Hello and welcome to a new series I'm starting called Free Software Review! In this blog I'll be covering a piece of free software I use all of the time to the point where it's replaced Adobe Photoshop and Affinity Photo almost completely. The software is a web-based image editor called Pixlr and it's completely free to use (paid upgrade for additional features) and includes multiple versions on their website. They also have mobile versions if you want to edit on the go (which also require paid upgrades to unlock all of the features).

Pixlr.com screenshot

I've been using the paid version of their Pixlr E on their website for years now for a lot of various tasks like touching up photos, resizing, changing file types, creating YouTube thumbnails, creating Discord emotes, creating website assets, and more. I'm not photo editing pro by any means, I'm actually really bad at it for the most part because I'm colorblind so the images rarely turn out the way I think they do, but this solution is super simple and provides me more tools than I've ever really needed. The only time I ever hop over to Affinity Photo is when I need one of the paid features that isn't available to me, so I use Affinity Photo for that specific piece and usually move it back to Pixlr when I'm done with that part.

Pixlr supports a lot of image file types including PNG, JPEG, PSD, BMP, WebP, SVG, GIF, PXZ and more that I've never tried. Once you're done editing or creating your image, you can save it as one of the following formats: JPEG, PNG, WebP, PXZ (Pixlr's format which stores all layers and data), and even PDF if you need to save it as a document. You can save the files locally to your PC and you can open the files either from your PC or using a URL. It also saves all of your projects in the app for you to go back and access later if you want. Checking on my PC I can go back 606 days to the first image I edited on this PC.

There's no shortage of tools, effects, filters, and it even support animations apparently (I've never tried this and only recently saw this option while I was typing this blog post). NOTE: If you create an animation you can save it as MP4, GIF, ZIP, or PXZ. If you use the paid version it even includes some AI features like background removal, adjust focus/bokeh, and even a tool called disperse which causes that part of the image to "explode" within the photo which is super neat! Pixlr also comes preconfigured with a ton of fonts, but a lot of the unique ones are locked to the paid version. It is possible to use your own fonts also if you choose. I won't go on to talk about every tool or feature, but it has all of the ones you'd expect from an image editor and even ones you probably wouldn't expect from a browser-based app.

Now that I've told you about all of the good stuff, we should cover some of the issues with the service. Since it's in a browser you're stuck to the limitations within the browser which is mostly performance issues. When you're doing a lot of editing it can really eat up your RAM and cause the page to lag, I typically don't notice a lot on my gaming PC with 32GB of RAM but on my laptops or in a VM I really notice the limitations when I have a lot of tasks in the history (I forget the limit). Under normal usage you shouldn't see a big impact, but you'll reach it faster than you would with a locally installed app like Photoshop or Affinity Photo. Sometimes when you go to save the image the behavior is very random. Sometimes it saves to your drive, other times it appears as a download for the browser so you might need to save it manually. Another issue with it being in the browser is sometimes it just doesn't work as expected. A good example of this is when I open a menu sometimes moving my mouse cursor into the menu causes it to close like it doesn't see my mouse. These kinds of issues are rare, but super annoying and not something I've ever experience on a locally install app.

So there you have it, my quick review of Pixlr (well Pixlr E specifically, Pixlr X and Photomash are probably worth looking into also). Will it replace your current image editor? I'm going to say a strong maybe if you only do light image editing for hobby or personal projects. If you're a professional editor than probably not. One thing I will say with certainty though, if you're in a pinch and need to do some quick edits, cropping, resizing, or touch-ups this is worth keeping in your back pocket just in case you don't have the time to do an install of whatever you normally use. Give it a try and see what you think. You might love it, you might hate it, or you might find a niche use case to improve your workflow. If you want to see some examples of the work I've done with Pixlr, I've included 4 of the least bad YouTube thumbnails I've made with it below. Enjoy!

Go out and do good things! 👍

YouTube Thumbnail Examples

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