The Best Photo Editing Software in 2019

We’ve all heard it:

“A picture is worth a thousand words.” And science says it’s true.

In fact, according to a study published on Social Media Examiner photos get 87% engagement on Facebook whereas no other form of content could get past 4%.

Another study says, adding a photo in your tweet can boost your retweet rate by 35%.

Now there’s no doubt, photos are important, but the real question is:

How can you make your pictures more beautiful to convey your message more effectively?

The answer is ‘Photo Editing Software’.

I’m sure most of you know what a photo editing software is but the thing that leaves most of us puzzled is; which software is the best?

Well, this is exactly what I’m going to address in this blog post.

I’m going to show you what I found after analyzing the top five photo editing software along with their biggest upsides as well as downsides.

So, without any delay, let’s get going.

THE TOP 3

1. ADOBE PHOTOSHOP CC

2. ADOBE LIGHTROOM CLASSIC CC

3. ADOBE PHOTOSHOP ELEMENTS

OVERALL

★★★★★

★★★★

★★★★

BEST FOR

All-Around

Professional Photographers

Beginners or Hobbyists

NUMBER OF EDITING TOOLS

24+

24+

10-15

ORGANIZATION/STORAGE

Local and 20GB cloud storage with paid plan

Local and 20GB cloud storage with paid plan

Local

COMPATIBILITY AND SHARING

Yes

Yes

Yes

DEVICE COMPATIBILITY

Mac and Windows

Mac and Windows

Mac and Windows

NUMBER OF DEVICES PER LICENSE

2

2

2

FREE TRIAL?

Yes

Yes

Yes

MONEY-BACK GUARANTEE

Yes (14 days)

Yes (14 days)

Yes (30 days)

PRICE

Starts from $9.99/mo

Starts from $9.99/mo

$99.99

USABILITY

Easy to use

A bit difficult

Very easy to use

RESPONSE TIME

Only online chat (no email support)

Only online chat (no email support)

Only online chat (no email support)

Best photo editing software review

Ideally, I was looking for a photo editor which is easy to use, offers a wide range of editing options, and one which is pocket-friendly too.

Besides this, I also wanted the guarantee of a full refund in case; I don’t like the product. And luckily, I found that all these tools have a money back guarantee policy.

Now let’s see in detail what impressed me the most about each tool and where I was left with a sour experience.

1. Adobe Photoshop CC

creative cloud

Adobe Photoshop needs no introduction. Ever since Adobe launched it in 1990, it has been the undisputed heavyweight champion of the photo editing field and became synonymous of photo manipulation.

I found it to be the most reliable photo editing tool for almost anyone like – hobbyists, students, professional Photographers, graphic designers, etc.

And since Photoshop is now the member of Adobe’s Creative Cloud family, it is the only tool (along with Lightroom Classic) that offers cloud storage.

So no doubt, it is the most popular tool out there but, can we call it the ‘perfect’ tool?

Take a look at its pros and cons and decide yourself.

Photoshop CC Pros

#1.Number of editing tools

Photoshop offers a wide range of editing tools to let you do almost all the fancy tricks you expect from a photo editing tool.

From cropping to background change to cleaning spots, to make animated gifs, you name it.

You can find all the tools in the toolbar located on the left side of the screen. Just select one and start giving a new life to your images.

Photoshop CC toolbar1

The best part is, most of these editing tools come with different variations of their own. For example, right click on any tool that has a small triangle beside it and you’ll get to see the different variations of that tool.

Photoshop subtools

#2. Storage:

With Photoshop CC you can store your files in the local drives as well as use the cloud storage provided by Adobe.

The total cloud space differs according to the plan you choose. For example, if you’re on a free trial (lasts only for seven days), you get 2GB of cloud storage. However, if you upgrade to or buy one of their paid plans, your total cloud storage can range anywhere from 20GB to 100GB depending on monthly subscription.

On top of that, you can pay Adobe some additional amount if you’re planning to increase your cloud storage without upgrading your subscription plan.

Photoshop Cloud

#3. More than one device per license:

When you buy one of the Photoshop CC subscription plans, it allows you to use the tool on two different computers. And it’s totally fine if both the machines are running on different operating systems.

The only catch is, you can’t run the software simultaneously on both the computers.

