18 of the Best Freeware Photoshop Plugins That Actually Work

18 of the Best Freeware Photoshop Plugins That Actually Work
18 of the Best Freeware Photoshop Plugins That Actually Work

There are so many amazing free Photoshop plugins you can download but a lot of them are not compatible with Photoshop CS6. To save you time, we spent the entire day finding and testing the best Photoshop plugins you can download free. There are plugins for photo effects, noise reduction, painting, abstract art, layouts, and more! Download some Photoshop plugins today!


There are LOTS of photography plugins for Photoshop. Unfortunately, many of them were too outdated or did something that wasn't very useful/could already be easily done in Photoshop. But out of the ones that we liked, there were two that stood out: Boundary Noise Reduction and ReFocus DC. Boundary Noise Reduction is a good noise reduction plugin that rivals their expensive competitors and ReFocus DC can fix your blurred photos with amazing results.

Perfect Effects 4 Free

Apply one of 73 photo effects to your photos and combine them for even more effects! This plugin lets you apply these effects with control over masking, painting, and blending. The effects look nice but they don’t quite match up to many of the free retro Photoshop actions. Downloading this plugin requires your email address which will automatically subscribe you to their newsletter. You can opt out of the newsletter at any time. After installation, you can access it by going to Window > Extensions > onOne.

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Freeware Boundary Noise Reduction

This is the freeware version of the Boundary Noise Reduction plugin used to reduce noise in your photos. This isn’t a trial or watermarked software; it works just like the commercial version except it’s simplified with less controls. To install, copy the files in the ZIP file to your Photoshop\Plug-ins\Filters folder. The filter can be accessed in the Filter > Colormancer menu. The results were superior to Photoshop’s noise reduction filters and it’s really easy to use. Reducing just the noise can make your image look soft but the filter can bring back some of the original B&W details to keep your image sharp.

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Wire Worm

Although there are already many tools in Photoshop that lets you remove powerlines, you might benefit from this plug-in made exclusively for removing wires. Wire Worm works pretty similar to the Clone Stamp tool with its own color matching algorithm. I found Wire Worm to be easier than the Clone Stamp tool and it gives better results too! I just wished there was a zoom tool because the preview area is stuck to 100%. To install, copy the file to your Photoshop\Plugins\Filter folder. This plugin only works on the 32-bit version of Photoshop (not the 64-bit).

Pano Warp

Photoshop is a great tool for creating panoramas but as with many panoramas, they can look distorted. To fix it, you can use this Pano Warp plugin which applies distortion corrections so that the curved lines in your panoramas look straight. It works much different than the Lens Correction filter. To install, copy the file to your Photoshop\Plugins\Filter folder. Unfortunately, this plugin is also only compatible with 32-bit version of Photoshop (not the 64-bit).

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ReFocus DC

Every photographer has a nice photo ruined by misfocusing. If you need to rescue that photo, this plugin will deblur your photo. It won’t magically fix the most blurry photo and it isn’t made for motion blur, but for small blurs, it does a surprisingly good job. I did some tests and used the Gaussian Blur filter to give it a 1px blur and it was able to deblur it with great results (see thumbnail on the left). For images with motion blur, the streaks are still there but the sharpness is improved and you can see much more details with it deblurred. This plugin only works with the 32-bit version of Photoshop and you can install it by copying it to your Photoshop\Plug-ins\Filters folder.

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One of the best tools for painters is NKS5. This Photoshop extension gives you access to realistic media brushes and is one of the most popular plugins for digital artists.

NKS5 Natural Media Toolkit

This is a must-try for all painters out there! This plugin gives you a panel full of different pencils, pens, and markers. You can even simulate a variety of real papers and add preset or evenly spaced guides. Installation is done through Adobe Extension Manager; a new tool to manage all your plugins/extensions. Once installed, go to File/Photoshop > Scripts > NKS5 Install. Then, go to Window > Tool Presets. Uncheck the “Current Tool Only” option. You can begin using the tool now by going to Window > Extensions > NKS5.

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Oilpaint Effect in Pixel Bender

The same oilpaint filter introduced in Photoshop CS6 is available for you if you have Photoshop CS5. This is the same thing and you can install it using the Pixel Bender plugin.

Graphic Designers

Graphic designers have access to a great number of Photoshop plugins. There are several great layout plugins and way too many filter effects (mostly cheesy effects). We picked only the best filter effects to include in this list and our favorite is Filter Forge and Sinedots 2.

Mr. Stacks

Creating storyboards or PDFs of your photos but don’t have the time to do it manually? Mr. Stacks is here to save the day! He can turn your PSD into paneled storyboards or PDFs with just a few clicks. Installation is done through Adobe Extension Manager. To access the plugin, go to File > Scripts > Mr. Stacks.

Tych Panel 2

Wedding photographer Lumens Bröllopsfotografi realized the world was missing a good tool for creating diptychs so he went out to created his own Photoshop plug-in. This plug-in lets you lay out photos side-by-side in your own way – and it’s very easy to use! It works with Smart objects and layer masks and has Adobe Bridge integration. Installation is done through Adobe Extension Manager.

Sinedots 2

Looking for a way to create abstract waves? Sinedots 2 uses simple sinus calculations to create them. Experiment with this plug-in and see what kind of abstract waves you can get! To install, copy the 8BF file to your Photoshp\Plug-ins\Filters folder. This filter is only available for Windows and the 32-bit version of Photoshop. For beginners, set your background color to black before running the filter. You can find the filter in Filter > DragonFly > Sinedots 2. The interface is quite technical and I have no idea what I’m doing, but I just keep clicking the randomize button until I get something that I like. The only problem is that I can’t seem to change the color but that can be done later with the Hue/Saturation tool.

