Best Photo Editing Software of 2021

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a casual photographer who uses your smartphone or a professional photographer who works in a studio; you’ll need software to organize, optimize, and edit your digital photographs.

Camera technology is improving at a phenomenal rate, as follows: Today’s smartphones are more powerful than the point-and-shoot cameras that were available only a few years ago, and professional-level cameras are now capable of shooting at resolutions exceeding 100 megapixels.

The best photo editing app for PC keeps up with the times, adding ever-more-powerful tools. People who shoot with expensive iPhones or with a high-end digital SLR are both concerned with the appearance of their images. To achieve the most outstanding results, you must first import the photos onto your computer, where you may arrange them, select the finest ones, improve them, and then print or share them online. We’ve compiled a list of the top photo editing software options to fit every photographer’s needs.

What Photo Editing Software is Best for You?

Of course, inexperienced shooters require different software than professionals who work in a studio with a Phase One IQ4 camera, which costs $52,000. Nothing says that professionals can’t occasionally use a low-cost entry-level tool or that a prosumer won’t use Photoshop, the most sophisticated image editor available on the market. Different users will feel the most comfortable with distinct software. The software that we will be reviewing today corresponds to different skillsets and needs. Pick one that you feel is best for your most immediate photo editing needs.

What About Free Photo Editing Apps?

So, you’ve moved on from smartphone photography tools such as those provided by smartphone operating systems and possibly Instagram to something more professional. That implies that high-end software will be prohibitively expensive in no way, shape, or form. Photo software is included with the most recent desktop operating systems at no additional charge. Some users may be surprised by the capabilities of the Microsoft Photos program, which is included with Windows 10. It provides a high level of image rectification, auto-tagging, blemish removal, face recognition, and even raw camera file support, all within a touch-friendly interface. In addition, it can automatically construct editable albums depending on the dates and locations of images.

Apple Photos accomplishes the same things. However, its preset albums are less changeable than those created by users. Apple’s iCloud and Microsoft’s OneDrive sync with online storage services, with the former being more popular than the latter. Both applications allow you to search for objects according to their detected types, such as “tree” or “cat” in the program. Apple Photos can also work in conjunction with third-party plugins such as the fantastic Perfectly Clear.

Ubuntu Linux users may use the capable-enough Shotwell tool, which is included with the operating system. In addition, the GNU Image Manipulation Program, also known as GIMP, is another free picture editing program that should not be overlooked while talking about free photo editing software in general. This program, which is accessible for PCs, Macs, and Linux, has many Photoshop-style plugins and editing capabilities. Still, it lacks in terms of creature comforts and usability. Finally, Polarr and Pixlr are two further low-cost, lightweight solutions to consider.

The best photo editing software we have included in today’s line-up is the best of the best – with features for every type of consumer.

Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop was the pioneering tool that launched the digital image alteration revolution more than 30 years ago. It is recognized as a leader and one of the best photo editing software.  Adobe’s ground-breaking software is still the best photo editing software money can buy today (or rent, to be more precise).  Photoshop is required if you require multilayer image editing, typography, 3D modeling, drawing, and a wide range of effects, among other things. In this program, designers and photographers alike can find the most up-to-date—and technologically advanced—tools for their respective trades.

New features included mind-blowing artificial intelligence-powered neural filters, sky replacement, live shapes, more control over cloud-stored files, and pattern preview in the significant update announced at the company’s Max conference. A Super-Resolution natural enlargement tool, support for Apple Silicon-based Macs, and 70 new Camera Raw presets are among the new features included with this release.

A Creative Cloud subscription is required to obtain the most recent version of Photoshop. This means that you must either sign in with an existing Adobe ID or establish a new one to access the site. Photoshop licenses are no longer available for purchase as a one-time payment, which frustrates some customers who are not fans of the software-as-a-service business model.

These individuals may wish to examine choices such as Corel’s surprisingly capable PaintShop Pro, CyberLink PhotoDirector, or even Adobe’s own Photoshop Elements, all of which are available for purchase. For those who don’t want to spend a cent, the free and open-source GIMP program is an option, albeit it can be a counterintuitive and challenging experience if you’re used to the comfort and elegance of Adobe Photoshop’s interface.

