Monday August 25th, 2008 | Design, News, Review, Tools

Introducing Pixlr: The Best Online Image Editor Yet

Pixlr “has it going on”!

I’ve checked out a lot of online image editors, and I’ve not found one I like better than Pixlr. Simply put – Pixlr is the most visually stunning & practically effective online image editor available today.

Pixlr is the most visually stunning & practically effective online image editor available

The sleek, semi transparent palettes and tool bar are arranged in the all-too-familiar fashion of the industries leading photo editing software, Adobe PhotoShop.

The layout is both familiar & efficient, and provides many of the tools we’ve come to expect in desktop image editors, but never dreamed were possible in online image editors.


One of the key differentiators of the Pixlr editor from other online image editors is the layers palette. This is a feature that, while familiar to desktop image editors, is rarely seen in online image editors.

Pixlr’s layers feature allows you to create & position elements on separate layers, and to move & manipulate those elements independently of one another.


Another staple feature of popular desktop image editors, adjustments allow the artist to affect changes in certain aspects of their image such as brightness, contrast, saturation, and hue.

Simple changes to these aspects can have a stunning visual effect, making the ability to perform these adjustments a valuable feature for any image editor.

Check out these Pixlr adjustment examples


Another feature common among the best loved image editors is the ability to apply filters or visual effects to images. Although still only at it’s first beta release, Pixlr already offers several visual effect options including blur, sharpen, emboss, engrave, noise, old photo effect, scanlines, diffuse and waterswirl.

These effects, like PhotoShop filters, are easy to apply, but permanently alter the image. The change can be reversed immediately using CTRL Z (undo), but can’t be turned off or managed later.

[ PIXLR TIP: Make copies of important elements/layers, "un-check" the 'show' box to hide the layer, now you can bring back the original element unchanged if needed ]

Check out these Pixlr effect examples

So, what can Pixlr do?

I’ve played around with the Pixlr image editor for a little while this weekend, but I certainly haven’t exhausted all of it’s many features. I was able to develop this image after playing around with it for only a short time.

What can Pixlr NOT do?

Keeping in mind this is the first beta release of the editor, it’s no surprise that it lacks a few basic features – most notably text & shape tools. Additionally designers have come to expect features like stroke/border, outer/inner glow and drop shadows – which are also currently absent from the tool selection.

A few features listed in menus & icons don’t seem to operate correctly – layers don’t seem to want to flip horizontally/vertically or rotate and the stamp tool doesn’t appear to have a function.

Correction: (8.25.08) Ola visited and set me strait :P , the clone tool is working, I just didn’t do it right heh. you have to SHIFT Click to set the cloned area, then use the brush as normal to paint with the selection. – Thanks Ola!

Update: (8.26.08) Whether through some recent updates to the tool, or perhaps because I had ran into a bug previously the above is incorrect. Layers do flip horizontally and vertically as well as rotate, 90 degrees clock wise, 180 degrees or 90 degrees counter clock wise.

But to be clear you won’t hear me complaining – especially when you understand a bit about the tools development.


Pixlr has only recently been introduced to the public in it’s beta form by Swedish developer Ola Sevandersson.

That’s right, Pixlr is the brainchild & product of just a single developer, and is the result of only one year of part time development – Ola also holds down a full time development manager role for a Swedish web community.

I’d just like to say – GREAT JOB OLA!! - thanks for sharing this labor of love with the community! Keep up the good work, we LOVE it!!

You can follow along as Ola documents Pixlr’s development on the Pixlr blog.

So what do you guys think of Pixlr?

I’d love to here what you guys think about it! Find any tips or tricks you’d like to share, let’s talk about it!

22 great comments so far, keep em coming! | rss

  • Monday August 25th, 2008
    Ola Sevandersson

    Oh, thank you! The clone tool has to bee activated by setting the source point first (Shift click) .. I will add a information and a button for that. :)

  • Monday August 25th, 2008
    Joe Hana

    Absolutly Fantastic Tool. If I see something like that I always feel like: The Web really comes better and better.

    This Tool is not just fast, it support as well all the features which I need in a proper sketching tool. But I think there is also much more possible like proper Image editing – I will give it a longer try in the next few days.

    Thanks a lot for that “Recommendation” – I will also write a Blog about that – and will link to yours…

    Cheers Buddy


  • Monday August 25th, 2008

    @ Ola Sevandersson
    Thanks for the visit and again – “GREAT WORK!!”

    RE: Clone tool – Thanks for clearing that up, I’ll make note of that above too!

    @ Joe Hana
    I’m really loving the new wave of usable tools that are beginning to emerge – and this is one of the best I’ve seen. Appreciate the comment and the mention!

