1. Technology

What's the BEST Graphics Software?

Choosing the Best Software for Your Needs

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One of the most frequently asked questions I get generally involves a list of image editing tasks followed by the question, "What's the best graphics software for this?"

I sometimes wish it were that simple to answer these questions, but if there were truly only one "best" solution, we wouldn't have the choices we do... and choices are a very good thing. But because every person undoubtedly has different needs and skill levels, and every program has varying strengths and weaknesses, there is never a single, obvious "best" choice.

My difficulty in answering this question stems from the fact that the questioners rarely provide enough background information for me to make a proper recommendation. For instance, I can't effectively make software suggestion without knowing the platform and specs of the system where the software will run, the budget, the skill level of the users, types of projects the images will be used in (Web or print output), and so on. Is the organization running the newest and fastest hardware, or are you working with outdated systems that may not be able to run the latest software? All these factors are just as important as what functions the software can perform.

With that in mind, the first determining factor in choosing your software is going to be your operating system. The next step is to identify the type of graphics software that you need. The main index of Graphics Software Categories and Buying Advice includes articles about the major types of graphics software. Each primary category is further divided into subcategories, with the larger categories also organized by platform. If you're not sure which subcategory you need, click to it and you'll get extended descriptions for each of the subcategories.

After you've identified the subcategory, it's just a matter of visiting the product pages and comparing features. When you've narrowed down your selections to a few choices, you'll find plenty of software reviews to help you make a decision.

The majority of readers need nothing more than a pixel-based image editor which is an all-purpose tool for creating and editing digital photos, scanned images, and continous-tone graphics. If this is the type of software you're looking for, you'll want to read Before You Buy a Photo Editor, which includes top picks of photo editors broken down by platform, skill level, and budget.

If narrowing down your choices is overwhelming, confusing, or difficult for you, you can solicit opinions in the graphics software discussion forum. I check in regularly, and if I have a suggestion I can help you there. We also have a variety of experienced graphics software users that visit the forum regularly, and they will be able to offer their perspectives, advice and opinions. Best of all, other people get to learn from the question and answer, and that's what this site is all about.

To ensure your chances of getting a helpful response in the discussion forum, please include as much detail as possible and use an informative subject title. Be sure to include the following information in your message:

  • the type of work you will be doing
  • your skill level with graphics software
  • operating system
  • system specs (CPU speed, available RAM, disk space, etc.)
  • price range
  • specific feature requirements

Join the Discussion

Or just jump right in to one of these former discussions about choosing graphics software:

"I want to purchase some software... but don't want to spend a fortune as I don't know at this stage if this is truly something I want to delve into." Join the Discussion

"I need help in finding the BEST photo editing software available... I don't care if it's an expensive program, as long as its the best." Join the Discussion

"I'm just getting started and looking for the best software for animation, film/photo editing, graphic design, etc. What's your opinion?" Join the Discussion

"I am really new at this computer stuff and am looking for an easy to use but good quality photo editor." Join the Discussion

Once you've decided on a purchase, don't forget to come back to this site because it's loaded with how-tos and tutorials to get you off to a great start with graphics software!

Questions? Comments? Post to the Forum!

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