Five Best Online Image Editors

Editing your images on a desktop image editor might be ideal, but sometimes you're away from our home workstation and need to do some impromptu editing. Check out these five options favoured by Lifehacker readers.

Photo by karlfrankowski.

All of the editors are free so don't hesitate to jump into and editor that catches you eye and give it a test drive.

Sumo Paint

If you're expecting online image editors to be anaemic, you'll be surprised by the extensive of features of many of the nominees like Sumo Paint. Sporting a toolbar, image navigator, swatches and layers, Sumo Paint does more than just crop and rotate images. In addition to just having layers, as some other editors do, Sumo Paint has support for blending modes and other advanced layering magic like drop shadow and outer glow. The brushes and ink tools offer a wide variety of shapes and textures, if you like some of the paint-centric features of Sumo Paint you'll definitely want to check out the Gravity tool which helps make some pretty interesting abstract paint effects. Sumo Paint also supports drag and drop image opening of images you have stored in your Sumo Paint account. Sumo Paint doesn't require a login for use, but if you sign up for a free account you can store images online and participate in the Sumo Paint community by submitting your work and ranking the work of others.Photo by Randy Son of Robert.

Adobe Photoshop Express

Photoshop Express is Adobe's offering in the online editing arena. One of the first things you'll notice, and if you're an avid Photoshop user it's sure to elicit at least a chuckle, is that out of all the online image editors in the world the one that looks the least like Photoshop is the actual legitimate Photoshop offering from Adobe. None the less the interface is easy to use and covers the basics nicely. One of the best features of Photoshop Express is the film strip view provided along the bottom of the editor when using a variety of the adjustment tools. Instead of just giving you a slider to adjust the saturation, white balance, and other subjective photo tweaks, Photoshop Express displays the changes incrementally letting you pick your favourite from the gradient of choices. It's much faster for quick tweaks than fiddling with sliders. if you want to use a slider however they haven't removed the feature entirely, as the more granular slider is underneath the pictures allowing you to fine tune. Under the advanced feature set you'll find tools like tinting, sketching and distortion tools. Adobe Photoshop Express is free but, unlike all the other nominees in the Hive Five, requires an account for you to use your own photos. If you just want to play around with it however, there is a demo account with sets of pictures for you to experiment with. Photo by pasotraspaso.


Pixlr takes a two-prong approach to image editing. When you visit Pixlr you can opt to use Pixlr Express or Pixlr Editor—seen here—depending on your needs. Pixlr Express is a simple image editor with a right-hand toolbar which covers basic tasks like cropping, rotating, applying basic correction filters, and so on. Pixlr Editor looks like a more traditional photo editing application complete with a toolbar, menu bar, and even navigator, layers and history panels. If you're familiar with desktop applications like Photoshop and GIMP it won't take you very long to find the location of tools like the clone stamp, selection wand and gradient map. There is a Pixlr Firefox extension which allows you to grab images and screenshots from your browser and send them to Pixlr.


Picnik doesn't seek to emulate desktop editors with its simple toolbar design, instead opting to make the most popular tools as high profile and easy to access as possible. There is no Photoshop-esque sidebars, palettes or other advanced features in the main editing window. The features that are provided however are extremely intuitive and easy to use with tool tips that pop up to help you use the various tools. If you want to tweak your photo beyond basic cropping and colour correction under the Create tab there are over 30 image filters and a variety of tools like a blemish touch up wand. There is a premium version of Picnik, available for $US25 a year, which gives you access to more advanced tools, special effects, and other perks like bulk uploading. Photo by jurvetson.

Aviary Phoenix

Aviary Phoenix is an image editor that is part of the Aviary Suite of online editing tools, which on top of image editing boasts a vector and filter editor among other tools. Aviary Phoenix has an advanced interface and plenty of options to help you edit your images like layers, blending, and magic wand selection. You can use Aviary without signing up for an account but with an account you can save your creations, collaborate with other users, and otherwise participate in the Aviary community. There is a Firefox extension available for Aviary Phoenix called Talon which adds in an assortment of functionality like screen capture, quick editing of images you find online, and unique among the Hive Five candidates this week, it adds support for pressure-sensitive input devices. There is a premium version of Aviary Phoenix available for $US25 a year which unlocks advanced features and the ability to save your work to your Aviary account without adding it to the public area of the Aviary community. Photo by tinyfroglet.

See your favourite in the Hive? Can't believe your favourite didn't make it? Still chuckling that one of the least Photoshop-like offering is from Adobe? Let's hear about it in the comments below.


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