The top photo-editing programs are developing at a quicker pace than ever before. Tasks that used to take hours may now be completed with a single click, thanks to the skillful use of AI across the board. So this is the best time ever to upgrade your photo-editing software.

What, then, is the top picture editing program for 2022? There are several respectable solutions now, some of which are paid-for and others free. Photoshop used to be the only major player in town. These include simple applications created for fast picture adjustments to complex solutions created for expert image editors.

We’ve covered every kind, and in the section below, we include the top photo-editing programs for various operating systems and price points, as well as mobile and tablet applications (though if this is your main interest, check out our guide to the best photo apps.) We also give links to the complete reviews where we’ve personally tested the product so you can learn more in such cases.

Once you’ve purchased your program, you may also want to read our review of the Best laptops for picture editing. But let’s get started with the top photo-editing programs available right now.

1. Photoshop

There’s a good reason why modifying digital images is associated with the moniker Photoshop. It is without a doubt the greatest photo-editing program available, with capabilities and functionality that well outpace those of any rivals. With each version, Adobe has significantly improved Photoshop, and recently, we’ve witnessed an increase in the number of AI-powered capabilities that make it even more smooth and efficient.

With the stroke of a button, you can now erase artifacts, modify facial expressions, smooth over skin, and do much more. We were quite delighted with the neural filters in our comprehensive Photoshop 2022 review and how well-designed they are. For portrait photographers, we especially like the Skin Smoothing feature and Super Zoom, which enable you to zoom directly into a certain picture area and then scale the result with automatically filled-in information.

Plus, The next version of Photoshop will be improved. A new Photo Restoration Neural Filter from Adobe was just given a sneak peek. It is intended to assist users in restoring outdated or damaged photographs by quickly finding and removing scratches and other small flaws. Even better, the filter allows for the on/off switching of various restoration-related features. Subscribers will get this update and all others for free, just as with all other Creative Cloud products.

For additional information on how Photoshop may be improved beyond what is in the default interface, see our recommendations for the greatest free Photoshop brushes and free Photoshop actions. The program also synergizes effectively with other Adobe services. Photographers may link it with Lightroom for easy picture management, while a motion designer would pair it with After Effects.

Photoshop is only available via membership, which is pricey. You may choose between subscribing to Photoshop alone, a particular package for photographers, or the whole Creative Cloud by looking for the greatest Adobe Creative Cloud deals.

2. Affinity Photo

Not a fan of subscriptions and would rather pay a one-time fee? Check out Affinity Photo after that. It’s the greatest photo-editing software you can now get in a single transaction.

It is a genuine alternative to Photoshop rather than merely a cheap substitute. With capabilities that are on par with those found in professional editing software, it can easily handle RAW editing, HDR Merge, panorama stitching, focus stacking, batch processing, 360° picture editing, non-destructive layers-based editing, and more. Additionally, it can easily handle PSD files, so you may continue to use all of your current files even if you decide to leave Photoshop because of its high operating expenses.

Affinity Photo is a cost-effective, subscription-free photo-editing application that meets professional standards. The high-end functionality of RAW editing, HDR merging, panoramic stitching, focus stacking, and batch processing. Support for smart objects, editing of PSD files, 360-degree picture editing, and non-destructive layer-based workflow. As a result, it offers outstanding value even if it doesn’t provide an equal to every single function found in Photoshop.

Although Affinity Photo lacks some premium Photoshop capabilities, such as its cutting-edge neural filters, as we mentioned in our review, there is still plenty to be impressed by. We like Personas, which are customized toolkits for various occupations and intended to provide you access to everything you’ll need for certain work.

There are versions of Affinity Photo on Windows, Mac, and the iPad. Its developer, Serif, also offers a desktop publishing program called Affinity Publisher and a graphic design suite called Affinity Designer (opens in a new tab). Similar to Adobe’s software suite, it is simple to move projects across various tools, resulting in an efficient workflow.

3. CyberLink PhotoDirector 365

Photoshop is a great picture editing program but is also quite complicated and has a steep learning curve. Not everyone needs that; some people are content with a basic, user-friendly photo-editing interface. For such folks, we suggest taking a look at CyberLink PhotoDirector 365.

