We've gotten to the point that you can do nearly anything in a web browser you can do in installed desktop software, and photo editing is no exception. Online photo editing options have been available for over a decade, but the capabilities have only recently begun to match those of installed applications. A great example is Adobe's online version of Photoshop, though it's still in beta.
There are plenty of capable online photo editors, however, and many can do everything most people will ever need. Whether you simply want to do some quick photo fixing without having to install software or you use an OS that doesn't run the app you need (ChromeOS and Linux come to mind), check out our top picks for online photo editing software.
Best for Pro Photo Workflow
You're probably familiar with Adobe's top-notch photo workflow software, but may not realize its web version is nearly as powerful. You get all the lighting and color corrections, raw camera file support with raw profiles, noise reduction, lens profile corrections, and effects like Clarity and Texture. You also get AI-recommended presets and a large photo-sharing community. To be clear, this is the new version of Lightroom, not Lightroom Classic, which adds more output options, tethered shooting capability, and plug-in support. The web version also requires at minimum the same $9.99 per month subscription payments as installed Lightroom.
Best Low-Cost Online Editor
Colorcinch sports a slick, well-designed desktop-like interface and includes Lightroom-like tools such as Vibrance, along with all the more standard light- and color-adjustment tools. Many of these features are free, but only paying subscribers ($4.99 per month with an annual commitment) get cutting-edge features like AI background removal, color replace, and Cartoonizer filters. The site doesn't support raw camera files or video, but you do get Photoshop-like elements such as a fine selection of text overlays and brushes, though without the complexity of layers. In addition to uploading directly, Colorcinch integrates with Google Drive to open images. You can share your edited photos directly to Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.
Best for AI Portrait Retouching
Fotor has been around for more than a decade and is available both online and as downloadable installed software. The service has branched out from simple photo editing to offer portrait retouching, collages, templates, and even AI effects like those that transform images into the style of famous painters. You get fun tools like Color Splash, Lens Flare, and the aforementioned AI Art, which even lets you mint NFTs. Other AI-powered tools include a background remover, an image enlarger, and an object remover. You do get text overlay and batch editing, but not layers and masking. There's no raw camera file support, and free accounts can't upload images over 20MB. Paid accounts remove ads and get cloud storage as well as more effects and stock photos.
Best for Organizing Photo Collections and Automatic Effects
Google Photos offers one of the best ways to organize and find the photos you're looking for, as well as a respectable selection of image correction and enhancement tools. Impressively, the web app can handle raw camera files—even more recent formats like Canon's CR3—and also deals with video files. But don't expect Photoshop-like image-editing features such as layers, noise reduction, brushes, and text overlays. You get nearly as many light-correction sliders as you do in Lightroom, though you don't get tone curves. The unique Pop slider is especially effective, and Google Photos uses AI to analyze your images and automatically create panoramas and more. The service excels at letting you find images based on location, people, and objects. You can share photos and albums either within Google Photos or to Facebook, Twitter, or via link. Google Photos comes with 15GB of free storage; a Google One plan starts at $1.99 per month for 100GB, and for $9.99 you get 2TB.
Best Interface and Raw Camera File Support
Photopea resembles an online version of Photoshop, or perhaps more accurately, GIMP. It includes masking (raster and vector), layers, raw camera file support, text overlays, drawing tools, and even some of Photoshop's more impressive features like Subject Select and Smart Objects. You can work with PSD and PDF, but Photopea couldn't open an HEIC file from a Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. Unlike the web version of Lightroom, Photopea even takes over the browser's right-click context menus, so you can use those for editing functions rather than just for browser functions. Photopea includes templates for social image sizes like Facebook or YouTube cover pages as well as standard photo, print, screen, and mobile sizes.
You lose some of Photoshop's cutting-edge tools like Neural AI-powered filters as well as some slickness and usability. Still, Photopea is an impressive feat of web functionality, and if you prefer a more application-like experience, you can install it as a progressive web app (PWA) and export to a choice of 16 formats, including JPG, PNG, SVG, and WebP. Photopea plays well with major online storage services like Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive, but also includes its own Peadrive online storage. The web app is free to use, but a $5-per-month subscription removes a time limit on advanced features like subject selection and increases Peadrive storage from 0.5GB to 5GB, removes ads, and doubles the available history steps.
Best Photoshop Replacement
Pixlr is a longtime entry in the online photo editing space, having begun in 2008. The current incarnation is very much along the lines of an online Photoshop clone, with brushes, gradients, wand selection, heal, clone, liquify, text tools, and even layers. That said, it's more like a clone of the Photoshop of 10 years ago. It's one of the few online photo editors that includes noise reduction, but unfortunately, it doesn't accept raw camera files, so the tool is less useful than it otherwise might be. A couple more unique tools in the online photo editing space are auto subject selection and animation. The free version only lets you save three edited images per month, while the $1.99-per-month Plus subscription removes that limit and ads and gets you a mobile app version.
Best for Special Effects and Face Tools
Polarr focuses more on its app store entries lately, but you can still find its web-based photo editor at photoeditor.polarr.com. Free users get a good selection of lighting and color fixes, including vibrance, dehaze, and nifty toning adjusters (highlights, shadows, and so on) that work on particular color values. Pro subscribers ($7.99 monthly or $47.99 yearly) add selective adjustment, masking, detail, curve, HSL, LUTs, and distortion tools, as well as a wealth of overlays such as flares, gradients, and light leaks. Everyone gets retouching, including automatic face enhancement and spot removal. There's a lot to like, but there's no support for raw camera files, and don't expect Photoshop-like layers.
Go Beyond Browser-Based Photo Editing
Though the online photo editors above will serve the needs of many different users, there are still some drawbacks inherent in going this route, particularly in terms of performance, needing to upload the images, and browser controls fighting with the app controls. Check out our roundup of the best photo editing applications for the ultimate tools in the space.
If quick video editing is your thing, head over to our roundup of the best online video editors. And for some ideas for capturing better images in the first place, read 10 beyond-basic digital photography tips.