Reviews & Gear » Reviews » 5 Best Online Photo Editors in 2021

5 Best Online Photo Editors in 2021

Online photo editors become better and better each year. If at the beginning they could only rotate and resize a JPEG photo, nowadays online photo editors include basic and advanced photo retouches, filters, special effects, tools for drawing over photos or creating collages, and a long list of extra features from adding borders and stickers to creating complete graphic designs.

Besides editing features, online photo editors provide secure accounts, save your projects for later use, and support many file formats. They give you access to stock images and templates, which makes it very easy to create covers for social media and share your photos. Furthermore, you don’t have to install anything or bother with system requirements because online photo editors run in a browser.

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If you aren’t convinced yet, we should mention that most online photo editors allow you to use many of their features for free. Until you figure out what the editor can do for your photos, a free version is just what you need. After that, subscribing to a premium version might take your editing to the next level.

So, would it be possible to professionally edit your photos using an online photo editor? As you know, we’re looking for RAW editing, advanced adjustments, accurate colors, and high-quality images. Also, we would like to have it all in one editor to speed up the workflow. Check out our top five best online photo editors in 2021.

Best Online Photo Editors #1: Pixlr

Pixlr is an online photo editor that aims to deliver professional photo editing and graphic design using artificial intelligence (AI). It has two versions: Pixlr E for advanced editing and Pixlr X for quick and easy basic adjustments. We focus on Pixlr E as we want to edit professional photos and need all the advanced features we can get.

Pixlr E supports a few file formats including PSD, Adobe Photoshop’s proprietary format, but it doesn’t open RAW files. It has an intuitive interface, with tools on the left and panels for navigation, history, and layers on the right. The tools have large tooltips that give you all the information you need: a description of the functionality, the shortcut, and even an illustrative image. When you open Pixlr E for the first time you feel at home and ready to edit your photos.

The interface of Pixlr E

Advanced Photo Adjustments

The good news is that Pixlr E works with layers and provides non-destructive edits. You can duplicate the initial image layer and use it for adjustments. The editor supports a long list of blending modes and gives you plenty of creative freedom. It also has advanced selection tools for local adjustments.

Pixlr E has three auto adjustment tools that beautify your photo instantly. Auto adjust, Auto pop, and Auto B&W are sometimes all you need for quick fixes. For fine-tuning and control, you can manually adjust exposure, brightness, contrast, color temperature, saturation, highlights and shadows, and many more.

List of photo adjustments

Creative Effects

Online photo editors are designed to be fast, fun, and easy to use. Pixlr E is no exception. The list of filters and effects is long and rich. It has an effect library where you can find effects for specific types of photography, artistic styles, and color palettes. You control the intensity of the effect and preview the result in real-time.

The Effect library

If you want to apply the effects locally, you should know that Pixlr E offers lots of creative tools that work on a brush system. You’ll find tools for liquifying, blurring and sharpening, removing spots, cloning, dodging and burning, adjusting color temperature and saturation, and dispersing an object. There are also available tools for adding text, drawing over photos, creating gradients, and more.

Special effect at its best

Pros

Pixlr E provides subtle adjustments for natural-looking photos but also amazing effects for creative photos. It works with masks and layers and gives you control over the editing process. You can learn to use it in no time and really have fun in the process.

Cons

The major drawback is the lack of support for RAW files. Also, Pixlr E doesn’t allow you to save the editing steps for later use. Each photo has to be edited step by step from the beginning without the possibility to use macros like in Affinity Photo or presets like in other photo editors.

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What You Receive for a Premium Subscription

The Disperse and Bokeh tools are available only for a Premium account. For a monthly subscription of EUR 7.99 you also receive AI CutOut (an AI-based tool for removing backgrounds and unwanted objects), thousands of extra overlays, stickers, decorative texts, and assets, and support for images with resolutions up to 8196 x 8196.

Best Online Photo Editors #2: Colorcinch

Colorcinch is an online photo editor and cartoonizer that helps you retouch photos and create artworks. It has a huge library of stock photos, icons, and vector graphics (2.5 million items), tools for creating decorative texts, brushes for freehand drawing, and many other creative resources. It provides print quality up to 400 dpi and an image manager. The interface is neat, project management is good, and you’ll have a nice workflow with Colorcinch. Unfortunately, it doesn’t support RAW files either.

