Why The Picnik Photo Editing Site Is Shutting Down, And Alternatives

Picnik, the free photo editing site used by many entrepreneurs and small businesses, is closing. It’s last day will be April 16, 2012.  It’s being rolled into Google+.

Picnik is an online service known for being intuitive and easy to use.  Instead of buying photo editing software (such as Photoshop, which is pricey for occasional use), or using a free program like Irfanview (which is feature-rich but can be diabolically confusing), you could go online to Picnik.  You upload a photo and using the online controls, you crop it, re-size it, adjust colors or touch it up.

But the best part of Picnik is the personalization.  You create fun special effects such as superimposing  flowers or mustaches over your image. Or you make your images look elegant by adding drop shadows, artistic effects, and unique frames.

Picnik closing

It’s a handy service.  But if it’s so handy you may be wondering why it’s going away.  The answer is simple:  Google is getting behind Google+ in a big way.  The social network started by Google that is already dominating search results for some searches, is gobbling up Picnik.  The photo editing and special effects capabilities will be incorporated into Google+, in a feature called “Creative Kit.”

Picnik Got Caught Up in The Bigger Picture

Picnik was acquired by Google in 2010.  A frequent topic of online conversation these days is how Google is showing favoritism with Google+.  Picnik is just one small part of Google’s march to draw people into using Google+.

Google has long since evolved into more than a search engine.  These days Google offers services and products — everything from your website traffic analytics software, to your email program, to a service that helps you pick credit cards.

Picnik customers are up in arms over the closure of their service, as the 1823 comments on this blog post on the Picnik site demonstrate.  You could hardly expect comments to be positive — but even so, there’s a distinct flavor that people feel like they are being pushed into Google+ unwillingly.  For example, a customer named “Kate” wrote:

“This is terrible news!!!!!!!!!! I hate Google+ but I love Picnik. Why oh why are you doing this???”

Picnik and Google point out that many features will be available in the Creative Kit of Google +.  Others note that it’s not the same thing.  Google+ is a challenge to log into if you use several GMail or Google Apps accounts in your work.  It’s not nearly as streamlined as using a simple stand alone site like Picnik, critics say.  And some people just resist being forced to use another service.

Google Announced it The Right Way

While entrepreneurs and small business personnel may bemoan the loss of Picnik, you can’t argue with the way Google made the announcement.  It was classy all the way.  They notified users months in advance that the service would be shutting down (see image above of the notice on the home page).  They also made all premium features free, “as a parting gift” they said (and refunded premium payments paid in advance).

This is a far better way to announce the closure of your service, than to bury the notice in support forums while you continue to accept new paying customers.  One company did that not long ago, leading to rude surprises.

Google also created an export feature called Takeout to allow you to grab your files at Picnik and save them.

Picnik Alternatives

We small business leaders are nothing if not pragmatic. Picnik shuts down, but the show must go on. What can you use instead to replace Picnik, if you don’t want to use Google+?

For alternatives to Picnik, here are 8 to check out: PicMonkey, BeFunky, FotoFlexer, iPiccy, WebFetti’s Photo Editor, Pixlr, LunaPic and Phixr.   If you know of other alternatives, please leave a suggestion in the comments below.


Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.

23 Reactions
  1. I’m surprised that you didn’t mention Gimp. Find it at gimp dot org. It works pretty much like photoshop, but it’s free. So much for Software-as-a-Service. I prefer something I can control.

    • Thanks, Sid. That’s why I asked for suggestions. Readers always seem to know something good to add to lists like these. Appreciate your sharing it.

      – Anita

  2. You can still find ‘human’ photo editing professionals for free basic editing.


  3. Google+ seems to be growing out of control lately. I’ve always thought that Google’s dominance could only be stopped by themselves (a la Tiger Woods in the golf world) but I never pictured it happening quite like this.

  4. I’m with Sid on this – I’ve used GIMP for years, and, whilst it’s not the easiest, simplest piece of software, it’s free and very powerful. All my website images have been made using it.

    • Thanks, Sid. I will have to try GIMP again, given the enthusiastic support here for it.

      – Anita

  5. I’m one of the regular Picnik users who are not happy. I’ve relied on Picnik as my main blog photo editing software for quite a while now. I’m really going to miss it because it was so easy to use. I also have Photoshop Elements 10 but preferred Picnik because of the features plus it opens fast and is simple and uncomplicated.

    Thanks for sharing some alternatives, PicMonkey looks like a great replacement for Picnik.

  6. Michelle @ Sweetsuite10

    i use Picasa which is a free download. It does/did have the ability to upload to Piknik, but I only used Piknik occationally – usually if i wanted to add a icon or something diffent to my photos.
    Picasa allows you to crop, adjust colour re-size, etc so that might be another option.

  7. Martin Lindeskog

    I didn’t know about Picnik. Thanks for listing different alternatives. I like to take photos on my iPhone by using an app called Instagram. You could add different filters and then upload it to several services, e.g., Flickr, Facebook photo album and Tumblr.

  8. Hi Anita, I’d like to suggest Pixlr. It’s an online photo editor so there is nothing to download. It works well with an extension I use for taking screen shots called Light Shot. Those two are a great combination for quick easy editing and storing images in the cloud.

  9. Thank you so much for posting the alternatives,I always used picnik for editing photos and when I heard It’ll be closing I thought I’ll have to learn how to use photoshop but picmonkey has pretty much everything that picnik had. You saved me 🙂

  10. Photobucket is good for beginners too.

  11. Ribbet is about to open and will be exactly the same as Picnik only better ! Everything you loved will be back including the tree frog icon. Check out the link….the site is not open yet but you can look around by clicking on the cube icons labelled “effects” ,”stickers” , “Collage” etc I just hope it opens SOON !

  12. I was sad to see Piknik go, it was one of my most used Chrome extensions. Once PicMonkey gets a Chrome extension, it will be my new favourite, but for now i’m using the Aviary extension for my web photo editing.

  13. I made my very best pictures using picnik ,it needs to come back. I’ve tried other websites like PicMonkey but it said i needed adobe flash player. Everything I try either ends up saying i need adobe flash player ,It has to be downloaded ,it’s too complicated ,or it just doesn’t have good features like picnik did. Also one of them I tried said you had to have an account on there just to edit pictures. Any other websites like picnik?

  14. Georgi Vasilev

    Definitely the monopoly is a bad thing but I can’t see a good opponent to Google. They are really really huge. This is only a small piece of their cake.

  15. Picnik was amazing. I sadly found out about it close to its closing. If it was not broke why fix it? Do not understand why creative kit just did not incorporate all of picnik’s photo editing abilities?

  16. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!! http://www.ribbet.com/ is almost a DUPLICATE of Picnik!!!!! Tell everyone you know!! Just used it and it works GREAT! I am a HAPPY WEBBER!! Ribbit Ribbit Ribbit!!

  17. I am so freaking irritated that they closed down Picnik and ‘moved’ it to Google+. I swear, Google is trying everything to get everyone to convert to this new Google+ b-s. Picnik was the best free photo editing software I’ve used. I still use Picasa 3, but that’s not as good as Picnik. Oh well.

  18. Picnik was one of the best photo editing software out there. It’s really sad that they closed it. Anyways here are some alternatives which in my opinion are great too :

    Online Photo Editors :
    Pixlr – http://www.pixlr.com
    Lunapic – http://www.lunapic.com
    BeFunky – http://www.befunky.com

    Desktop Photo Editors :
    Kestrel GX – http://www.cerieus.com
    Photoscape – http://www.photoscape.org
    Irfanview – http://www.irfanview.com
    Picture! Editor – http://picture-editor.en.softonic.com/