Installing the application requires first installing the Creative Cloud assistant tool responsible for updating your files and synchronizing them with the cloud. This is also the location to get Adobe news, stock photos, and the Behance creative social networking community (more about this later).  In the most recent version of Photoshop, you may also explore and easily install plugins from the Creative Cloud utility, which was previously unavailable. Photoshop should only be installed on a computer or a Mac with a reasonable amount of processing power.

Adobe Photoshop 2021 Features

We are using a PC with an Intel Core i7 processor and a 64-bit Windows 10 operating system with 16GB of RAM. Suppose you haven’t jumped on the Creative Cloud bandwagon yet and are still clinging to your outdated licensed version of Photoshop. In that case, you’ll be missing out on some of the most recent features, such as Content-Aware Crop, Face-Aware Liquify, Artboards, Cloud Documents, touch and stylus input support, the Design Space view, synced libraries, a glyph panel, and many more. If you haven’t already, you should. Added benefits for photographers and photo editors include the addition of tools for haze removal, improved navigation, and new raw camera file support.

Adobe Lightroom Classic

Adobe’s Lightroom is, without a doubt, the most popular professional photo workflow program on the market. That leaves only one question: which version of Lightroom should you use? Lightroom is now available as two independent applications: the consumer-oriented Lightroom and the professional-oriented Lightroom Classic, both of which are discussed here.

Professional photographers may import, organize, and fix everything they shot using Lightroom Classic, which is a fantastic tool for them. Our July 2021 update brings a slew of new pro settings, Super Resolution upscaling and live view for Nikon tethering, among other improvements and enhancements. Other recent enhancements include local hue adjustments, a Texture slider, and the Enhance Details tool and interface modifications and performance speedups, among other things.

Even though there are excellent competing products, such as ACDSee Pro, CyberLink’s PhotoDirector, DxO’s PhotoLab, and Phase One’s Capture One, none compare to Lightroom Classic’s combination of smooth workflow interface, organizers, and adjustment tools. Lightroom Classic is a free download from Adobe. There are also HDR capabilities and panorama-stitching tools at your disposal and better performance, facial recognition, a mobile app and cloud connections, and top-notch lighting, color, geometry, and lens profile-based corrections.

Because of the release of the newly redesigned Lightroom, the program that photo professionals have grown to know and love has gained a younger and, to be honest, still somewhat immature younger brother or sister. Lightroom has a more straightforward and cleaner interface, but it lacks certain essential features, such as print and plugin support, making it one of the best photo editing software, too. Professional photographers will want to stick with the focus of this review, Lightroom Classic, which is the actual successor to the Lightroom throne and provides every feature available in the franchise. Since the newer version requires you to upload all photographs to its cloud storage before you can edit them, Lightroom is better suited to consumers and enthusiasts who prefer everything accessible from a single location.

With a Creative Cloud Photography subscription (which costs $9.99 per month), you’ll get not only Lightroom Classic but also Adobe Photoshop (which used to cost up to $999 on its own) and 20 gigabyte of space. You can’t purchase Lightroom as a one-time purchase, and Adobe no longer supports or updates pre-Creative Cloud versions. So if you see a perpetual license for sale (the last perpetual license was for version 6), run the other way because you will be paying for out-of-date software that will not work with recent camera models.

Lightroom can only be installed on Windows 10 (Version 1903 or later) or macOS 10.14 or later; therefore, you must have an up-to-date operating system to do so. It is now compatible with Apple Silicon M1-based Macs, but not with Windows 10 on ARM, but Lightroom (non-Classic) is consistent with this operating system. The Windows version requires operating systems that are 64-bit in nature.

You install and update the application through the Creative Cloud tool, which is located in the Taskbar. You’ll need fast Internet and lotsof time to get started. The program takes up approximately 2GB of hard drive space throughout the installation and update process. You also have the opportunity to download a 7-day trial version of the software with all of its features (Adobe has reduced this from the previous very generous 30-day trial). 

