5 apps to edit photos right in your browser
You don't need dedicated software to get your photos looking fantastic.
From Google Docs to Slack, from WhatsApp to Spotify, you can access a whole host of fantastic applications through your browser. Photo editors is another category that’s well represented with web apps. These platforms are getting increasingly sophisticated, and now even Adobe Photoshop has its own web-based version.
So if you find yourself needing to crop some pictures on a Chromebook for example, you’ll still be able to work on your images and add some spit and polish to them—no downloading and no installation required.
Photoshop on the web is now available in beta form for Creative Cloud users, which means you’ll need a subscription starting at $10 a month to access the platform. The online version of Photoshop syncs seamlessly with Adobe’s cloud storage locker, so you’ll be able to work on your files from just about anywhere with an internet connection.
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The platform supports layers so you can work on complex PSD files, and you’ll find some useful and classic tools, including crop, select, spot healing, fill, text, and eraser. But don’t get your expectations too high, as this isn’t the fully-fledged version of Photoshop. There are lots of missing functionalities: for example, you won’t be able to manipulate brightness and contrast, and there are only two filters available.
Even with its limitations, this is still a very handy online photo editor, and one of its biggest strengths is the support for collaborating on images with a team. Photoshop for the web allows multiple users to leave comments and see who has edited what, so it’s ideal if you’re working on images with other people and need changes to be approved or monitored.
Pixlr has long been giving Photoshop fans a similar experience in a web browser. They’ve put out Pixlr X, which is a streamlined, basic graphic design tool for those who don’t want to dive too deep into edits, but here we’re going to focus on Pixlr E. You can use this app for free, or pay $5 a month to get rid of the ads and access a bigger selection of tools, including a select function that uses artificial intelligence, stickers, and overlays for your projects.
When you open up the Pixlr E interface, you’ll realize it looks very familiar to Photoshop, right down to the Image, Select, and Layer menus at the top. You get a wealth of features and tools to play around with, including heal, dodge, burn, blur, and clone tools, bokeh and liquify effects, gradient fills, and plenty of quick selection tools (including the always useful lasso tool).
To keep advanced users happy, Pixlr E supports layers and masks, as well as a pile of adjustments and filters. From brightening shadows to applying motion blurs, Pixlr E can cater to most needs, and you can also customize and tweak many of its features, so you get exactly the result you were looking for.
Canva is better known as a graphic design app you would use to make posters rather than touch up your vacation snaps, but it also comes with a generous selection of photo editing tools. You get a host of features for free, but a $13 per month subscription will get you a lot more templates and stock images, and a few additional tools, like a one-click background remover.
You can very easily adjust an image’s brightness, contrast, and color, and if you want to take a shortcut, Canva also comes with a range of Instagram-like filters that will change the look of your photos with just one click. The app also lets you add text overlays to your projects, as well as a wide variety of stickers and shapes.
One of the biggest reasons to choose Canva as your editing tool of choice is how easy to use and intuitive it is. Adjusting settings and applying enhancements is so straightforward you’ll actually feel like you’re using a desktop app. As an added bonus, you’ll be able to export your work in a range of preset formats, from Instagram posts to A4 poster size.
Photopea is very much towards the more advanced and sophisticated end of the photo editing scale, and will definitely suit those who are looking for as many editing features as possible. You can use a lot of those features for free, but a $9-per-month premium subscription will remove the ads, provide enhanced tools, and add extra steps to the image history, making it easier to undo your changes.
Whether you want to correct a small blemish in a photo or combine several images together using layers and masks, Photopea has you covered. It’s not quite as advanced as Photoshop is, but it has enough features to produce fantastic results and keep the majority of users more than satisfied. Like Photoshop, Photopea is able to apply automatic fixes to contrast, color, and tone, so you can get your images looking better with minimum effort.
Whether it’s tools like the magic wand or filters like the oil paint effect, you won’t quickly exhaust everything that Photopea has to offer. From text overlays to gradient fills, you can carefully customize every tweak that you make, and the interface provides you with a Photoshop-style array of floating panels to help you in your editing, covering aspects of your image like layers, channels, and paths.
If Photopea is right up at the most advanced end of the online photo editing spectrum, then Google Photos is the opposite—it mostly sticks to the basics, but for most people, that’s enough. By keeping everything simple, Google Photos is very straightforward to use, and it’s also completely free (though you might have to pay Google for some extra cloud storage if you want to keep a lot of photos on the web).
[Related: Google Photos is better at image editing than you think]
Open up an image on Google Photos, and you’ll be able to instantly apply and adjust the strength of a range of filters. They give your pictures a whole new look—from black and white to bright and vivid. There’s an auto-fix filter too, which gives Google Photos permission to use artificial intelligence to apply the changes to the color, contrast, and brightness that it thinks will produce the best results.
Besides the filters, you can make use of color and brightness adjustments, as well as cropping and rotating your photos. When you’re finished, you can save over the file you edited or create a copy. The AI search capabilities of Google Photos to help you find pictures of anything (from sunsets to dogs) in seconds, is worth a mention as well, as it’ll save you time when you need to dive into the thousands of photos you’ve surely accumulated over the years.