Top 9 Free Photo Editing Software like Lightroom in 2021

What is the best free photo editing software like Lightroom?

Adobe Lightroom is the industry standard to convert your raw file and organizing them smartly.

As a bonus, you can edit raw files to make your photo stand out with easy to use tools.

But what about your budget if you don’t have enough buck to pay Adobe every month?

Is there any alternative to Lightroom apps that let you edit raw files as well as organizing them?

Fortunately, Yes.

In this guide, I am going to introduce you to those apps that have better editing and photo organizing capabilities.

And of course, all of them are free to use. 

So, let’s dive into this guide.

Lightroom Overview

Lightroom is the best photography app for photographers for its advanced raw converting system.

With it, you can see your raw files from your camera and let you organize them.

The best benefit of Lightroom is you can preview your raw files which is almost impossible on your desktop.

Not only it lets you organize and convert raw files but also helps you to edit and develop raw photos.

Adobe Lightroom has packed with a lot of adjustment tools like exposure, highlight, and contrast.

Using those tools, you can easily make your photos pop up.

If you prefer curves than those tools, then Lightroom has also packed with curves.

Something I love most about Lightroom is it has slider-based tools. That means you can easily use LR and change the image just moving the slider from right to left.

Preset is another useful feature I love.

With presets, you can easily change the look of a photo with a single click. It saves a lot of time and quicken your image editing workflows.

HDR photo editing, Panorama, Lens distortion, and a lot of things you can do with Lightroom.

The only downside of Lightroom is it’s a subscription-based photo editing software for pc and mac.

Besides that, Lightroom is an excellent photo editing software for photographers.

Related Article: How to Get Lightroom for Free?

9 Best Free Photo Editing Software like Lightroom in 2021

  • Darktable
  • Raw Therapee
  • Lightzone
  • IrfanView
  • Chasys Draw IES
  • Apple Photos
  • Microsoft Windows 10 Photos
  • PhotoScape X
  • Pixlr X

01. Darktable Vs. Lightroom

Darktable- best free photo editing software like lightroom

Darktable is an open-source image editing software that can be used as a Lightroom alternative.

If you use Lightroom ever, then you can’t find any difference with its interface with Darktable.

The interface of Darktable divides into three main modules. They are:

  • Lighttable
  • Darkroom
  • Other

LightTable has packed with primary editing tools and lets you organize photos.

From this module, you can open a photo in Lightroom.

Besides, you can preview your raw files here in this module.

Therefore, you can sort and organize photos like Lightroom using geotags, stars, folder, date, and so on.

On the other hand, the Darkroom module lets you develop raw files.

In this module, you can find all the raw file developing tools like curves, exposure, and much more.

Like Lightroom, the tools of Darktable are also slider-based. It means you can adjust your photos by just moving the slider.

On top of that, Darktable offers non-destructive editing workflows. As a result, you can keep your original file intact.

Nonetheless, Darktable is a free photo editing software.

If you want to try this software as your next Lightroom, then download it from here.

02. Raw Therapee Vs. Lightroom

Raw Therapee- best raw file converter

Raw Therapee is another open-source photo editing software on this list.

This free image editing software is solely designed to develop and process raw files.

Like Lightroom, it is also a non-destructive photo editor that allows you to keep the original image untouched.

The only lack of Raw Therapee compared to Lightroom is you can’t organize your photos by folders.

All you need to do is- organize the photos manually which is a time-taking process.

However, Raw Therapee is an excellent software for developing raw files.

For enhancing the raw files, it has packed with advanced editing and color details tool.

Though the interface of Raw Therapee is similar to Lightroom, it has a steep learning curve.

Once you learn it, you can get benefit from this software.

The downside of Raw Therapee is it doesn’t have any sorting and organizing system.

It means you can’t organize photos using Raw Therapee for efficient editing.

03. LightZone

LightZone is also a cross photo editing software that is compatible with Linux, Windows, and Mac.

As it is an open-source image editor, you don’t need to spend a single buck to use it.

For quick and efficient editing, it has a separate module called Edit.

You can find Styles, History, and a lot of editing tools on the right.

The styles of this software works similar to Lightroom preset.

Using them, you can create different photo effects to make your image stunning.

Most importantly, LightZone also offers non-destructive editing workflow. It means it doesn’t affect your original photos and keep the file untouched.

However, I recommend you use this software for developing your raw files.

But when it comes to organizing photos, then it’s worth looking for an alternative.

04. IrfanView

IrfanView- free photo editing software

IrfanView is another free photo editing app for viewing, organizing, and sorting raw files or others.

Using this free image editor, you can organize photos by using tags, icons, folders, and names.

Though it is an image viewer and photo organization app, it comes with editing tools to edit images.

With IrfanView, you can convert raw files, create slideshows, and perform batch editing workflows.

Keep in mind; I recommend you Irfanview for organizing and sorting images.

If you are looking for hardcore or advanced raw photo editor, then it is not the app you seek.

In this case, you can use Darktable or Raw Therappe.