Adobe Lightroom 2021 Features

At the opposite end of Corel AfterShot Pro and Lightroom, Lightroom has separate modes for organizing (Library), altering (Develop), and performing other program activities. You can toggle the mode entries on and off in the upper left of the screen (and even change their font).  Library, Develop, Map, Book, Slideshow, Print, and Web are now the default modes, with Library being the most frequently used. When you sign in to sync your photographs between Lightroom Mobile and, a nameplate is also displayed.  

Lightroom contains a large, always-visible Import button and media auto-detect, which automatically runs the nondestructive importer. This allows you to view thumbnails and full-size photographs stored on memory cards even before they are imported into the computer. According to Adobe, external media is selected by default in the Files part rather than the Devices section because it is faster in the Files section. Lightroom allows you to begin working on any photo in the set before the software has completed all of the import processing. Typically, you’ll want to import pictures as camera raw files because they provide you more control over the final images than other formats. Lightroom can convert raw camera files from virtually every primary DSLR and high-end digital camera on the market.

Lightroom imports images by importing them into a database, which Adobe refers to as a catalog. It makes sense to use a database approach for photographers with extensive collections of high-resolution photos because the database file can be stored independently from the actual image files. This is useful if you wish to keep them on external media or a network-attached storage device (NAS). The following options are available during import: Copy, Copy as DNG (Adobe’s universal raw camera file format), Move, or Add. If you want to speed up, you can have the application create Smart Previews for you. You can also disregard duplicates, add them to a Collection, or apply a preset like Auto Tone.

Lightroom Classic now can import Photoshop Elements collections.

PSB files are a type of compressed data file. It’s encouraging to see Elements receiving some recognition from the rest of the Creative Cloud family, as it’s long been perceived as a distinct entity. PSB files are similar to PSD files (Photoshop Document), except the B in PSB stands for large, as these files can be up to 512 megapixels in resolution and up to 65,000 pixels in width.

Remember to click the Maximum Compatibility box for the Lightroom import to operate when saving in Photoshop. In addition, if you have a multi-monitor setup, you may now select which monitor will be used for preview and which will be used for controls.

Another option for transferring images to your computer is to use a tethering cable. Tethering, which is primarily helpful for professional photographers, allows you to link your camera to your computer through a USB or FireWire cable and operate the shutter release from your computer. ACDSee and CyberLink PhotoDirector, on the other hand, do not support tethering, although Capture One is capable of doing so. Tether transfers for Nikon SLRs were made faster in the February 2019 update to keep up with advancements made for Canon SLRs, and a live view feature was included in the June 2021 release. In addition, you can change the ISO, shutter speed, aperture, and white balance from within the Lightroom Classic software.

Using the double-click feature in Library mode, you can switch between thumbnail and screen-fit views, and a third click zooms you into 100 percent. Unfortunately, zooming is limited to Fit, Fill, and specific ratios such as 1:3, 1:2, and 1:3, and it does not make effective use of the mouse wheel, as many other picture editing programs do. With a touch screen, you can pinch-zoom to any level you choose, which we found helpful when using our Core I7 PC. A touch interface with massive controls is also available, which can be enabled by tapping a finger icon on the screen.

Adobe Photoshop Elements

Photoshop Elements is a nonprofessional version of Adobe Photoshop that provides much of the visual enchantment pioneered by the much older Adobe Photoshop. Adobe’s consumer picture editing software continues to make it easy for even amateur photographers to create eye-catching Photoshop effects. New features in the 2021 edition, such as face tilting and photo animation, take advantage of Adobe’s artificial intelligence technology, known as Sensei, just as they do in its Creative Cloud products. Furthermore, unlike Photoshop, Elements offers many of the same features and capabilities without asking you to subscribe to a monthly or annual fee, as does its big brother.

Photoshop Elements can be purchased separately for $99.99, or it can be purchased in conjunction with its enthusiast-level video-editing partner, Premiere Elements, for a total price of $149.99. A 30-day trial version of the software is also available for download. Remember that the app’s installer is large (2.4GB), and the installed software is much larger (2.5GB), so make sure you have adequate free disk space on your computer (or Mac, if Elements is also available for that platform). Windows 10 version 1903 or later is required, as is Apple macOS versions 10.14 through 11. The software requires an Intel 6th Generation or newer processor, or AMD equivalent with SSE4 support, and operates on Windows 10 version 1903 or later.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 2021 Features

AI-powered Moving Photos (which convert static images into animated GIFs) and face tilting are two new features for the 2021 version. The addition of three more Guided Edits brings the overall number of Guided Edits to 58. You may now produce social media posts with text overlays, ideal landscapes (complete with improved skies), and duotone photographs, among other things.

