The 7 Best (Free) Tools to Add Text to Stock Photos

Marketing your business, creating an engaging website, or even spicing up your Instagram feed—each of these endeavors relies on choosing captivating images.

When you’re ready to take an image to the next level, you might want to add a few words of your own—your message, the date of your next big gig, or the text of your latest ad campaign. You can add anything you’d like to stock images (as long as it’s not defamatory) and use the customized image on your website, in print advertising, social media, and last but not least, your next meme.

When it comes to photo editing, a lot has changed

A few years ago, customizing an image with text meant hiring a graphic designer or, at the very least, investing your time and money in photo-editing software. Today you can add text to images in a matter of minutes with no software upgrade, no expensive expert, and no headaches.

As social media sharing has intensified, a wide range of online applications for image editing—including adding text—have popped up, some of them are very innovative AI photo tools worth discovering. We tested seven of the most popular apps.

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And if you want a full, up-to-date take, check our list of the best free design software tools: all of them can add text to an image! Below, we feature some of our best free trials for you.
Learn more about commercial use of fonts, fonts for logo design and much more: a fonts' breakdown for graphic designers.

What we looked for in text-adding apps

We looked for solutions with these qualities:

  • Easy to use
  • A variety of fonts available
  • High-quality finished product
  • Online and web-based
  • Cost-effective (that includes free apps to add text to images!)
Bonus tip: Most of the tools we list include a library of design templates for popular things like print materials (flyers, business cards, etc.) and social media graphics (Instagram stories, Facebook cover, and more). 

Let’s get started.

Canva

Canva walks you through a series of user-friendly tutorials that will leave you feeling like a designer in no time flat. When you’re ready to make something great with the images you’ve discovered, the best place to start is with Canva’s tutorials on branding, color, choosing and pairing fonts, photo filters, backgrounds, and shapes. What you’ll learn will help you marry your photos to text for a happily ever after.

Here’s how we used Canva free to add a quote to an image:

canva sample image

Our take: Canva’s motto is “empowering the world to design” and we think that’s exactly what it’s meant to do. If you are looking for a Photoshop alternative, Canva is a great place to start.

Cost: Canva’s basic platform is free. Additional features are available in the Canva Pro service, which you can try for free for 45 days with our exclusive deal! More info about their costs in our Canva Pricing Breakdown, and the full scope in our Canva Pro review.
If you're unsure which version suits you better, read our Canva Free vs Paid analysis!

And remember our exclusive Skillshare offer to learn how to use Canva for social media content creation, for free!

Shutterstock Editor

The stock photo titan, Shutterstock isn't just a very big stock photo library. They also offer very cool creative tools such as the Shutterstock Editor, a user-friendly, online image editor that performs simple edits in a quick and beautiful way.

You can launch it directly from images pages on their catalog, as well as on its own page on their site. And you can work both with Shutterstock photos –you can even start with the watermarked preview and automatically save all edits on the high-res photo once you decide to license it–, and your own pictures using the upload feature.

Adding text to your photos is breezy simple, and you have a nice selection of font styles (and even pairing suggestions), colors, and sizes including preset sizes for title, subtitle, and text. Combined with features for cropping and resizing, filters, effects, and custom elements, you are set to create unique images in no time. Not to mention, this tool also comes with lots of ready-to-use templates!

Here's a little thing we did using Shutterstock Editor, it took us less than a minute!

Image created with Shutterstock Editor

Our take: The Shutterstock Editor is perfect to create stunning social media graphics in a split second, and the ultimate ally if you have a Shutterstock subscription!

Cost: It's completely free (you only need to pay for the royalty-free images if you decide to use those).

iStock Editor

Renowned stock photo agency iStock offers their customers their very own, web-based image editor to customize the photos from their collection in just a few clicks. It has its own page, and you can search images from their catalog directly in the editor, too. Bear in mind, this tool is only available for iStock images.

The iStock Editor is very easy to use, you don't require design skills to work with it. It makes it super simple to add text to images, by giving you customizable text boxes in different shapes and styles, plus a wide selection of fonts, colors, and sizes. The editing set is complete with preset popular sizes, custom dimensions, cropping, filters, and custom elements such as logos and graphics.

Our take: Any iStock customer will have it very easy adding text to images with this tool, it takes literal seconds and it's readily available, which also saves a lot of time. It's simple, but does the job nicely!

Cost: The iStock Editor is free, the images are what needs to be paid for.

DesignWizard

Real image editing magic, DesignWizard is a very pro-like, online image editor developed by WaveBreak Media, a stock video and photography production company that knows all there is to know about image manipulation. Their tool offers basic editing capabilities from cropping and resizing to filters, text overlays and shapes. They even have a video editing feature! You can register, create designs and save, download and share them for free, but they also offer a premium version with extra storage and exclusive content.

The editor comes equipped with multiple templates and preset sizes for social media, a library full of professional photos, a variety of fonts to choose from and a set of filters and effects you can apply to your images. You can also upload your own elements, and they're all highly customizable. The user interface is very straightforward, and they also have great tutorials that walk you through their features didactically.

