Top 4 Unblur Picture Apps for iPhone (Before & After)

Top 4 Unblur Picture Apps for iPhone (Before & After)

Maybe you were taking photos on the sidelines of your kid’s basketball game and you got the exact moment they scored the winning point —but the photo is a little blurry.

Or out of all the group photos you took at last night’s birthday party, there’s only one with everyone’s eyes are open—and it’s completely out of focus!

iPhone cameras are a modern miracle, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t hard to get a clear, focused photo every time.

This is especially true if you’re shooting in low light, taking pictures of things in motion, or you’re in a rush!

Unless you’re the person who pulls out an iPhone tripod or turns on flash in a crowded restaurant (hint: don’t be that person) , you’ll have to rely on another modern miracle: photo editing apps.

Lucky for you, there are lots of apps that will take your soft or blurry photos and turn them into something you’re proud to post!

Today, we’re rounding up our favorite photo editing apps for making a picture less blurry!

Plus, I’ve included tons of screenshots with step-by-step instructions on how to make your photos crystal clear.

​Unblur Photo Apps​ To Make a Picture Less Blurry

The best way to get the perfect photo to post on Instagram is to reshoot until you get a shot that’s in focus and well lit.

When you take multiple pictures, you have more options to choose from when you make your edits!

These photo editing apps are the best in the game at unblurring your photos, but they can only go so far. Even with the best edits, blurry photos may never look as crisp as they would have if the original shot was in focus.

We’ve rounded up the best apps for sharpening photos here, but if you’re interested in our all-time favorite photo editing apps for Instagram, we made a list.

App #1: Vsco: Photo & Video Editor

Available on ​iOS​ and A​ndroid
Price: Basic (Free) VSCO Membership $4.99 monthly/ $19.99 yearly

This is one of our all-time favorite photo editors, and it’s especially good at clearing up blurry photos!

This app is great for beginners because it gives you access to preset filters that instantly transform your photos.

It’s also satisfying for more advanced photo editors because you can adjust your photos at the micro level. This includes saturation, contrast, white balance, adding grain or filter, clarity, and more!

Is Vsco The Right ​Unblur Picture App​ For You?

Choose Vsco if you’re looking for:

  • A multipurpose app for all your photo edits
  • An easy-to-use app
  • Filters to do the work for you
  • Quick, macro changes
  • Professional, technical edits
  • An app used by popular Instagrammers

​How to Fix a Blurry Picture on iPhone​ with Vsco:

When you’re unblurring a photo in Vsco, there are a few settings you’ll focus on.

Adjusting the photo’s clarity and sharpness will be the most helpful. Increasing the contrast and exposure of your photo can also make it appear more clear.

“Adjusting the photo’s clarity and sharpness will be the most helpful.”

Employing fade or grain to your photo can add style, or give a filtered look that makes an out-of-focus photo less obvious.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to fixing a blurring photo on iPhone in Vsco:

Step 1: Adjust Clarity

On Vsco, Clarity quickly clears up your image, removing the large-scale noise.

You only have to move the Clarity slider a little for a big effect, so it’s the best place to start your edits.

After adjusting Clarity, you’ll have a better idea of the smaller tweaks you need to make!

Step 2: Sharpen

The Sharpen function is the micro to Clarity’s macro.

You can move this function way up without making your image look wonky!

Sharpening your image will help to define the smaller edges in your image.

Step 3: Adjust Contrast

Once you’ve increased Clarity and Sharpened your image, adjust the Contrast.

This function makes the light and dark part of your picture distinct, which will make the overall image look more clear.

Step 4: Adjust Exposure

After you increase the Contrast, your photo will likely need to be brightened a little. Increasing the Exposure helps to counterbalance the extra darkness from upping Contrast.

After this step, your photo might be finished, or you can add on the option of steps 5 and 6.

Step 5 (Optional): Adjust Fade

If you want the clearest and most realistic photo you can get, stop at step 4.

But if you’re okay with some stylistic changes that will make an out-of-focus photo look intentional, follow steps 5 and 6 to add some Fade and Grain.

Adding Fade to your photo makes it look weathered and old the way that many filters will.

It also helps to make the entire photo look flat, which makes the distinction between blurry and clear less obvious.

Adjust fade in VSCO unblur picture app with iphone
adjust grain in vsco unblur picture app

Step 6: Add Grain

Finally, adding a little grain to the photo will contribute to the old-timey, filtered look.