With the addition of support for Adobe Creative Cloud online storage, you’ll be able to exchange work between Elements and other Creative Cloud applications, such as Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop itself. You can create a backup of the database catalog, which contains a record of all of your updates. Definitely a candidate for the best photo editing software for PCs.

The Organizer’s search box allows you to filter material by individuals, location, keyword tags, media type, date, and folder, among other options. You may also use a combination of search criteria to narrow down the results. In keeping with the artificial intelligence and machine learning trend that we’ve seen in Flickr, Google Photos, and OneDrive, Smart Tags detect what’s in a photo—be it an animal, a face, a landscape, or a flower—without the user having to do anything. This cutting-edge technology relieves you of the need to tag photographs manually. However, you can still do so if you prefer more control over the process.

The Places mode in Organizer displayed the location of my iPhone photos based on the embedded GPS data in the images. Still, the Places area on the Search page informed me that there were no Places tags to search by—you must manually insert location tags for anything to appear here. It’s inconvenient when one aspect of software contains information that is not accessible through another program feature. As an aside, I love how Windows 10 and macOS’s built-in photography apps display a little map in the Info panel while viewing a single photo, rather than having to switch between them.

To search for people based on their faces, you must first enter their names into the People module. The program recognizes all faces and attempts to match them to any you’ve previously identified; however, it is not 100 percent accurate and can be deceived by profile shots or strange angles in some cases. It is simple to add photos to a face tag by simply confirming the images that the computer has suggested. For example, it is possible to search for all photographs that include Jordan and Max, or you may search for all photos that include either Jordan or Max after you have completed this step.

The Auto Curate check box is located underneath the search bar. When I initially tried to verify this, it told me that Auto Curation was in progress, which was understandable because it is analyzing my whole photo library. After a few minutes, I was able to view the selected images, with a slider allowing me to increase or reduce the number of photos displayed. The lower the number of options you choose, the higher the quality of the photographs that display.

So, for example, you can examine what the computer considers to be your 50 best images or your 100 best photos, among other things (10 is the minimum).  Lighting, composition, focus, and even emotional impact are all taken into consideration by the app. The majority of my findings contained humans, but the tool did pull up a slew of excellent images that I’d previously overlooked. You may even use Auto Curate to a search, allowing you to find your most fantastic pictures of mountains or kittens, for example.

When you transition from the Organizer to the whole editing software, Photoshop Elements comes into its own. Many of the high-end image modification features of Photoshop are replicated in the application, although without the same level of difficulty as in Photoshop. In addition, several tools are only available in Adobe software, particularly content-aware devices that allow you to do things like remove regions or objects without affecting the background.

Elements Effects is Instagram squared, with features that the mobile app simply cannot compete with when it comes to controls. The Smart Looks tool selects an effect based on image analysis and offers four different variations on that effect. These were a good fit for the image kinds in my test images. In addition, the FX options in Quick mode include four variants on the standard Vintage, Cross Process, and Toy Camera options, as well as seven new alternatives. I like this tool because it displays your actual image while under the impact of the effect, rather than a sample image, as some apps do.

When you select the crop tool, you will see four suggested crops in the bottom panel, which are based on the faces that were discovered and other parameters. It performs admirably, framing group photographs and offering imaginative compositions for landscapes and other subjects. Even the crop tool, which allows you to set standard aspect ratios and even a target size in pixels, is suited for a wide range of professional applications.

Expert mode provides degrees of control comparable to Photoshop, including filters, layers, actions (the ability to run predefined Actions such as resizing and effects, rather than creating them), histograms, and a plethora of artistic and graphic products among other features. Like Photoshop, you’ll find an array of tool buttons on the left side, and altered files will be saved in Photoshop PSD format. In addition, image optimization (i.e., file size reduction) for online display is available to site designers and developers through the Save for Web option.

