In the early days of personal computers, Microsoft had MS Paint as part of Windows since the beginning of its existence, but it barely changed since the version that came with Windows 95. It finally changed with the windows 7 & 8 versions. Macintosh computers come with a program called iPhoto which can catalog and organize your photos, and can do some basic editing like cropping, resizing, and color manipulation. The quicker tool to use for those basic editing tasks is Preview, as great little program included on all Macs that even helps you work with PDFs. These represent two different approaches from Microsoft and Apple. While it was possible to create some terrific images using the original Paint, it really was an extremely limiting program. Apple on the other hand has included tools that are practical, and assumes that you will acquire a program that will enable true image editing, like Photoshop. Before we move on, we should mention that there is an iPhoto-like program for Windows users called Windows Live Photo Gallery.
So let’s get straight to our recommendations for image editing software for your computer. If you use Windows, a program called Paint.Net strikes the right balance between price (it’s free), features, and ease of use. It’s interface is looking a bit outdated though. For the Macintosh we recommend a program called Seashore (also free), again because it provides good basic features and it’s easy to use. If you want to stay free, but need a program with a rich feature set like Photoshop, a program called GIMP might be for you. It’s an open source program that calls itself a Photoshop replacement. GIMP is available for Windows and Mac computers, but you might start with the other programs first.
All of the programs mentioned above are free, except for Photoshop, which is the standard by which image editing programs are measured. Most people should get by with the free programs, but if you need the latest professional standard, the full Photoshop program, called the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography plan, is now only available through a subscription for $10 a month. Just be aware, if you stop paying the subscription, you lose access to the program. If you want to pay for your software once, you can get a program called Photoshop Elements which is Photoshop “lite” and has most of the basic features as well as some advanced editing functions. It’s worth mentioning one more program for the Mac, and that’s Pixelmator. It’s a strong rival to most of Photoshop’s feature set, but it’s currently half price at $15 in the Mac App Store, so it won’t break the bank. There’s even a version for the iPad ($10).
It’s also worth noting that in this web-enabled age, there are web based image editing sites such as Pixlr that provide a web interface to create and manipulate digital images.