This effect also helps to make a little blurriness look almost intentional!

While you may not want to add Fade and Grain to a photo that you want to look sharp, (like your child’s first day of school), it adds an artistic flair to other photos that you’d post on Instagram!

That includes landscapes or a photo from inside a dark bar.

Before & After

Now for the big reveal! Here’s our before photo, side by side with the final version after our edits.

before version of photo before fixing blurriness in photo on iphone
after version with blurriness removed

The Vsco edits made this photo of flowers clearer, brighter, and more Instagram-ready!

It’s also our app of choice for sharpening a selfie that turned out blurry. Vsco edits + our guide to taking pictures of yourself = the perfect selfie!

App #2: Afterlight

Available on iOS and Android
Price: Basic (Free) Afterlight Pro $2.99 monthly

Afterlight is a comprehensive photo editing app with presets and technical editing tools, similar to Vsco.

But where Vsco is all about quick, easy edits, Afterlight has more settings, which means more functionality and a steeper learning curve.

Afterlight can do things Vsco can’t, like create double exposures and allow users to make their own filters.

It’s the perfect app for someone who wants to spend time editing their photos or just getting creative.

“[Afterlight is] the perfect app for someone who wants to spend time editing their photos or just getting creative.”

Is Afterlight the Right Unblur Picture App for You?

Choose Afterlight if you’re looking for:

  • A multi-purpose app for all your photo edits
  • An app that lets you get creative, beyond just making adjustments to your photos
  • A paid app, while Afterlight has a free version, you’ll need to upgrade to pro for a lot of the best features
  • Filters to make photo editing easy

How to Fix a Blurry Picture on iPhone with Afterlight

adjust sharpening to fix blurriness in photo
Step 1: Sharpen
use clarify tool in Afterlight to remove blurry photo details
Step 2: Clarify

Step 1: Sharpen

Slide the Sharpen slider to the right to define the edges in your image.

You’ll likely want to set the dial to 100 for the clearest possible photo.

Step 2: Clarify

This is a premium tool, but it’s one of the best out there for sharpening blurry images.

Increasing Clarity reduces the overall noise in the image.

It also automatically adjusts Contrast and Exposure, reducing shadows to bring objects into focus.

Before & After

Afterlight’s Clarity feature unblurred this photo with fewer steps than all the others. Will this be your go-to unblur app?

how to get clear photos on iphone with afterlight

App #3: Adobe Lightroom

Available on iOS and Android
Price: Free

Adobe Lightroom is a multipurpose app that allows users to make technical adjustments to photos.

This app is great for all levels of experience! You can apply a filter quickly or manually adjust coloring and lighting in your photo until it’s perfect.

If you want to spend more time editing photos and learning what functions like Highlights, Hue, and Saturation do, Adobe Lightroom is the best app to learn and play.

Is Adobe Lightroom the Right Unblur Picture App for You?

Choose Adobe Lightroom if you’re looking for:

  • An app with a variety of editing tools
  • An app for someone comfortable with Adobe software or Lightroom
  • Technical detailed edits
  • An app that will help you learn photography and photo editing software

How to Fix a Blurry Picture on iPhone with Adobe Lightroom

Lightroom is an easy-to-use app for unblurring!

You’ll find most of the settings you need under the Detail panel. After adjusting the Sharpening, Radius, and Detail, just a few brightness tweaks gets you to the final, unblurred photo.

Step 1: Adjust Sharpening

After uploading your photo to Lightroom, click on the Detail panel.

You’ll find the Sharpening, Radius, and Detail settings, and you can go down the line to refine your photo.

Sharpening helps to make the small details of your image more defined! See how the edges of the plants are more crisp after we move the Sharpening bar to 150?

Step 2: Adjust Radius

The Radius setting is how many pixels around the edges of your photo are adjusted by Sharpening.

If Radius is set to 0, only the biggest items in the photo are defined! The higher your Radius, the finer the Sharpening tool becomes.

For this photo, I increased the Radius to 3.0, giving the Sharpening tool the largest possible impact.

Step 3: Increase Detail

The Detail setting also refines the sharpening on your photo.

Increasing Detail sharpens even the smallest sections of your photo, instead of just the larger edges.

Step 4: Increase Exposure

Finally, go to the Light panel to make any color edits that will clarify and unblur the overall photo.

