15 Best Free RAW Photo Editors in 2024

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Edited by Ben Jacklin

Whether you're taking your first foray into RAW photography or are looking to upgrade your editing workflow, if you want to find the best free RAW photo editor, look no further.

Quick summary

  1. Best app for editing RAW photos on an iPad: Affinity Photo 2 for iPad

  2. Most advanced color grading online: Color.io

At Movavi, our primary goal is to provide you with only verified information. Here’s what we do to ensure this:

  • When selecting products to include in our reviews, we research both demand and popularity.

  • All the products in this article have been tested by Movavi Content Team.

  • We compare the key characteristics of every product, including photo scaling and cropping, object and background removal, image restoration, and other significant features.

  • We study user reviews from popular review platforms and make use of this information when writing our product reviews.

  • We collect feedback from our users and analyze their opinions of Movavi software as well as products from other companies.


Best free RAW editors for Windows and macOS

Widely known for its huge range of functions paired with a user-friendly interface, Movavi Photo Editor allows processing RAW images, too. Although the full package is not free, most tools are available in the trial version. The latter one doesn’t allow saving RAW images, but you can still open the file in the program and explore its potential. This is probably the best free RAW photo editor for beginners, as it is very easy to navigate and offers the most popular instruments for color correction and retouching. Professional photographers will most likely find Movavi Photo Editor equally useful, as it massively facilitates image editing. Extra features include easy object removal, background replacement, makeup tools, and a library of artistic filters.


  • Artificial intelligence adjustment
  • A tool for removing unwanted objects
  • A wide range of filters and effects


  • Has a simple interface that’s perfect for beginners

  • AI optimizes images in a single click

  • Works with images in all popular formats


  • Free trial version is limited

As you can tell from its name, this software is like a digital darkroom for editing images. Once you download it, it will act as a database for your RAW photos – making it easy to search for them by tags, color labels, and other parameters.

Darktable offers a lot of correction tools such as equalizer, chromatic aberrations, highlight reconstruction, and many more – enough to polish your edit to perfection. It works equally well as a beginner-level photo editor for Instagram pictures as well as a high-end software for polishing magazine photoshoots. The program has been translated into 21 languages. It is said to be very similar to its rival Raw Therapee: there are quite a lot of comparative reviews. It may be worth looking through some or trying out both to make your own choice.


  • Professional color management
  • Fast image processing


  • Compatible with all popular platforms

  • Completely free


  • Beginners can find it difficult to use

One of the most popular editing software which seems to be just too good to be free. Yet it is – for all popular operating systems such as Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux. Raw Therapee supports much of the widely used cameras and filetypes.

It may take you quite a while to familiarize yourself with the program as it is easy to get lost in all those panels and instruments. Key features include HDR tone mapping, deep exposure color correction, bar graph matching, and a selection of various enhancement tools. The program has previously received some complaints regarding its random crashes, but the developers seem to have fixed that in the last update. Another frequently received complaint is that there aren’t many guides and tutorials available, so you’ll probably have to learn it the hard way – all by yourself. The good news is, there is so much that you can do with this program that you will barely regret the time lost exploring.


  • A variety of enhancement tools
  • HDR tone mapping


  • Supports popular RAW formats

  • Available free of charge


  • A lack of guides and tutorials

A free open-source RAW editing software that supports most Bitmap and RAW images. Aside from common editing and retouching tools, its features include CA correction, bad pixel reduction, wavelet Denise and median filters. Some users have claimed Photivo to possess the most flexible and effective denoise and a very good local contrast (fake HDR) instrument.

A bonus point is that Photivo allows workflow integration with GIMP for importing and exporting images. That said, it is necessary to note that Photivo is not a beginner level software – you need to be a little more photo editing-savvy to take full advantage of this program. It is currently available in six languages and can be used on Mac OS, Windows, and Linux.


  • Bad pixel detection and correction
  • Correction of chromatic aberration


  • Works with most RAW formats

  • Powerful editing features


  • The app is not suitable for beginners

Despite being one of the simplest editing programs, Raw Photo Editor has quite a lot to offer. What’s very different about its interface is that you won’t see any sliders for changing parameters – you’ll have to get used to working with numbers instead.

It may seem tricky at first, but once you get it, you will love this editing software for its considerable array of instruments. It is said to be particularly good for working with underexposed images, since it offers an advanced tool for exposure compensation completed with 4-channel white balance adjustment and histogram. A little drawback is that it doesn’t let you play around with color correction that much – you’ll have to finalize your edit with alternative software to do that. Raw Photo Processor is only available for Mac, but reportedly there are a few Windows users out there who manage to find solutions to work with it. The reason for their persistence is that this program has one of the best RAW converters amongst its competitors.


