8 Outstanding and Free Online Image Editing Tools

Ten  years ago it used to be true that when one needed to fixup an image or make a quick drawing live online, users were out of luck if they were on a smartphone, at the library’s computers or using a tablet. Those days have gone by. Just 3 years ago thePhotoFinishes looked at the wealth of free, online photo editors and it was hard to imagine things getting better. But they have. But also there has been a toll as a weaning out of photo editing tools has occurred in the past 3 years.

Now if you need to crop, resize, color adjust a photo before using it in an online story or you want to create a quick banner ad illustration, there are superb free online tools at your disposal. As a web developer I still see  too many dirty dog images being used on websites which just spoil the sites look and feel. Now it is possible to immediately show a client, using these free online editing tools a)how much better a well photo-finished image looks on their website and b)how easy it is to create such a polished image for free.

Lets look at some of the best current online photo-editing tools

SumoPaint is one of the best Photoshop-like photo-editor clones. There are several online tools that have panels, layer components, property bars across the top of the screen, and left, 2-icon-wide toolbars that approximate the Photoshop look and feel. SumoPaint is one of the best having available  most of the  tools like clone, splash fill, gradient fill, eyedropper, crop, blur, smudge, and sharpen tools that Photoshop users know and love to use. SumoPaint bests other tools with a better layer panel, faithful property bar, and a wonderful set of polygon tools. But to this user the selection of fonts coupled with the 3D transformation tools just hits the creative spot.

Pixlr is from the Autodesk people who first showed Adobe how  to do free online photo-editing right. Their standard edition is a good Photoshop approximation with layers, selections and most of the standard tools and color adjustments but without many Adobe perks like Refine Edges or Smart. But Pixlr has  an express edition which is full of funky features like collages and just plain photo editing fun. Go to Pixlr.com and choose your free online photo editing weapon of choice.By popping into full-screen mode users have a large, ad-free workspace.

This was my original favorite online editor with some very innovative photo finishing features as you can see in the screenshot above. But also the screenshot shows how picMonkey is still lost in how to monetize its photo editing services with a cluster of ads and a premium Royale edition.for about $50US/year. PicMoney has added  Touch Up of Portraits , Collage Maker, and Design feature sets  for a broader graphic designer appeal.

Google Photo Editor

PicNik was bought by Google, then closed in 2013 which resulted in alumni starting PicMonkey. But also
grgooglesome PicNik people also influenced the subsequent Google Photo Editor as the screenshot above shows. Yes the special Instagram-like effects are on the right and subtly named, but these features remind one of Picnik. Google’s real value add is that users can edit their Gmail, Google Plus, Android, Google Drive  and other images in one place. But the basic photo editing features are  thin in comparison to the Photoshop-like tools available in competitors like SumoPaint and Pixlr.


Three years ago, Phixr was the free online photo editor with the most ads. Things have not changed.

as Phixr appears to out-ad PicMonkey and is without a Full Screen workspace feature like Pixlr and SumoPaint. However, unlike other tools like Snipshot, Phixr is still alive and available online. And  one can find some special filters and features on Phixr that are nowhere else. Text with special effects is one example.

Adobe Photoshop Express

Adobe Photoshop Express was too buggy back in 2013 for review then; but it is more than workable now.
pradobeRemarkably, Adobe Photoshop Express does not use the property bar, toolbar or famous panels of its namesake. Rather on the left  sidebar there are a strong collection of basic editing features that adds very usefull tools like white balance, fill light, .image rotation, sharpen, touch up and soft focus with strong  hints of Photoshop capabilities. But, Photoshop Express does not have layers or selection masks like Pixlr and SumoPaint. Photoshop Express had a 7 or special effects including tinting and sketching. But like SumoPaint’s advanced Text-editing, this is where Photo Express froze 2-3 times during our testing. So not all the old bugs are gone, but the basic editing features will easily clean up any DirtyDog images you may have.


BeFunky is the new kid on the free online photo editing block – and it is novel and very good.
grbefunkyYe editor took a webcam shot while at work and processed it using Befunky. The tool goes beyond  Adobe Photoshop Express and Phixr with a great set of basic editing tools including strong color corrections, wide array of blur and smoothing tools, plus a very useful set of touch-up tools. BeFunky does not have masks but all of its tools can be applied selectively using paint brush tools of variable size and opacity. BeFunky does have  layers with a full regalia of controls for blending mode and opacity. But this is only the start – the real appetizer is  all the nifty effects – Multiple Textmodes, Big Effects, Artsy Effects, Textures, Graphic Inclusions, Frames and Overlays. The left sidebar is full of goodies and better – they are clever and easy to use. Befunky deserves its universal high praise.


FotoFlexor is the intellectual predecessor to BeFunky. The  FotoFlexor tools  are not in a sidebar but spread across the top of the workspace. But there is the same selection of basic+advanced edits.
grfotoflexerFotoFlexer has the basic edits, layers, text, and color corrections that all the top editors have. However, when you click on Effects [there are 35], Decorate [with Glitter Text, Insert-a-Face, Fun Cards], Distort [with pinch, Bulge Swirl] and Animations – then the fun begins. The Pop Art rendition gives a sense of the type of image fun yiu can have. then return to rational photo finishing  with the Beautify and smart Geek tools. There is never a dull moment using FotoFlexor.

The Toll

Three years ago, I said there was too much overlap among so many good, free online edit tools. And good tools like PicNik, SplashUp, FlauntR, and Snipshot have closed shop. The current crop of free online editors have a mix of ads, premium services, and new features like collage making, business card design, and special storage access that will help them survive.What is surprising is that there are still features not yet available in these packages like color guides similar to Paletton.com, SVG support [fastest growing storage format with Janvas and Method.ac offering simple, free online IDEs], basic animations and  Visio-like drawing capabilities.


Users have their choice of 2 very good Photoshop-like editors, 5 editors with Instagram-effects and Adobe’s own free online photo editor. With these 8 free online image editors there are superb  tools for doing great photo editing for fun or for practical corrections to website images. Many of the tools allow input from popular social media, online storage drives and even the urls associated with online images. So now website owners have no excuse for Dirty Dog images on their sites.

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