So, if you’ve opened the application on computer A and at the same time, you also want to open it on computer B, then you’ll first have to close the app on computer A. Otherwise, it won’t even run on computer B.

Got it? Great!

#4. Money back guarantee:

All the Photoshop CC subscription plans come with a money back guarantee assurance. But there are, of course, conditions apply.

If you’re not happy with the product and want a full refund, then you’ll have to contact the Adobe team within the first 14 days of purchase.

But, for some reasons, if you miss the 14 days deadline, you’re still eligible for a partial refund.

#5. Sharing

Let’s face it, most of us edit photos for the sole purpose of sharing it on social media, right?

Well, Photoshop CC knows it very well, and that’s why it allows you to share your photos on your favorite social media platforms in just a few clicks without minimizing the current window.

Photoshop CC Cons

#1. No longer a pay once & for all product

With the arrival of Creative Cloud came some good things as well as some bad things.

To start with the bad one, Photoshop is no longer a solo, pay once & for all product. You have to pay for it every month as long as you use the product.

But the good thing is, you also get access to other applications like Lightroom Classic and Lightroom CC that can help you take your editing game to the next level.

#2. Compatible with limited devices

If you’re someone who likes to edit your photos on mobile, then Photoshop CC is not for you. Photoshop only works on Mac and Windows computer and that too with specific versions. Like:

If you’re a Windows user, then your PC must be running on Windows 7 or Windows 10 version 1709 or later.

Similarly, for Mac, only the Mac Sierra 10.12 or later versions support Photoshop CC.

Adobe Photoshop CC plans

To purchase Adobe Photoshop CC, you’ll have to buy one of Creative Cloud subscription plans, and it starts from $9.99/month when billed annually. With this plan, you also get Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic CC.

But if you want only the Photoshop CC software, then you’ll have to spend $20/month on the “Single App plan” (billed annually). Sure, this one is a little pricey but not to forget it also gets you 100GB cloud storage.

Photoshop cc plans

Besides this, if you’re a student or teacher, then I’ll highly recommend you to go with the “All Apps plan” that gets you a 60% discount in your first year.

photoshop cc plans1

Do I recommend Photoshop CC software?

Of course, yes. Photoshop CC is still the best photo editing software out there, and under the wings of Creative Cloud, it became even better.

Of course, the price is a tiny issue here because you have to pay for the product every month, but considering the number of editing tools you get plus the additional tools and cloud storage makes it worth 10X more than its current price.

2. Adobe Lightroom Classic CC

Lightroom classic cc homepage

Adobe Lightroom Classic CC is another member of the Creative Cloud family. Earlier it was a single product known as “Lightroom CC” before Adobe separated it into Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic CC that, in spite of having almost the same names, are two different products.

Though it shares many similarities with Photoshop CC (since both of them are Creative Cloud products), I found that it lacks many key features that you can see in Photoshop CC.

Let’s dig a little deeper and find out what are the advantages as well as the disadvantages of using Lightroom Classic CC.

Lightroom Classic Pros

#1 Wide range of editing tools for experienced users

Lightroom Classic is an excellent tool for those who are already familiar with Photoshop and want some additional help to make their images pop.

It is mostly used by professional photographers, and this becomes more apparent when you first come across its layout.

On Lightroom Classic, most of the actions happen under the ‘Library’ and ‘Develop’ modules. So, when you click on the ‘Develop’ module, you can find several different options on the right side of your screen.

Lightroom classic CC

Again, if you’re a pro, then you can easily find your way, but if you’re a novice (like me), you better check out these tutorials by Adobe.

#2 Storage

Similar to Photoshop CC, Lightroom Classic also allows you to store your files on local drives as well as on cloud storage.

When you sign-up for its 7-day free trial, you get 2GB of cloud storage, and as you upgrade to one of the premium plans, you get anywhere from 20GB to 1TB of storage according to the subscription plan you choose.

#3 More than one device per license

Each Lightroom Classic license enables you to use the software on two different computers regardless of their operating systems. Again the only condition is, you can’t use the program simultaneously on both the machines.

#4 Money Back Guarantee

Bought the Lightroom Classic CC subscription plan but still not sure if it is the right product for you?

No problemo!

Get in touch with the Adobe team within 14 days of purchase, and they’ll refund all your money.

#5 Share photos on social media or via Email

Lightroom Classic allows you to share your photos on social media platforms straight from the software. And it also makes it easy for you to send the images to your contacts through email.

