While the GIMP is typically regarded as the best free image/photo editor you can download, its wealth of features can be daunting for beginners and many people abandon the software, frustrated by its complexity. Where do they go instead? They turn to Paint.Net.
Paint.Net isn't the photo-tweaking leviathan that the GIMP has become. But that's the big attraction of this software and one of the reasons that many people download it.
Paint.Net has all of the image editing basics covered - image sharpening, red-eye removal, brightness, colour, and saturation tweakery. There are also options to resize, crop, and rotate your images (obviously), and these are backed up by a good range of selection and paint functionality, including Clone Stamp, Curve and Gradient tools.
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Unlike some free image editing packages, Paint.Net also includes support for layers, which means that you can apply edits to part of an image only. Like the GIMP, the core versatility of Paint.Net can also be extended with plugins developed by the Paint.NET community.
There are a huge array of these plugins, including helpful add-ons like Photoshop PSD (enabling you to open PSD files) and Text+ (giving you more control over line spacing and draw positioning).
Best of all, though, Paint.NET's clear and straightforward interface means it's very easy to use, even if you're a complete graphics novice. A wide spread of options, plugins that extend the functionality… What's not to like?