including selective edit brush and film-related filters like Retrolux, Lens Blur, Double Exposure, and Retrolux.

Snapseed is great for detail-oriented photographers. Its range of exposure, color and masking tools, brushes, filters, and reshaping tools allowed us to explore different settings. The editing is non-destructive so you can go into the Stack (the layers that contain edits) to adjust or remove edits (including correcting misspelled words). You can also use a Stacksbrush to apply an effect only to a part of your image. Additionally, you can save a stack of edits to a picture as “Look”, which can be applied to other photos and shared by other users.

Snapseed is a great photo editing app for serious photographers that need to spend some time fine-tuning photos. It has excellent traditional tools as well as non-destructive edits. The app can be used for free.

Download Snapseed: Android, iOS

 Adobe Photoshop Camera (Android, iOS)

Adobe Photoshop Camera is a great photo editing app. This is because of its AI. It applies special effects to photos and makes corrections after they are taken with the phone’s camera.

Photoshop Camera uses filters (called “lenses”) for special effects or adjustments to color, lighting, or clarity. The camera is special because Adobe Sensei automatically identifies which type of photo you are using and creates masks that cover key areas, like the sky or a person’s face. Sky lenses, for instance, can change the colors of the sky and add or remove clouds. They also add reflections in water bodies to enhance the effect without affecting other areas of the photo. A few lenses are equipped with “sprites”, smart objects that can move, zoom, or pin the lens within a Sensei-identified area. It’s possible to resize or position objects placed by lenses (such as planets and clouds). Some lenses even have tiny animations such as shooting stars, or blasting-off rocket ships.

Adobe Photoshop iPad features a few smart desktops features such as the refine edge brush, which allows you to more precisely define and rotate an object. Both of these features are touch-enabled.

Adobe promises to release new lenses, all free, on a regular schedule. Some of these lenses were created by celebrities and influential people. There are many options for each lens, which can be accessed by swiping from the left or right. This allows you to have endless photo adventures. PS Camera is a wonderful app that focuses on push-button photo taking, though you can tweak the effects. This app is more suitable for casual photographers than professionals or serious amateurs. The app can be downloaded for free. There is no premium edition.

Download Adobe Photoshop Camera: Android, iOS

Pixlr (Android, iOS)

Pixlr, a photo editing app that is perfect for casual photographers who just want to fine-tune their images and maybe add some effects. Then share your photos on whatever social networks you have. The interface is intuitive and easy to use so you can have fun playing with your images.

Pixlr’s photo adjustment tools are easy to use, and not overwhelming. These include brushes for selective edits like darkening or undoing. You will find a variety of overlays, special effects filters, and borders that are both fun and appealing. These cartoonish stickers can be very fun. You can quickly create collages by using preset templates or predesigned layouts.

The premium version ($1.99/month and $11.99/year) disables the ads and gives you lots more content (stickers. overlays. borders. fonts. Pixlr’s extensive editing tools may be too limited for professional photographers. However, casual users will find the app easy to use.

Download Pixlr: Android, iOS

 Adobe Lightroom (Android, iOS)

Adobe Lightroom for mobile (iOS or Android) is part of a cloud-based workflow. This includes access to your entire photo library as well as full-resolution files (originals and edited) across all your devices (mobiles (laptop, desktop, and laptop). The Lightroom ecosystem is powerful and offers professional-level control. For those who only need an excellent photo app on their phone or tablet, Lightroom Mobile is available for free. Premium subscribers can be purchased at $4.99 per month and give you 100GB.

Lightroom Mobile offers a wealth of learning opportunities. Lightroom Mobile’s growing library of interactive tutorials can help you edit your images like a pro. This is a great thing because there are many tools to help you with exposure, colors, selective edits, filters, and so on. You can quickly see how adjustments affect your picture with the slider controls. Edits are also non-destructive so you can always return back to your original photo. Lightroom’s intuitive social sharing features are enhanced by a Discover section, which allows you to see animated examples of steps taken by other photographers or artists to create their best images. Lightroom Discover lets you upload your edited photographs.

Lightroom Mobile is a fantastic photo app for anyone looking to make the most of their photos. However, it can be too time-consuming for people who don’t want the hassle of doing anything beyond cropping, brightening, or other special effects before sharing their photos.

