Consider These Free Photo-Editing Tools for Presentations

By Ellen Finkelstein

When you want to insert a photo into PowerPoint, you should think about how you can edit that photo to improve it. For example, you might want to:

–Crop it
–Change its brightness or contrast
–Recolor it
–Remove its background
–Give it a border, shadow, or reflection

You can usually do these tasks in PowerPoint. Since PowerPoint 2010 added a Remove Background feature (shown below), you often don’t need to leave PowerPoint.

But you may not have PowerPoint 2010 and the feature sometimes leaves rough edges. So here’s a list of some other free photo-editing tools. Of course, you can use them for your personal photos or any other use, not just for PowerPoint.

Microsoft Office Picture Manager

I use this a lot. It has an Auto Correct button on the toolbar that almost always makes my photos look better–in one click! I like this tool so much that I’ve set it as my default to open JPGs and PNGs.  The instructions to do this depend on your version of Windows; to find out how to set a default program to open a specific type of file, go to Start, Help and Support and search for “default program.”

This is important because Microsoft Office Picture Manager has a strange idiosyncrasy — you can’t simply open a file from within the program.  How weird is that? Instead, you click Shortcuts and let it find locations where you have images and use the Picture Shortcuts pane to navigate to images.

To find the Picture Manager, go to Start, Programs, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Office Tools. Another way to open an image in the Picture Manager is to right-click it in Windows Explorer and choose Open With. You should see a list that will hopefully include the Picture Manager.

Once you open a picture, after trying the Auto Correct button, click Edit Pictures for other options, which are: Brightness and Contrast; Color; Crop; Rotate and Flip; Red Eye Removal (something you can’t do in PowerPoint); Resize; and Compress Pictures. You can also choose File, Export to change the file format and more.

Picnik is typical of free online photo editors. You upload a photo, use the tools (Crop, Rotate, Exposure, Colors, Sharpen, Resize), then save the photo to your computer. One nice feature is that you don’t have to register.

Pixlr is a free online photo editor that is also a drawing tool. You can create art from scratch or upload your image. You can add text, distort photos, replace colors, and more. Pixlr is quite Photoshop-like.


GIMP is free software that you install. It’s as close to Photoshop as you can get without getting Photoshop and is widely used. It has many features for editing and composing images.

Other Free Tools

Here is a list of some other free tools. Many are supported by ads. I suggest trying them out to see which you like best. Thanks to MediaBistro for their list.

–Online Image Editor

About the Author:

Ellen Finkelstein is the author of How to Do Everything with PowerPoint 2007 (and 2003), 101 Tips Every PowerPoint User Should Know, 101 Advanced Techniques Every PowerPoint User Should Know and PowerPoint for Teachers: Dynamic Presentations and Interactive Classroom Projects.  Her web site,, offers the free PowerPoint Tips Newsletter, a PowerPoint Tips Blog and many ideas that help PowerPoint users create more effective presentations.

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