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Free Image and Photo Editing Software for Windows

The following article is from Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter and is copyright 2006 by Richard W. Eastman. It is re-published here with the permission of the author. Information about the newsletter is available at

OK, so you have scanned lots of old family photographs and now want to digitally restore them? You want to fix the creases and extraneous marks on the photographs to make them look better? What software will you use?

Photoshop has the best reputation and is the choice of photo professionals everywhere. However, its "street price" of about $600 will discourage most amateur photo restorers. A stripped-down version of the program, called Photoshop Elements sells for about $90, a lot more reasonable price but still expensive for most of us. The GIMP (Graphics IMage Processor) is a powerful open source program that is available free of charge. However, its user interface is awkward to use. So what should you do? I'd suggest that you take a look at the FREE PhotoPlus 6 being given away by Serif Software.

PhotoPlus 6 is an excellent program for photo restoration and other purposes on a Windows computer. To be sure, PhotoPlus 6 is not quite as powerful as the $90 Photoshop Elements. Then again, with a price tag of zero, many of us will accept a program that only has 90% of the capabilities of the more expensive program. I decided to try it out to see if it could entice me to abandon The GIMP, the photo editing program I normally use.

PhotoPlus 6 is available as a 19.4 megabyte download. That will not be a problem for broadband users but anyone on a 56K dial-up connection will find that the download will take several hours. Even so, I'd suggest that this program is worth the wait.

I downloaded the program and installed it. The first time I ran PhotoPlus 6, it connected to the Internet and then asked me to supply information for registering the program. I typed in my name and e-mail address. A few seconds later a series of letters and numbers was delivered to my e-mail address. This is the "unlock code" for the program. Once unlocked, the program asked for a bit more information, then launched the full version of PhotoPlus 6. The program's producers assure users that the registration will be free forever. The company does sell more powerful versions of the same program, however.

PhotoPlus 6 includes capabilities to create, manipulate, and enhance photographs, bitmap graphics, and web animations. All the tools you need include handy hints to enable you to achieve the results you seek. The program also includes various tutorials for image and photo editing and special effects in the downloadable companion document. The tutorial includes hands-on examples, essential theory and useful tips. The program also includes FAQs: frequently asked questions and you may find the solution.

I found the program to be very easy to use, much easier than the free photo editing program that I have been using.

All in all, PhotoPlus 6 is an excellent program for a free offering. It is easy to use and includes all the basics. To be sure, it is not as powerful as the $90 or more programs. Then again, it doesn't cost $90 or more. I can strongly recommend PhotoPlus 6 for anyone who needs to occasionally edit photographs or bitmap images. Serious photography and scanning buffs will probably want a more powerful (and more expensive) program. For me, PhotoPlus 6 meets more than all of my needs.

You can download the free PhotoPlus 6 at While at the site, you might want to look at the other free programs the company offers. I haven't looked at the others yet but, if they are as good as PhotoPlus 6, they could be very useful.

My thanks to Betty Clay for telling me about this great free program.


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Yes, to learn to use the GIMP interface does take a lot of time but I have found it well worthwhile and it has much of the Photoshop funtionality. In recent versions the interface has improved.

I cannot comment on Photoshop Elements or Photoshop Plus 6 but would not wish to see people put off trying the GIMP because it takes effort to learn.

I have used Serif's free desktop publishing program and it is excellent. In fact, I ordered and paid for a newer version of the program later. I will definitely try Photoplus 6.

I find it "interesting" that Eastman started his "article" with the most expensive utility on the market ... and then mentioned its "stipped down" version as an alternative, and used that as the basis for comparing other "free" programs, yet nowhere does he make reference to the Paint Shop Pro program. This program does everything the Photoshop does, but sells for the same price as Photoshop Elements, and also has an animation edit utility. Seems like the choice boils down to this ... a "stripped down" version of a program most cannot afford, a "free" program that is also limited in what it does, or a realistically priced full feature utility.

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