The interface of Colorcinch

Photo adjustments go directly on the image and, although you can’t see the editing history, you can undo or redo the steps. Colorcinch doesn’t have local adjustments or selection tools. Your edits will affect the entire photo. It does however have predefined masks you can use to stylish your photos. It’s a sort of watermark that can be very handy for copyrights reasons.

Additional items such as text and shapes have their own layers. Colorcinch allows you to arrange the layers as you wish and provides a long list of blending modes for creative purposes.

Working with layers

Creative Effects

Filters aren’t the only way you can transform your photos into artwork. Colorcinch also offers four sets of creative effects: Cartoonizer, Digital Art, Sketcher, and Painting. They work very well for portraits and street photography but you’ll find inspiration for nature and landscape photos too. Furthermore, you can adjust their settings to fit your composition.

Sets of creative effects

Pros

Colorcinch has a wide variety of artistic overlays and filters that beautify any type of photo. It’s easy to use and inspirational, and it helps you take your photos to the next level.

Cons

It doesn’t have adjustment layers and selection tools. Also, it lacks RAW processing.

What You Receive for a Premium Subscription

For $5.99 per month, you get the entire collection of graphic elements, filters, and effects. You’ll also be able to manage as many Colorcinch projects as you like.

Best Online Photo Editors #3: Fotor

Fotor is a cloud-based editor designed with photography in mind. Among its features are tools for portrait retouching, automatic adjustments, and HDR editing. It allows you to import up to 50 photos and go from one to another (unfortunately not RAW files), share your edits on social media directly from the editor, and upload your photos in the cloud. Fotor is very user-friendly. You don’t need too much time to develop a good workflow.

The interface of Fotor

Like Colorcinch, Fotor doesn’t work with layers and doesn’t allow you to make local adjustments. However, you can undo and redo editing steps, return to the original image, and preview each edit before you apply it. It even has a Compare button, which lets you see how your photo looks before and after making a change.

Advanced Photo Adjustments

Fotor has a feature called 1-Tap Enhance that makes automatic adjustments using AI algorithms. It also has basic adjustments such as exposure, contrast, brightness, color saturation, sharpness, color temperature, detail enhancer, noise remover, and geometric transformations. Fotor provides more advanced tools too, such as Curves, HSL, and tilt-shift.

Exploring tilt-shift

Portrait photographers have a dedicated section in Fotor. It’s called Beauty and provides tools for portrait retouching such as removing blemishes and wrinkles, smoothing skin, removing red-eye and adding make-up, teeth whitening, and even reducing weight and reshaping.

Tools for portrait retouching

Creative Effects

Fotor has more than 30 categories of effects each of them including several effects. They address all types of photography from analog and black and white to vintage and retro. They also address specific moods and events, seasons, and artistic styles. You get to choose the intensity of the effect and preview the results.

Creative effects at work

Pros

Fotor has plenty of basic adjustments for subtle editing and natural-looking results. It also offers effects for all types of photography and a wide variety of beautifying tools for portraits.

Cons

It doesn’t work with layers and doesn’t provide local adjustments. Also, some of its basic tools aren’t included in the free version (e.g. removing noise, enhancing details).

What You Receive for a Premium Subscription

Fotor has a free version with limited basic editing features and design resources. For $8.99 per month, you can have Fotor Pro, with access to all editing features, beauty touch-up tools, extra 200 photo effects, and huge libraries of design resources. For $19.99 per month, Fotor Pro+ gives you access to all Fotor Pro features plus 1 million stock photos and weekly updates with new stock images and design resources.

Best Online Photo Editors #4: Photopea

Photopea is a great competitor too. Let’s start with the good news: Photopea supports RAW files, including DNG, NEF, CR2, ARW, and other raw formats. It provides a pre-processing step in which you can adjust color temperature and tint, exposure, and contrast. Then you can edit your RAW file further or save it as a JPEG file. It’s an amazing shortcut to prepare your photos before sharing them. Photopea also opens PSD, AI, sketch, PDF, and XCF files. So whether you are used to working in Photoshop or GIMP, you can easily switch to Photopea and take your projects with you.

RAW processing

The interface is similar to other photo editors: tools on the left, panels for history, layers, and other functionalities on the right. The design reminds you of Photoshop as does the list of features: the ability to open and edit multiple images simultaneously; advanced selection tools; layers and masks; a long list of blending modes and other settings for layers; a customizable interface.

