With the web being so image-rich these days, it’s surprising that there isn’t more emphasis on having good image editing software on a computer. Microsoft has had MS Paint as part of Windows since the beginning of its existence, but it has barely changed since the version that came with Windows 95. Macintosh computers come with a program called iPhoto which can do some basic editing like cropping, resizing, and color manipulation. These represent two different approaches from Microsoft and Apple. While it is possible to create some terrific images using Paint, it really is an extremely limiting program (it’s really awful) that you should replace right away. Apple on the other hand has included a program that provides 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 want to mention that there is an iPhoto-like program that everyone using a Windows machine should get 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 features and ease of use. If you have an older computer with Windows XP you may have to install the .Net software on your computer to take advantage of Paint.Net. For the Macintosh we recommend a program called Seashore, again because it provides good basic features and it’s easy to use. Linux users will want to check out The GIMP, which is an open source program that calls itself a Photoshop replacement. I’d argue that point if it weren’t for the fact that there isn’t a Photoshop version for Linux, so that’s all there is anyway. The GIMP is also available for Windows and Mac computers, but I would 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. For not too much money, especially if you are a student or teacher at the K-12 or College level, you can get a program called Photoshop Elements. An academic license is about $65 and the program provides some stunning features. If you find yourself needing to do copious amounts of image editing and can’t afford even an academic license of the full Photoshop program (currently almost $300), Photoshop Elements should fit the bill.