We were delighted by the several AI-powered capabilities that have been introduced to the most recent edition of CyberLink PhotoDirector 365 in our comprehensive evaluation. The AI sky replacement tool, which allows you to smoothly replace a dull sky in a picture with one with a bit more drama, may be very useful for landscape photographers. Additionally, there are tools for manipulating skin and faces, automated body shape, lighting effects, and animation effects.

It is simple to learn how to use the straightforward UI. It has several little flaws that indicate a tiny lack of polish; if you use it for a while, you’ll start to notice these errors, types, and other problems. However, CyberLink PhotoDirector 365 has solid principles and is an excellent alternative if you want to edit photos on a tight budget.

4. Luminar NEO

For those who are accustomed to making the occasional adjustment in mobile applications like Instagram but want to advance your picture editing abilities to the next desktop level, the new Luminar NEO is perfect. First off, Luminar NEO’s UI is very user-friendly and shines in its straightforward design. Professional photo editors will still look at the top three on our list, but they could also be intrigued by the three astute AI capabilities it offers.

The Remove powerlines tool, the finest of these AI technologies, wowed us when we tested it. We tested it on a dozen pictures, and it was a complete success each time. The following AI program is called Sky Replacement, and when we used it, all you had to do was choose the sky you wanted, and one-click later, you had the final picture. The AI crop tool automatically isolates and crops the image’s topic to provide a friendlier arrangement. Overall, the one-time cost for this enjoyable picture editing program was well worth it.

You may anticipate that Luminar hasn’t received much notice lately, given that its headquarters are in Ukraine. The opposite, however, is true: amazingly, the team implemented one-click backdrop removal for photographs this month. The new technology eliminates up to 90% of the effort and can handle even complicated hair choices.

5. Luminar AI

You must modify your photographs as soon as possible. Luminar AI by Skylum is a fantastic option. The primary goal of this picture editing program is to expedite the process so that photographers may spend more time creating than editing.

As its name implies, the app makes modification suggestions for various picture styles using artificial intelligence. It offers features that may be used to adjust sky, accents, skin, faces, and even eyes, and it can recommend the best templates to enhance photographs. There are specialized instruments for portraits, landscapes, fashion, architecture, nature, and black-and-white photography.

This AI-based software for macOS and Windows comes at a very affordable one-time payment, so it’s worth looking into. For more information, visit our guide on How to edit images with Luminar AI.

6. inPixio Photo Studio 11

Another user-friendly, middle-of-the-road picture editing program with smart AI is InPixio Photo Studio. The backdrop eraser and cutout tools are nicely made in the current version 11, and there is also a fantastic sky replacement tool, albeit the outcomes are not always the most realistic.

This is one of the most user-friendly but feature-rich photo editors for novices because of its straightforward interface, which makes it simple to make basic modifications extremely fast. You also receive Pixi’s Photo Maximiser for enlarging and Photo Focus for sharpening with the Pro edition; these are two task-specific tools that may be used independently.

7. Pixlr X / Pixlr E

Do you want to modify a page directly in your web browser? Whether you’re using a desktop or mobile device, we suggest Pixlr X, and its sibling Pixlr E. There is nothing to download, and both are quite simple to use.

If you just sometimes utilize these tools, the free plan is ideal. But you’ll have to wait for the commercials to load, making things take longer. Alternatively, sign up for a premium subscription to remove the advertising.

Pixlr X is a terrific addition to your toolset for collaborative work since it lets you make non-destructive modifications to your photos and ingeniously integrates with Dropbox. It has an interface similar to Photoshop’s but simpler and provides a decent selection of tweaks and effects. In contrast, Pixlr E provides the same traditional picture editing capabilities along with additional additions for experts.

8. Corel PaintShop Pro

For more than 20 years, Windows users have used Corel PaintShop Pro as a more affordable alternative to Photoshop. It has a lot to offer anybody who edits photos on the job since it supports layers, lets you edit in both raster & vector image formats, and mimics some of Photoshop’s more sophisticated features like gradients and, content-aware motion, and filters.

