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Top 8 Free Apps to Lighten Photos You Should Not Miss

With the cameras on our phones, it's easier than ever to take photos. But often our images turn out darker than we'd like. Thankfully, there are many great free apps that make it simple to lighten up your photos. In this article, we'll highlight the top 8 free apps for brightening photos on both iPhone and Android.

Whether you need to fix an underexposed photo or just give your images more vibrance, these user-friendly apps have you covered. Read on to find the perfect photo editing tools to breathe new life into your pics.

Part 1. 8 Essential Free Apps to Lighten Photos

1. App to Lighten Dark Photos with YouCam Enhance


YouCam Enhance is a great free app for lightening up dark photos. It has an intuitive interface that makes adjusting brightness and contrast a breeze. It is an excellent app if you want to know how to lighten dark photos on iPhone.

The Magic Brush allows you to selectively lighten just the parts of a photo you want, without affecting the rest of the image.

  • Simple, easy-to-use interface
  • Magic Brush for selective adjustments
  • Range of lighting effects like Fill Light and HDR
  • Additional editing tools like crop, rotate, vignette
  • Limited customization compared to more advanced editors
  • Contains ads

2. Free App to Lighten Photos with Fotor


Fotor is a free photo editor with a host of features for lighting up underexposed photos. It provides granular control over brightness, contrast, highlights and shadows. Fotor's healing tool lets you remove distractions by cloning over parts of a photo. It is also the best app to lighten dark photos.

  • Precise adjustments for exposure, contrast, etc.
  • Healing/clone tool to remove distractions
  • Vignette and tilt shift effects
  • Collage and text tools for composites
  • Can feel overwhelming for new users
  • Collage templates are locked behind paywall

3. Free App to Lighten Photos with VSCO


For both editing and sharing photos, VSCO is a popular free app with filters that can brighten up images. It includes a range of preset filters, with Brilliant being specially designed to lighten underexposed shots. You can also make granular adjustments to brightness, contrast, saturation, and more.

  • Brilliant filter brightens dark photos
  • Flexible adjustment tools
  • Clean, minimal interface
  • Built-in camera and social sharing features
  • Preset filters can seem limited
  • Lacks more advanced editing tools

4. App to Lighten Dark Photos with Snapseed


Snapseed from Google is a highly-rated free app for lightening photos while retaining great image quality. Its Selective tool lets you brighten specific areas. The Tune Image filter makes it easy to quickly adjust brightness, contrast, and more. Snapseed also offers fun lighting effects. It is a free app to lighten photos.

  • Selective adjustment brush
  • Simple Tune Image filter
  • Quality filters and effects
  • Intuitive UX with automatic optimization
  • Struggles with resolution on detailed edits
  • Can be slow on older devices

5. Free App to Lighten Photos with Photoshop Express


Adobe's free Photoshop Express app provides effective tools for lighting up dark images. It has an Auto Fix function that adjusts brightness and contrast with one tap. The Exposure tool gives you manual slider controls for fine-tuning the lighting. Photoshop Express also includes fun effects and filters.

  • Auto Fix for quick enhancement
  • Precise Exposure adjustments
  • Quality filters and effects
  • Syncs with Photoshop ecosystem
  • Confusing interface for beginners
  • Limited selection of free tools

6. App to Lighten Dark Photos with Canva


Canva is a popular graphic design app that also includes handy photo editing capabilities for brightening images. It has filters, vignettes and light leak effects to lend a bright, airy feel. The Enhance tool automatically adjusts lighting, or you can manually tweak contrast, brightness and more.

  • Enhance tool for easy optimization
  • Fun light leak and vignette effects
  • Additional editing tools like crop and resize
  • Huge library of design elements
  • More limited controls than dedicated editors
  • Design focus can seem distracting

7. Free App to Lighten Photos with Foodie


Foodie is a photo editor tailored for making food photos pop through brightness and color adjustments. It has an Auto Enhance button that intelligently lightens photos. The selective Color Splash feature lets you highlight specific food shades. And manual sliders allow granular lighting tweaks.

  • Auto Enhance optimized for food pics
  • Color Splash to make flavors pop
  • Manual adjustment sliders
  • Fun food filters and stickers
  • Specialized for food photography
  • Limited utility for other photo types

8. Free App to Lighten Photos with Photoleap


Photoleap is a robust free photo editor with advanced AI tools to automatically lighten and enhance images. The intelligent Auto Adjust button scans your photo and makes the ideal lighting tweaks. The brush lets you brighten specific areas. Photoleap also has high-end features like layers and lens flare effects.

  • Auto Adjust AI for instant fixes
  • Targeted brush for local adjustments
  • Layering and blending modes
  • Professional lens flare effects
  • Auto adjustments can be inconsistent
  • App lacks organization features

Part 2. The Best PC App to Lighten Dark Photos with HitPaw Photo AI

While the free apps covered so far provide useful tools for lighting up photos if you're looking for truly professional-grade enhancement, premium software like HitPaw Photo AI is the way to go. This AI-powered photo editing software takes image lighting to the next level.

HitPaw Photo AI is an automatic ultra-quality AI photo enhancer for Windows and Mac. It features state-of-the-art artificial intelligence to instantly improve image quality, reduce noise, enlarge photos, and restore old/blurry photos with just one click. It is the best app for lightening dark photos.

  • AI-Powered Automatic Photo Enhancement: It uses advanced AI technology to automatically enhance image quality and resolution with one click.
  • Reduces Blurriness: The AI models can effectively make blurry pictures crisp and clear.
  • Removes Noise: It can remove noise from images shot in low light or high ISO.
  • Lossless Image Upscaling: You can enlarge and upscale images to higher resolutions without any quality loss.
  • Multiple AI Models: It provides 4 different AI models for general enhancement, denoising, face retouching, and colorizing black & white photos.

With HitPaw, enhancing your underexposed photos to make them brighter and clearer takes just a few easy steps:

  • Step 1:Download HitPaw Photo AI for your Mac or Windows computer. You can try the software for free before purchasing.
  • Step 2:Import your original dark photo that needs brightening into HitPaw. It supports files like JPG, PNG, RAW, and more.

  • Step 3:Select the optimal AI model “Low-Light Model” for lighting enhancement. The General model works great for most real-world shots. For portraits, use the Face model.

  • Step 4:Hit the "Preview" button and let HitPaw's AI instantly adjust your photo's lighting, colors, details, noise, and more.

  • Step 5:Preview the enhanced version of your newly brightened photo. Make any last tweaks if needed, then export the final lit-up image to use and share.


Final Words

In this article, we covered the top 8 free apps to lighten photos on Windows and Mac platforms.

While all these apps provide ways to lighten photos, they can be complex for beginners. For effortless one-click brightening powered by AI, we recommend HitPaw Photo AI. It automatically enhances image lighting and quality with no learning curve. The AI photo enhancer is easy to use on both Windows and Mac.

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