Download Adobe Lightroom Mobile: Android, iOS

 Instagram (Android, iOS)

Instagram has more users than 850 million for a reason. Instagram’s focus on quick and easy sharing of photos is a winning formula. Its intuitive interface allows you to quickly upload a picture or video and make simple edits. You can also post simultaneously on multiple social networking sites.

Instagram’s primary activities include sharing and liking posts and sending and receiving messages. In fact, Instagram’s most important metric, which influencers and businesses use for monetizing their accounts, is your engagement rate. This is how many people like and view your posts. Many new features offer tools to help you gauge and increase your engagement rates. This allows you to remove “ghost fans” (those that don’t interact with your posts) as well as tracking which hashtags get more views or likes. It also has a security feature that lists all email messages you have received from Instagram in the last 24 hours. This makes it easy to verify whether they are legitimate and genuine. Instagram users can now see how much time they spend on the app, which is a great way to break the addiction.

Instagram constantly adds or removes features and tools. This confuses some users while exciting others. The one constant about Instagram is its popularity.

Download Instagram: Android, iOS

Google Photos (Android, iOS)

Google Photos is the one photo app we consider to be a necessity on any mobile device. You’ll be able to understand why you need Google Photos if you ever lose all your media files or your phone is lost. Google Photos offers very few editing tools. But it organizes your photos, videos, allows easy sharing, and, best of all, automatically backs your entire image library up to the Cloud. From there, the app syncs seamlessly to all of your devices. It can be used on Apple phones, Android phones, desktops, tablets, and laptops as well.

Google’s photo editor features are simple and quick to use. For example, you can adjust color, light, contrast, and pop on the overall picture. A few filters can be added to this tool, along with a slider that allows you to adjust the intensity of the effect. Google Photos is not without its fun side. Google Photos can automatically create animated GIFs by combining photos.

Google Photos is also a top choice for photo storage. Remember that you have a limit on how many photos you can store in Google Photos. For 100GB, prices start at $1.99 per month.

Google Photos is a must-have, with one exception. You can download it, set up it, and it will do the rest.

Download Google Photos: Android, iOS

 Prisma (Android, iOS)

Prisma is different from many of the top photo editing apps in that it uses stylistic filters made by real artists. Prisma, unlike many other apps that use filters (not least Adobe Photoshop camera higher up in this ranking), focuses on the art and allows you to make your photo look like Van Goghs or Picassos. This clever AI uses the effects to produce amazing results.

There are more than 300 filters you can use, but many are locked behind paywalls. For $1.99/week $7.99/month or $29.99/year, you can unlock them all. HD processing is also available with a premium subscription. Once you’ve applied a filter to an image, you can create a custom background, change exposure, contrast, etc., save them to your device, or share them with other people. New filters are added regularly to keep the app looking fresh.

Download Prisma: Android, iOS

 Facetune 2 (Android, iOS)

Facetune 2 remains the most popular photo editing app for retouching portraits. It has sophisticated intelligence that goes beyond skin toning and teeth-whitening. It’s easy to make a serious expression look more like a smiling portrait. The effects can be adjusted using simple sliders. You can alter your portrait right in the camera’s preview before you actually take the picture.

Unfortunately, the premium version doesn’t have the ability to access the more powerful tools. These tools can be used to change the background, sky, and eye color or remove blemishes.

Premium versions are available for $2.99/month or $35.99/year. A one-time purchase of $69.99 is also possible. However, the free version can be a powerful tool. Get it now to enhance your selfies.

Download Facetune 2: Android, iOS

Afterlight (Android, iOS)

Afterlight 2 is intended for individuals who are interested in spending time editing individual photographs. The tools for color, exposure, and composition are very comprehensive. They include layers, curves, selective hues, and more. The stickers are simple and easy to use. There are many fonts available for text. Both can be edited for color or opacity. There are multiple levels of undo/redo; you can also use history to roll back your image to one stage. The layers screen allows you to edit, delete or select an edit.

After some initial confusion with a few icons that were not standard, the interface is relatively easy to use. Unfortunately, many tools and options, along with more than 130 filters are only available to those who purchase a membership. This membership costs $2.99 per month, $17.99 per year, or $35.99/lifetime. The Android version of the app is not as powerful as the iOS.

