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February 19, 2015

Editing images on a Chromebook, free tools to help you

Toshiba_Chromebook_2-1With so many popular applications for Chromebook coming from your web browser in the form of extensions or apps, rather than standalone desktop programs it’s little wonder that this is one of the reasons for Chromebooks becoming so popular. As an added bonus to that most of them are free and easy to delete if you dont like them allowing you to just add more.

But one of the problems we faced when we bought our Chromebook (just over a year ago) was finding editing apps/extensions to do similar work to those on our desktop. One of these was picture editing including photo editing. We use Serif suit of programs on the desktop in particular DrawPlus, you can get free here. Of course apps like GIMP or are very commonly used as well but, there is very little that matched these apps on Chromebooks.

It is easy to feel stumped when you need to edit an image or photo on your Chromebook. Google nudges you towards Google Docs and its powerful document-editing tools, but there’s no similar Google tool for image editing.

Of course we are all waiting for what we think will be, in all probability, the ultimate picture/photo on the chromebook, and that is Adobe Photoshop making itself available to us all.

In the meantime we are going to go through a few picture/photo editing tools that are available on Chromebooks web store. Unlike Photoshop, these are free!

The integrated image editor


Yes, your Chromebook comes with a basic image editor. It’s easy to miss because it’s not listed in the standard Chrome App Launcher. Instead, you have to open the Files app and open an image file from there. This means you’ll need to download the image to your Chromebook first, if it’s on the web. Double-click an image in the Files app and it’ll open in the “Gallery” app, a simple image viewer with slideshow and other image-viewing features.

Click the Edit button at the bottom-right corner of the window. The Gallery app offers basic tools for cropping an image, rotating it, and adjusting its brightness and contrast levels. There’s also an “autofix” option for automatically fixing the brightness and color of your photos.

Image editors for Chrome OS


Autodesk Pixlr

Pixlr Editor has been my top web-based image editor for years, but Autodesk recently added some obnoxious advertising that wastes screen space. Nevertheless, Pixlr is a solid image editor that’s easy-to-use and absolutely packed with the features you’d want for typical image-editing, including layer support. You can still click View > Fullscreen to work without being distracted by the ad, thankfully.



PicMonkey comes in app form or extension.
The App offers free photo editor with Collage, Touch Up, Teeth Whiten, Fonts, Effects, Filters, Frames, Stickers & more

When you install our chrome photo app, the PicMonkey icon appears in Chrome’s app launcher on the New Tab page, along with your other Chrome apps.  So you can fire up the Monkey from here, instead of pinned tabs or the address bar.  Go forth and photogrify!

The extension can Instantly edit web page images and screenshots with PicMonkey

The PicMonkey Chrome Extension lets you instantly grab images from any Web page and open them up in PicMonkey for editing.

Here’s how it works: click the PicMonkey icon when you’re viewing a web page. In one milli-second, every image on that page and a screenshot of the entire page appears as a tiny thumbnail in a sidebar. Select one to edit, and wah-la!  PicMonkey shows up to do your bidding.

PicMonkey is a free online photo editor that says Booyah! to whatever your creative heart desires. Its lean and fast engine lets you perform basic edits, like crop and rotate, and enhance your images with luscious effects, overlays, fonts, textures, frames and touch up tools.  Ridiculously easy, staggeringly gorgeous.

PicMonkey has ads at the bottom which can be annoying but, you can upgrade to Royale giving you the following:

Royale membership gets you ads-free editing and a kingly hoard of primo effects, fonts, overlays, and textures. Choose the monthly plan, at $4.99 (£3.23) a month, or the annual plan, at $33 (£21.38) a year.

I should mention Google+ Photos and its image editor, too. Chromebooks offer to automatically upload photos from connected digital cameras and SD cards, and Google makes apps that will automatically upload photos from your smartphone to it, too. If you store your photos in Google+ Photos, you can head to the Google+ website, view a photo, and click Edit to access tools that are even more powerful than the ones built into Chrome OS. But the Google+ Photos tools are designed only for spiffing up your photos, not for other types of image editing.

I use both Pixlr and PicMonkey. Pixlr to do a quick resize and colour change. PicMonkey to add an overlay among general editing.

So after all that, the choice is yours. You might be using another editor, if so, let us know below.

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Dave Thornton

Senior Editor

Senior Editor
Been involved in technology for many years, more than I care to remember. Live in Dundee, Scotland. I like Android, Windows Phone OS, BlackBerry OS and iOS, and love writing about all things techie. Currently have a Honor 6+, Elephone P6000, Nexus 5, Chrombook C720, HTC One M7, Nokia Lumina 625, Microsoft Lumia 435, Blackberry Q10, HTC Hero and iPad mini