Lightroom Classic CC Cons

#1 Can’t buy the product with a one-time payment

Like Photoshop CC, Lightroom Classic is also a subscription-based product, and you have to pay for it as long as you use it on your computer.

But the upside with this subscription is, you also get access to Photoshop CC and Lightroom CC, and Adobe allows you to store your data on Cloud.

#2 Compatibility with limited devices

Another limitation of Lightroom Classic is, it works only on computers. And your computer must be running on the latest versions of your operating system. Otherwise, Lightroom won’t run at all.

So, if you’re a Windows user, make sure you have at least Windows 7 with Service Pack 1 or Windows 10 version 1709 or later.

Similarly, if you’re a Mac user, your computer must be running on Mac Sierra 10.12 or later versions.

#3 A bit complicated user Interface for Beginners

I found the user interface of Lightroom Classic to be a bit complicated compared to Photoshop CC (even though they both are CC products).

When you open Photoshop CC, you’ll find all the necessary tools on the left-hand side and all it requires is select and use. That’s it.

On the other hand, in Lightroom Classic, there are different modules. When you enter the ‘Develop’ module – where all the editing takes place, you’ll see that almost all the functions are on the right-hand side. And if you’re a novice, you’ll have a difficult time figuring out which tool or function does what.

So beginners, you better stick to Photoshop CC or check out these Lightroom Classic tutorials by Adobe before buying this software.

Lightroom Classic CC plans

Lightroom Classic plans are more or less the same as Photoshop CC plans. Its least expensive “Photography plan” starts from $9.99/month when you pay for it annually. It’s a bundle plan where you get Photoshop CC and Lightroom CC along with Lightroom Classic and 20GB of cloud storage.

But if you want to increase the cloud storage to 1TB then opt for the $20/month “Photography Plan”.

Lihgtaroom classic cc plans

And if you’re a student or teacher, then you can’t miss Adobe’s special “All Apps plan” that offers 60% off in your first year.

Lightroom classic cc plans1

Do I recommend Lightroom Classic CC?

Yes, if only you’re a pro who wants to give some extra dose of editing to his/her pictures and are already familiar with most of the tools Lightroom Classic has to offer. Otherwise, it’s better to invest your money in Photoshop CC.

Again, if you’re looking for an app that runs on mobile too, then neither Lightroom Classic nor Photoshop CC is the ideal choice for you.

3. Adobe Photoshop Elements

photoshop elements homepage

Adobe Photoshop Elements is more like a ripped and lean version of Photoshop CC and is aimed towards amateur shooters, students and hobbyists.

It has almost all the features of Photoshop CC but with simpler options and less editing tools compared to the CC version.

To get a broader picture, take a look at its pros and cons.

Photoshop Elements Pros

#1 Simple and easy to use

If you’re new to the photo editing thing, then Photoshop Elements is the perfect tool for you. Its user interface is clean and easy-to-navigate. And when you open the application and go to ‘expert’ edit mode, you’ll see that all the editing options, just like Photoshop CC, are aligned on the left-hand side.

Photoshop elements expert mode

Additionally, to make things easier, under the “Guided” tab, you’ll find a quick demo of all the major things you can do using Photoshop Elements like changing backgrounds, turning a photo into a sketch, making collage, etc.

Guided mode 1

#2. Pay once and for all

Unlike Photoshop CC and Lightroom Classic CC, Photoshop Elements is a one-time buy product. You don’t need to buy a subscription plan and pay a certain amount every month. You pay $99.99 once, and Photoshop Elements is yours forever.

#3 More than one device per license

With a single Photoshop Elements license, you can run the software on two different computers. But it comes with the same typical Adobe condition that says, you can’t use it on both the computers at the same time.

#4 Money back guarantee with extended deadline

While the two previous Adobe tools offer a 14-day money back guarantee, Photoshop Elements takes a step further and provides a 30-day threshold to get a full refund if the user is unhappy with the product.

#5 Share images on social media

Like the previous two software in my test, you can find the photo sharing feature on Photoshop Elements too.

Photoshop Elements Cons

#1 Limited editing tools

Of course, Photoshop Elements is the lean version of Photoshop CC and even though it offer many features of the later, it still lacks some essential editing tools that you find on the later one.

