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Leading adult education through support for and the effective application of technology.

Pixlr: Free Online Photo Editor

Example Web Site and/or Technical Equipment Required


Website Example:

More Ways

Computer(s), Internet access, projector

Activity Description

Pixlr is a powerful photo editor that is online and completely free. Edited images can be posted to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, or simply saved to your computer or online with its own Web address (URL). If students are adding images to an essay or flyer, they can have fun editing and enhancing the image with Pixlr.

There are three levels of Pixlr.

  • Pixlr Editor is a powerful image editing tool similar to Photoshop
  • Pixlr Express provides many borders, overlays, and effects that require no experience to use
  • Pixlr-o-matic offers easy borders and effects.

This lesson will focus on Pixlr-o-matic, but once your students master it, you will likely find them experimenting with Pixlr Express and Pixlr Editor.


  1. Be sure that Pixlr is not blocked at your school. The tool may be open, but you may not be able to see images created by others. (This was the situation here at OTAN.)
  2. Preview using Pixlr yourself so you are familiar with how it functions and can help get students started.
  3. Find a photo or two that students can use to practice with. Load the pictures on the lab computers or e-mail the photos to students so they can open them on class computers. Most Windows computers also come loaded with a few sample pictures in the Pictures folder, so this might be another option. Pixlr also provides five photos students could use if none of the other options work for you.
  4. In order get students to the Web site to work on their own, you can make it a Favorite, or Bookmark the site on each computer browser, e-mail them the link, e-mail a word processing document with the link in it, or post the link on your class Web page.


  1. Begin by demonstrating how to use Pixlr-o-matic. Provide one photo to all students to practice with. No login is required.
  2. Have students go to the Example Web Site (above).
  3. On the main Pixlr-o-matic page, choose the Computer circle and demonstrate how to find the picture you have provided for them.
  4. Scroll through the filters below the picture (by clicking somewhere on the bar and dragging it right or left) and selecting one to try it. Experiment and select a filter. Note: You cannot go back and undo (our favorite function). You have to find the effects you like again if you passed them, and choose them again. The back button at the bottom of the screen will take you back to select a new picture.
  5. There are three icons to the right of the back button. The first one, the film strip, gives you access to other effects, overlays, and borders. The second one is the crop symbol and choosing it will automatically crop the picture. (You cannot control where it crops.) The third one selects a random filter.
  6. The Next button at the bottom right of the screen will take you to Effects. Choose an Effect the same way you chose a filter.
  7. The Next button will now take you to Frames where you can choose a frame (border) for your picture. Remember that the first icon will take you to a screen where you can choose borders and then add more possibilities for borders.
  8. You can Save on your computer at any time by using the Save button. You will be asked to name the picture, and choose the location to save it.
  9. Select Save in the dialog box. That's it!
  10. Your students can now do this process on any photo from any computer with Internet access.

Teacher Tips

  • You may want your students to bring a flash drive with their own photos, and save their results onto their flash drive.
  • Encourage naming conventions in order to easily find pictures in the future. For example, include the date in the name, or include the prefix px for pictures that have been edited with Pixlr.

More Ways

  • This is not an instructional site. It is a utility. It can be used at any level of ESL because there is almost no text, the navigation is all graphical. It's purpose is to edit graphics for text documents, blog posts, Facebook pages, or Web sites.


  • Beginning Literacy
  • Beginning Low
  • Beginning High
  • Intermediate Low
  • Intermediate High
  • Advanced
  • All Levels


Basic Communication

  • (7.7) Demonstrate the ability to use information and communication technology
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OTAN activities are funded by contract CN200091-A2 from the Adult Education Office, in the Career & College Transition Division, California Department of Education, with funds provided through Federal P.L., 105-220, Section 223. However, OTAN content does not necessarily reflect the position of that department or the U.S. Department of Education.