Adding text to images is very easily done here. You either choose a template and customize the text, or use the text button to drag a text field wherever you want it, further selecting a font, font size, color, and more advanced settings. Here is an image we created with DesignWizard, in less than a minute:

Our take: DesignWizard is perfect to quickly edit images to use in social media, and it's an even more ideal resource if you want to do so in one stop: as they provide high-quality images, templates and fonts (some best are locked for premium, paid users, but there are plenty of cool free elements), you can simply open up this tool and create a new visual from scratch in no time and without importing any files. We just love it!

Cost: Free for up to 15 MB of storage for your designs, and you pay $1 per premium image/template (but you have access to all editing features!)
Premium tiers are $9.99 and $16.95 per month respectively, with each tier granting larger storage space and more premium content.

PicMonkey

A silly name for a serious app. PicMonkey offers a variety of ways to edit your image, including: basic edits like cropping, adding effects (we love the Polaroid Film effect to give your image a vintage feel), frames to place around your image, textures—here’s where you can add “bokeh” texture, clouds or paint to any image—and themes for holidays and other special occasions.

When you edit with PicMonkey, you can easily add text to images, and adjust the size (up to a font size of 288), color (you choose, on a color spectrum), and font. PicMonkey’s fonts include any font that you can access from your computer, plus custom fonts—our favorites are Tall Dark and Handsome, Alter Ego and Laughing Gull. The fonts are artsy and interesting, and there are some that you won’t find anywhere else.

We used the free version PicMonkey to add text to this image and the process was seamless:

Wild daisy flower in the meadow. Nature background with copy space. Macro shot

In addition to editing, with PicMonkey you can touch up selfies and standard “headshots” to perfection for your online profile. For a dating website or a professional networking site, you can soften tiny lines, add a bit of color, whiten your teeth… it’s like getting a free makeover without going to the spa.

Our take: This is a fabulous app that lets you get really creative with images and the text you add. It takes some time to explore all that the app has to offer, so give yourself some room for trial and error as you get to know the ins and outs of this one. One final note: if you’re using high-res images, you may need to resize them, because PicMonkey works best with 16 megapixels or fewer.

Cost: You can use the basic features (including adding text to images) free. For access to all the fonts, you’ll need a “Royale” account, which is free for the first 30 days and $4.99/month or $33/year after that.

Pablo

From the folks at Buffer comes Pablo, a free image editor that makes adding text to images easy. With Pablo, you can upload an image, add text and share via Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest. Pablo will customize the size of your image for each of the social networks it supports, and you can use Buffer to schedule your postings, all for free.

(You can also save the image to use on your website or in your marketing materials.)

We made this with a high-resolution image and Pablo:

high-resolution image

Our take: Pablo is a perfect addition to Buffer, allowing you to add text to images and schedule for posting across social media platforms. At this point, the fonts are limited to about a dozen choices, and the size of the font is limited to pre-sets of small, medium and large.

Cost: Free.

BeFunky

This really is funky—great fonts, lots of ideas, and so easy to use you’ll want to add text to images all day long. Like Canva, BeFunky offers tutorials that will inspire you to use not only its text-adding functions but also its tools, including lipstick, exposure and rainbows. BeFunky caters to the “maker” crowd with DIY poster tutorials, arts and crafts ideas and greeting card templates (you can use these to save a lot of money on wedding invitations!). You’ll find a wide assortment of fonts (our favorites are VeggieBurger and Let’s Trace) that you can customize with the colors, outlines, opacity and sizes of your choice.

We added text to this image in less than three minutes:

befunky sample

Our take: Fun interface and very easy to use. When it comes to adding to text images, BeFunky is as intuitive as it gets. Here’s a plus: the “history” tab takes “undo” and “redo” to a whole new level, letting you keep track of what you’ve done with your image and, at any time, undo the action.

Cost: The basics are free to use and there is plenty to keep you busy. If you’d like more frames, effects, stickers and templates, the premium plan is $4.95/month or $25.95/year.

Now it’s your turn to add text to images

What are you waiting for? With apps this powerful, there’s no reason not to add text to images. We’d love to see your creations—no matter what photo editor you’re using. Start with getting 200 image downloads for only $99 in our 99club here and get creative! Drop a link in the comments section and share your masterpieces.

Amos Struck

I am a publisher and entrepreneur in the stock imagery field. I focus on providing knowledge and solutions for buyers, contributors and agencies, aiming at contributing to the growth and development of the industry. I am the founder and editor of Stock Photo Press, one of the largest networks of online magazines in the industry. I am the founder of Microstock Expo, the only conference dedicated to the microstock segment. I created several software solutions in stock photography like WordPress plugins. Plus I am a recurrent speaker at Photokina Official Stage, and an industry consultant at StockPhotoInsight. I am passionate about technology, marketing and visual imagery.

2 Comments
  1. Most of these are NOT free. They offer free trials, but then you will need to pay. Very misleading.

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