For example, it doesn’t support CMYK files, it cannot work on 3D objects, and the ability to work with raw images is not as good as its older sibling.

#2 No cloud storage

Unlike Photoshop CC and Lightroom, you don’t get any cloud storage from Adobe if you buy Photoshop Elements.

#3 Compatibility with Limited devices

Photoshop Elements works only on Windows and Mac computers. But the good news is, it’s a bit flexible when it comes to supporting different versions of operating systems.

For Windows:

Windows 7 (with service Pack 1)

Windows 8.1 and

Windows 10 64-bit (it doesn’t support the 32-bit version)

For MacOS:

MacOS version 10.12–10.14

Photoshop Elements Plans

As I mentioned above in the Pro section, PE (Photoshop Elements) is a one-off buy. It costs you $99.99 if you’re a new user. However, if you already use a previous version of Photoshop Elements, you can upgrade to the latest version by paying $79.99.

Adobe also offers a bundle pack where you can get Adobe Premiere Elements with PE in $149.99.

Photoshop elements plans

Do I recommend Photoshop Elements?

If you’re an entry-level user, then you won’t find a better tool than Photoshop Elements. It’s easy to use, has built-in video tutorials, and also low in cost. Plus, you get the same set of editing tools that you find in Photoshop CC (barring some particular features and plug-ins).

However, if you want a software to run on your phone or tablet, you might want to skip PE and consider the next tool in the queue.

4. Serif Affinity Photo

affinity photo homepage

It’s not been too long since Serif (a European company) introduced Affinity Photo in 2015 as a cheaper and better alternative of Photoshop CC. And taking into account its robust set of editing tools, it appears to be a tough competitor..

Affinity Photo is the cheapest among the five tools I tested, and it is the only one that works on iPads too.

This tool is mainly handy for intermediate or pro level photo editors because of the vast variety of features it offers to enable the users perform more in depth edits. And once you start mastering this application, you can quickly take your editing level from bottom to top.

Affinity Photo Pro

#1 Wide range of editing tools

As we know, Affinity Photo gets directly compared with Photoshop CC, so it must offer the same numbers of editing tools like Photoshop, if not more, right? Well, it does.

It consists of almost all the features that you’ll find in Photoshop CC like masking, layering, retouching, removing blemishes, etc.

Affinity Photo toolbar1

And to my surprise, it also provides some Lightroom Classic tools like precise Curving and supports .PSD files as well.

#2 Cheapest of them all

Affinity is the cheapest tool in this test that unlike its rival Photoshop CC, comes with a one-off payment of $49.99. And the best thing is, you get lifetime update once you purchase this tool.

#3 Only tool that works on iPads

If you’re looking for a software to use on your iPad, then Affinity is the go-to app for you. It is the only tool in the lot that works on iPads.

Affinity for ipad

#4 Quick customer support

Serif does an excellent job when it comes to serving their customers and answering their queries.

Though I didn’t face any problem using this software, when I reached out to the support team to make a few things clear, they responded to me within 24 hours with a satisfactory answer.

affinity customer support

#5 Money back guarantee

Affinity gives a tough fight to Photoshop CC in this section too. It ensures a 100% money back guarantee to its users if they return the product within 14 days of purchase. However, unlike Adobe, I couldn’t find any partial refund policy for those who want a refund after 14 days of the purchase date.

Affinity Photo Cons

#1 Not suitable for beginners

No, no, no… I’m not saying you can’t use Affinity Photo if you’re an entry-level user. What I mean is, if you’ve not used any photo editing software before or not familiar with the functions of any editing tool, then you’re gonna face lots of trouble using this software.

Otherwise, if you know what each editing tool does, then feel free to go ahead and give Affinity Photo a shot.

#2 Can’t work on different OS with one license

This is a major snag with Affinity. First of all, it sells two separate license- one for Mac and the other one for Windows (with the same price). So, if you buy a Mac license and want to use it on two Mac devices, that’s fine.

But things get lousy when you try to use the same license on a Windows computer. It won’t work at all. You face the same scenario when you buy the Windows license.

#3 No Cloud storage

Affinity doesn’t provide any cloud storage to store your files. So you entirely rely on your computer’s hard drive space to save all the data.

Affinity Photo plans

Affinity Photo offers separate one-off plans for iPad and Windows/Mac users.

