Free Photo Editing Without PhotoShop

As a public or social sector marketer, you often need photo editing done but have no budget for professional designers or design tools. Adobe PhotoShop is the gold standard of photo editing, but it’s expensive and complex. Don’t fear. You can accomplish free photo editing without PhotoShop.

PhotoShop is Expensive, and Not Just the Software

Adobe has several pricing plans for PhotoShop, but it’s hard to spend less than $15 a month for PhotoShop at work. That may be manageable for your organization. However, you also need a beefy computer to run PhotoShop. Check out these minimum system requirements. Does your work computer have the processor, memory, screen, and disc drive required? If not, upgrading just to edit the occasional photo is probably beyond your budget.

Free Web Photo Editing With Pixlr

Pixlr Editor is a free, web-based photo editor from AutoDesk, one of the giants of graphics. Because Pixlr is web-based, it works on both Windows and Mac computers.

It offers all the main tools for PhotoShop, in an interface very similar to PhotoShop:

free photo editing without PhotoShop
Pixlr Editor is a web-based photo editor resembling PhotoShop

In fact, the interface seems so similar that I’m not sure how AutoDesk gets away with offering it. But that similarity works to your advantage, in a couple of ways.

  • Similar interfaces means that you can use PhotoShop tutorials to learn how to use Pixlr. For instance, I picked up Photo Editing Tips, Tricks & Fixes from an airport bookstore. This single-issue magazine shows you how to do many common photo editing tasks in PhotoShop. You can use many of the exact same tools mentioned this book in Pixlr. In fact, learning just a few of these tips and fixes will cover most of your photo editing needs. Careful, though–your colleagues may start coming to you asking for photo editing help.
  • Similar interfaces means that what you learn in Pixlr will be directly transferable to PhotoShop, should you decide to move up.

Because Pixlr Editor is free, you’ll have to put up with ads on the right-hand side of the screen. These are easy to ignore. You can turn them off by selecting View > Fullscreen Mode. The ads will eventually reappear, but you can just turn them off again. There is no paid version of Pixlr that lets you hide the ads.

Creating High Resolution Photos With Irfan View

Pixlr has another limitation: it edits and saves photos only in 72 dpi resolution. That’s perfectly adequate and standard for web work and inclusion in PowerPoint presentations. But for print work like brochures, white papers, and door hangers, you’ll likely need high-resolution photos.

IrfanView is a free, downloadable photo editor and viewer that runs on Windows (sorry, Mac people).

free photo editing without PhotoShop
IrfanView lets you save high-resolution versions of your photos

While IrfanView requires installation on your computer, it doesn’t have any special requirements. It runs well on my Lenovo laptop that’s more than a year old and originally cost about $800.

IrfanView does not try to emulate PhotoShop’s interface. It does, however, have very similar functionality, and more functionality than Pixlr. While you can’t pick up magazines about IrfanView, it does come with extensive online help. There are also active user forums and other resources on the internet.

The one thing I’ve used IrfanView for is saving high-resolution photos. Select the Image > Resize/Resample command. You can find more information about this command in the online help or on the internet.

I’d like to explore more about IrfanView when time allows. And maybe one day I’ll move up to PhotoShop. But for now, Pixlr for editing and IrfanView for changing resolution offers all I need for photo editing.


  1. AdamJuly 24, 2018

    Really great article. Thanks for taking the time to explain things in such great detail in a way that is easy to understand.

    1. Matthew SpaurJuly 24, 2018

      Happy to help! Thanks for reading.


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