12 Best Photo Editing Software for Beginners

By Eva Williams 13 days ago, Software Reviews

Looking for the best photo editing software for beginners to start editing photos like a pro? It doesn’t matter if you are shooting with a DSLR or use a smartphone, you need an easy-to-use software that will help you do basic editing, color correction, and portrait edits without experience in this sphere.

Don’t know what software to download? Here is a full review exactly for you!

Top 12 Photo Editing Software for Beginners

  1. Adobe Lightroom Classic CC - For color correction and organizing photos
  2. Adobe Photoshop CC - The best retouching software
  3. Adobe Photoshop Elements - AI photo retouching
  4. GIMP - Free Adobe Ps alternative
  5. Pixlr - In-browser editing
  6. Colorcinch - Unique cartoon effects
  7. FotoWorks XL - A reliable and user-friendly program
  8. Picsart - Editing multiple photos at once
  9. CaptureOne Pro - All-in-one software for photographers
  10. Paint Net - Basic editing tools
  11. ACDSee Ultimate - Layer-based photo editor with RAW files support
  12. DxO PhotoLab - Powerful color adjustment tools
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There are many software for photo editing for beginners and photo editing apps, and each has got the advantages, capabilities, and limitations. In the case you are an amateur or a beginner in a photo editing industry, you needn’t expensive or multifunctional software, such as Photoshop. Start from another software. So what good digital photo editing software should provide:

1. Adobe Lightroom Classic CC – Our Choice

For color correction and organizing photos
  • Professional color correction
  • Easy learning
  • Smart search tools
  • Advanced Customization Tools
  • Many Lightroom presets and brushes
  • Low quantity of import options
  • Watermarks are applicable to texts only
  • A limited number of portrait editing features
  • There is no HDR option and panoramas

Verdict: Because of great number of free Lightroom tutorials and free Lightroom presets, this software takes the first place in my list of the best photography editing software for beginners. Adobe Lightroom gets a pretty big update and goes to Adobe Lightroom Classic CC.

After 2018 update in April, Adobe Co made a joint effort to make Camera Profiles an important part of each photographer's workflow. Instead of adjusting the white balance first, this best photo editing software for beginners offers you to launch the workflow with its recently created camera profiles. Find out how to get Lightroom for free and start testing this software right now.

Furthermore, Lightroom CC is speeding up many color correction processes. Adobe has lately acknowledged that Lightroom faces some challenges related to productivity, and it is releasing a large upgrade to make everything work well. Lightroom presets and brushes are a helping hand for many beginning photo retouchers.

adobe lightroom classic cc software for photo editing for beginners interface

2. Adobe Photoshop CC

The best retouching software
  • Excellent color correction and photo retouching
  • Productive and stable work
  • Many tutorials and updates
  • Actions, brushes, overlays, textures
  • Only a monthly payment
  • Too many features for beginners
  • Some useless tools

Verdict: It’s not surprising that Photoshop CC is a leader in my rating, it’s definitely a professional photo editing software that is widely used among beginning photographers and photo retouchers because of a big number of free tutorials and freebies as Photoshop actions, overlays, textures, etc.

Photoshop CC is famous for its stable work. It is really the best place to make any photo manipulation you can think about. If speaking about the beginner’s choice, you shouldn’t set your sights on this software. Anyway, I am not going to talk you out of it, but the features and options it provides will be too complicated to learn from the scratch.

Whereas you’ve decided to investigate the entire aspects of the software, the result will not be long in coming. I recommend downloading Photoshop free and test it for several days before paying a month subscription.

adobe photoshop cc software for photo editing for beginners interface

3. Adobe Photoshop Elements

AI photo retouching
  • Many high-powered options
  • Good output capacities
  • Auto Tagging and strong search parameters
  • Useful guide for advanced techniques
  • Limited editing features
  • It’s got the large disc trace
  • No referral system

Verdict: This easy to use photo editing software is designed for beginners who haven’t got an image editing experience yet. It includes simple features to create, edit, organize and publish various pictures. The software has implemented an AI option to automatically search for the most appropriate images and correct those that may be unsuccessful.

The best photo editing software for beginners has a simple interface and has got a small number of activities that make it simple enough to be understood.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 2023 is the best easy photo editing software for beginners, designed to facilitate editing and create even small video projects. It provides access to the core functions, intuitive systematization, and step-by-step image post editing instructions. Moreover, the work with photos is simplified thanks to Adobe Sensei technology (using artificial intelligence and machine learning).

adobe photoshop elements software for photo editing for beginners interface


Free Adobe Ps alternative
  • The photo editor is free
  • Frequent updates
  • Open source software
  • It’s flexible and customizable thanks to plugins and scripts
  • No 16 bits per channel color support
  • There are some lags

Verdict: Gimp is considered to be the best free alternative to Photoshop today. Gimp has been created by the team of like-minded individuals that implemented the best free photo editing software for beginners afterward.

