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Guide to Free Design Tools

Designing captivating visuals and graphics is no longer limited to professionals with expensive software. Thanks to the availability of free design tools, anyone can unleash their creativity and bring their ideas to life. Whether you’re a business owner, a student, or a hobbyist, these tools offer a wide range of benefits that can help you in various ways.

Cost-effective Solutions

One of the most significant advantages of free design tools is their cost-effectiveness. With these tools, you don’t have to invest in expensive software or subscriptions. They provide you with the essential features and functionalities you need without any financial burden. This allows you to allocate your resources wisely and invest in other areas of your project or business.

User-friendly Interfaces

Free design tools are designed with user-friendliness in mind. They often have intuitive interfaces that make it easy for beginners to get started. You don’t need to be a design expert to create impressive visuals. These tools provide drag-and-drop functionality, pre-designed templates, and customizable elements that simplify the design process. You can quickly learn the tools and start creating professional-looking designs in no time.

Versatile Design Options

Free design tools offer a wide range of design options to cater to different needs. Whether you want to create social media posts, presentations, flyers, logos, or infographics, these tools have you covered. They provide a diverse selection of templates, fonts, colors, and graphics that you can customize to match your brand or personal style. The versatility of these tools allows you to create unique and engaging designs for various purposes.

Accessible Collaboration

Collaboration is essential in many design projects, and free design tools often offer features that facilitate teamwork. These tools allow multiple users to work on the same project simultaneously, making it easy to gather feedback, make revisions, and ensure everyone is on the same page. Some tools even offer real-time collaboration, allowing team members to work together seamlessly, regardless of their physical location.

Creative Inspiration

Free design tools often come with additional resources that can spark your creativity. They provide access to extensive libraries of stock photos, icons, graphics, and templates that you can use as a starting point for your designs. These resources save you time and effort by providing a wealth of inspiration and ready-made elements that can be customized to suit your needs.

The majority of my clients request a site designed in a content management system (CMS) like WordPress so that they have the ability to update or add their own content, and the ability to have a blog/news section they can update.  Once they start doing their own updates, they usually ask for software suggestions for some basic graphics work, photo editing, and other general tasks.  This article was written for my clients, but others might benefit from it as well.


Preview (Mac)

Preview is a built in image editor in the Mac OS.  While it’s a simple looking program, it can actually perform a lot of basic functions and seems to constantly get new functionality with OS updates.  You can do basic cropping and re-sizing, file conversions (even to PDF) and a whole lot more.

Preview (Mac)

Photos (Mac)

Photos was released by Apple as a replacement for iPhoto and Aperature. It basically has all the features that Preview has, but can also be used to manage a photo library, something that the other software options in this list don’t really do.

Photos (Mac) (PC) is very intuitive to use, but still a very powerful image editor. There is a large community support forum available.  I personally use it for most quick image editing tasks rather than Photoshop.  I have mainly been a Mac user over the years, but when I work on PC I love this application.

Pixlr (Online/Chrome Extension/Phone App)

Pixlr offers a suite of web based editing tools. Pixlr Express for basic edits, and the more powerful Pixlr Editor for more advanced tasks like working with layers. They also offer a Chrome extension, and a mobile version. Since I initially wrote this article, there is a phone app as well.  So it’s a tool you can use across multiple platforms.  There are a lot of similar online apps out there now, but I still consider it one of the better ones.

Canva (Online)

Canva (Online)

A pretty powerful online editor.  It’s strength in my opinion is it’s template system for people that are novices to graphics applications.  It allows users to fairly easily create graphics for use on web sites or Social media.  I like to recommend it to my clients for use on their Blogs and Social Media.

GIMP (Mac/PC/Linux)

While the previous options are suited to beginners, GIMP is more along the lines of a full Photoshop replacement.  It can do what Photoshop does, and more in some cases.   The learning curve is much steeper with GIMP, but their web site has plenty of tutorials and documentation.  There are also a ton of YouTube tutorial videos available.


The software listed so far is generally used for bitmap image editing and creation.  The following tools are for vector art creation and editing.  There aren’t a lot of free Vector programs out there, especially ones that work across platforms.

Inkscape (Mac/Windows/Linux)

Inkscape is an open-source vector graphics editor similar to Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw, Freehand, or Xara X. What sets Inkscape apart is its use of Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG), an open XML-based W3C standard, as the native format.  Inkscape is a very powerful piece of software for free.

Inkscape (Mac/Windows/Linux)


I don’t have a ton of experience with this one yet, but I like to offer online tools as well as software because of their obvious convenience for clients.  It seems to have most of the basics you would want in a vector art program.



Preview (Mac) – Preview is a great tool for batch re-sizing images.  If you use Yosemite or above, there is a built-in batch file re-namer. (Online) – Fast Stone is a powerful batch image re-sizer and batch file-namer in one.  This one is not a bulk/batch resizer, but I have it on the list because it can do a whole bunch of other functions while resizing the image,

Bulk Resize (Online) – There are a ton of buld resizeing options online.  They all work in a pretty similar way.  This on has a drag and drop interface, so I added it to the list.


TinyPNG – An online image optimizer.  Any image on your site should really be run through a tool like this before uploaded.

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