Memory Maker: Free Software for Organizing and Editing Photos


Professional photographers and graphic artists rely on full-featured commercial software such as Adobe’s Photoshop CS5 to retouch photos. However, casual photographers want to organize, edit and share photos without spending hundreds of dollars on professional software. Programs available online give you these capabilities, and you don't have to spend a dime to use them.

Accessory Software

  • Included with every copy of Microsoft’s Windows 7 is an accessory program called Paint; with it, users create and edit graphic files, including digital photos. Using Paint, you can crop photos, resize them and add text for comments. Paint does not have sophisticated retouching features such as red-eye elimination, but it works well for simple tasks.

In The Cloud

  • Adobe offers a free online service it calls Photoshop Express. Using your Web browser, you upload your digital photos to Photoshop Express and use its software to edit photos and organize them into galleries and slideshows. Photoshop Express runs exclusively in your browser; you needn't keep any software on your PC. Its editing features include converting color photos to black-and-white, retouching blemishes and softening an image's focus. Adobe Photoshop Express accounts come with 2GB of hard-drive space in which to work.

    Google’s Picasa software combines a PC program and an online photo-sharing and organizing service. The Picasa program is a free download that runs on Windows 7, OSX and Linux environments. This software has sophisticated editing capabilities including red eye retouching, color enhancement and cropping. Picasa Web Albums is a free Web service with which you organize and share your photos online. Proprietary facial-recognition technology makes it possible to find and tag photos according to the people in them.

Open Source

  • The open-source software developer community offers capable photo editing programs as free downloads. Among these is GIMP, a full-featured graphics editor. GIMP runs on Windows 7, Mac OSX and Linux operating systems and enjoys a large, active user base. Using GIMP, you can fix red eye problems, remove skin blemishes and perform other sophisticated retouching operations in addition to stock functions such as cropping and resizing.

    Unlike Windows 7, Apple’s OSX does not include accessory graphics software for the Macintosh. However, an open source group called Soggy Waffles distributes a free program called Paintbrush. Similar in function to the MacPaint program that came with original Macintosh computers, Paintbrush serves as a basic graphic editor, capable of resizing, cropping and adding simple graphic elements to photo files.

Mobile Apps

  • In addition to their Web browser-based forms, Picasa and Photoshop Express offer mobile versions of their services. Each supports iOS and Google’s Android operating systems. Like their desktop cousins, these free apps facilitate online photo sharing.

    Apple’s mobile devices, including the iPhone and iPad, come with simple photo editing and gallery software as part of the iOS operating system. With the release of iOS 5, the Photos app crops and enhances digital photos and removes red eye. Create personalized albums with this app to display the photos manually or automatically as a slideshow.

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  • Photo Credit Barry Austin Photography/Lifesize/Getty Images
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