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Filter Forge

Filter Forge Freepacks

Filter Forge has many free filters effects that are highly customizable. They have freepacks that lets you create metal, vintage photo effects, picture frames, and more. You can even make the filters seamless! My favorite is their Photo Effects freepack which contains many great photo effects that are highly customizable. On high-res photos, I frequently get an error message but everything seems to be working fine when I close it – not sure what’s going on there. Some of the more complicated filters can take a few minutes to run.

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Stereogram Lab Filter

Remember those stereogram pictures you used to look at when you were a kid? This plugin will turn your photos into stereograms automatically. It’s also a useful tool to create seamless photo textures! Unfortunately, we weren’t able to test this plugin because it only works in the 32-bit version of Windows.


Photoshop has a few mosaic filters but if you’re looking for a different one with more flexibility, Mosaic is what you’re looking for. You can generate square, hexagon, and octagon mosaics with more adjustable settings than the ones in Photoshop. The interface looks a little dated and installation requires entering your name & email for a serial number (even though it’s a free plugin, it’s required). If you keep the effects simple, you can create some great looking mosaics.

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Web Designers

Some of the newest Photoshop plugins are layout and file handling plugins made for web designers. The most astonishing one is CSS3ps; this plugin works better than the one offered in Photoshop CS6.1 and is a must-have.


If you’re a web designer and you don’t have this plugin, download it now! CSS3Ps turns your layer styles into CSS styles and the results are amazing. It can generate shadows, gradients with transparencies, and more. This plugin will speed up your coding time and works better than the new “Copy CSS” feature in Photoshop CS6.1. Installing is through Adobe Extension Manager and to use it, you go to Window > Extensions > CSS3Ps. Select the layers that you want to generate the CSS code for then click on the CSS3Ps logo in the CSS3Ps panel. It will open your browser to their website that will generate the website for you. The downside to this compared to Adobe’s version is that you have to wait around 15-20 seconds before you get your code – but that’s worth it for the better results.

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If you want to create grids based on a grid-system, it can be a lot of work. Thankfully there’s GuideGuide that solves this problem. Create your own guides using your own measurements and save/load them for later use. Installation is done through Adobe Extension Manager.

Cut&Slice me

As you may know, Photoshop’s slicing system isn’t the easiest to use. Here’s where Cut&Slice me comes in; organize your layers in the way it tells you to then export them all by clicking a button. Designing mobile apps? Cut&Slice me even lets you export at different resolutions for the never ending list of mobile screen resolutions. This plug-in will save you lots of time that you can spend on more valuable tasks – such as eating cookies. This extension is easily installed through Adobe Extension Manager.

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Are you all about optimization? SuperPNG can save smaller PNG files and gives you extra options such as using your alpha channel as its transparency, ICC profile embedding, and metadata saving.

ICO (Windows Icon) Format

Creating favicons compatible with Internet Explorer is a 2-step process; save the image as JPG/GIF/PNG image then use one of the many websites that converts your image into a favicon. With this plugin, you no longer have to do that because you can save your image directly as an ico file.

Know another freeware Photoshop plugin?

I hope there's a plugin here that you'll find useful. While looking through almost every freeware Photoshop plugin, there were many that we could not include because they didn't support Photoshop CS6 or duplicated an effect that could already be easily done in Photoshop. If you know of a freeware plugin that we missed, please let us know in the comments below - Thank you!

Download Free Presets

Download Lightroom presets and LUTs, absolutely free. Use the presets to add creativity and style to your photos.

32 comments on “18 of the Best Freeware Photoshop Plugins That Actually Work”

  1. Have been searching for a couple months now and I'm trying to find how a good Windows freeware program to create and save a plug-in and make the extension 8bf

  2. I'll right away grab your rss as I can not find your
    email subscription hyperlink or e-newsletter service. Do you've any?
    Please let me know in order that I could subscribe.

    1. If you stay on the site long enough looking around it will give you the option to sign up.

  3. I used to be suggested this website by means of my cousin. I'm
    not certain whether or not this submit is written via him as nobody else recognize such particular
    about my trouble. You're wonderful! Thank you!

  4. Two outstanding free plugins, especially for painters:
    – Deep Paint 2D (includes a standalone);
    – Impressionist (from Microsoft?!?).

    Google it.

    Tested on all Win32 versions, CS2 --> CS6.

  5. Since it was said that I could give a freeware plug in one that I know of is Colorus the colorwheel

  6. Appreciate your efforts but most of these look so dated or tacky. The good ones are not free, but you get what you pay for.

    1. Agreed. Most are tacky and not worth looking at. ReFocus appears to pretty interesting... deblurring at its finest. Just hope it's not just another "sharpening" plugin.

    1. We tried that one but couldn't recommend it because the preview window didn't let you zoom in/out or pan around. It was stuck at 100% zoom which meant that you can't see the preview if you were working on a high-res photo.

    1. Thanks for the links! We didn't bump into Russel Brown's scripts but they look useful. MEHDI has a lot of great filter plugins too

    1. How did you install Kaleidoscope so that it works in
      CS6? I put it the plug-ins folder and also tried using the preferences>plugins to create a different folder and put it in there and pointed the plugin to c:\plugs. Nothing seemed to work.

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