For the first time, when I downloaded Gimp, I expected to see lots of advertisements, unfriendly features, and inexorable settings. But, what is the reality? Many brushes panels, layers, tracks, as well as other editing tools that make retouching fast and smooth. Studying the program was many times easier than learning Photoshop, because of the great overlap between them.

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Basically, GIMP is a free image editor that is not nearly as cool as Photoshop but isn’t clearly inferior in performance. Actually, it is an open source code program which allows any user detecting a bug to fix it. Here you find the same Photoshop features, filters, settings, layers and so on.

gimp software for photo editing for beginners interface

5. Pixlr

In-browser editing
  • Masks and layers
  • Adjustable interface
  • A mobile app
  • Reopens images from the desktop and URL
  • Pro and free version
  • Flash player is required
  • Too many ads

Verdict: Photo retouching software Pixlr promotes itself in several ways as Editor and Express. It’s got some advantages and almost no differs from Photoshop Elements. This image editor provides the very familiar interface and functionality. There is a RAW files support which is pretty awesome.

Pixlr Editor is a light Pro version. The picture editor is free of charge, but includes too many ads that get in the way of your working. Free version doesn’t provide RAW files support. The interface is streamlined, but the functionality is that level as Pro, being in a less disclosed format. The central issue is to move around in the picture, as it is poorly synchronized with a browser. But, you are still able to make a deep image retouching.

Basically, it’s the best free photo editor online that is quite comparable with the GIMP and Photoshop Elements, due to its high functionality.

pixlr software for photo editing for beginners interface

6. Colorcinch

Unique cartoon effects
  • AI-driven image effects
  • A variety of filters and effects
  • 2.5 million photos, graphics, and icons
  • Convenient Layers panel
  • You might face some issues when saving images

Verdict: Colorcinch has an impressive set of image and text editing options. It supports layers and blend models. You can use a huge in-built library of filters and effects as well as access stock photos. If you are on a budget, you can use Colorcinch without paying a dime. Besides, you can access advanced features after paying for a premium subscription.

With it, you can crop, resize and rotate your images, adjust exposure, brightness, contrast, highlights and shadows. This service allows you to tweak colors by making them more vibrant, remove blur, add a vignette effect. You can adjust the settings with the help of sliders.

If you don’t know how to use some tools, read on-screen tips. You can also hide them if you already know how to use a specific tool. To enhance your images and make them more attention-grabbing, use filters, effects, and masks from the integrated library.

colorcinch free photo editing software for beginners interface

7. FotoWorks XL

A reliable and user-friendly program
  • Clear UI
  • Users can add masks
  • Lots of effects, fonts, and frames
  • Allows creating collages and making a photo montage
  • Interface calls for updating
  • Limited toolset

Verdict: FotoWorks XL has a user-friendly interface with an easy-to-find toolset. Here, you can open images one by one or instantly display a whole series. If needed, users can rotate, flip, and crop pictures.

Besides, the program provides basic editing tools for adjusting brightness, contrast, correcting colors, making images sharper or burring some parts. It is also possible to resize photos, prepare them for print, as well as launch auto enhancement. The library of effects includes really interesting options.

In addition to artistic effects, you can make good use of masks, as well as add borders and text, draw or morph a photo. If you are dealing with a portrait image, you may need to remove a red-eye effect. For other types of photos, there are a picture-in-picture effect and clipart options.

fotoworks xl photo editing software for beginners interface

8. Picsart

Editing multiple photos at once
  • Huge content library
  • Free-to-edit templates
  • AI-powered smart tools
  • Saving edits only for paid accounts
  • Not for editors who love layers
  • Missing search option

Verdict: Picsart is the world's largest platform of AI-powered tools to equip all people for professional-quality image and video improvement. Ease of use and speed is key, while exclusive and customizable fonts, color gradients, backgrounds, and stickers deliver the freedom to create engaging content without a design school degree.

