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XnRetro review

A simple tool to give your photos an instant retro makeover

Our Verdict

This free photo editor is incredibly limited and produces results you're unlikely to get excited about. Mobile apps are easier to use, more convenient, and produce very similar results.


  • Quick and easy to use
  • Can share images directly from the program
  • Portable app


  • Incredibly basic tool
  • Limited range of effects

The likes of Instagram and similar apps for smartphones have popularised the use of filters on photos. Snap a quick shot, and in seconds you can transform it into something with a retro look, make it looks like a painting, or aim for something more abstract.


Where to download:

Type: Photo editor

Developer: XnSoft

Operating system: Windows

Version: 1.2

On the desktop, we tend to be stuck with fully-fledged image editors, and this can be overkill; XnRetro aims to fill a gap it believes it has spotted in the market, although it does like itself to producing retro images.

After fiddling about the limited range of options XnRetro presents, your creations can be saved in JPG or PNG format – yep, that's it, no other options – and shared via social media.

This option highlights the problem with XnRetro. It's taken an idea (quick and dirty photo editing with the aim of sharing online), which works brilliantly on mobile devices, and tried to crowbar it onto the desktop. It just doesn’t work.

Limited image editing options aside, XnRetro's sharing feature is painful to use. There simply isn't the same sharing integration found on Android, so pushing your creations to Facebook, Flickr and so on is just awkward.

User experience

The idea behind XnRetro is very simple: load a photo into the program and choose from one of the 14 preset retro filters, each with different colouring, and differing degree of digital degradation. You can then add light effects – like lens flare, dust specks, or to mimic poor photo reproduction – before choosing a vignette and a frame.

For more manual control, you can also user XnRetro to tinker with colour balance, noise contrast, and so on using a series of sliders, but you'd be far better off getting to grips with a proper image editor to get decent results, or stick with the simple apps on your phone that are far less cumbersome.

Latest updates

The latest version of XnRetro features vignetting and noise effects, 20 color effects, 28 frame borders, and several other tools and options. For a full list of all changes, see XnRetro's release notes.

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