What to Look for in Photo Editing Software?

article by Arya A. author
Many of the best photo editing apps differ only slightly from one another, making it difficult for users to choose between them. But these slight differences can be significant depending on how you intend to use the program.


Ease-of-use ranks highly with customers, and rightly so. A professional photographer might have years of experience editing images, and therefore a faster learning curve with new software. But those who are taking their first steps into photo editing should check user reviews online to determine if the program’s layout is intuitive and if editing tools can be located easily.

Another important aspect to consider is the speed with which the photo editing software performs routine tasks. Large, high-quality image files will naturally take longer to process, and that processing time increases if the edits performed are quite extensive or complex. The hardware that you’re working with plays a role in processing speed, but some programs are also known to be coded for faster workflows. Take a look at what other customers have said online about the program’s render times.

Licensing Restrictions

Many users today have multiple computers, smartphones, and other devices that they work from in varying environments and at different times throughout the day. This is where software licensing becomes an issue. If the product being purchased only offers a 1-user license, it could get expensive to use the software across multiple devices.  The best photo editing software providers typically offer affordable multi-user options, or possibly even cloud-based editing solutions for working online. The online option has become increasingly popular, owing to lower fees. Another benefit of using a photo editing program that is hosted entirely online is that the program will always be updated, unlike downloaded software that might easily fall behind on updates.

Editing Functionality

Standard editing tools – like white balance correction, cropping, and brightness/contrast adjustments – are included by all major providers including Adobe Photoshop Elements, Zoner Photo Studio, ACDSee Pro, Corel and CyberLink. There will be small differences in workflow for these basic functionalities, but generally they function in similar ways. More advanced functionality varies from product to product, and program developers are constantly working to create new editing tools that cut down the time spent on common editing workflows. Examples of advanced editing tools include panoramic edits, skin tone adjustments, visual noise reduction, and camera shake reduction. Reflect on the most common tasks you plan to execute as you edit photos, and check to see if the software you’re considering offers an automated tool for that task.

Organization and Management

Some photo editing programs focus primarily on the task of photo editing itself, while others have a dual emphasis on editing and organization. For example, some programs use machine learning to automatically recognize faces in images, and then tag and sort the image by each photo subject’s name. Geomapping, in which photos can be tagged and sorted according to the location of the shoot, is also becoming a more commonly-developed feature for photo editing software.

In a Nutshell

ore purchasing a photo editing program, assess three key elements: usability, editing tools, and management capabilities. What might seem like an unnecessary feature or strange program layout to others could be very well suited to you, so always give the program a trial test run to see how well you work with it.