For this image, I only increased the Exposure slightly. But, as we talked about with Vsco, increasing Contrast can also help make an image sharper!

Before & After

The small technical edits in Lightroom make for a natural-looking end result. This photo is cleaned up, but still looks fresh from your camera roll!

unblur picture app lightroom
unblur picture apps - lightroom

App #4: Focos App

Available on iOS
Price: Basic (Free) Pro $0.99 monthly

Focos is an app that mirrors the experience of shooting a photo on a manual camera.

So it’s best if you’re comfortable with camera settings like aperture and exposure.

While Focos allows you to make all the tweaks that other apps like Lightroom and Vsco do, those features are a little clunky.

We like this app just for unblurring photos. Focos is especially good at making adjustments when the focus of your photo is in the wrong place.

Is Focos The Right Unblur Picture App For You?

Choose Focos if you’re looking for:

  • An app made for changing where in the photo the camera is focused
  • A simple fix for unblurring photos
  • An app with similar settings to a DSLR camera

How to Fix a Blurry Picture on iPhone with Focos:

The way you’ll use Focos will vary much more from photo-to-photo than other apps like Lightroom and Vsco.

In this example, I showed how you can change the focus of this photo from the book to the roses in the foreground.

By playing with settings like Aperture and Focus, you can change where the image is clear and where it’s blurry.

Step 1: Adjust Aperture

The larger the Aperture, the more of your image will be in focus.

The smaller the Aperture, the more you can concentrate the focus on one part of the image!

Depending on your goal, set your Aperture.

For this photo, I set it to f2.9 because I want the flowers to be the only thing in the image in focus.

Step 2: Adjust Focus

After you adjust the Aperture, slide the Focus bar until the focal point is perfectly clear.

Step 3: Adjust Contrast

In the Focos app, you can adjust two Contrast options in the photo.

These are for the near part of the image and the far part of the image.

So why is this important?

These two settings help to visually differentiate between what is and isn’t in focus.

I increased the near intensity, so the rose would look more clear.

contrast helps fix blurriness - unblur picture apps

Before & After

This unblur app changed the focus of the photo, and blurred out the rest for an obvious, eye-pleasing contrast.

unblur picture app - FOCOS
unblur picture apps - FOCOS

It’s ready for the grid!

To keep your Instagram feed looking pristine, we like to plan and schedule ahead of time. Our 9-Grid Preview visual planning feature lets you see exactly how a photo will look on your feed before you post.

Want to try it for yourself? Snag a free trial of Tailwind for Instagram – no credit card required!

Talk about a lifesaver!

Check Out Our Photography Webinar For More Tips!

This time around, we’ve fixed up your blurry photos.

But you can absolutely save yourself the trouble with our FREE photography webinar!

We partnered with Kayla Butler of The Ivory Mix to teach you:

  • Take clear photos on your iPhone
  • Get the best lighting in your photos,
  • Take a well-composed photo,

And tons of other priceless pearls of wisdom! If you want your selfies, product photos, and landscapes to look professional, view our webinar ASAP!

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Start Scheduling Your New and Improved Instagram Posts

Now that you’ve carefully edited and sharpened your photos, it’s time to get them on Instagram!

Using Tailwind’s publishing tool, your Instagram photos can be automatically scheduled for the best engagement rate. You’ve done all the work to edit your photos, now we’ll make sure people see them!

What are you waiting for? Let’s get those unblurred photos on the grid!

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Looking for the right app to unblur and sharpen your iPhone photos? Here’s our list of recommended apps, with before & after photos, for fixing blurry photos! #photoediting #blurryphoto

How to Create Light and Airy Photo Edits (+ Presets!)

light and airy photography on an orange background

Light and airy photos are all about creating an inspiring aesthetic that catches the viewer’s eye. Today, we’ll go over the steps for how to balance light and color, and how to save your edits as a preset to easily apply to your other photos!

Here are a few pointers before we begin:

  • It’s ideal to start with a photo that has even lighting—nothing too bright or dark.
  • The background shouldn’t be so busy that it distracts from the subject.
  • Shoot in RAW if possible. The photo will be uncompressed, making it possible for you to edit in much greater detail.

All the terms from the steps below are mentioned in our article “How to Master Basic Photo Editing.” If you’re still learning these, you can check that article for a refresher!

Light and Airy Presets: Should You Buy Them?

