Online Photo Editing Overview

The launch of Picnik a couple of days ago brought us yet another online photo editing tool. Like Fauxto, Picnik uses Flash, whereas most of the earlier editing tools all use Ajax for in-browser editing.

Since all computers come with basic software that rotates, resizes and crops photos, there needs to be a compelling reason to use an online service. Uploading a photo to such a service, editing it and then downloading it back to your hard drive too high of a cost. To compensate for this, most services allow you to transfer the edited photos directly to Flickr, Webshots or other online photo services, saving users the trouble of making round trips uploading and downloading.

Most of these online services also offer editing tools that go beyond simple rotation, resizing and cropping and start to creep into Photoshop territory. Here’s a few of the better ones, along with our most recent testing notes:


Fauxto is a Flash-based Photoshop look-alike. It is the only layer-based online tool that we know of, and is by far the best of the bunch. But if all you are looking for is photo editing, and you aren’t familiar with Photoshop, Fauxto will frustrate you with its complexity. And if you are already familiar with Photoshop, chances are you have a copy already. Fauxto is lovely to look at and it is a really nice example of Flash in action, but I’m not sure who their target market is.


Picnik is the new kid on the block, and they’re the best so far. It is also Flash based, it is the fastest of the bunch and the user interface is the most intuitive. Once you are done editing, you can transfer your photos directly to Flickr. Picnik has replaced Ajax-based PXN8 as our favorite online photo editing tool.


Picture2life is an Ajax based photo editor. It’s focused on grabbing and editing images that are already online. The tool selection is average, and the user interface is poor. There are some bugs on the site. Photos can be transferred to Flickr, 23 and Imageshack after editing.


Preloadr is a Flickr-specific tool that uses the Flickr API, even for account sign-in. The service includes basic cropping, sharpening, color correction and other tools to enhance images. The fact that Preloadr is designed specifically to work with Flickr may not be an advantage – some of the other services are just as good or better and also offer Flickr integration.


PXN8 is the best of the Ajax based editors (and the best overall until Picnik launched) and has a great user interface with the main features highlighted on large icons. The basic “enhance” feature does a very good job of fixing the obvious problems with pictures. Edited photos can be transferred to Flickr or Webshots’ AllYouCanUpload service.


Snipshot, previously called Pixoh, is another very-good Ajax-based editing tool that stands out because of its above average design and the fact that they have an API into their service. We prefer the features and UI of PXN8, but just barely.

Read FranticIndustries for their take as well.