Another downside of Irfanview is its interface seems a bit old.

Overall, it is an excellent software for image viewing and organizing photos.

05. Chasys Draw IES

Chasys Draw IES

Chasys Draw IES is a versatile photo editing software for Windows.

The free image editor has packed with every tool you need to give a stunning look to your photo.

This free photo editor app comes with three different photo editor suits:

  • Chasys Draw IES Artist
  • Chasys Draw IES Converter
  • Chasys Draw IES Viewer

Chasys Draw IES Artist has packed with advanced editing tools like layers, adjustment layers, and so on.

With it, you can do the trickiest photo editing workflow like cut out image background from complex photo.

Chasys Draw IES Converter helps you to convert raw files in a lightening way.

On the other hand, Chasys Draw IES Viewer helps you to organize and develop raw files.

For photographers, Chasys Draw IES Artist may be a good selection.

The downside of this app is it has a steep learning curve.

So, if you are looking for an easy to use app for organizing and doing basic editing tasks, then it’s better to try a new one. 

06. Apple Photos

Apple Photos

Apple Photos is a built-in app for organizing, sorting, and editing photos for Mac users.

Right off the bat, Photos helps you to organize and view raw files as well as other formats in a smart way.

You can sort images using date, name, rating, ISO, and a lot.

The built-in software of Apple is faster and performs better than any other free photo organizing software on this list.

Even it works better than LIghtroom.

Apple Photos doesn’t only let you organize photo but also come with editing capabilities.

With it, you can make adjustments like correcting brightness, adjust clarity, and so on.

Moreover, you can crop & resize photos with the built-in software of Apple.

However, Apple Photos is not recommended for those who are looking for software that has advanced editing capabilities.

But for photo organization and basic editing workflows, Apple Photos is what you look for.

07. Microsoft Windows 10 Photos

Microsoft Photos- free photo organizing software

Like Apple Photos, Microsoft Windows 10 Photos is also a built-in app for viewing and sorting images.

The performance and workflow of this Microsoft built-in app is similar to Apple Photos.

With it, you can view images and organize photos.

Also, you can do basic editing tasks like cropping and resizing with Microsoft Photos. Even it lets you remove unwanted objects from an image.

Therefore, Microsoft Photos lets you adjust brightness, exposure, and clarity of a photo.

Indeed, you can’t find any difference between Apple Photos and Microsoft Photos.

However, the downside of Microsoft Photos is it takes time to view large files. Even I trouble to open jpg and png formats.

At the same time, you can’t perform advanced editing workflows like retouching and color correction with it.

08. Photoscape X

PhotoScape X- free photo editor

Photoscape X is a free raw converter app that you can use to convert your raw files to jpg.

Using Photoscape X, you can also view images both individually and slideshows.

Comparing with Lightroom, you can find every editing tool to make your photos enticing.

The free photo editor lets you crop & resize photos, adjust brightness, contrast, and much more.

In this app, you can also find over 20+ adjustments, effects, and frames to bring back life to your images. Therefore, other editing tools like filters and collage templates are also available on this software.

Something Lightroom has but Photoscape X lack is the non-destructive editing workflows. It means you can’t keep your original files intact.

Therefore, Photoscape X doesn’t come with any organizing system. You can’t organize photos and sort them by folder and name.

Photo organizing and viewing raw file are something you are looking for, then Photoscape X might not for you.

But for developing the raw files, you can definitely consider this free image editor.

09. Pixlr X


Pixlr X is an online-based photo editing software that you can use as a Lightroom alternative.

The interface of this online photo editor is intuitive and easy to understand. It divides its interface into three different modules:

  • Edit
  • Graphic Designer
  • Collage Maker

Pixlr Edit module is the backbone of this software. You can find all the editing tools in this module.

Basic editing tools like cropping & resizing, cut out, adjustment tools are available on Pixlr.

Beauty retouching tools like blemish remover, wrinkle remove, and eye enhancer let you make our portrait enticing removing the imperfections.

Therefore, a lot of filters and effects are available in Pixlr X to make quick adjustments.

On top of that, Pixlr X has packed with free collage templates to create amazing collages. Even you can make graphic elements like business cards with Pixlr X.

The flaw of Pixlr X is you can’t organize photos and develop the raw files completely.

But for doing basic adjustment and beautify retouching workflows, Pixlr X can be your next go-to software.


All the free photo editing software I have included are free and you can use them as Lightroom alternative.

Among them, Darktable and Raw Therappe are on my priority list.

Both of the two apps offer non-destructive editing workflows, developing raw files, and organize them smartly.

Keep in mind; offering the same features don’t mean they are equivalent to Lightroom.

Adobe Lightroom is the industry standard and offer the best experience ever.

So, finding the best software similar to Lightroom is impossible.

But you can do your job with the free photo editing software I listed.

Another thing- the app you already use is the best for you as you are introduced to it.

So, you can get the most out of the app easily.

For recommendation, I suggest you use Darktable or Raw Therapee as the Lightroom alternative.

Leave a Comment