Comic, Graphic Novel, and Pen & Ink are just a few of the more notable filters you can use to enhance your photographs’ visual appeal. Unfortunately, these don’t appear in the Filter Gallery and must be selected directly from the Filter menu, indicating that they were overlooked. Nevertheless, they can create some truly spectacular effects.

Ample stuff, such as backdrops, frames, and shapes, is available in Expert Mode to enhance the appearance of an image taken in any mode. In addition, text can be wrapped around an object with the Text tool, preventing it from overlapping crucial elements of a picture. Character-styling possibilities, on the other hand, are significantly less extensive than those available in Photoshop.

DxO PhotoLab

DxO has long been recognized as one of the most innovative photo editing software developers, and it is now a separate legal organization from the DxOMark camera equipment testing lab. Therefore, it is part of our rundown of the best photo editing software.

PhotoLab 4 builds on DxO’s history of automatic lens and camera body-based picture correction, unrivaled noise reduction, and other unique image capabilities, which began with PhotoLab 3. Incorporated into the software is Nik U Point local selection technology, which provides some outstanding local adjustment options.

In addition, PhotoLab’s latest edition includes DeepPrime, which provides even more robust noise reduction, as well as a capable watermarking tool, a more customized workspace, an edit history panel, and batch file renaming capabilities.

DxO Photolab 2021 Features

The software deserves a place in the digital photography toolbox of every severe shooter. However, we wish it provided additional workflow features.

PhotoLab is available in two pricing tiers: Essential ($129) and Elite ($199), with the latter being the most expensive. It is necessary to purchase the Elite edition of DxO PhotoLab to take advantage of some of the most excellent features, such as Prime de-noising and ClearView.

This is what we tried for this review. Some professional features are also included in that version, like handling camera-calibrated ICC profiles, custom palettes, and customizable presets, among others. The superb raw conversion, Smart Lighting, the Spot-Weighted mode, the Micro contrast tool, and local adjustment capabilities are all included in the Essential version of Lightroom.

PhotoLab is compatible with Windows 8.1 and later, as well as Mac OS X 10.14 and earlier. Although the installer is only 455MB in size, this isn’t too large when considering that Lightroom Classic is almost 2GB in size. Speaking of Adobe’s app, you have the option to incorporate the installation of the DxO program as a plugin for Lightroom Classic during the installation process. Plugins are not supported by the newer Lightroom version, which is intended for nonprofessionals.)

An alert appears when you initially start the software, informing you that it’s imperative to download modules for RAW files based on the image files the program detects in your Photos directory. The profiles cover DSLR camera bodies and lens combinations, and smartphone cameras, among other things.

If you’re a DxO veteran, here’s a quick reference guide to what’s new in the current version update:

  • DeepPrime Noise Reduction is included. This innovative technology uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to apply outstanding noise reduction during the raw photo import process. DxO claims that you will gain the equivalent of two ISO stops as a result of this.
  • An interface that can be customized more. Tool panels can now be displayed or hidden based on edits, favorites, or currently ongoing edits. Furthermore, the search function has been improved (you can now search for a tool and summon it right away), as has the experience right out of the box.
  • Batch renaming is a method of renaming multiple files at the same time. This one is a bit of a make-up feature for the last one. There are several options, including the ability to search and replace sections of existing filenames, add text to all, and rename with numbering.
  • History Panel with advanced features. This is yet another feature that has been available in other photo applications (particularly Adobe’s) for years, but it is pretty handy. You may go back to any place in your modifications at any time, and the panel even displays the values of the adjustments.
  • Watermarking is instantaneous. In addition to delivering live previews rather than forcing you to wait until after you export, this new tool also allows you to customize blend modes and reuse watermarks in presets, which is not possible with many other watermarking features in other products.
  • Selective Copy and Paste functionality. Select the parameters that you wish to copy and paste from one photo to another.
  • Color Wheel for High-Saturation Lighting. This allows you to enhance and substitute color ranges and apply consistency within a color range, among other things. Portraits benefit from the first method, while items like a sky that need to be brightened benefit from the second. You may also use the tool to experiment with colors by converting a photo to black and white or creating a color-pop effect, in which only one hue appears on the screen.
  • For both macOS and Windows, there is a keyword management system. Keywords are displayed as tooltips in the picture browser, allowing you to apply them to several photographs at the same time. DxO imports keywords in XMP format without the need for any additional steps.
  • A new version of the Repair Tool has been released. In addition, a new clone mode is available, as is the option to select the source area for the tool.
  • Local Adjustments Masks Manager is a tool for managing local adjustments. Previous local adjustments now appear in their tiny window, which can be closed if desired. Additionally, an opacity slider and an invert mask option have been added to the local modifications panel.

