Edit your photos for free

Edit your photos for free

Want a quick, free way to edit and improve your photos? Try an online photo editor such as Pixlr Express. 

Most cameras do a good job of capturing a scene as you view it, but chances are that you’ll want to enhance the photo to make it even better. Poor lighting, red-eye, bad contrast and other issues can mar a photo taken by even the most seasoned photographer. A photo-editor can help you fix problems but there’s no need to buy expensive software. Free online photo editors such as Pixlr Express lets you fix them for free. With Pixlr Express you can quickly crop, re-size and solve problems such as red-eye and discoloured teeth.

Pixlr Express interface
With Pixlr Express open in your web browser, you can open a photo from either your computer or from the web. The interface shows six main tabs – Adjustment, Effect, Overlay, Borders, Stickers and Type – and each one offers further options. To fix common photo problem, you’ll need the Adjustment tab. And if you prefer to let Pixlr do the hard work for you, you can simply click the Auto fix button.

Pixlr-interface

One drawback of working online is that your photo must be downloaded to your PC in order to be fully saved. So, after making changes, remember to click Save. If you click Close without first saving, you’ll lose all the changes you’ve made to your photo.

Pixlr Express is also available as a free app for iOS and Android devices.

Step 1  Launch Pixlr Express
Launch your web browser and type www.pixlr.com into the address bar. When the page loads, click Pixlr Express.

Pixlr

 

Step 2  Click Browse to upload a photo from your computer. Find the photo that you want to use, and click Open. The photo will be appear in the browser ready for editing, and you’ll see six tabs, plus a Save and Close option. Always click Save before closing the web browser, otherwise you’ll lose any edits that you have made.

Pixlr-Express

Step 3  Resize and crop a photo
If your digital cameras has taken your photo at a high resolution, it’s likely that it will be too big to email or share online. You can resize it quickly in Pixlr Express by clicking Adjustment and then Resize. To keep the photo’s proportions the same, ensure Keep Proportions is selected – it should show a blue bar. Enter the new height or width that you want the photo to be. The other dimension will adjust automatically. Click Apply to complete the resize.

Resize

You can also crop a photo so the focus is where you want it to be. Open the photo and click Adjustment and then Crop. A grid will appear over your photo with blue squares at each corner. Click and drag the squares to adjust the grid so that it contains just the part of the photo you wish to keep. Click Apply to complete the crop.

crop

Step 4  Straighten a photo
The spontaneous nature of digital photography often means we don’t take the time to line up shots carefully and the result can be wonky photos. With Pixlr Express, it’s easy to straighten a photo. Open the photo and click Adjustment, then Rotate. Move the white bar on the Straighten slider to the left or right to rotate the photo in either direction. A grid will appear over the photo, which helps ensure the subject is straight. When you’re finished, click Apply.

straighten

Step 5  Improve brightness and contrast
Rescue an overly dark or washed out photo using Pixlr Express’ brightness and contrast controls. Open the photo you want to edit, click Adjustment and then Contrast. Move the Brightness slider to the right to lighten the photo or to the left to darken. To adjust the photo’s contrast, move the Contrast slider to the right for more contrast or the left for less. When you’re happy with the results, click Apply.

Brightness

Step 6  Sharpen and red-eye removal
Sometimes digital photos can look a little blurry. Sharpening boosts detail in the photo by increasing the contrast of pixels next to each other. Open the photo you want to adjust and click Adjustment, then Sharpen. Drag the Amount slider to the right to increase the contrast between pixels. The Radius slider controls how many pixels are sharpened. A lower value sharpens only the edge pixels (where two colours meet) while a higher value sharpens a wider band of pixels. When you’re happy with the results, click Apply.

sharpen

Step 7  Remove red-eye
Don’t let demonic-looking red eyes ruin a portrait or group shot. Open the photo that you want to edit and click Adjustment, then Red Eye. Simply click in the centre of each eye to remove the redness. Then click Apply.

Step 8  Whiten teeth
Portrait shots can sometimes be ruined by the subject’s yellowing or grey-tinged teeth, but with a little brushwork in Pixlr, you can transform these into pearly whites worthy of any Hollywood A lister. Open the photo and zoom into the mouth area so that you can work in detail. Click Adjustment and then Brighten. As you’ll be painting each tooth, adjust the the brush size to suit by moving the Brush slider. Move the Whitening slider to around 70 – don’t worry if it looks too white at this point, you’ll adjust it later.

Now move the brush cursor over a tooth and click and drag to paint white over each tooth. When you’re finish, move the whitening slide to the left to create a more realistic whitening effect. Then click Apply.

teeth-whiten

Step 9  Remove spots
When you’re taking a portrait shot you may not notice the slight imperfections of the person’s face but these can be all too obvious when viewing the photo later. Pixlr Express’s Heal tool is a fast way to remove unwanted blemishes and wrinkles. Open your photo and click Adjustment, then Heal. Select a brush size by moving the Brush slider. It’s best to choose one that’s slightly bigger than the blemish you want to remove. Move the brush over the area and click. Pixlr blends the pixels in your selection with surrounding pixels to create a seamless effect. One click is usually enough but you can continue to click the brush on the area to blend the pixels further. When you’re finished, click Apply.

spot

Step 10  Add a focal blur
A fun way to enhance a photo is to add a focal blur. This depth-of-field effect keeps part of the photo in sharp focus and blurs the rest, thus drawing attention to the area in focus. To try this effect, open your photo in Pixlr Express and click Adjustment, then Focal. Click the dot in the middle of the circles (or lines if using a linear blur) and drag them to cover the area you want in focus. Adjust the size of the inner and outer circles by clicking on the circle on their edge and dragging inwards or outwards.

focal-blur

You can increase the colour saturation at the focal point, by dragging the Color boost bar to the right. To widen the highlights outside the two circles, drag the Glow boost bar to the right. When you’re happy with the results, click Apply.

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