If you want to use the software on iPad, it will cost you $20. And if you’re a Windows or Mac user, then you’ll pay $49.99.

affinity photo plans

Do I recommend Affinity Photo?

Absolutely yes. If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative to Photoshop CC with the same set of editing tools that CC offers, then look no further than Affinity Photo.

It’s the cheapest and one of the most effective tools I tested that allows you to perform professional level editing, even on iPads, with a one-off price that fits your pocket too.

5. Corel PaintShop Pro

paintshop pro homepage

Paintshop Pro is a renowned photo editing tool presented by Corel. Though there’s a buffed up version of this software in the form of Paintshop Pro Ultimate, this pro version is sufficient enough to fulfill the needs of any user regardless of their expertise level.

Its wide range of editing tools, easy interface, and low cost make it one of the favorites of beginners as well as professional photo editors.

Now, let’s look at the sections where it is most impactful and where it can improve.

Corel PaintShop Pro Pros

#1 Suitable for both- Beginners and Professionals

PaintShop Pro is one of those rare applications that not only possess all the necessary editing tools but also easy to use even for a novice.

The user interface is easy-to-navigate and straightforward, where all the editing functions are on the left-hand side. And with the availability of plenty of resources, it won’t take you long enough to get started with this software.

paintshop pro 2019 toolbar

#2 Extended trial and refund period

PaintShop beats all its competitors out of the water when it comes to providing free trial and money back guarantee.

It has a 30-day trial period and assures 100% money back guarantee if you return the product within 30 days of purchase. Again, the longest among all the other tools.

#3 One-off Purchase

PaintShop is another product that doesn’t require you to sign-up for a monthly subscription plan. It’s the second cheapest software in my test, and it only costs $79.99. Pay once, and PaintShop is yours forever!

#4 Excellent Customer Support

A great product with exceptional customer support is like a match made in heaven. And PaintShop and Corel support is one such match.

Though I didn’t face any issues using the tool, when I asked a question to the customer support team of Corel, they got back to me within 10 hours with a comprehensive answer.

corel customer support

#5 More than one device with a single license

It’s not a surprise to know that PaintShop Pro allows users to use their license on two different computers. The only catch is you can’t run the program simultaneously on both the computers.

Corel PaintShop Pro Cons

#1 Compatible only with Windows

For a tool like PaintShop that checks almost all the boxes, it was a big bummer to know it only works on Windows computers. No Mac device support, no mobile, no iPads.

paintshop pro system requirements

#2 No Cloud storage

If your computer’s hard drive is full and you’re looking for a software that enables you to store your data on the cloud, then you would want to avoid Corel PaintShop Pro and switch to Photoshop CC or Lightroom Classic.

Corel PaintShop Pro Plans

PaintShop leaves no room for confusion when it comes to buying the product. It offers a single pricing plan which is a one-time payment of $79.99.

paintshop pro plans

And if you already using one of its older versions, then you can upgrade to the latest one by paying $XXX.

Do I recommend PaintShop Pro?

If you only have a Windows computer and planning to buy a product which is easy to use, low in cost and gets all the essential features to perform pro level editing, then PaintShop Pro is definitely an ideal choice for you.

Conclusion

Phew! So we finally came to an end.

I’m sure; by now, you know which photo editor is the most ideal for you. But if you’re still not convinced, here’s a quick rundown to clear all your confusion.

If you’re looking for an all-around tool with cloud storage and can afford to pay at least ten bucks every month, then Photoshop CC is the go-to editor for you. And not to forget, it comes in a bundle pack with Lightroom Classic CC and Lightroom CC that makes it a deadly combo.

Photoshop Elements is an excellent choice for those who are particularly new to photo editing and just want a modest editing tool to perform or learn the basic editing tricks without opting for a monthly subscription plan.

However, if you are a professional and want to avoid Adobe products altogether and thinking if there’s anything that can give you the same amount of features in half of the price then you would want to buy Affinity Photo. It’s the cheapest one-off product that enables you to do pro-level editing.

And last but certainly not the least, PaintShop Pro, because of its simple interface and robust set of tools, is suitable for both novices as well as experts. But the only concern is if you don’t have a Windows device, this tool is of no use for you.

Now, I’d like to turn it over to you:

Let me know what kind of photo editor are you – beginner, intermediate or pro, and which software would you like to try?