  • Tuesday August 26th, 2008

    Pixlr update:
    Some changes…

    • Open image from URL
    • Layers now flip horizontally and vertically as well as rotate, 90 degrees clock wise, 180 degrees or90 degrees counter clock wise.
    • New Filter: Half tone!
    • Full screen mode

  • Tuesday August 26th, 2008

    So I’ve been playing around with Pixlr a little bit to see what I can do with it – to explore how practical it is to use at work and on-the-road.

    Have a look at the “Fun with Pixlr” gallery to check out my explorations – i started off with a “Mike Wazowski” from Pixar’s Monsters Inc(the little green one eyed, monster) and played around with it a little bit.

    What do you think..? Pretty decent editor for being free & online… and barely in beta!!

  • Tuesday August 26th, 2008
    Joe Hana

    What? Can´t belive that such thing is possible with pixlr. But if so this guys have done really good work. Pixlr is a example for what kind of stuff is possible in webdevelopement.

  • Wednesday August 27th, 2008

    This is very nice. Awesome Job Ola!

    I look forward to using this on future blog post and such -

  • Tuesday September 02nd, 2008

    This is great tool. I’m glad you posted about this, I came into your blog through an Olympics logos search and found this post too.

    I tried the editor and it’s unreal! But how did you get it to make the examples in thePixlr fun gallery? That is amazing – did you use Photoshop too?

  • Tuesday September 02nd, 2008

    @Joe Hanna, @Josef
    The exmaples I have in the Fun gallery are 100% Pixlr. I had to get creative to accomplish some of the effects (IE old school ‘drop shadow technique – copy a layer color it black, gausianblut to death, make partially transparent)

    Pixlr is less refined than Photoshop, but PS has had years & years andcountless programmers to perfect itself, oh and it also requires a huge install and costs a ton of $$. :P

    So I’m not knocking Pixlr at all, to the contrary I was amazed at what I could accomplish with it. I’d love to see what other readers have made using it – feel free to ping me with your images – I’ll post them up with credit back to you. Would be interesting to see what you guys have done.

  • Tuesday September 02nd, 2008

    hey thanks!! this was a lifesaver, it came in really handy today at work – I only have Paint – is there a way to save an open project as layers so you can edit it again later?

  • Monday February 16th, 2009

    Pixlr is so confusing! I don’t understand alot of it, but it’s the best & most powerful one I can find on the internet. One problem I’m having is that I don’t understand how to do layers. I’ve been sitting here for about an hour now trying to figure this out. Help?

  • Saturday April 11th, 2009
    Cody James

    Yeh its pretty kool.

    My latest post..Are you a Twitter power user?

  • Saturday August 01st, 2009
    erotiske artikler

    Pixlr’s layers features allows you to create and position elements on different layers. what a great feature it is! Is it really free?

  • Saturday August 08th, 2009
    personal statement sample

    Thanks for the link and the review. I need a free good image editor, and I came across your blog. It is hard to believe that Pixlr can be this useful.

  • Sunday October 25th, 2009
    best twitter

    Great, amazing web tool. It’s got even more features than some expensive software of its kind. Can’t believe it is free for its quality!

  • Tuesday March 15th, 2011
    Lenny Zenith

    Absolutely fantastic! I DO miss the stroke tool (one of the first I needed), but otherwise, just splendid piece of development in short time!

  • Wednesday June 15th, 2011

    I must be missing something – I can’t get the layers to rotate. Should I be holding down a key after I’ve selected the dropdown menu?
    Someone please help me out here

  • Wednesday June 15th, 2011

    Make sure you’re creating a new layer for the item you want to manipulate separately – for instance I just created a rounded corner square with-out creating anew layer first – it became part of the background – then I clicked the ‘new layer’ icon in the pallet and created another rounded corner square and now I can CTRL T and rotate it.

    To rotate hit CTRL T, and hover your mouse near one of the corners, the cursor will change to a little circle arrow, click and rotate to your hearts desire :)

    Hope that helps.

  • Saturday June 18th, 2011

    Thanks. I was making a text box not a new layer – so having another go!
    Top tip. Much appreciated

  • Saturday June 18th, 2011

    well,i still don’t understand how to use clone stamp.i wanted to clone a pic n paste it on another pic opened at the same in adobe photoshop, we need to press alt n click on target,then paste in the other pic opened in same window.but in pixlr?help plez…

  • Monday June 20th, 2011

    Hmmm – I’m not sure about the clone tool – I havnt had any trouble with it before.

    I would drop the developer a note, he may have a better idea on that one.

  • Wednesday January 25th, 2012

    How do you turn the words. I can move them up and down, but I can’t turn it to the side. I am trying to align my words to a pic that is slanted. Thanks to anyone who can help me.

Thanks for reading.

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