When most people think “photo editors,” they think of the bulky, expensive software from the likes of Adobe that cost hundreds of dollars per year to license. Users of Snapseed, however, have found a free resource that gives them the editing tools they need, rather than the overabundance of features that come along with professional design suites. Though it’s primarily intended for mobile devices we can show some neat workarounds and tricks that will have Snapseed up and running wherever you’d like to use it–even on your Windows PC!
Before we delve into the technical aspects of the app, it’s important to know what, exactly, Snapseed is. Understanding an application’s origins and primary functions can only help us to understand it better, so let’s get started!
Though it’s owned by Google now, Snapseed originally showed up as an independently developed app back in 2011, for the iPad. It filled the same niche then that it does now–providing a robust set of photo-editing tools that far outstrips those found in our photo apps. While the filters and adjustments available through camera apps are suitable when you need to make a fast adjustment or slap a filter on something, mobile users wanted something more akin to a fully-featured photo editor, and that’s what they got in Snapseed.
It spread across platforms fairly quickly, ending up on iPhones, Android devices, and eventually Windows and Mac desktops. However, the development direction of Snapseed changed a bit when Google bought it. Desktop development was halted, and it returned to its roots on mobile devices, where it has continued to innovate and remains one of the best companions that you can download alongside a photography app.
However, when Snapseed disappeared from desktops and web browsers (even after Google formerly featured it alongside their cloud-based Photos app), quite a few users were left in the lurch. Google Photos does currently offer editing options, but they pale in comparison to what many users became used to with Snapseed.
Where do we turn, then? Alternatives? Expensive software? Only editing on mobile?
None of the above, because thankfully, we can straighten out users’ many questions about Snapseed as well as give you a route to accessing it on your Windows PC or Mac. It’s not going to cost anything, it will only take a minute of your time, and you’ll have full access to all of the tools in Snapseed.
What Happened to Snapseed in Chrome?
As can be evidenced by the hundreds of people asking about it in online forums and discussion threads, Snapseed as a Chrome extension is something that’s in very high demand! While Google Photos is a great cloud storage solution for all of your photos and videos, its editing capabilities were actually downgraded from what people came to expect when they had access to Snapseed. Being that Nik Software, Snapseed’s development company is a subsidiary of Google, one might think that the two should work together for users’ benefit across a variety of platforms.
Sadly, this isn’t yet the case, and though we can’t predict the future, there’s no point in waiting around, inactive, when we have photos to edit!
As of the time that this article is being written and published, there’s no Google Chrome extension for Snapseed, and it doesn’t have functionality within any other web browser’s, either. Let’s keep our fingers and toes crossed that this will one day change, but for now, an alternative method is required.
Like we often do at Appamatix, we’re going to turn to emulation in order to bring Snapseed back to your Windows PC or Mac. It’s the simple process of using software to mimic a virtual environment of another operating system–in this case, Android. It’s a surprisingly easy operating system to emulate, and when people want to bridge mobile and desktop computing, it’s the route that they often turn to. iOS is far too cumbersome, and no other mobile platform has access to such a wide variety of applications and software.
You’ll have quite a few Android emulators to choose from if you search online, but we’re going to cut down your considerations and toss a few suggestions into this guide. I highly recommend spending as little time on this choice as possible; all of our emulator recommendations are proven effective through testimony and popularity, and unless you feel the need to upgrade to premium features in any of them, they’re free!
- Bluestacks is where it’s at for most users. It’s fast, it’s efficient, and it gets the job done no matter what type of app you’re throwing at it. Bluestacks’ flashy marketing campaign and widespread use have all but made it the king of Android emulators. You’ll have to deal with some third-party software advertising if you use the free version, but upgrading to premium will get rid of that nuisance.
- Andyroid is a favorite around here, and with good reason. It has a pleasing, minimalistic design and a strong set of features and options for a free program. Additionally, you can download a sidekick application that allows you to use your mobile device as a touch-screen controller, via Bluetooth. Handy Andy, eh?
- Manymo is always the odd duck of emulator choices, primarily because it’s not installed software at all. Instead, Manymo works through your web browser to provide an emulation experience that’s lightweight and fast. It’s a great choice for people who can’t regularly install additional software on their computers, but it does come with a few caveats. You’ll need the .apk (application) file for any apps that you want to emulate, most of which can thankfully be obtained through the Google Play Store. The other–you’ll only get 10 limited duration uses of Manymo per month unless you pony up for a $9 per month subscription fee. That seems like a bit steep, but Manymo is unique in the type of accessibility it offers.
Pick your emulator, visit one of our handy links above, and let’s get started! Manymo will require you to create an account and sign in, while Bluestacks and Andyroid will only take a couple of minutes to download and install.
After, the rest of this little workaround process is a cinch. Open up your emulator of choice and have a look at the interface. It’s remarkably similar to that of an Android device’s home screen, which is very much the point! Since this is a legit installation of the Android OS, and the version of Snapseed that we’re about to install is equally legit, you can practically treat your emulator just like and Android device, on its own.
Find the icon for the Google Play store. You’re going to need a Google account to proceed any further, but there’s a very good chance that you have one already. If you have a Gmail address, for example, then you have a Google account. If by some miracle you’ve managed to avoid Google’s massively successful, free email service, then sign up for one in order to secure access to the Google Play app store. It won’t cost you a dime, and it’s going to give you a wealth of software access.
Once you’re in, use the search function to find Snapseed. Since it’s a free app, you won’t be required to do anything before downloading and installing it within your emulator. Once that’s done…you’re all set! Congratulations!
There are a few more things to note, before we close out this guide; helpful tips and tricks that will give you a better Snapseed experience.
- Don’t be afraid to practice with Snapseed on mobile! Your phone or tablet is where it’s designed to be used, and you’re always going to have the best experience on a platform where the app runs natively.
- Your emulator can access files and photos on your computer, in the same way that an Android device will use your smartphone’s or tablet’s onboard memory. If you’re struggling to import your photos into Snapseed, check the import settings within your emulator itself.
- Make sure you know where your edited photos are being saved! This is another feature that you’ll need to double check within the emulator itself.
With this guide under your belt and a few tips to help give you a better experience, you should have free reign to use Snapseed as much as you’d like on your Windows PC or Mac. Thankfully, the emulators that we recommended to a commendable job of keeping up-to-date with the latest release of the Android OS, meaning that you’re never going to be left behind when a new version of Snapseed releases.
Of course, this does nothing to solve the woes of people who want Snapseed available as a browser extension for Google Chrome, but have such wide access to Snapseed on your PC or Mac can almost take the place of that missing convenience. If you’ve found this guide particularly helpful (or if you have any remaining questions) don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments below! While you’re at it, share us with your friends on Facebook and Twitter, so we can continue to help more people to experience Snapseed on a greater variety of platforms!