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Snapseed is the best photo editing app you don’t use



snapseed logo

There is a great photo editing app that just happens to come from a household name that you may not be familiar with. Google’s “Snapseed” should be installed on everyone’s phone, be it an iPhone or running Android. We will explain why.

Many camera apps that come preinstalled on phones these days have their own built-in editing tools. Many people are satisfied with these tools, and something called “Photoshop”

; is intimidating. That’s where Snapseed really shines. It’s powerful yet easy to use.

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Humble beginning

Snapseed was originally launched in 2011 for the Apple iPad. Nik Software, a small California company, created the photo editing app. The app quickly gained popularity and was named iPad App of the Year by Apple.

Later that year, Nik Software launched Snapseed for the iPhone and a year after that for the Windows desktop. Shortly afterwards, Google took over the company and an Android version was released. The desktop version was eventually discontinued.

Snapseed received a major “2.0” update in 2015 and has continued to receive consistent updates for the iPhone, iPad and Android devices ever since. However, it is not a product that you often hear Google talk about, despite being pretty well reviewed on both platforms.

Simple yet powerful

The best thing about Snapseed is that it brings together many impressive and powerful editing tools into a user-friendly interface. It is approachable without being over-simplified.

When you first open the app, you will be greeted with a large “+” button in the center of the screen. That is it. Tapping this button will take you to your photo gallery, where you can choose a photo to work on.

open a photo

After choosing a photo, you will be taken to the editing screen. Snapseed doesn’t immediately hit you with a bunch of tools. You will first be presented with a row of filters similar to what you would see on Instagram. It allows you to change the look of your photo with a single tap.

snapseed filters

If the filters are not sufficient, you can move up one step to the “Tools” tab. This is where the more powerful editing tools live. They are presented in a friendly manner with pictograms and clear labels. Even if you don’t know all the terms, the icons will give you a hint.

snapseed tools

If there’s one thing I’d knock on Snapseed for, it’s how it uses gestures to adjust the effects. The app doesn’t really explain the gestures very well, although I do like them now that I understand how they work.

Basically, depending on the tool, slide your finger vertically to choose the parameter and then horizontally to adjust the value. For example, for the ‘White Balance’ tool, the parameters are ‘Temperature’ and ‘Tint’.

When you have finished editing your photo, it is time to “export” it. Snapseed makes the options here easy to understand once again. You can share the photo directly without using any other app if that’s all you need to do. You can also make copies and choose specific folders to save them.

export options

The best Snapseed tools

Snapseed has a lot of great tools to choose from, but I want to highlight a few of my favorites. The one I seem to open Snapseed for the most is called ‘Healing’.

The Healing Tool is designed to get rid of blemishes, but it can do much more than that. I have used it to remove crumbs from my child’s face and stains from shirts. You simply tap on the unwanted spot and Snapseed will try to adapt it to the environment.

cure tool before and after
Removing a hair with the Healing tool.

The common-sounding “Tune Image” tool is a good catch-all for a lot of things. The parameters include brightness, contrast, saturation, mood, highlights, shadows, and warmth. The “Selective” tool has some of the same parameters, but you can use them in specific areas of the photo.

If you’re looking for a cool and slightly spooky tool, try ‘Head Pose’. It allows you to adjust the angle of your head or your smile and artificially change the focal length. If you overdo it, the results can be a bit daunting, but for subtle tweaks, it’s pretty neat.

Give Snapseed a try

The purpose of this piece is not to drop your current photo editing app of your choice. For most of my own photo editing on my smartphone, I even use Google Photos. Snapseed, however, is an important tool to have under my belt for those few occasions when I need a little more.

Snapseed has over a million reviews in the Google Play Store with a rating of 4.5 / 5. In the Apple App Store, it has 6,000 reviews with a rating of 3.9 / 5. find it, and if you’ve never tried it, you should.

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