Buying a preset can be tempting since the work is already done for you.

Presets can be very useful: they get your image very close to how you want it, and you may only have to make minor adjustments. That’s especially helpful when you’re doing large batch edits.

And even though many quality presets are sold at a cost, there are plenty of free presets available for download.

However, one size doesn’t fit all, and you may not want to purchase one.

Your camera settings, subject, lighting, and the background will be different than those used as samples in the preset.

The good news is, it’s only a little extra work in the beginning, but you can make your own custom presets that are perfectly suited for your photography.

We’ll show you all the steps to making a light and airy photo edit, and how to save them into a preset.

Ready to edit some light and airy photos with us? Here’s our original, unedited image:

photography by Syd Wachs


As the name suggests, light and airy photos have a bright, ethereal feel to them.

Exposure plays a role in getting that bright, light effect on your photo edit.

Exposure can be a touchy tool. Don’t pump it up too high or else your whites will be overwhelming. Keep it too dark, and it won’t work for the light and airy effect.

Check out the examples of too light, too dark and just right in the example below!

editing exposure in lightroom

The exposure is too light on the left, while on the right it’s just too dark for a light and airy photo. Remember, you want to keep the lighting as even as possible in your photo for this step!

If your original photo is darker or lighter than ours was, your final exposure might be a bit different, so don’t be afraid to experiment!

Our final exposure: +0.45.

Step Two: Check Temperature

Next, lets get into temperature.

Temperature is an important part of the editing process. Light and airy photos have tones that are true to real-life so there won’t be any drastic changes.

Bringing your temperature down just a little can help your whites be more accurate, enhancing their brightness. Most likely, you’ll only need to touch the temperature slightly. 

Aim for a happy medium: not too warm or cool.

adjusting temperature for a light and airy photo edit

Here, you can see the left is too cool and the right is too warm. The middle section is the final. We’ve also adjusted the tint to make sure our photo wasn’t too green or pink.

Temperature: +62.86. Tint: +29.

Step Three: Adjust Contrast

Light and airy photos have a defined, but not exaggerated, contrast. When making this adjustment, you want to enhance the difference between lights and darks.

Similarly to exposure, be careful of “blowing out” your whites. We want the lighting to remain even. Don’t worry if your image still looks a bit drab at this point! 

adjusting contrast photo editing

Our original photo was already pretty low contrast, almost “washed out.” We amped up the contrast quite a bit, careful to ensure her skin tones weren’t glowing.

Contrast: +55.

Step Four: Toggle Shadows and Highlights

Here’s where we fine-tune our lighting for that perfect light and airy feel!

By toggling the highlights and shadows, you can adjust each one separately without affecting the other. Many editing programs have the Whites and Blacks tools, which are even more precise adjustments you can make.

adjust highlights and shadows in lightroom

Highlights: +33

Shadows: -30

Whites: +57

Blacks: -32

Step Six: Adjust Sharpness, Clarity, and Noise

If you want to add a bit of texture to your image, bump up the clarity. Sharpness also makes the details in your picture more noticeable, which is characteristic of many light and airy photos.

The noise reduction tool can remedy excess noise, or “graininess.” You can also adjust the clarity of the image after applying your noise reduction settings, but you’d add less clarity in this case.

Our image had a bit of noise over the top already, but not so much that we needed to reduce it. Because of this preexisting texture, we only bumped up the clarity a bit and didn’t touch the sharpen or noise tools.

Clarity: +15

Step Seven: Boost Relevant Colors with HSL

The cherry on top for a great light and airy edit is in the colors. When you look up examples of photos in this style, you’ll see how the colors are more relaxed, giving the final image a peaceful feel.

Head over to the HSL panel of your editing program, where you can manually adjust each color.

Quick review: hue intensifies the color itself, saturation is where you make it more vivid or toned down, and luminance is how bright it is.

The great thing about the HSL panel is that you can fade certain colors or make them stand out, such as skin tone or elements in the background. 

Adjusting each color using HSL is probably going to be the most time-consuming part of your edit, but it’s what will make your final photo absolutely stunning!

In this last step, we toned down the greens and yellows.

To the left are our exact settings for HSL:

HSL panel in Lightroom
Saturation panel HSL Lightroom
Luminance settings HSL Lightroom
final version of light and airy photo

Conclusion: Save Your Edits to Make a Light and Airy Preset

Once you’ve finalized your photo, you can save your edits as a preset in Lightroom to quickly apply to other photos. 