Start from a library of pre-made templates, and gain access to a creator community of free-to-edit inspiration to reinvent, reuse, and export for all your marketing team's needs.

picsart photo editing software for beginners interface

9. Capture One Pro

All-in-one software for photographers
  • Friendly and easy interface
  • Fast import and export
  • Keyword tagging tool
  • Layers editing
  • Available cloud storage
  • Some tools are not user-friendly
  • Requires a good PC configuration
  • No online sharing features
  • No face recognition

Verdict: Many photographers still argue about what software is better: Capture One vs Lightroom, what are the differences between them? They both offer the same photo color correction features. Capture One Pro is the best photo editing software for beginners that offers tools to import digital images, file conversion, and basic editing. The picture editor has such features as live viewing and focusing options, excellent mask tools and markup function.

This best free photo editor app has a worked out tools and features. If we talk about the differences that Capture One Pro can be proud of, it is Capture Pilot. It is a good free software for iPhone and iPad. Using it, you see the ready photos almost at once. Now you are able to control the settings of the files and the camera, change the exposure, focus and shoot directly from the program interface.

Capture One Pro suggests buying software at prices ranging from $200 up to $350, depending on your requirements and preferences. You may also subscribe for $20 per month. 

capture one pro software for photo editing for beginners interface

10. Paint Net

Basic editing tools
  • Simple and handy
  • Easy to learn
  • Many useful features and effects
  • A lot of plugins
  • Well-designed interface
  • A limited brush tool
  • No Burn and Dodge
  • Text correction is impossible when the app is used

Verdict: Paint Net is just a solution for photo retouching. It’s got easy to understand interface. Despite the fact that it is a free picture editor, it matches its functionality. It fits to perform non-complex actions related to photo retouching.

Before the release of 4.0version version in 2014, almost no one knew about Paint.Net. This best free photo editing software for beginners was in low demand because it was very similar to the built-in Windows Paint. Paint.Net does not support RAW format, but you can work with such files as JPEG, BMP, PNG, TIFF, etc.

Paint.Net offers a standard interface with layers and a large range of tools available. Unfortunately, the toolset in Paint.Net is not a high-quality indicator, because the additional settings are trimmed. You shouldn’t still give up on this photo editor. Its simple features give you a chance to get awesome results by applying basic retouching: remove skin blemishes, background, and red eyes.

paint net software for photo editing for beginners interface

11. ACDSee Ultimate

Layer-based photo editor with RAW files support
  • Convenient search management
  • Corrections are based on lens profile
  • Adjustable interface
  • Lots of effects
  • A large number of options
  • No face recognition
  • No easy-to-use start interface
  • Not suitable for weak configurations
  • A paid software

Verdict: ACDSee Ultimate is a great alternative to Lightroom and Photoshop. To say for sure, it's like 2 photo editors in one software. Tools ACDSee Pro takes the workflow and settings similar to Lightroom, and layers editing, filters and photo effects from Photoshop.

The image editor interface is flexible, but it can be a bit suppressing. It is possible to show any taste panels and pull them out of the main window and arrange them the way you like. You can also choose any background color using the color palette.

Using the best photo editing software for beginners, you will notice powerful options in Photoshop style, including layer changes, text, filter effects, brushes, geometry changes, and many others. Now your editing can be also automated after you save them as Actions.

An additional benefit of this image editor is the cloud storage, but just in a different form. SeeDrive is the cloud storage for ACDSee Ultimate, which is basically a web browser to access your saved photos. You can get 20 GB of memory for $20 per year or 100 GB for $60.

acdsee ultimate software for photo editing for beginners interface

12. DxO PhotoLab

Powerful color adjustment tools
  • Convenient interface
  • Best-in-class settings to reduce noise
  • Geometric corrections
  • Direct export to Flickr, Facebook or another image app
  • Few retouching items
  • Time-consuming for some editing elements
  • High cost for the offered functionality

Verdict: DxO PhotoLab is one of the most dynamic photo editors. The photo software has promoted itself with its automatic correction of the lens and camera image, noise reduction, simple and handy menu, advanced settings and other features.

It has got a friendly and simple enough interface, but it seems to be the only advantage of the program because tools number is as limited as possible. For basic and simple photo retouching it can be quite enough, but the application will not be able to withstand Photoshop.

However, this picture editor has some priorities over others. This is an excellent autocorrection effect based on the camera and lens characteristics, which is done in just two clicks. If you want to achieve the same effects automatically, you should try Spyne AI tools. It’s a fact that the best photo editing software for beginners has a very good noise reduction tools with a huge amount of additional settings.

To discuss the price, PhotoLab is available in two versions: Essential - $129 and Elite - $199. To get the great features of DxO PhotoLab, like Prime de-noising and Clearview, you need the Elite type. This version also provides pro-features, which are the ability to manage calibrated cameras with ICC profiles, custom palettes, and presets applying.

dxo photolab software for photo editing for beginners interface