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The 17 Best Photo-Editing Apps (in 2021)

17 best photo-editing apps in 2021

Are you looking for the best photo-editing apps available in 2021? You’ve come to the right place.

In this article, I’m going to share my 17 favorite editing apps – including apps for general editing, apps for fun and filters, and apps for specialized editing.

So whether you’re a dedicated smartphone photographer or just looking to find some powerful ways to edit on the go, this list contains the perfect app for your needs.

Let’s get started.

The best photo-editing apps for general editing

In this section, you’ll discover the best photo-editing apps for general adjustments. With the apps on this list, you can adjust exposure, enhance colors, crop, sharpen, and more.

1. Snapseed

best photo editing apps snapseed

Snapseed is one of the most popular photo-editing apps on the market – and for good reason. It’s very intuitive and easy to use, which makes it great for beginners. At the same time, Snapseed offers a lot of control for more skilled users.

You don’t need to pay any fees for using Snapseed, nor are there in-app upgrades; it’s completely free. So if you’re after a beginner-friendly photo editor that can do pretty much anything, Snapseed is a great choice.

2. Lightroom

best photo editing apps lightroom
  • Cost: Limited version for free. Full version available with an Adobe subscription (from $9.99).
  • Availability: iOS and Android

The free version of Lightroom Mobile lets you do most basic editing tasks. You can also access and create presets.

However, if you decide to upgrade, you’ll gain access to a healing brush, selective adjustments, geometry tools, and RAW editing. You can also use the camera from the app to shoot RAW images.

If you want to use Lightroom Mobile to speed up your workflow, check out this article.

3. Photoshop Express

Photoshop Express

Adobe Photoshop is the industry standard for photo editing. Its mobile version is divided into three smaller and specialized apps; the basic editor is Photoshop Express.

Photoshop Express offers one-touch solutions such as an auto-fix option and filters. It also allows you to edit and retouch with total control. And it’s packed with many fun features such as stickers and collages.

You can crop to most platform’s formats and share directly from the app. While you don’t need an Adobe subscription to use Photoshop Express, you will need a free account.

4. Pixlr

Pixlr
  • Cost: Limited version for free
  • Availability: iOS and Android

Pixlr is a well-rounded editing app, offering all the post-processing essentials plus tons of presets and features to unleash your creativity.

There’s no need to create an account and you can download Pixlr for free, though you’ll be offered in-app purchases for overlays and stickers.

Pixlr also offers two great browser versions that you can use for free – or you can get a subscription for full access to both browser versions and other useful assets.

Best photo-editing apps for fun and filters

In this section, I’ll share the best photo-editing apps for filters and effects.

(In most cases, these apps also include a camera and some basic adjustments tools.)

5. VSCO

best photo filter apps vsco
  • Cost: Free limited version. $19.99/year for the full version.
  • Availability: iOS and Android

VSCO works as a general photo editor, but it belongs in the fun and filter category thanks to its artsy, social-media-focused features.

To use VSCO, you will need to create a (free) account. After that, you can continue to use VSCO for free, but most of the filters are sold separately.

Alternatively, you can grab a yearly subscription for $19.99 that includes 200 filters (and you have a 7-day trial to make sure it’s worth it).

Your creations can then be shared with the community, which is like- and comments-free. In other words, the VSCO community is more about the quality of the work. You can also share VSCO creations directly from the app to other social networks such as Instagram or Snapchat.

6. Prisma Photo Editor

best photo filter apps prisma
  • Cost: Free limited version or free 3-day trial. Full version is $29.99/year.
  • Availability: iOS and Android

Prisma is designed for art lovers. It’s more than just filters; Prisma uses artificial intelligence to turn your photos into artworks inspired by the greatest artists in history. And unlike other apps, Prisma adds new filters every day.

General editing is also possible (as it is with most filter apps). Though I do miss the rotation tool to correct the horizon if needed.

7. PicsArt Photo Editor

best photo filter apps picsart
  • Cost: 7-day free trial, then $34.99/year.
  • Availability: iOS and Android

PicsArt Photo Editor is one of the most versatile editing apps on the market. You have a powerful in-app camera, plus tools and presets to no end. You can do anything with PicsArt, from professional applications like time-lapse photography to fun stickers and drawing.

PicsArt Photo Editor also has social media integration, as well as thematic contests that will spark your creativity.

8. A Color Story

a color story

A Color Story is the perfect app to manage your Instagram account. You can do some basic editing and apply filters to your images and videos.

New filter collections based on current trends are added often, although most do need to be purchased separately.

You can even plan your Instagram feed with the Grid feature. In fact, you can use this just to see how the feed looks after each picture you add, or you can connect it to your Instagram account for scheduling posts. That’s why A Color Story is great for maintaining a unified Instagram feed – whether you are a photographer, influencer, or community manager.

9. Afterlight Photo Editor

afterlight

Afterlight boasts 59 filters, 66 textures, and 77 frames for you to transform your images in a single click. Some of these tools are offered for a small fee, but there is also a wide variety of free, high-quality effects to choose from.

Afterlight can also handle basic editing tasks; the app has 15 tools to make most of the adjustments you’ll need.

The Crop tool is also quite versatile; it allows you to straighten, flip, and crop freehand and to many standard ratios.