On the lefthand “Presets” panel, click the plus (or three dots) on the top right and select “create preset.” When it asks you which of your adjustments you want to save on the preset, select all except the cropping and alignment option since that’ll vary for each of your photos. 

You can create categories for your own presets to help organize them as well. This may be useful for when you’re editing photos that are originally too dark, too bright, or have different backgrounds.

create light and airy preset in lightroom

And there we have it: your new light and airy photo and your own custom preset in Lightroom! 

Spending a little extra time in the beginning getting your edit just right will pave the way for editing your other photos in the same style. The more you practice, the better you’ll become. Happy editing!

before and after light and airy photo edit

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How to Master Basic Photo Editing in 6 Steps

photo editing controls and picture on a blue background

Ever set out to learn how to edit photos and immediately been confused by all those fancy photo editing terms? Dreaming of a perfectly curated Instagram feed?

Or maybe your ultimate goal is to take gorgeous photos for your brand. No matter where you are in your photography journey, have no fear!

We’re about to unlock the door to photographic mastery by going through all the main features of the basic photo editing process.

Even if you’re a beginner, these tips will send you on the way to editing photography like a professional!

Let’s get started!

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Photo Editing for Beginners: Tips to Know Before You Start

Before we dive in, here are some snippets to keep in mind:

Which photo editing software will you start with? Snapseed and VSCO are great apps for editing on your mobile device.

I use Adobe Lightroom photo editor on my laptop for photos I take with my camera, and it also has a great mobile app.

RAW or JPEG? These are two different formats for your photography. Shooting in RAW is uncompressed, meaning that you’ll be able to edit in much greater detail.

Shooting in JPEG compresses your photo so you won’t be able to fine-tune your photo as much. If possible, I recommend shooting in RAW.

Let your creativity run free. The best way to learn is by letting yourself play with your editing tool. Explore each feature, really getting a feel for which parts of your photo it affects.

Follow photographers you love. Make sure to soak in the work that inspires you to keep practicing!

If you have a brand, what’s your aesthetic? You want your photos to be instantly recognizable. The more you practice editing, the quicker you’ll figure out the style that best represents your brand and products.

Now, let’s jump into the good stuff: making stunning photo edits.

Step One: Crop and Align Your Photo

An important first step in editing your photography is cropping and aligning. This gets your photo closer to its stunning final form.

You’re probably familiar with cropping, which simply means cutting off the unwanted edges of your image.

If you take a great picture of a sunset, for example, but there’s an ugly telephone pole on the side, you’d crop that out so it’s not visible anymore.

What if the horizon in your sunset photo is crooked? Here’s where the align tool comes in: it’ll put a grid on top of your image to use as a reference for straightening that horizon line.

Using the crop, rotate and align tool for photo editing

Step Two: Adjust Exposure and Contrast

One of the first things you’ll want to adjust after cropping and alignment is the exposure. This means how bright or dark your photo is!

Before and after photo edit manipulating exposure
Photos courtesy of Syd Wachs

When your picture is too dark, it’s underexposed, and when it’s too bright, it’s overexposed. You’ll know that it’s overexposed because the bright parts of your photo will give off a white glow.

Also, pay attention to the contrast. Contrast is the difference between the lights and darks in your photo.

When you increase the contrast during editing, your brights will get brighter and your shadows will get darker.

Adjusting contrast before and after

Step Three: Play With White Balance, Temperature, and Tint

Now we’re getting a bit more into the fine-tuning of your photo editing process. Let’s talk about white balance, temperature, and tint.

White balance adjusts the overall accuracy of light in your photo, meaning that what’s white to your eyes comes out as white in the picture.

Have you ever taken a photo that ends up looking quite blue (cool) or orange (warm) overall? That’s what your white balance setting corrects.

On your camera, you can choose a pre-set white balance according to the environment of where you’re shooting, whether it’s in the sun, shade, cloudy, etc.

There’s also an auto white balance setting, but it may not always be the most accurate. Try to choose the setting that most closely matches where you are.

Every source of light has a temperature. For example, if you take a photo in the shade, it’ll come out looking cooler than in the sunlight, which will be very warm. Our eyes regulate these differences for us so we don’t notice, but the camera picks it up and can skew colors and skin tones!

