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Photo Editing Software

Okay, now you've got a digital camera, so what's next? How can you create slide shows, crop photos, add funny effects, and organize your photo libraries? Education World spotlights the Web's best free tools for editing and organizing photos. Included: Links to downloadable photo editing, organizing, and publishing tools for PC, Mac, and Linux users.

Okay, you've got a digital camera, so what's next? How can you create slide shows, crop photos, add funny effects, and organize your photo libraries -- without breaking the bank? Try some of the free online tools we found!

Ask any techie and you'll probably hear IrfanView mentioned as one of the top two or three pieces of freeware around. For PCs only, IrfanView helps you crop, add effects (sharpen, blur, color depth), create a slide show, and convert images from one format to another (.jpg to .pict). And, you can do many of these things in batches (multiple photos at once), saving time! Lastly, this is a small program, saving valuable space on your hard drive.

iPhoto Diet
True confession here -- with a toddler in the house, this author's iPhoto library has grown to 3000 photos and videos! Because photos and videos take up so much space, this photographic binging has slowed down the computer. It's time to go on a photo diet. iPhoto Diet to the rescue! A free download for Mac users, iPhoto Diet looks for duplicate photos and eliminates them, removes iPhoto's backups of modified or rotated photos, deletes thumbnail icons, finds photos that are floating outside of albums, deletes needless folders and files from iPhoto, and more. (Note: A warning on iPhoto Diet's Web site says you should back up your photos -- on a zip drive or external hard drive probably -- before using the program.) iPhoto Diet is available in eight languages.

Want the power and features of PhotoShop without the expense? Try Gimp, an open source alternative. GIMP stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program. This freeware program is truly cross-platform (PC, OS X, Unix, and, gulp, Source itself!), and it offers many of the high-powered image-viewing and image-editing features as PhotoShop. Edit in layers, paint, transform, use effects filters, and perform channel and color operations like the pros. Best used by high school students in design courses or by teachers with intermediate (or higher) tech skills.

Love your PC, but wish you had iPhoto like some of your fellow teachers? Check out Google's free downloadable photo viewer and editor called Picasa (PC only)! As soon as you open Picasa, it searches for all the photos on your computer, finding even those great photos you long forgot you had. Picasa then organizes photos into date-specific albums, like iPhoto. The program is invaluable for the elementary classroom teacher with lots of candid shots from every field trip, performance, and other special event in the last five years. The program also offers simple editing tools -- get rid of red eye, change color settings, get artsy with sepia tones, write captions, zoom in, and, for you photo hounds, manipulate photos shot in manual mode. Great for any teacher at any skill level -- and easy for students in grades 4 and up to use as well.

For PCs only, Pixia is free program best used in middle- or high-school art or design classes. Also included are advanced tools for painting and retouching images, working layers, lighting adjustments, and multiple, undo/redo. Originally developed in Japan, Pixia is available in several languages. Note that the Web site can be challenging to navigate, but tutorials by fans (linked on the site) provide screen shots and step-by-step help with some of the basic tasks.


  • PhotoPlus 6.0: photo and image editing freeware (PC).
  • VCW VicMan's Photo Editor: photo editing freeware (PC).
  • fxFoto. Another program similar to Apple's iPhoto that helps PC users organize images as well do simple editing tasks.
  • FunPhotor. FunPhotor (PC only) is a photo "blending" program, allowing you to place your students at the steps of the Taj Mahal or orbiting earth in a shuttle.
  • Jalbum. This cross-platform program that allows users to create photo albums for their Web pages is available in 28 languages.
Learn about more great sites for students, parents, and educators by visiting Education World's Site Reviews Archives.

Article by Lorrie Jackson
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