We're bummed that Google, which bought awesome online photo editor Picnik, plans to shut it down.
Picnik, a web-based service, helped out many a journalist and blogger who needed to make simple photo edits on deadline that didn't merit firing up Photoshop.
(Silver lining: until it closes April 19, Picnik's premium services - which include cool special effects plus a ton of touch-up features - are now free for everyone.)
Here are four sites to try when you need a quick online photo fix.
Fotoflexer This site offers a similar web-based photo editor with much of the same options as Picnik, though nowhere near as snappy to load. Advanced features include blemish fix and some easy-to-use layer functions; the web interface is available in 22 languages. If it looks familiar, you may already be using it on Picasa, Flickr, Photobucket and Facebook. One cool feature from the web browser version: you can edit live images taken with your computer's built-in camera.
Pixenate bills itself as the photo editor of choice for the photo printing and photo sharing businesses. It offers a small but complete menu of edit options (crop, rotate, red eye, colors) plus a nice "fill light" button for underexposed pics and a "doodle" option that lets you draw images. When you've perfected your pic, you can save it to your desktop, share it on Flickr or print it as a T-shirt, mug, tote, etc. The interface is available in Spanish or English.
Freeonlinephotoeditor.com This bare-bones photo editor was super quick to load our test image and offered a wide menu of options. Changes are also snap, the only drawback is that instead of icons, there's text without any rollover explanations - so you have to know (or remember) what "halftone dithers" are - though the "undo" option crops up right after you make changes so you can easily to revert to the original. When you're done, you can save it on your computer, Photobucket or Facebook.
Pixlr put out a welcome mat for Picnik users on its home page; the site's "express" version resembles its former competitor pretty closely. Pixlr is quick to upload photos and offers a ton of options from the "adjustment" menu. Our test found the pop-up menus for each function time consuming - click "auto fix," for example, and instead of just fixing the pic, the main menu disappears and another menu pops up. You have to click on "apply" or "cancel" from there to get back and start all over again with the other options. The express version allows users to save edited images only to their desktops.