PhotoLab’s dark gray interface is simple and understated in its appearance. The PhotoLibrary and Customize modes are available on the program’s interface. Editing and tuning are carried out in the latter part of the program. However, Adobe’s Lightroom Classic provides further flexibility by including modes for sharing, printing, maps, and books in addition to the basic functionality. Fortunately, DxO offers the option of round-tripping to Lightroom available in PhotoLab.

The top button-bar options in DxO are particularly appealing: one click for full-size viewing, fit-on-screen watching, full-screen viewing, and side-by-side comparison views, all of which are available in one click. The Compare button is handy because it displays what your shot would look like if DxO hadn’t made any changes. When you put a photo into the software, the fixes are applied immediately. Therefore this is vital information. A new feature in version 4 is the ability to pick between three different options on the first run: Standard, Optical Corrections, and No Corrections. Each option is demonstrated with an example image to present the results of each decision. For example, tonality and noise are adjusted along with lens optics in the Standard option. In contrast, the Optical option solves lens issues, leaving the rest up to the user’s discretion.

Customize mode also includes controls for cropping images, forcing parallel lines, and selecting a neutral hue from a palette. A filmstrip view of the photographs you’re presently working with is displayed at the bottom of the application window, complete with subtle symbols indicating if the photo has been processed, whether camera and lens modules have been installed for the image and a star rating.

Adobe Lightroom does not provide you with similar helpful hints, although Lightroom Classic does. Each time you open an image-containing folder, the software recognizes the camera and lens combination used. Users will then be asked to download a module for the combination so that PhotoLab can improve the image based on the equipment was used.

Corel PaintShop Pro

Even though Photoshop is an excellent tool, many of its customers could accomplish what they needed in Corel’s photo editing software, PaintShop Pro, without paying a monthly subscription fee to Adobe. PaintShop Pro supports layers. Additionally,m you will be able to edit both raster and vector image formats, which would otherwise necessitate the use of two Adobe Creative Cloud applications. You will, however, be missing out on some of the most powerful capabilities available in Adobe’s premier picture editor, such as automatic subject selection, 3D modeling, precise typography, camera shaking correction, and face liquefy, among others.

Even though performance has significantly improved over previous versions, it still falls short of the industry standard in some photo editing procedures. In addition, even though PaintShop’s interface has improved dramatically over the years, it is still not as professional and cohesive as Photoshop’s. Nevertheless, painting with PaintShop Pro is a viable alternative for Windows users who are not wedded to the Adobe environment, especially given its affordable price. PaintShop Pro retains its rank as one of the most affordable, best photo editing software around.

For $79.99 (or $59.99 if you’re upgrading from a previous edition), you can get PaintShop Pro 2021 from Corel, which also offers periodic discounts on its products. The Ultimate edition ($99.99, with a $79.99 upgrade) includes additional tools, including AfterShot (Corel’s photo processing app), Corel Painter Essentials, PhotoMirage Express (which converts still photos into animations), and more brushes and backdrops. The new AI HDR Studio and Sea-to-Sky Workspace are only available if you have Ultra installed.

One-time pricing may be a suitable fit for individuals who are still dissatisfied with Adobe’s subscription-only models for products such as Photoshop, Lightroom, and Illustrator, among other things. For example, the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription includes Photoshop and Lightroom for $9.99 per month, but Illustrator starts at $19.99 per month if you prepay for a year. Likewise, there is no monthly charge for Photoshop Elements ($99), Adobe’s consumer-level picture editing software, but it has a hobbyist feel because of the lack of a subscription.

