Quick photo editing on your Smartphone using the free Snapseed app by Google

Have you ever noticed that Google Play and iTunes have a dedicated category for photography apps?


There are so many apps available, many of them free, but not worth your time.  Instead of navigating through the many disappointing apps and finding yourself very frustrated, why not go straight to one of the best. Snapseed by Google is by far my favourite editing app – and it is free!!


This simple, yet powerful mobile photo editing app has nearly every feature you could possibly need. It is quite intuitive and available on both Android and iOS systems.  It is the ideal app for me to demonstrate at mobile photography workshops because it is so simple and the results can be breathtaking.


Below, I will demonstrate how to use Snapseed basics and share the standard step by step process that I apply to nearly all my photos.


Once you open your photo in the app, you have two sections: ‘Tools’ and ‘Filters’. I am going to concentrate on ‘Tools’ in this article which give you the confidence to improve any photo.

Snapseed Work Flow Updated Sep 17
New perspective adjustment in Snapseed 2.18

1. Perspective

Firstly, you may need to straighten the image. At times, you may deliberately angle your photo to make it look more dynamic and create some interest. However, often a photo that is slightly crooked can make you photo look ‘not quite right’. This is called ‘visual tension.’

Select ‘Transform’ under the tools menu, followed by ‘Rotation’.  Then you can swipe left or right to adjust your image. You will notice the black corners being filled in when you let go? It is super cool!


2. Crop

Secondly, you may want to reduce the edges in the photo to highlight a subject area or change the focus of surrounding elements in the photo. Select ‘Crop’, under the tools menu.  Experiment with different points of interest. You can drag the corners in and out or hold the centre of the grid and move it around. You may even discover several photographic opportunities within the one photo!

Snapseed photo editing - crop feature

3. Tune Image

This is where the real magic happens. After selecting ‘Tune Image’, again under the tools menu, I always swipe up to ‘Ambience’ first. This adjustment is a combination of many of the enhancement options available to you. It alone, can really make your photo pop off the screen. Next, I start at the top of the ‘Tune Image’ options and work my way down to the bottom. There is no right and wrong with these adjustments.  Experiment a little, you never know what you will discover. If you go too far, you can always reduce the strength of the effect.

Snapseed photo editing - tune image

4. Details

Again under the tools menu, you will find a menu option called ‘Details’.  There are two options here to sharpen the image. ‘Structure’ sharpens the edges within the photo and ‘Sharpening’ sharpens every pixel. My advice is to generally avoid pushing ‘structure’ past the number 20 because the image becomes grainy and looks manufactured or fake.

Sharpen an image in Snapseed mobile photo editing app using Sharpen

5. Healing

This is the final adjustment and one that I absolutely love. This feature allows you to remove any distracting objects from your photo. Pinch and zoom to get in closer to the object you want to remove. Then, tap or swipe over the object. The area you swipe over is instantly filled with content from surrounding pixels. It does a great job.

Snapseed photo editing - remove objects using healing tool

6. HDR Scape

This is one of the finishing touches that I quite often apply to the image. I typically only add a little bit of this filter to give the image a bit of depth and punch to the colours. No, HDR does not stand for High Definition Resolution! It is High Dynamic Range and it is where the image has a wider range of details displayed in all the bright and dark areas of the image.

Snapseed photo editing - high dynamic range HDR Scape

7. Lens Blur

I love this feature of Snapseed. You can choose between ellitptical and linear which is basically add blur around the subject or across the top and bottom of the image. You can increase and decrease the area in blur, the transition between in focus and out of focus, focus strength and also add a vignette - darkening of the outer corners.

Snapseed has a whole lot more to offer, but the above should be enough to get you hooked.


If you would like to watch a range of more detailed tutorials using Snapseed – follow this link to our YouTube channel. If you subscribe, you will never miss an update.


Remember - be passionate, be creative and keep learning.

Also published on Medium.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.