These editing tools are all free for basic edits, though some offer ad-free premium services for a reasonable price. Most rely on Flash, so be sure to first update your browser’s Flash plug-in for optimal functionality.
Pixlr.com has a tiered offering that is entirely free. The site separates its photo editing into Pixlr Editor (advanced); Pixlr Express (efficient); and Pixlr-o-matic (playful). The site also offers a mobilesuite so you can edit photos on a smartphone or tablet – both iOS and Android versions are available.
The Pixlr Editor is most like Photoshop. It’s a straightforward photo-editing tool that lets you crop, size, and tweak the image. It has a red eye tool that eliminates those devil eyes that appear when the flash goes off. Express lets you put creative overlays on your images – this is really for playing with your photos. You can put a stain on a picture to make it look like you rested a coffee mug on the photo, for example.
Pixlr-o-matic is well-described as “playful.” This is where you create the Instagram-like, old-looking photos. You can apply borders on your images or give edges a faded or torn look. You can go old-school darkroom: While you’re playing with your photos they have the appearance that they’re in a solution or water bath during the development process.
Google+ Photos has lots of features for you to play with your phots. You can create depth and vibrance by adjusting brightness, contrast, saturation, shadows, or warmth levels. You can also select from a range of different preset effects. Tune parts of your photo without altering others by using control points. Each control point you place automatically selects surrounding objects based on similar hue, saturation, and brightness. Enhance the details and improve the sharpness of your photo. Remove distracting parts of your photo with standard aspect ratios, or a free crop. Click Ratio to choose a crop aspect ratio. You can also rotate or straighten photos. What else, just explore.
Polarr, is a free browser-based image editor for both beginners and professionals. The new Polarr photo editor 2.0 was released a couple of months back and it is an excellent alternative for Lightroom. This new web app is powered by HTML5/WebGL Technology, which makes it work smoothly on Chrome, Firefox and Safari browsers. The built-in intelligent processing engine will quickly understand user’s style and taste to render high resolution edited images.
Polarr’s new version has got a brand new design from its previous look and three important features have been added to the new update.
No roundup of online photo editors would be complete without the granddaddy of all image editing tools: Photoshop. Yet, free desktop-based online editing is not exactly Adobe’s forte.
Photoshop Express has some strict limits on what you can edit: JPEG format and nothing larger than 16 megapixels. However, those restrictions take into account the vast bulk of point and shoot cameras and mobile shooting devices. Adobe is famous for its elegant interfaces, and Express is no slouch in that arena. It offers the same cool, non-distracting dark background and an even cleaner layout than its flagship Photoshop app. Each tool offers a reasonable number of choices that you can preview just by moving your mouse.
While providing workhorse editing tools such as Saturation, Exposure, Crop & Rotate, and White Balance, Photoshop Express tips its hand to offer a somewhat half-hearted Decorate mode that delves into consumer scrapbooking territory: bubbles, stickies, and frames. Unfortunately, Decorate is the weak link of this editor. There are few elements, and they are not of the highest quality—see BeFunky (above) for genuine creative opportunities.
If you're expecting online image editors to be anemic, you'll be surprised by the extensive features of many of the nominees like Sumo Paint. Sporting a toolbar, image navigator, swatches, and layers, Sumo Paint does more than just crop and rotate images. In addition to having layers, as some other editors do, Sumo Paint has support for blending modes and other advanced layering magic like drop shadow and outer glow. The brushes and ink tools offer a wide variety of shapes and textures.
If you like some of the paint-centric features of Sumo Paint, you'll definitely want to check out the Gravity tool, which creates some pretty interesting abstract paint effects. Sumo Paint also supports drag and drop image opening for pictures you have stored in your Sumo Paint account. Sumo Paint doesn't require a login for use, but if you sign up for a free account you can store images online and participate in the Sumo Paint community by submitting your work and ranking the work of others.