In a world where it seems like nothing worth having is ever free, it is refreshing to find truly useful freeware available without strings attached. PhotoScape is one such application. It provides robust image editing and enhancement features that rival those in expensive industry leading applications such as Photoshop, in an easy-to-use package ideal for small business owners on a budget.
Many previous Tip posts have covered images and image editing tools. That’s because, compelling professional looking images are truly critical to successful small business sales and marketing. So, if you missed them check out DIY Photography for Small Business and Tips for Finding Free Public Domain Photos and Graphics for help with taking original pictures and finding free images to work with, then head over to the trusted CNet site to download PhotoScape.
One great thing about PhotoScape is that you can install it on your computer and use it any time, whether or not you are online. It includes everything you expect in a photo editing program such as cropping, image correction (color, brightness/contrast, sharpness, redeye removal, etc.), as well as several other nifty features such as “Mole removal” to fix skin imperfections on the people in your photos, a batch editor that enables you to make the same change to a group of images at once (for example adding the same border to each), and an animated .gif feature for creating a quick slideshow.
You have Korean software development company Mooii to thank for PhotoScape. The company specializes in image processing technologies and mobile services, but created PhotoScape in 2005 and has continued to develop and improve it. The current version was released in September, 2014.
Overall PhotoScape is very simple to use, and you’ll be able to figure out how to use it with a little bit of trial and error. Here’s a high-level summary of all features, each linked to tutorials (many with videos) on how to use them:
- Viewer – Choose any folder on your computer to view thumbnails of images in it. Double-click any image to open it, and right click to open a menu that enables rotating, resizing, and basic image correction. Or choose to open the image in the Editor, where you can make extensive changes.
- Editor – The Editor tool provides the robust features. In addition to image correction you can crop, apply effects (sepia, greyscale, crystalize, etc.), add text and icons, add frames and talk bubbles, and use tools like paintbrushes, a close stamp, and an effects brush to add an effect to only a portion of an image. Help sections include Filtering, Objects, Cropping, and working with tools including mole removal, the paint brush, the clone stamp, and the effects brush.
- Batch Editor – The Batch Editor enables making changes to a group of images at once. Simply create the change, for example sizing all the same and adding a border, then select the images, choose an output folder, and new versions of the files with the changes applied will be automatically created. This can be a huge time saver!
- Page – The Page tool allows you to use one of a number of pre-set formats and drag multiple photos into the layout to create a single image.
- Combine – The Combine tool is great for stitching images together to create panoramas, or for taking multiple individual shots and melding them into a single image.
- Animated Gif – The Animated Gif tool converts your images to the smaller .gif format, and enables you to control timing and direction for multi-image slideshows.
- Print – The Print tool enables you to place multiple images on a single page for printing, or to control how a single image will be printed.
- Splitter – Open an image in the Splitter, then select the number of parts into which you would like to divide it (for example, a 12 x 12 grid). The software then creates individual new images for each quadrant.
- Screen Capture – If you use the Windows Snipping tool, you’ll love the PhotoScape screen capture tool. Open the tool, and you can tell it to capture the entire screen, the active window, or the specific area you draw. The screen capture is loaded into the editor, where you can use all the tools at your disposal to edit and annotate it.
- Color Picker – Use this tool to capture any color on your screen and copy it to the clipboard for use in photo editing.
- Raw Converter – Convert folders of multiple RAW images to jpg using a single configuration screen.
- Rename – Rename a batch of files. For example, you can append your company name or the current date to a large group of files.
- Paper Print – Print lined paper, graph paper, music sheet, calendars, and more. The designs in this section are not editable but include basic customization. If you happen to need blanks for a calendar page or music sheet, they might come in handy.
There are some advanced features missing from PhotoScape, most notably the ability to work with layers. If you need more sophisticated options, check out Tip post Free Photo and Graphics Software from last year to learn about GIMP, Photoshop Express, and other fuller-feature options (albeit ones with more usage limitations on the free versions.)
But, before investigating other options give PhotoScape a try. It is available for Windows and for Mac from the trusted CNet download site, and is currently the #1 Photo Editing software program earning 3.5 Editor stars and 4 User stars. (But be warned, to avoid inadvertently installing adware and other programs you don’t need, download only from the “Download Now” link, do not click any download buttons, use the custom install feature to get only what you want, and uncheck all boxes for installing other software at the same time as PhotoScape.)
One final note: I typically test and then uninstall most software reviewed and recommended in Tip of the Week posts. I’ve decided to keep PhotoScape, even though I have a full version of Photoshop that I love and use regularly. While Photoshop, if you can afford it, is certainly tops for most image needs, PhotoScape simplifies some common tasks like printing multiple photos on a single sheet, and simple batch processing. That makes it worth keeping around, and of course you can’t beat the price.