The interface of Photopea

Advanced Photo Adjustments

You’ll find the basic image adjustments in the main menu (Image/Adjustments). There are three automatic adjustments (Auto Tone, Auto Contrast, and Auto Color) and a long list of manual adjustments very similar to the ones you find in Photoshop.

Photopea provides advanced color tools such as Levels and Curves, tools for correcting exposure, adjusting contrast, brightness, color saturation, and vibrancy, a black and white converter, and many more. It also provides geometrical transformations, tools for removing spots, cloning, dodging, and burning, and photo filters.

Basic photo adjustments

Creative Effects

Photopea has a filter gallery with almost 50 artistic filters. Each comes with its settings and you can preview the effects before applying the filter. However, they’re mostly brushwork and don’t fit any type of photography. It also has filters for adding noise, blurring, sharpening, distorting, and stylizing. They aren’t too easy to set up though.

Filter Gallery in Photopea

If you aren’t satisfied with the default effects, you can create your own. Photopea allows you to record actions, a series of editing steps, and apply them to other photos as well.

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Pros

Photopea supports RAW files, provides local adjustments, and works with layers and masks similarly to Photoshop. It also allows you to work on multiple projects at the same time.

Cons

It doesn’t have a wide range of creative effects and the existing ones are too technical. And although the Photoshop-like interface will be a plus for a Photoshop user, other photographers might prefer something more straightforward.

What You Receive for a Premium Subscription

All the features of Photopea can be used for free. The Premium version costs $40 per year and gives you 60 steps in History (the free version has 30 steps) and gets rid of ads.

Best Online Photo Editors #5: BeFunky

With a cool name and interface, BeFunky provides essential photo retouching, creative effects, and lots of templates and design resources. It doesn’t support RAW files but integrates with a lot of applications and allows you to open files from Facebook, Google Drive, Google Photos, Dropbox, and more. BeFunky comes with an image manager and plenty of stock images.

BeFunky supports batch processing. You can open several images and apply the same basic adjustments and effects to all of them at once. This is very useful for similar photos taken at the same photo session. In the batch processing mode, BeFunky allows you to adjust exposure and color, resize and crop your photos, and increase sharpness. The list of effects includes vintage, old photo, black and white, and others.

Batch processing in BeFunky

Although it works with layers, BeFunky uses layers only for different design items such as text and shapes. Image adjustments are applied to the original image. However, you can see the history of editing steps and go back if you need to.

Advanced Photo Adjustments

BeFunky uses AI to deliver an automatic image enhancer that adjusts multiple basic settings based on image content. All you have to do is adjust the intensity. However, it’s available only for Premium subscribers. The same subscribers can enjoy advanced tools for sharpening, HDR editing, removing noise, and enhancing colors.

Automatic adjustments based on AI

In terms of basic image retouching features, BeFunky provides tools for geometric transformations, fixing exposure, sharpening, improving clarity, and adjusting colors. And you can apply the adjustments to the entire image or choose between subject and background by using the Erase Mode. It also has tools for smoothing, blurring, and soften your photos and a wide range of tools for beautifying portraits.

Basic photo adjustments

Creative Effects

BeFunky has a vast library of creative and artistic effects. They cover all types of photography (e.g. HDR, black and white), artistic styles (e.g. pop art, vintage), moods, and special effects. You can personalize them and even add them to your set of tools for batch processing. It also offers a wide range of stylizing effects from watercolor to cartoonizer, sketcher, and oil painting.

Creative and Artsy effects

Pros

Batch processing and the possibility to customize it are a great plus of BeFunky. Also, its effects are cool, diverse, and versatile. AI-based automatic adjustments are good to have too.

Cons

Many of its advanced features (e.g. applying adjustments locally, AI-based features, tools for removing or replacing the background, improving clarity, adding vignettes, etc.) aren’t included in the free version. It doesn’t support RAW files and doesn’t work with adjustment layers.

What You Receive for a Premium Subscription

For $8.99 per month, you have access to AI-based automatic adjustments, advanced editing features, and creative effects. You also get overlays, design resources, collage templates, and Artsy effects.


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Concluding words

Online photo editors are definitely gaining terrain and more and more photographers prefer them to the standard photo editors. They’re fun, inventive, and easy to use, offer design capabilities, and can be used for free, from any device, and without installation. Furthermore, online photo editors include many of the edits a photographer needs. We’re sure you’ve tried at least one by now.

Let us know which one is your favorite and what features would you like them to have in the future. RAW processing and local adjustments are on our list.

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