PaintShop is compatible with Windows 7 through Windows 10; a Mac version is not available. Therefore, you must first install a little downloader tool required to complete the installation process. Next, you must decide whether you want 32-bit, 64-bit, or both. After completing this step, the program requested that I provide an email address to create an account, which requires confirmation by responding to an automatically produced email. Corel also offers downloaded effect packs, such as ParticleShop brushes and ColorScript color effects (which cost $14.99 and $4.99, respectively) that can be purchased separately.

Corel PaintShop Pro 2021 Features

Corel spends a significant amount of time and resources upgrading and adding capabilities to their venerable image editing program. There are only a few new tools in the PaintShop Pro 2021 version, and the interface for the photography mode has been completely redesigned. However, these are still quite powerful capabilities. The new model includes a split before-and-after view, which is particularly useful for seeing the results of your adjustments after they have been applied.

In addition, a host of new tools were introduced in recent releases. SmartClone, which allows you to blend multiple image selections, Refine Brush, which will enable you to select complex objects such as hair or tree lines, new brushes, color palettes, gradients, patterns, and picture tubes, text tool enhancements, and an improved Depth of Field tool were all included in the 2020 version. Depth of Field is a feature included within the Crop tool that allows you to set the focus region using a five-by-five grid of squares. New features in the 2019 edition include support for 360-Degree cameras, enhanced crop toolbar, stylus and tablet support, and a more customizable user interface.

CyberLink’s PhotoDirector began as a workflow alternative to Adobe Lightroom, and it has evolved into much more. Since then, it has included functionality from Photoshop and hand-holding assistance capabilities similar to those found in Photoshop Elements. Adjustment layers and masks just a few of the features that CyberLink is continuously developing.

The most recent version (12) maintains the software up to date with Photoshop by introducing AI sky replacement other new effects, among other things. If you purchase PhotoDirector on a subscription basis, you will also receive Shutterstock content; both one-time purchase and subscription options are available. However, despite what some may consider being feature creep, the program’s overall usability and variety of features continue to be remarkable.

While PhotoDirector undoubtedly gives Adobe a run for its money in terms of photo workflow and picture editing, it falls short in some important areas, such as raw camera file profiles and geotagged maps, featured in Lightroom Photoshop, among other programs.

Despite this, it goes beyond Lightroom in drawing tools, face-beautification tools, and blur effects. Unlike Photoshop, it has nondestructive workflow and collection organization features and collection organization. Face tagging and content-aware object removal are examples of advanced functionality. In addition, there is body-slimming technology available, which has an undeniable (though problematic) appeal.

It is accessible for both Windows (7 SP1 and later) and macOS (macOS 10.12 and later) (10.11 and later).  Both versions necessitate the use of a 64-bit processor and a minimum of 4GB of RAM. One level, Ultra, is available for a stated price of $99.99, though this is generally discounted online.

There are no other levels available. In addition, PhotoDirector may be purchased in a bundle with PowerDirector, our Editors’ Choice consumer video editor, for a total price of $169.99. CyberLink Director Suite 365, which costs $29.99 per month ($129.99 per year), comprises all of the company’s media tools and plugins, and content packs. It also includes 100GB of cloud storage space.

If you want just to use the photo application, a $54.99-per-year PhotoDirector 365 membership will buy you that and frequent upgrades and content packs. On the other hand, Photoshop Elements costs the same $99, although Lightroom costs $9.99 each month. ACDSee Pro is also available for a one-time fee of $79.95, while Corel AfterShot Pro is available for a fee of $79.99. Finally, DxO PhotoLab and Capture One Pro, geared toward professionals, are priced at $199 and $299, respectively.

Since it is a 64-bit application, you may take advantage of more than 4GB of RAM. This is essential if you have several high-resolution photographs open and perform extensive image modification. However, it also means that it will not run on a 32-bit system that is older and consumes less power.

As soon as you start up PhotoDirector, you are greeted by a splash screen that offers you the option of running the application in Full mode, Express mode, or Learning mode. When you first launch the actual software, another feature of newer Lightroom versions becomes apparent: cloud syncing for your photographs is enabled. For a one-time fee, you can acquire 25GB of storage space for a year.