Light also has a tint. Rather than being on the blue-orange spectrum, tint is on the green-magenta spectrum. Tint can sometimes swing too far in either direction, mostly if you’re shooting indoors or using artificial light.

Step Four: Work With Brightness, Highlights, and Shadows

There is a slight difference between exposure and brightness. Exposure places slightly more emphasis on brightening the areas of your photo that are already lighter and the brightness feature focuses more on your image as a whole.

If you want to adjust only the lights or darks of your photo, you’ll work with the highlights and shadows tools.

Manipulating highlights and shadows picture editing

It’s as simple as it sounds: working with highlights will increase or decrease the bright areas of your picture, and shadows will do the same with the darks.

Step Five: Toggle Saturation and the Vibrancy of Your Colors

Saturation refers to how vivid all the colors in your photo are. If you increase the saturation, every single color will get really intense.

The vibrancy tool specifically targets the washed-out colors in your picture, making them more lively.

adjusting saturation, vibrancy and HSL.

You can manually adjust each color, too. In your photo editing program, locate where it breaks down each individual color into a separate scale. This is commonly labeled HSL, and it’s where you can find the hue, saturation, and luminance tools.

Let’s say you want to increase the blue in your photo. Use hue to make the blue color stand out more, saturation to make it more vivid, and luminance to make the blues brighter or darker.

Play around with these to get the hang of them!

Step Six: Adjust Sharpness, Clarity, and Noise

Some other adjustments you might make while editing your photography are sharpness, clarity, and noise. 

Sharpening is commonly used for attempts to fix a blurry image, but it’s a finicky tool that can easily skew the texture of your photo.

If you want to clear things up, you could also try the more subtle clarity tool. Increasing your image’s clarity will increase the textures visible in the photo.

Noise is that graininess that sits over the whole image. It’s easily visible in some film photography, or in photos that were really dark and you had to brighten them up a lot in editing. 

Removing a small amount of noise is possible without ruining your photo. Your editing program will have options for “noise reduction.”

Pro photo editing tip: if overdone, it can take away a lot of the texture in your picture, giving it an almost painted look.

It’s important to make sure your lighting is good when taking photos so you don’t have an excessive amount of noise in the end.

Conclusion: How to Edit Photos Like a Professional

Remember: practice makes perfect! With these tips, you’ll be a photo editing pro in no time.

If you need some motivation to start learning how to edit pictures, follow photographers whose work inspires you to get out there and take more pictures.

Let your creativity go wild and play around with different elements in your photography editing program.

You never know, you might accidentally discover your signature style, just like I did!

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Longing for gorgeous photos, but unsure how to make the picture edits that matter? Learn basic photo editing and what it all means here!

5 Best Instagram Photo Editor Apps

5 Best Instagram Photo Editor Apps - Instagram editing open on iPhone on clipboard next to coffee cup

Fact: Your Instagram arsenal isn’t complete without a good Instagram photo editor app.

Also Fact: There are a lot of great photo editing apps out there. So many that it’s really hard to choose which one will work for you. I know firsthand… I have 17 editing apps on my phone, and I’m still experimenting with new ones in the name of Instagram research! ‍

Don’t worry, you don’t need 17 apps – or even three! There’s probably one app out there that can help you edit your Instagram photos to perfection.

And that’s what this article is for!

Not only are we rounding up a list of our five recommended Instagram editors, but we’re also giving you personalized suggestions based on your editing experience, preferences, and feed goals.

It couldn’t be easier! Just take the quick quiz below to be matched with one of our five recommendations. Then, scroll down to learn about the app and why it’s a perfect fit for you!

Which Instagram Photo Editor Is Right For You?

Whether you’re looking to make an attractive Instagram profile, advertise your business, boost engagement on posts or just make some minor photo touch-ups, you’ll find your perfect Instagram photo editor below.

Plus you’ll gain some valuable insights about your Instagram style in the process!

1. Adobe Lightroom

Available on iOS and Android
Price: Free!
Best For:

  • Medium to Expert photo editing experience
  • Quick edits on the go
  • Editing photos from multiple devices
  • Instagram presets

Adobe Lightroom is one of the top Instagram photo editor apps available today, and no list would be complete without it!

Both professional photographers and total amateurs alike use this free mobile app to spruce up their photos with expert editing tools delivered in easy-to-understand UX.

