Best free photo editing apps in 2023

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Free photo editing app Afterlight on iPhone 14 Pro


The best iPhones, iPads, and Macs all come packaged with some nice, basic editing software within the Photos app. For many people, the built-in editing capability will be plenty. However, if you want to take your editing to the next level, you’re going to need to download some apps. 

Professional photographers generally use Photoshop and other pricey apps. But you can do quite a lot and do it well with apps that won’t cost you a dime. All of the apps below are free to download. While most free apps have paid upgrades or subscriptions, we’ve only chosen apps that still offer valuable features without making any in-app purchases at all. We also chose apps without intrusive ads, letting you get to your editing jobs quickly and without distraction.

Best free photo editing apps for iPhone and iPad

Afterlight — Photo Editor

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(Image credit: Afterlight Collective, Inc)

Afterlight covers all of the basics and much more. The filters are the star in this app. If the dozens of included free filters aren’t enough, there is a massive library of filters created by other users that you can add to your collection. You can, of course, create your own filters to use and share as well. There are special effects you can add, such as light leaks and color shift. There are plenty of photo editing tools, as you’d expect in any photo app, though most of the free ones you’ll find in the Apple Photos app as well. There are no annoying ads in Afterlight. Though you’ll see that there are more tools and filters locked behind a pay wall, the app does not nag you to upgrade.

Snapseed

Snapseed photo editing app screenshots on iPhone

(Image credit: Google LLC)

Snapseed is an intuitive, easy-to-use free photo editor. The appealing user interface is clean and even lets you choose between a light or dark mode. You won’t be bothered by any ads and there actually aren’t any in-app purchases to bug you about. It has plenty of tools you can use to customize your photos, including RAW images. If you like to add text to your photos, you definitely want this app; there are dozens of text styles that you can add with a tap and adjust to your liking. 

VSCO: Photo & Video Editor

VSCO Photo and Video Editor app screenshots

(Image credit: Visual Supply Company)

Download VSCO: Photo & Video Editor and not only will you find a wealth of tools, but you’ll find a photography community for inspiration as well. You can also use VSCO instead of your iPhone or iPad’s stock Camera app and get creative with your photography and videography. Use this one app to edit both your photos and videos. Many of the tools are behind VSCO’s paywall, but you won’t be nagged constantly to upgrade. And there are no annoying ads in the app. You can also download VSCO on your Mac.

Photoshop Express Photo Editor

Photoshop Express Photo Editor app screenshots

(Image credit: Adobe Inc.)

Just like you’d expect from the name, this is “Photoshop lite.” While of course it isn’t nearly as feature-rich as the real Photoshop, it’s far easier to use and it’s free. If you just want to download one photo editing app, this one covers all of your bases. It comes with a huge arsenal of tools for tweaking and fixing photos, including altering facial features and eliminating redeye. 

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