Following that, a third and final box emerges, which contains plugins such as LUTs (lookup table filters), frames, clipart, and music for use as slideshow background music. When you acquire the program, you may use all of these benefits by subscribing to the service.

As previously said, CyberLink updates this software regularly, and users benefit from new effects—both sound and visual effects—as well as new program features and editing capabilities with each update. Several new features have been added including photo animation tools and Canon CR3 support, as well as a slew of audio and visual effects and content packs. LUTs, background music, shape manipulation, sky replacement, a glitch effect, and AI person outlining are some of the features available. In addition, subscriptions to Shutterstock should be a major draw for anyone who requires stock photography.

Previous versions included additional capabilities such as Photoshop-like layer choices, Rotate Cloned Objects, AI Deblur, Color Replacement, text effects, clip art, and better LUT compatibility, amongst other things.

Because Mac computers are frequently preferred by those involved in the arts and creative media editing, CyberLink has developed a macOS version of PhotoDirector from the beginning. The macOS version of PhotoDirector has all of the features listed above, except three: interaction with PowerDirector and CyberLink Cloud services, and artificial intelligence facial recognition. There is still a slew of features available, as you’ll see in the following section.

PhotoDirector for Mac requires macOS 10.13 or later at the time of this writing. According to company representatives, Apple Silicon CPUs are supported even though the product page only lists Intel and AMD processors.

The most recent PhotoDirector version does not significantly improve the program’s interface, which was already straightforward and visually appealing. However, PhotoDirector also eliminates the need for Photoshop Elements’ separate Organizer application: Within the primary PhotoDirector application, you can import, organize, edit, and export photographs.

PhotoDirector makes use of modes, which is common among professional- and near-professional-level photo workflow applications. As a result, some global tabs or buttons allow you to transition between multiple functions, typically organizing, editing, and sharing. PhotoDirector features six modes: Library, Adjustment, Guided, Edit, Create, and Print. PhotoDirector, like Lightroom, allows you to customize which of these buttons shows on the toolbar; however, you get this option by right-clicking on the title bar rather than through the Preferences menu.

Mode switching is as straightforward as it is in Lightroom Classic: click the Mode button. Then, click on the button at the top of the page. Within each of PhotoDirector’s modes, a left-side panel provides access to specific choices to that mode. For example, in the Library and Adjustment modes, the panel is subdivided into two tabs, the first of which contains Project and Metadata. The second includes Manual and Presets.

The main viewing area is adaptable, with a few different configurations to choose from. For example, a massive view of the photo is displayed over a filmstrip-style view of the other photos in the folder during the Library mode. Alternatively, the buttons at the top allow you to see only the current photo, a gallery browser of thumbnails or filenames, or a full-screen view of only the recent photo in its entirety. In Library mode, in addition to seeing a single large image, you can compare two or more shots simultaneously.

The Gallery view can be filtered by photographs that have been flagged or color labeled, as well as photos that have been modified. This is a welcome addition as you get to filter the view by camera model and lens, just like you could in Lightroom Classic. When you place your cursor over a thumbnail in the gallery view, you will see the star rating and flagging buttons, which will allow you to rate and pick the thumbnail with ease. In a single large image, the same options display at the bottom, but with color, labeling to distinguish them from one another. Additionally, you have the opportunity to include controls for rotation as well as back and forward arrows.

When you are in Adjustment mode, you can see a split view of an image that shows the image before and after your changes. During testing, the application responded quickly and without delay when flipping through photographs, and the overall program response was excellent. The zoom slider in PhotoDirector is limited, as is the case with Lightroom, to preset sizes such as 25 percent, 33 percent, and 50 percent, among other options, rather than a full-range slider the one in ACDSee Pro. However, switching between zoomed and unzoomed views is as simple as clicking once, which is convenient.

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Published by Maria Kristelle C. Jimenez

Maria Kristelle C. Jimenez is a freelance writer, editor, and page layout and design artist for six years. She established several local and international publications, in physical and digital space. For services, contact her at:

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