The most recent version contains several clever AI capabilities, such as AI Backdrop Replacement, AI Denoise, which reduces image noise, and AI Portrait Mode, which enables you to choose a subject and blur the background. Additionally, it adds support for the iPhone-specific HEIC and HEIF file formats.

9. Adobe Lightroom

Although Adobe Lightroom includes several useful picture editing features, its primary function is still image organization. Because of this, it’s a fantastic option for anybody dealing with many photographs, including photographers and designers, who often use it in conjunction with Photoshop.

Lightroom enables you to retain all of your photographs in one location, edit it, and share it from anywhere, which aids with work organization. You may save pictures on your PC, iPad, iPhone, or Android device, and you can even have your phone transmit pictures to Lightroom automatically as you take them.

That’s not all, however. Additionally, it can tackle challenging picture management tasks for which Photoshop isn’t intended. For instance, it simplifies working with RAW data and routine improvements. When you make an edit or mark an image as a favourite in one place, it updates in all the other places as well, thanks to automatic syncing.

Despite being largely an organizational tool, it contains some respectable picture editing features that are continually improving. For instance, you may now modify the strength of presets you apply to your images and videos as this month’s (June 2022) update. A new AI-powered Red Eye Removal tool and the addition of “Adaptive Presets” have both benefitted Lightroom. Particular tools leverage Adobe’s AI sky or subject masking capabilities to apply presets exclusively to these regions rather than the whole picture. Video editing is now supported by Lightroom as well.

10. Photoshop Elements

Full Photoshop can be a little too difficult to grasp if you just start with picture editing. Instead, Photoshop Elements might be a better choice for you since it is a simpler version of Photoshop. It’s perfect for newbies because of its convenient Quick and Guided Edit modes, but it doesn’t mean it lacks strength.

The collage tool Auto Creations from the 2021 edition automatically sorts and tags photographs using Adobe Sensei or other methods. A variety of performance optimizations and enhancements are also included. Best of all, it is accessible for a one-time charge and doesn’t need a membership. On the other hand, it does not come with a Creative Cloud membership.

11. DxO Photolab

You want to convert RAW files, right? The greatest in the industry is DxO PhotoLab. Although it’s a little tricky to operate, the gadget produces flawless results. You may navigate through the folders of photos on your computer, choose an image, and then select from several presets or the default conversion/correction option.

The program provides lens adjustments for the various degrees of distortion, chromatic aberration, edge softness, and vignetting typical of most digital camera lenses. Although this is a particular program and not a universal picture editor, the results are excellent.

12. Fotor

Fotor is a free, simple picture editing and design application for amateur photographers and graphic design specialists. Along with an in-browser version and a comprehensive set of tools that should satisfy the demands of most users, there are also mobile and desktop applications available.

Some people will appreciate one-tap enhance buttons, while others will despise them since they promise a fast remedy. Tools for picture resizing, cropping, rotation, and straightening provide a higher level of control. A backdrop remover and several useful retouching tools, such as red-eye and wrinkle removal, are also included. If you want to add additional drama to your images, there is an HDR image maker and a tilt-shift editor.

13. GIMP

Another free photo-editing program is GIMP. However, GIMP is open source. As a result, it will always be available for free, and a dedicated group of developers from across the globe is actively striving to improve it.

The program offers a wide variety of tools, which is accessible for Linux, Windows, and Mac, including painting tools, colour correction, cloning, selection, and enhancement. The team has put much effort into ensuring compatibility, so you should have no trouble using any widely used file types. Additionally, the program has a powerful file manager comparable to Adobe Bridge.

14. Sumo Paint

Sumo Paint is another excellent browser-based image editor (opens in a new tab). It has all the typical functionality you’d anticipate from a desktop program, and the Pro edition, which costs $9 per month (opens in a new tab), even allows you to download a desktop version if you’d like.

Tools like brushes, pencils, shapes, text, cloning and gradients may be instantly accessible via a floating toolbar resembling Photoshop. Sumo Paint’s most recent update provides a sleek appearance and the ability to access stored projects from your hard drive, giving it a viable alternative for editing and re-editing. However, there are major restrictions. The editor seems to only support RGB, which restricts its application to work made for displays. No CMYK, Lab, or other colour models are available.