If you are looking for the best photo editor software of 2021 - you have come to the right place. Photo editors have become increasingly common for the initial editing of photos, especially on mobile devices. However, if you are a design professional, you will need the best photo editor software, which means something much more advanced than most ordinary users would normally use. There are a number of professional photo editor suites available and Photoshop has long been seen as the market leader.

Additionally, Photoshop is no longer a standalone tool kit but part of a larger Creative Cloud offer bundled with other Adobe products. Meanwhile, competitors have created options that can provide better equipment, better organization, better motivation or better quality. Our list of the best photo editors is not in any particular order, since each program has its own strengths, so make sure you keep going to the end of the list, because there is something for everyone here.

While cameras and smart phones  are getting better and better at taking pictures, the best photo editing software can make your images really amazing. Before you share a photo with friends and family, spending a few minutes touching it can mean the difference between an image that can be seen at once vs. saved and nurtured. If you plan to take pictures of yourself and print them in a photo book, be sure to use some editing software to make sure you pop these images.

Beyond the light, the best photo editing software can help you get rid of unwanted things in your images and make sure everyone has a smile on their face. Regardless of what you want to do with your photographs, there is a selection of photo-editing programs that you can choose from.



What is the best photo editing software?

After testing the top photo editing software, Adobe Photoshop Elements 2021 emerged as our top choice for powerful yet accessible editing tools. Available for PC and Mac, it also has a learning curve for beginners, as well as lots of features to create most of your photos. And, the program is growing with you: you can move away from the tutor mode to gain full control over all its features as you gain experience.

Photoshop Elements has an AI that analyzes your images and can automatically apply effects and create collages. A helpful organizer lets you label and search photos by keywords, tags (people, places and events) and ratings (1 to 5 stars). Other new features for 2021 include a subject selection tool that makes it easy to create object cutouts and a smooth skin tool to get rid of your groin.


While people who have copies of Photoshop elements for 2019 or 2018 may not get enough new features to make the upgrade worthwhile, others will find the collection upgrades worth investing in. If you are a Windows user, you can get more from Corel Paintshop Pro 2021, which has more tools and in some ways more accessible.


When it comes to the best free photo editing software, Gimp has all the tools you need and works on Mac, Windows and Linux systems. However, it has a steep learning curve, so we would not recommend it for newborns.

Best photo editors 2021- at a glance

1. Adobe Photoshop CC

2. Capture One Pro

3. Affinity Photo

4. Exposure X5

5. Luminar 4

6. ON1 Photo RAW

7.  DxO PhotoLab

8.  PaintShop Pro


1. Adobe Photoshop CC

It is the most powerful photo editing app in the world and there may come a time when nothing else will

Platforms: Mac and PC Image-editing: Yes | Listed: No | Raw conversion: Yes Preset effect: No | Image Level: Yes | Plug-in version: no


Intricate layer-based editing Powerful, Pro Features Extensive Tutorials Lightroom Options No Cataloging Subscriptions

Photoshop is still a go-to image-editing tool for artists, illustrators and designers. Photoshop's layering, masking, and reconstruction tools are still the standard by which everyone else is judged, but it's designed to work on single images or multi-layer composites rather than fast daily editing.

However, instead of the standalone platform, it is now available through the Adobe Cloud Photography plan, which makes Lightroom an additional option. Photoshop works well together with managing complex layers-based image manipulation while Lightroom takes care of organizing and enhancing your photos.

Adobe's photography plan provides great tools with good quality and some beatings. While for many, the idea of ​​providing a subscription to use the software is too much to swallow, so we’re moving fast on the rest of our list.

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2. Capture One pro

Expensive but beautiful, Capture One Lightroom is a direct competitor and firm to professionals. Platforms: Mac and PC Image-editing: Yes | Enrollment: Yes Raw conversion: Yes Preset effect: Yes Image Level: No | Plug-in version: no


Capture One Pro covers almost exactly the same area of ​​Adobe Lightroom Classic, offering cataloging tools, non-stop raw processing, price effects as well as manual image enhancement tools and a non-destructive workflow which means you can revisit your adjustments at any time.


Its raw conversions are sharper and less noisy than Adobe's, but it doesn't support such a large camera raw format or a large number of lens correction profiles. It doesn't have Adobe's mobile app and online synchronization options, but it does provide professional-grade 'tethering' tools for computer photographers in the studio.


The Capture One Pro has a better system for applying local adjustments using adjustment levels and masks. It’s expensive, but very, very good.


3. Affinity photo

If you want Photoshop but don't want the Adobe subscription plan, here's the answer!

Platforms: Mac and PC Image-editing: Yes | Listed: No | Raw conversion: Yes Preset effect: No | Image Level: Yes | Plug-in version: no

Full-Powered Photoshop Contest Great HDR Tone Mapping No Instant Pre-Set Effect Cataloging

Serif built its reputation behind the low-cost Windows versions of professional graphics tools, but with its new affinity line, it has shaken up its budget past for the better.

Affinity Photos can have a budget price, but for professionals it's a fully-powered, full-powered Photoshop competitor, and it can teach Adobe a couple of tricks. Its layering, masking and reconstruction tools are as powerful as Photoshop, its filter effects can be applied ‘live’ and its HDR tone mapping and workspace tools are great.


Like Photoshop though it only focuses on deep, technical image manipulation. It does not have its own browsing and cataloging tools and will not have an instant preset effect. Affinity will bring photo equipment, but you have to bring vision.

