What it can do: Pixlr is actually a suite of three online photo editing apps. There’s the Instagram style Pixlr-o-matic, with dozens of effects, overlays, and borders. Pixlr Express is a simple image editor with iPhoto level controls, the usual panoply of cropping, denoising, and touch ups; as well as borders, special effects, and text overlays. For those who want something more powerful, the full Pixlr app gives you a Photoshop like working environment, complete with multiple windows, navigators, menus, layers, masks and more.
Why we like it: It’s astonishingly powerful for an online editor, but if you just need some quick editing, it’s perfectly capable, too. With three different apps using three different interfaces and control levels, there’s something there for everyone. But more than anything else, the full Pixlmator app is an astonishing use of Flash. It has many of the same keyboard shortcuts that are hardwired into your brain from Photoshop, and the fact that someone replicated the Healing tool in a web-app is just damned impressive.
What it can do: A number of your favorite Photoshop tools bundled into a nifty free web app. It’s not for anything too difficult, but for small fun edits it’s not horrible. You’ve got your standard crop, rotate, red-eye fix and whatnot. Then there are adjustments like white balance, adding fill light, sharpening, and soft focus. Finally, Adobe’s thrown in some nifty effects like crystallize, pixellate, color pop, and decorations.
Why we like it: Let’s be clear, Photoshop Express is an extremely simple program, but Adobe does a lot of things well in it. Whenever you select a tool, a menu pops down shows you different variations/strengths of its use. While you can use the web app without signing up, doing so gets you 2GB of free storage, slideshows, and a personal gallery.
What it can do: Fotoflexer boasts the title “the world’s most advanced online image editor,” and while that might not hold up quite so well to some of the other editors on here, it still has some power under the hood. In addition to the usual tools, it has a liquify-like distortion tool, can handle layers, blemish fixing and wrinkle removals, and plenty of the now required filters. The “smart scissors” and “smart cutout” tools also have some potential, though they’re tricky to get the hang of.
Why we like it: Fotoflexer’s been doing its thing since at least 2007, and while development has stalled in recent years, it’s still one of the most well established of the online photo editors. It really doesn’t offer nearly as many features as, say, Pixlr, but it does have a few tricks hiding up its sleeves.
What it can do: RAW image reading and manipulation for a really wide variety of formats. It can handle ICC color profiles, as well as Nikon’s tone curves.
Why we like it: One of the few limitations of GIMP is that RAW files can be problematic, which is where UFRaw comes in. UFRaw functions as either a plugin for GIMP or a standalone app, and will work on just about any operating system on the planet — assuming you’re comfortable tinkering. Unfortunately, major updates are sporadic, hitting about once a year.