When it comes to photo editing, you could spend untold weeks of your life exploring all of the free tools at your disposal. That's because photo editing, especially with regard to Facebook, is freakishly popular.
You could certainly spend $100 or more on high-octane photo-editing programs, such as Adobe Photoshop or Corel PaintShop Photo Pro. But it's really not necessary. You can find many of the same powerful tools in GIMP, an image-manipulation program that's entirely free. As with a lot of robust programs, this one contains a wealth of icons and buttons, and thus, has a bit of a learning curve.
If you want to begin playing with your photos immediately, you may want to consider quicker and simpler alternatives. The Web is chock-full of free image editors, and unlike traditional software, you don't even have to download and install them onto your hard drive. Instead, you can simply upload an image, edit it online and then share your finished work of art in a multitude of ways.
You can try editors such as Picnik, FotoFlexer or Phixr, among many others. After you upload your image, you'll be able to tweak, correct or warp your images to your imagination's content. Almost all of these sites have auto-correct functions, which are one-click repairs for color or contrast problems. And if the instant fix doesn't work quite right, they also offer fine-grain controls for changing those same characteristics manually.
Those features are just for starters. These editors let you correct red-eye and tone down blemishes on portraits; they also allow you to add text, line and clip art, vignettes, drop shadows and much more. And in the spirit of over-the-top photo fun, you can layer on the special effects, from blurring and embossing to bizarrely creative color effects.
Of course, once you've completed your one-of-a-kind art piece, you need to decide how to use it. Any Web editor worth using will let you save a copy of your image to your hard drive, from which you can upload it to Facebook. Some others help you post the image directly to Facebook, Twitter or other social networking tools.
Many of the most popular free editors are actually integrated into Facebook. On the site, in the search box, type the name of an editor, such as LunaPic, and you'll see that it's also a Facebook app. Click Go to App and you can install it, which will let you begin working on the images already uploaded to your Facebook account immediately.
The imaging ecstasy doesn't stop there. On the next page, you'll find out how to keep your photos in order -- and as a result, create more fun for everyone who sees your page.