  • 4-channel white balance adjustment
  • Underexposed images processing


  • Supports popular RAW formats

  • Integrates with other tools, can work with Photoshop®


  • You may need another app to work with color correction

Best mobile RAW image editors

Adobe® Lightroom® (iOS & Android)

If you have experience taking and editing photos, you've probably heard of Adobe. Lightroom® is the famous company's RAW image editor.

While Adobe does allow you to edit RAW photos online, you'll probably want to download Lightroom®. The app is available on all major operating systems, including Mac and Windows 10, and the mobile version is available on both iOS and Android. 

Be aware that there are technically three versions of Lightroom. There's the mobile version and then two desktop versions: one, called Lightroom® CC, stores files on the cloud, while the older version, called Lightroom® Classic CC, stores files locally. While Lightroom® Classic CC has more features, all versions of the RAW photo editor offer the same experience. You can import, organize, process, and edit your RAW images. Many presets are also available for people wanting to quickly and easily apply particular styles to their photos. The app also comes with a powerful RAW file editor and library for organizing and modifying your image files.


  • High-level color grading
  • Non-destructive photo editing
  • Sync with other Adobe apps
  • Adobe community presets


  • Can use in combination with other Adobe products

  • Wide set of powerful tools

  • Extensive library of filters

  • Well-designed interface


  • Steeper learning curve than some more straightforward programs

  • Free version is limited

Darkroom is a RAW photo processor for mobile photographers. That's right: professional-level photography doesn't require professional photography equipment anymore.

As newer iPhones come with cameras that can take RAW photos, it makes sense that mobile apps would be released that can edit and process RAW images.

As you might expect from a mobile app, Darkroom is optimized for the smaller screen. The program comes packed with effects and filters, which you can select to touch up a photo quickly. Of course, you can tweak these filters to your liking or even create new filters to apply to your photos. Darkroom also lets you edit RAW images with your voice! You can get RAW editing done hands-free by setting up Siri shortcuts.


  • Optimized for mobile editing
  • Plenty of pre-packaged effects and filters
  • Apply filters to batches of photos


  • Free download

  • Simple interface

  • Automate tasks with Siri shortcuts


  • Full use requires monthly subscription

  • Fewer features than other programs on this list, especially desktop programs

  • Can struggle with larger files

Snapseed (iOS & Android)

Look, sometimes you just don't want to spend any money at all. If that's the case, Snapseed is the app for you. Snapseed is freeware, which means it's not just a free download; it's free to use with all features included.

For a new photographer, or someone not used to editing RAW photos, it might be worth trying an image editor that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. That way, you can try out the format, and if you don’t like it (or just get bored), you won’t have wasted any money. If you feel like you want to spend money on one of the RAW software options with more features, you can always upgrade later.

That said, Snapseed punches well above its price – or lack of price. It has essential image-editing tools, like cropping and rotating, but also has some powerful features, like the healing and perspective tools. For a free download that lets you edit RAW photos on the go, it’s worth checking out!


  • Apply filters with one touch
  • Make edits to specific areas of your images


  • Totally free

  • Easy to use


  • Fewer features than paid apps and programs

  • Color grading is less precise than other options on this list

VSCO (iOS & Android)

You might have heard of VSCO, even if you're new to photography. After all, the app has become popular as a more arty alternative to Instagram. VSCO is a clean, well-designed app available on iOS and Android.

The social features are fun, but it's a lot more than a platform for sharing your pictures. Its design, as well as being pleasant to the eye, makes the app easy to learn and simple to use. You'll be able to get started using the powerful editing tools to adjust your images. There are also hundreds of professionally-designed filters from which you can choose. In short, VSCO is perfect for amateur photographers who want to avoid bothering with detailed desktop programs but still want to ensure their photos are top-notch quality.


  • Sleek design
  • Hundreds of filters
  • Ability to share and view photos


  • Integrated social media lets you build a community and find inspiration easily

  • Simple design makes it easy to use


  • Free to download, but many of the filters require a paid subscription

Affinity has been making waves in the last few years. As a challenger to Adobe's dominance over the design world, it's got a lot going for it. Affinity Photo 2 for iPad is one of the strongest products in the company's lineup. Unlike other apps on this list, Affinity Photo 2 for iPad is, as you might have guessed, specifically designed for the iPad.