Here’s what makes Adobe Lightroom so great:

Instagram photo editor app - Lightroom. Adjust exposure with sliding bars or with light curves
  • Professional Presets – Most presets for sale on the web are made in Lightroom. You’ll need the app to use them, but once installed they’re a breeze to use. Just apply a saved preset with a tap for one-step editing!
  • Easy UX for Beginners and Pros – Beginners and experts alike can use Lightroom editing tools with ease. For example, you can adjust the exposure with sliding bars, or use more advanced Light curves to edit exposure with precision!
  • Editing with Selective Brushes – Need to lighten just one portion of your image? No worries! With Lightroom’s selective editing tool, you can pinpoint just a portion of the image with a brush and edit away.
  • Instagram Integration – A key reason Lightroom is one of our top Instagram photo editor apps is the ability to export your edit to Instagram. This enables you to capture, edit and post on the go!


Available on iOS and Android
Price: Basic (Free) VSCO Membership $4.99 monthly/ $19.99 yearly
Best For:

  • Beginner to Intermediate photo editing experience
  • Fast edits with distinctive filters
  • Adding texture, fade, and stylistic edits to photos

VSCO has become a household name on social media, and that alone suggests it may be the best Instagram photo editor out there!

After all, how many photo editing apps have an entire subculture of social media style named after them? Only one: VSCO.

If your epic Instagram theme is driven by an overall mood, style and aesthetic, VSCO is a perfect choice for your Instagram feed. Here’s why:

best instagram photo editor - VSCO - screenshot of photo in editing app with suite of filters available at the bottom of the screen.
  • Dozens of Filters – VSCO has dozens of filters loaded into the app, with new ones added all the time. Plus, VSCO scans your uploaded photo and recommends at least 6 filters tailored to your specific image.
  • Easy-to-use Editing Tools – On top of an enormous library of filters, VSCO has a full editing suite. You have the basics like exposure, contrast, and brightness. You also have access to advanced features to skin tone balancing, selective color edits, and fading/ texture.
  • Built-in Social Platform – Although VSCO gained fame as a photo-editing app, it’s also an entire social media platform. Add favorite photos to your gallery, create journal entries and curate your favorite content with the Collections feature!
  • Free VSCO Preset Recipes – Want the option to use Presets, but don’t want to pay for them? Just Google VSCO filters (or search on Pinterest!) to find thousands of user-created recipes. Save your favorites and instantly edit your photos with one tap!

3. Snapseed

Available on iOS and Android
Price: Free
Best For:

  • Medium to expert editing experience
  • Primarily iPhone photographers (or other Smartphones)
  • Batch edits to be scheduled to Instagram over time

Snapseed has been making waves since 2012 when Google famously acquired the pro-level editing program. While they were at it, Google also slashed the price from $4.99 to absolutely free.

With a full, hyper-precise suite of editing tools, editing styles and filters, Snapseed is considered one of the best photo editors for an Instagram feed.

That does come with a price however – Snapseed is not as easy to navigate and learn as other apps on the list. To get the full value of it’s editing power, you’ll have to prepare yourself for a bit of a learning curve.

Relying on tutorials and making time to learn each feature has a payoff, however. Snapseed offers amazing features like:

  • Varied editing styles to add texture or highlight certain aspects of your photo (like Grunge, Vintage, Glamour Glow or Face Enhance)Add HDR effect to non-HDR photos
  • Advanced lens and correction features like Lens Blur (to soften backgrounds for portrait enhancement) or Add HDR.
  • One of the best selective retouching interfaces that exist in-app, allowing you to select multiple parts of an image and edit.
  • Correcting poses of your portraits with Face Pose (it uses three-dimensional models to make the corrections!)

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Snapseed is the most advanced photo editor on this list, and your efforts to learn your way around it will pay off.

Keep in mind that this app is best for organized Instagrammers and businesses.

There isn’t an Instagram integration in the tool, which means your best workflow will be batch editing and pulling down those images to load into your favorite Instagram scheduler (like Tailwind’s publishing tool!)

