The Best Free Photo Editing Apps For Instagram

Feb 2016
PC: @acolorstory
PC: @acolorstory

Curating an aesthetically-pleasing Instagram feed isn’t something that can be done in a snap, but one secret to making your photos look their best is manually editing photos through the use of photo-editing apps.

Although Instagram provides a number of in-app filters and photo-editing tools, other apps can offer a greater variety of filters, tools, and effects to help you achieve the aesthetic of your dreams.

In no particular order, here are our picks for 4 of the best free photo editing apps for Instagram:


From basic image enhancements to greater creative edits, Snapseed claims to deliver the power and control of professional photo editing software to the palm of your hand. And since it was developed by the geniuses at Google, the entirely free photo-editing suite is close to everything it claims. Snapseed offers a handful of interesting filters and effects, but after a quick browse, it’s clear that the tools are where you’ll get the most control when editing your photos. The basic brightness, contrast, and crop meet more sophisticated edits such as transform, where you can edit the perspective from which the photo was taken. Plus, with selective editing and the ability to spot-heal, you can fine-tune your images to near perfection.


Yes, this app has basic editing tools, but the most exciting feature of VSCO is the variety of filters it offers to users. Upon download, you’ll have access to a number of free filters, and for a few bucks apiece, you can add more filter packs to your ever-growing collection. What turns the filters into VSCO’s most powerful asset is the fact that the range of filter collections cater to different visual tastes. Muted hues, tinted colors, and an array of other visual effects come together to provide a distinct variety of tones in each filter. You may not fall in love with all of these options, but there’s sure to be a filter, or collection, that appeals to you.

A Color Story

Developed by the sister best friends at A Beautiful Mess, this app is meant for everyday editing and offers a range of fresh filters, tools, and simple effects. Although most of the app’s most unique features (see Color Fog) can only be unlocked through in-app purchases, A Color Story’s free features include basic editing tools, a sampling of three effects, and the Essentials filter kit. With the potential to access 100 new filters and 20 tools (including curves!) the app could easily be your next all-in-one photo-editor. And while other apps were developed to mute or alter the colors in your photos, A Color Story focuses on filters that enhance the color that’s already there. So go ahead and let your true colors show!


A certified child of Instagram itself, Layout offers no filters, but instead serves as a tool for portraying multiple photos in a single Instagram post. Users can select up to 9 photos to share at once and Layout will offer a number of display options. This app, at its most basic form, is a great tool, but take it a step further creatively, and Layout can be used to create some genuinely cool images. Select a single photo twice. Depending on how it should be viewed, you can choose to flip one of the images in the layout to create a mirror image! While Layout is relatively simple, its user-friendly interface and clean design makes it a preferable option to its competitors PhotoGrid and PicStitch.

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