Among other things, that means full support for every single one of the custom Apple Pencil gestures. Use your fingers and the pencil to optimize your photo-editing workflow. With an uncompressed RAW photo file, you can zoom all the way into your images and tweak minor details to ensure everything is absolutely perfect. 

Affinity Photo 2 for iPad is also built to handle the huge files that come with editing RAW photos. You won't have to worry about lag or crashes while processing even the largest RAW images.


  • Dedicated workspace for RAW photo editing
  • Multiple color spaces
  • Compatible with various formats, including JPEG, RAW, and TIFF
  • Supports all Apple Pencil gestures


  • Specially designed for the iPad

  • Can handle large files, which are common when processing RAW images

  • Compatibility with other Affinity programs


  • One-off payment required for a full version

  • No iPhone app

Best online apps for RAW photo editing

If the name Photopea sounds familiar, that's not a coincidence. This online photo editor was created as a free alternative to Photoshop®. While it's certainly less powerful than Adobe's flagship product, it comes with many more features than you might expect a free, web-only program to have.

Most of those features mimic the ones available in Photoshop®. The interface of Photopea is similar to Photoshop’s®, too, so Adobe users will find themselves in familiar territory. Those wanting to eventually upgrade to Photoshop® or test the waters of advanced photo editing will find Photopea a helpful tool to practice and see whether Photoshop® is right for them.

That being said, Photopea is not specifically designed for RAW photo editing. It's more of a general photo-editing tool. With that in mind, if all you want to do is process RAW images, you might want something designed with that in mind.


  • Extensive image-editing capabilities
  • Work from any desktop


  • One of the best RAW photo editors that’s free

  • No download required

  • Similarity to Photoshop® makes it intuitive for those familiar with Adobe software


  • Generalist app, meaning fewer features specifically for processing RAW images compared to other apps and programs

  • No app available

  • Internet connection required

PhotoKit isn’t as popular as some of the options already discussed, but that doesn’t make it any less worthy of your attention. This online photo editor has a suite of features to help you polish your photos to perfection.

You can tinker with the various tools available, or let an AI take care of things for you. That’s right: PhotoKit has an AI tool that will automatically enhance your photos, saving you time and effort. It’s as easy as a single click! If you think the enhanced photo still needs work, or simply want total control over the editing process, you can dive in with advanced tools like inpaint and background removal. These powerful features let you remove blemishes, photobombers, and other elements distracting from your otherwise perfect picture.


  • Process multiple images at the same time
  • AI tools enhance your photos for you


  • Extensive features for a web program

  • Ability to edit RAW photos online

  • AI can help amateurs or those uninterested in editing polish their pictures quickly


  • Full features require subscription

  • Some of the tools are a little less accurate than those in other programs

Color.io is a newcomer to the RAW photo-editing scene. It was built by a single developer who wanted to improve how existing programs and apps handled color correction. As such, Color.io is focused on color correction. That means it has fewer RAW image-editing features than other apps. 

However, if what you want to do is color correction, then you can’t do much better than Color.io! That’s because the program uses complex math to develop the color of an image in a way similar to film. You can play around with the various settings to achieve a specific look or let the included AI do all the work for you. In fact, the AI can even copy the color grade from an image. If there’s a picture that really speaks to you, or a fantastic photographer you want to try and learn from, you can try importing their color grading into Color.io to unlock some of the math behind their photography magic.


  • AI tool for automatically enhancing images, adapting colors, and copying color grades from other images
  • In-depth, custom-built color correction


  • One of the most powerful color correction tools available

  • Specifically designed for color correction

  • No download required


  • Few editing features beyond color correction

  • All features require paid subscription

Fylm.ai was initially developed for video editing, but has since moved into the RAW editing game. On one hand, that’s resulted in an online RAW photo editor that can quickly achieve gorgeous cinematic looks.

On the other hand, that online RAW photo editor lacks a lot of features. In fact, you’ll need to switch to another RAW editing software in order to achieve basically anything beyond color correction. 

If you don’t mind flipping between programs, or aren’t happy with the color correction tools in your otherwise-perfect RAW software, then you don’t need to worry about this. However, if you’re looking for the best free RAW editor overall, then you might want to keep this in mind. Fylm.ai is excellent at what it does, but it only really does color correction.