Download Afterlight: Android, iOS

 VSCO (Android, iOS)

VSCO’s emphasis on traditional photography means that it offers many photo corrections, adjustments, and filters that produce great quality results. It can even open RAW files. Although it has more features than some of the best photo editing software, it isn’t as complete. For example, it does not offer selective edits or text effects. Additionally, while you can select the color of your border from within your image, the only type that will create a square-formatted photo is a cumbersome one. To save other images, you can only save up to 10 “recipes”, which is a list of edits to a particular photo. VSCO’s camera is also capable of a variety of pre-capture control options (only available for iOS, not Android). These include selective focus points and manual control over white, ISO, and exposure.

VSCO is home to a number of influencers and users (VSCO Girl is a real meme), but do not expect the same kind of interaction on Instagram or other social media platforms. You can post photos from VSCO directly to any network you have on your phone. However, only one photo at a time. You can post any photos to your VSCO profile, even if you don’t own one. Your privacy settings will only be used to share your photos and their location settings.

The free app has ten presets and only basic editing tools for still images. $19.99/year gets you access to a video editing program, more than 200 presets (including borders and HSL), advanced editing tools like layering and HSL, as well as weekly photo challenges. You also get more support through tips, tricks, and tutorials. VSCO is an excellent tool for photographers.

Download VSCO: Android, iOS

How to choose the best app for photo editing

The photo-related app market is competitive and very crowded. It is not uncommon for apps to have a very popular feature that others follow. Snapchat’s popularity with photo and video messages that quickly disappear has spawned copycats.

There are two types of photo editing apps that are the best: ones for everyday use and those that can be used by professionals. Both types of apps have been included in this list. However, it’s important to consider your specific needs before choosing an application.

Like most apps, you can get a small number of features for free. However, you must pay a monthly or an annual subscription to unlock the full range of features.

How do photo editing apps compare to desktop alternatives?

The best photo editor apps are perfect for quick edits using a smartphone, but what about extra functionality if you use the top photo editing software from a desktop or laptop.

It all depends on which programs and apps you are using. The differences can be broken down into four main areas

Display Size

When you edit a photo using an app on your phone, it will likely be viewed on a tiny screen. Even with a tablet, your screen will be no larger than 10 inches. However, most laptops can display a resolution of up to 15 inches. Desktops can be even bigger. For editing large amounts of data, a bigger screen will always be preferred.

Control Methods

On a tablet or phone, you will most likely use your finger. For a desktop or laptop, it is more likely that you will use a trackpad/mouse and keyboard. Both have their pros and cons. It all depends on what you do most often.


Desktop photo-editing tools will typically offer a richer experience than apps. Photoshop, for instance, has an app version that offers many more photo-editing options than the desktop version. However, layers and complex cutting are not possible with the app version. A majority of people find an app to be sufficient. However, if you are only looking to enhance a photo or share it with others on WhatsApp, a desktop version may prove too expensive. Full-fat desktop programs will work if your goal is to be more creative.


Most of the top photo editing apps are either free or cost less than a few bucks. Many of the photo editing programs on our list are quite expensive.

How we tested the top photo editing applications

These apps had a variety of purposes and focus. Therefore, when developing our test scripts we ensured that each app was judged based on its unique strengths and weaknesses in relation to its intended purpose.

All apps were subject to:

The interface is easy to use and of high quality.

Use it quickly.

The quality and quantity of features.

It’s easy to share and flexible.

How well it accomplishes its stated goal (photo editing or backing up).

Other aspects were tested selectively, depending upon the app.

The versatility of photo import.

Multifunctionality of the camera module

Capabilities for photo-editing, versatility, and ease of use

It is simple to use, powerful, flexible, and fun to collage tools and other projects.

Make sure you check out all of our camera picks.

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The top software and apps to edit, manage and share photos

Best photo organizer apps | Best photo storage sites | Best photo editing software | Best photo editing apps | Best photo collage apps

Sally Wiener Grotta heads DigitalBenchmarks as its president and chief analyst.

( These scripts she wrote for different tech publications were for testing and

The industry has evolved to evaluate digital cameras, images quality, software, and other technologies.

standards. The first major volume in her series on image processing is Digital Imaging, which she co-authored.

for Visual Artists”, (McGraw-Hill), co-authored and edited with Daniel Grotta. Many of her reviews, stories, and essays are among the hundreds.

Many magazines, journals, as well as online publications, have featured columns.


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