4. A Color Story

Available on iOS and Android
Price: Basic (Free, with in-app purchases) Plus $4.99 monthly/ $24.99 yearly
Best For:

  • Beginner and intermediate editing experience
  • Using creative effects in their edits (doodles, light flares, texture, etc.)
  • Highlighting vibrant or distinctive color palettes or moods

Although A Color Story is a fairly new app, it packs a serious punch. Launching in 2016, this social media photo editing app has already snagged ‘Best New App’ awards on major platforms. Here’s why:

  • Limited-edition filter packs designed by pro photographers and influencers. If using user-created recipes on VSCO seems hit-or-miss (true story, it is!) you can trust the preset packs on A Color Story. Some are free, and some only cost a few bucks, but they’re designed by professionals who get it.
  • Precise- touch editing and 20 correcting options. A Color Story isn’t just about pretty light flares and vibrant filters. There are over 20 tools available to edit your image, from adjusting brightness to saturation and more!
  • 120+ movable light and image effects perfect for the playful ‘Grammer. If you express your creative side with dreamy light leaks, bokeh, this one is for you. You can add a light effect, adjust the intensity, and move around and rotate it on your image.
  • Save your custom filters and edits as you go to make your own custom presets! Add filters, adjust the intensity and layer more on top of your image. Like what you’ve created? Save it, and boom – you have an easy-access preset for all your images.

If you love to doodle, A Color Story has a sister app called A Design Kit that allows you to resize your images for multiple platforms, add effects, stickers, doodles, and text!

5. FaceTune 2

Available on iOS and Android
Best For:

  • Any editing experience level
  • Posting selfies, portraits, and pictures of people!
  • Keeping it cute while not worrying too much about color, mood and aesthetics

FaceTune… you love to hate it, hate to love it, am I right?

While this app inspires some controversy and even fear of ending up as a #photoshopfail, I recommend you try it out.

My stance is: less is more when retouching photos of yourself and other people, but let’s not kid ourselves. We all have things about ourselves we don’t like to see in photos and might be self- conscious about.

For example, I have keratosis pilaris on my neck and arms, and a little swipe of the softening brush on that texture is usually the difference between me posting a fun photo or being radio silent on social.

You should always be working towards loving your body and loving yourself unconditionally, but if a little swoosh of the healing brush until you get there makes you feel confident, radiant and beautiful, I say do it.

It’s your life, and more importantly, your Instagram!

Anywhoo, Facetune 2 isn’t just about photoshopping your selfies. It packs a surprising array of editing tools and filters to make your photos stand out, like:

  • Fun and funky editing effects like background removal and replacement, glitter and makeup brushes, prism effects and neon filters.
  • Pro retouching features that don’t take precious time to use. Have you ever tried to contour a jaw in Photoshop? No, honey. One swipe of your finger will help you whiten teeth, smooth skin, contour and reshape. Plus you can adjust the intensity with ease!
  • A relighting tool that acts as a magic ring-light. You can move it around a face or object in your image to magically brighten and cast shadows as if a ring-light was right by you in the picture. So cool!
  • A Suite of flattering image filters. Facetune wouldn’t be one of the top Instagram photo editor apps in the world if it didn’t have a tidy collection of ready-to-go filters built-in. You can snap, edit, filter and post in a matter of minutes. So cool!

Check Out Our Photography Webinar For More Tips!

If all this talk about editing apps, effects and lighting has you overwhelmed… don’t worry, we have ANOTHER cool resource for you!

The Tailwind team recently joined up with Kayla Marie Butler of Ivory Mix to create a FREE one-hour webinar! In our Smartphone Photography Pro course, you’ll learn:

  • How to work with lighting for the best social media photos ever
  • Framing, angle, and composition tips that you’ll never forget
  • Step-by-step final editing in an Instagram photo editing app (Lightroom is our example!) to correct poor lighting and color

And a ton of other tips! You’ll leave the webinar ready to step up your smartphone photography game… and the best part is it’s FREE!

Click below to view our webinar. You can thank us later!

Start Scheduling Your New and Improved Instagram Posts

Now that you’ve snagged your dream photo editing app, make sure you have a handy tool to schedule all your beautiful photos with! Tailwind’s publishing tool allows you to:

  • Upload your beautifully edited images right into your Drafts from mobile
  • Pen the perfect caption and find the best hashtags (ranked by competitiveness!)
  • Visually plan your feed by seeing all your posts together in our 9-grid preview tool
  • Schedule at the best times based on your unique engagement history
  • Auto Post your images to your feed so you can set them and forget them!

Want a free trial to check it out? Sign up with Tailwind for Instagram today for a 30-post trial and access to all our scheduling tools, insights and more – no credit card required!

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