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Help and Tutorials

Photo Editing Software and Photo Organizing

Do-it-Yourself Photo Fixing

There are a number of good, free, easy-to-use tools that can be used to organize and edit your photography collection.

Picasa is available from Google, and most people will find it intuitive to use. Picasa can be used for free on Windows, Mac and Linux. Picasa makes basic photo tasks easy.

Intermediate users may expand their toolset by using additional software for advanced features. If you have need to do more extensive adjustments or edits, you'll probably be choosing between an Adobe product (Creative Suite / Photoshop), the GIMP, or another graphics application package. Ideally, you'll have at least a few of these applications available to work with. The GIMP is a good tool to have in your belt, because it is multi-platform and free. The concepts behind the graphics programs are all similar, so as long as you don't just memorize keystrokes, you should be able to transfer your knowledge easily between these applications.

Which Application Do You Need?


If what you're looking for is to organize your photos, Picasa is an excellent choice. Picasa can be used to:

  • Organize your photograph collection into folders and albums,
  • Add captions, tagging, or face detection (optional),
  • View photo/camera information and location (geotag) data saved in the file by your camera or mobile device,
  • Make basic edits, e.g., straighten, crop, eliminate red-eye, colour adjustments & simple effects,
  • Print or email one or many photos, with easy re-sizing,
  • Upload albums at a time to Facebook or Google Plus, and optionally backup your photos online.

See the Picasa Tutorial for more information.

Linux users may find another application that meets their needs, such as Shotwell or DigiKam, but many prefer the additional (centralized) functionality and ease-of-use of Picasa.


If you are looking to do any of the following:

  • Advanced editing techniques: removing or adding elements, eliminating or minimizing noise, scratches, etc.,
  • Adding text captions, borders, drop shadows, copyright notices,
  • Emulating traditional photographic film processes (e.g., Instagram filters),
  • Batch processing,
  • Other advanced / custom special effects and filters
... Then you are probably looking for a graphics application & editor such as the GIMP. See the GIMP Tutorial for more information.

Should you be using Adobe Photoshop, GIMP or something else?

Group LayerseitherThe ability to group layers and work with them is very useful, especially when dealing with clients who may change their minds! Group layers are available now in GIMP, so this is no longer a deciding factor.
Photo FilterseitherIf you want to use photo filters like the Instagram filters you use on your mobile device, either GIMP or Photoshop will work for you -- Both have well-established user communities and plenty of templates and plugins available for free.
High bit depthdependsIf you can wait for GIMP version 2.10 to be released, choose GIMP. If you want to work with 16-bit or 32-bit per colour channel modes, then you may want to consider either Adobe PhotoShop or another free, open source application - Krita.
UIeitherIf it has been some time since you last tried GIMP, give the single window mode a try
Adjustmentseither, but PS advantageOne strength of Photoshop is the ability to do non-destructive photo editing using adjustment layers. If your workflow involves trying out a lot of adjustments on high quality images, making these with a PS adjustment layer rather than applying to copies of the layer will be much faster!

Links, other applications: