6 Must-Have Photo Editing Apps

By Tracey Dowdy

Remember picking up your photos from the drug store and out of a roll of 24 you’d end up with maybe 12-15 decent photos worthy of being framed or put in your album? Then along came digital cameras and we said goodbye to paying for blurry heads-cropped-out eyes-closed photos.

The photo gods have smiled upon us once again, gifting us with photo editing, so those, ahem, once-in-a-lifetime snaps can be so airbrushed and filtered that we look like we’re in a spread for People Magazine.

Whether you’re new to editing or an old pro, you’re trying to get that perfect selfie for Instagram, or you want to frame your holiday memories, these apps can help you make the most of your photos.


VSCO is a good option for those just starting out with mobile photo editing. It’s tool kit is great for adjusting the exposure, sharpness and color of your photos, and all edits are non-destructive making it a very forgiving option for beginning editors. There are online tutorials (not accessible from the app) that offer tips and support. Users can share photos to social media and options vary depending whether you’re using an iOS or Android device.

Platform: iOS, Android
Cost: free with in-app purchases available


Facetune is specifically designed as a portrait editor. Editing tools allow you to whiten teeth, erase wrinkles, blemishes, or dark circles, and even add hair so you too can have a hairline that moves forward with age just like Jude Law. You can even blur the background to make sure you’re the center of attention, just as you should be.

Platform: iOS, Android
Cost: $3.99


Darkroom balances ease of use with more advanced editing tools, making it very user friendly. You can edit photos without importing and there’s no stress with its infinite “undo” history. Use the Curves editor to create the perfect tone for your photo by adjusting the hue, saturation, and luminance of the images. If you upgrade to the Pro-Kit you can even create, edit, and share your own filters.

Platform: iOS, Android
Cost: free

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom includes its own in-app camera. More than just portraits, Lightroom offers a full spectrum of editing tools and allows you to carry your favorite edits across photos. Seamlessly share your photos on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or Flickr, and even jump back to the original photo with one click.

Platform: iOS, Android
Cost: free


PicsArt is a great option for those who really want to get creative. Packed with hundreds of tools, users can use their imagination for editing, creating camera shots, collages and digital drawings. PicsArt is collaborative so you can share your work with others for editing help or compete in photography, photo editing, drawing, and graphic design contests.

Platform: iOS, Android
Cost: free

Autodesk Pixlr Mobile

Autodesk Pixlr Mobile offers an excellent array of features including stickers, borders, filters, and overlays alongside basic editing tools like exposure and sharpness. Users can create collages and caption images with a variety of fonts and share photos to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or through email. The free version includes ads.

Platform: iOS, Android
Cost: free, upgrade to ad-free paid version for $1.99

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.


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