4. Exposure X5

Trying to restore the romance of analog images? Exposure X3 combines retro look and regular editing


Platforms: Mac and PC Image-editing: Yes | Enrollment: Yes Raw conversion: Yes Preset effect: Yes Image Level: No | Plug-in version: Yes


Wide range of effects Good image adjustment controls Cannot merge images Import any thumbnail preview

Exposure X5 provides an older analog ‘look’ mixed with contemporary photo enhancement tools. It has a large catalog of antique and modern film effects that mimic a full range of fading, cross-processing, grain, light leakage, wiggling, borders and traditional theatrical films and processing techniques.


These are built using all the tools that can be used for regular image enhancement, including curves, color combinations and much more. However you cannot combine images while providing a level of consistency for ‘stacking’ and blending corrections.


What you get is a fast and efficient folder-browsing system to organize your photos without any hassle of importing them into any catalog with all the power of filtering and keyword searching.

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5. Luminar 4

Now with image organization libraries,  Luminar 4 is evolving rapidly


Platforms: Mac and PC Image-editing: Yes | Enrollment: Yes Raw conversion: Yes Preset effect: Yes Image Level: Yes | Plug-in version: Yes


With instant 'look' custom workspace libraries now processing can be even better

Luminar 4 takes an interesting approach to photo editing by providing a collection of organized preset effects in sections for those who just want to apply the “look” instantly. These are created using a set of filters that you can combine at will to create your own presets. It also introduces the concept of custom workspaces that you can set up for specific image types like black and white or portraits.


Raw conversions don't match the values ​​of the big three - Adobe Capture One, DXO - but they do work and are backed up by some great editing tools. Luminar 4 supports both combination layers and image layers, so you can create Photoshop-style integrated images.


The great news is that Luminar 4  Libraries provides image listing tools and completely non-destructive editing through libraries so you can go back and change any edit, anytime.


6. ON1 Photo Raw

An all-in-one tool that does almost everything. Like the Luminar 4 and Exposure X3 it moved very fast

Platforms: Mac and PC Image-editing: Yes | Enrollment: Yes Raw conversion: Yes Preset effect: Yes Image Level: Yes | Plug-in version: Yes

ON1 Photo RA started as the ON1 Perfect Suite and quickly transformed into a more modern, integrated program than a collection of plug-ins.


It can still act as a plug-in for Lightroom and Photoshop, where you can browse a huge library of preset effects and manual adjustment filters to create a 'look' that host programs can't, but the ON1 Photo Row program works as a sandstone. Complete with custom image browsing / catalog tools.


In fact, you may only need photo editing tools - although the interface text is quite small and the raw conversions do not match the values ​​obtained from Capture One and DXO Photolab.


For strength, quality and philosophy, though, ON1 has added AI-powered image masking and cutouts to the awesome and recent versions of Photos.


7. DXO Photolab

The name has changed, the software has moved on, and Photolab is now a really serious competitor

Platforms: Mac and PC Image-editing: Yes | Listed: No | Raw conversion: Yes Preset effect: Yes Image Level: No | Plug-in version: no

DXO Optics Pro, famous for its lab-produced lens correction profiles and great raw conversions, has evolved. DXO previously bought the Google Nick collection and integrated control point adjustment tools to bring up Photolab.


The big difference between Photolab and Optics Pro is that you can now apply powerful localization combinations to your images. Photolab does not have its own cataloging tool, although it does have a basic folder browser and to get the most out of its raw tools, you need to pay extra for aspect correction (DXO viewpoint) and film 'looks' (DXO filmpack).


It does not support Fujifilm X-Trans files. Photolab’s raw conversions and lens corrections are, of course, quite brilliant. There’s also a Photolab’s feature with an autofill search tool but this feature still feels fairly limited.


8.  PaintShop Pro

Paintshop Pro has been an alternative to budget Photoshop on PC for over 20 years and it still has its own. The 2021 version promises to be easier, faster and more creative than ever before. On top of the standard version, you can pay a little extra for the Paintshop Pro 2021 Ultimate, which has been upgraded to include a new refined brush and dedicated photography workspace.

If you're looking for a Photoshop alternative that doesn't feature a subscription fee, here's your answer: Corel Paintshop Pro 2021 (yes, it's already a year ahead of us!) I have a graphic designer friend who remembers starting his studies long ago with an older version of Paintsop Pro - he was amazed at how far this impressive photo editing software has come.


Now proud of the many powerful AI-powered tools that go beyond the free Photoshop alternatives, PSP has become a fully featured graphics manipulation tool that provides great value for money. AI upsampling is an incredibly effective feature for those of us with low-megapixel cameras or when we have harvested a picture and will need it more without degrading the quality. hen there’s AI Artifact Removal, which works great for restoring fine details and original colors in jigsaws, and AI donations that help clear up images at high ISO. The C-to-Sky ™ tool is a somewhat unusual addition, but allows access to one-click solutions for drones and submerged photographers for increased contrast and clarity.


AI Style Transfer is a fun tool that converts photos into stylized artwork, much like many popular smartphone apps and Instagram filters. For HDR photographers and fans, the new HDR studios provide a great way to get a unique look with AI-powered presets.  You can preview, organize, and stream your photo editing workflow in the managed workspace that lets you add keyword tags to your photos, create catalogs, edit batches in multiple images, and review metadata and file information. If you need to increase its capabilities, Paintshop Pro supports a variety of 644-bit plugins from Adobe, Topaz Labs, Nick Collection by DXO and many more. You can even import and export PSD files to work across platforms.


With the exception of all photographer-specific tools, Paintsop Pro 3 remains a graphic design software with all the brushes, color palettes, gradients, patterns and manipulation tools you could expect. Much like Photoshop, the workspace is not instantly intuitive and with a variety of customization options available, there is a steep learning curve to get there. There is no mobile app. However, as a one-off payment for both the Ultimate and Pro versions, Paintshop Pro is a great option that presents a unique combination of Lightroom and Photoshop in one.