  • Dark design
  • Simple layout
  • Automatically develops RAW files
  • Powerful color correction tools


  • Specifically built to achieve cinematic color grading

  • Lack of distractions makes it easy to focus on color correction

  • Design lets you photos on your photos


  • Lacks editing tools unrelated to coloring 

  • Free subscription plan is limited

Polarr has been making advances in online RAW image editing for years. This powerful image editor now has mobile versions, but its flagship product is still the web app. Anyone can get started with just a few clicks.

You'll need to pay for a subscription to access all the features, but you can get your bearings without having to pay anything. Plus, with one free professional export provided daily, the hobby photographer might find the free tier fine.

That pro export could involve some of the most powerful RAW image-editing tools on the market. Polarr comes packed with many filters, presets, and more, which all help streamline your editing workflow. The user interface has been designed for simplicity, but don't let that fool you: More than enough features are available to satisfy even the most advanced photo editor. Plus, despite being a web app, Polarr can remember your edit history and even lets you work offline.


  • Extensive set of professional-level tools
  • Simple interface
  • Online app, with mobile versions available
  • Remembers editing history


  • The number of features rivals industry leaders, like Lightroom®

  • Online app means no download necessary and quick signup


  • Can be difficult for new users to figure out

  • Interface is somewhat unique, meaning a steeper learning curve for those switching from other RAW image editors

How to edit RAW photos with Movavi Photo Editor

Wondering how to edit RAW photos? With Movavi Photo Editor, one of the best free RAW editors available, the process is simple. Follow these steps to learn how to edit RAW images:

Step 1. Download and install Movavi Photo Editor

Download the installation file and install Movavi Photo Editor on your computer. The program will automatically launch once it has finished installing.

Step 2. Choose the image you want to edit

Hopefully, you’ve already selected a photo for editing. If you haven’t, go take one! Once you have, click the Add image button to select the image you want to edit. Make sure it’s in the correct format.

Step 3. Start editing

With your RAW image successfully loaded into Movavi Photo Editor, you can get to work. The program has a variety of tools for you to explore.

You can enhance your photos, retouch individual faces, remove unwanted objects (including the entire background!), and much more. Explore what’s possible yourself or take a look at one of the many tutorials available online to see what’s possible.

Step 4. Save your photo

When you finish editing, click the Save button in the lower-right corner of the program window. Specify the saving settings and then click the Save button.

Tips on choosing the best RAW photo editor that’s free

Choosing the best RAW photo-editing software is a tricky choice, but that’s only because there are so many great options available! If you’re unsure, consider the following things:

  • Experience: how experienced are you with editing RAW images? If you’re a pro, you’ll want one of the more advanced programs, with the highest number of features and most powerful tools. If you’re newer to RAW image editing, you’ll probably want to try one of the more straightforward options first.
  • Price: how much are you willing to spend? Hey, camera gear is expensive. If you’ve already spent a chunk of cash on a brand-new camera, you might want to hold off on purchasing an expensive image editor. Remember, you can always upgrade to a more expensive program later.
  • Features: what is it you want to do with your photos? Consider what exactly you’re trying to achieve. If you want to make extensive edits, you’ll probably want to choose one of the more generalized image editors. On the other hand, if you have specific needs, you can choose an app that focuses on helping you achieve those.
  • Hardware: what will you use to edit your photos? It sounds obvious, but don’t overlook this. Some programs are only available on certain devices. Don’t go for a mobile app if you’ll be doing your editing on a desktop. And don’t choose an online editor if you want to be editing on the go, on your mobile device, or without an internet connection.





  • Artificial intelli­gence adjust­ment

  • A tool for removing unwan­ted objects

  • A wide range of filters and effects

  • Professional color manage­ment

  • Fast image processing

  • A variety of enhancement tools
  • HDR tone mapping
  • Softpedia rating: 3.7 / 5


    So, you now not only know how to process RAW images, you have a better idea of what is the best free RAW editor. Of course, no software is perfect for everyone. Make sure to carefully consider your specific needs when choosing your RAW image editor.

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    *The trial version of Movavi Photo Editor has the following restrictions: you can save up to 10 images with added watermark, screenshots are disabled.

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    Frequently asked questions

    💯 What is the best free RAW editing software?

    📷 How can I edit RAW photos for free?

    💻 What programs can edit RAW files?

    📷 What Is the best free photo editor for beginners?

    💻 What is the best way to edit RAW photos?

    📷 What app can edit RAW photos?

    💻 Is there a free photo editor for Windows RAW?

    📷 Is it worth it to edit RAW over JPEG?

    📷 Can you directly edit a RAW image?

    💻 Is it harder to edit RAW photos?

    💻 Can any phone take RAW photos?

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