10. Photo Lab Picture Editor

photolab
  • Cost: 3-day free trial, then $9.99/year or $4.99/month.
  • Availability: iOS and Android

Photo Lab is full of filters and effects; you can have fun or do some professional-looking work. You can even turn your photos into cartoons, and you can swap faces and make collages.

Photo Lab is an app designed to give free rein to your creativity. It’s also a social app with a big community of followers that’ll help you stay inspired.

Best apps for specialized editing

If you’re looking for the best photo-editing apps with dedicated features, this is the list for you:

11. Foodie

foodie

Although it has all the standard photo-editing tools, Foodie is designed primarily for food photography.

You can use Foodie’s in-app camera to take pictures (and you’ll get a live view of your selected filter). There are plenty of food filter series, including Fresh, BBQ, Yum, and more.

Once you’ve chosen a filter, you can compose your image using the smart grid. For flat lays, you’ll get a yellow band across the edges of the screen when the camera is perfectly level.

Foodie is only missing one key editing feature, but it’s a big one: a crop tool. You’ll either need to compose well from the beginning or have another photo editor on hand to deal with any cropping.

12. Photoshop Fix

photoshop fix
  • Cost: Free
  • Availability: iOS and Android

This mobile version of Photoshop boasts Photoshop CC’s most popular portrait retouching tools. You get the main tools for basic retouching such as exposure, contrast, etc. And Photoshop Fix also offers a separate Light tool, which allows you to selectively adjust highlights and shadows.

But the real power is in the Liquify tool. With it, you can smooth the skin and even adjust expressions to make your subjects smile.

Photoshop Fix is free, but you will need to create an Adobe account.

13. SKRWT

skrwt

If you like photographing architecture, real estate, or urban scenes, then you’re going to love SKRWT.

It’s a dedicated distortion-correction app, plus it has a powerful auto-cropping feature to ensure you get the best results.

And it corrects lens distortion regardless of whether the image was taken with an interchangeable lens camera, a GoPro, or your smartphone.

14. TouchRetouch

touchretouch

Removing unwanted objects from a photo is something we all have to deal with, no matter the genre of photography.

With TouchRetouch, you can use brush and lasso tools to select an object for removal. And if you’re removing a line (e.g., telephone wires in the background), you just need to tap; it will automatically be selected and removed.

TouchRetouch also has a clone tool, plus a feature called Quick Fix to remove blemishes. Many apps offer some kind of healing brush, but as a specialized app, TouchRetouch will get you the best results.

15. Photoshop Mix

 photoshop mix
  • Cost: Free
  • Availability: iOS and Android

If you aren’t a fan of other mobile versions of Photoshop, then you should try out Photoshop Mix.

You can work with layers to create cut-outs and photo composites. You can also work with texture overlays thanks to Photoshop Mix’s different blending modes.

As with the other Adobe apps on this list, you’ll need to create a (free) account to use Photoshop Mix, but you don’t need a subscription.

16. Motionleap (formerly Pixaloop)

pixaloop
  • Cost: Free limited version, or one of three paid choices: $3.50/month, $18/year, or a one-time purchase of $55.
  • Availability: iOS and Android

Have you seen pictures where everything is motionless – except for the water running or the coffee steam coming out of a cup? Well, Motionleap lets you create that effect with just a few taps and swipes.

You can also add filters, do some basic adjustments, and apply overlays. Keep in mind that the free version won’t let you export your projects and you won’t have all the tools available, so it’s worth considering a paid subscription.

17. Canva

best photo editing apps canva

If you use your photography for marketing purposes, then Canva is the app for you. It offers enough graphic design templates to fit your every need.

From creating an eye-catching Facebook post to designing an entire menu, Canva is intuitive and easy to use.

Many templates are free, though others must be purchased separately. Canva also has a browser version so you can access your projects on your computer, too.

Best photo-editing apps: final words

Well, that’s it:

The best photo-editing apps available in 2021! So start downloading your favorites.

And remember that you don’t need to pick just one; you can use two apps, three apps, or more to improve your editing workflow.

Do you like any other photo-editing apps? Are there apps that should be added to this list? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

FAQ

Are paid photo-editing apps better than free photo-editing apps?

No, there are excellent free choices such as Snapseed and Photoshop Express.

Should I have more than one editing app?

That depends on your needs. In my experience, it is useful to have different apps for different tasks.

What if I like smartphone photography but prefer to edit on my computer?

If you don’t like editing on your phone, you need to use an app that allows you to easily transfer pictures between your phone and your computer. You can use Lightroom for this (with an Adobe subscription). Another choice is to use a cloud service such as Dropbox.

What is the best photo-editing app?

I don’t think there’s one app that tops all the others; I think it’s about which one is best for you. That will depend on your phone, your budget, and your editing needs – plus your personal preference.

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Ana Mireles
Ana Mireles

is a photographer and artistic researcher. She has been awarded and exhibited in Mexico, Italy, and the Netherlands. Through theory and practice, she explores the cultural aspect of photography, how it helps us relate to each other, the world, and ourselves. She has also a passion for teaching, communication, and social media. You can find more about her and her work at her website or acquire some of her works here.

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