We live in a visual world, and Instagram rules it. A 2018 study found Android users of the app average 53 minutes a day scrolling feeds and swiping stories.

More people are spending more time analyzing others’ lives through images. Those who are hyper alert of this new reality understand it’s not enough to take a picture and post it, unconcerned with the noticeable slant or the obviously low resolution.

As smartphone cameras have evolved, so have a multitude of photo editing apps, further shifting standards for what qualifies an image as “good.” To the critical eye of today’s Instagram devotee, aesthetic enhancers like tone, fade and filters–fabricators of quality as they may be–matter just as much as the content of the image and its resolution.

But the tedious process to achieving this level of quality is not just about people making oneself look perfect on social media, though that’s certainly what many Instagram users are after.

It could be you own a business and want your products to be appeal to your target audience. Or, perhaps you’re a photographer–professional or dabbler–who finds the new-age software-driven process of photo editing to be a gratifying part of the artform.

Regardless of your intent, if you want your photos to be Instagram worthy, here are three free apps worth downloading. They’re effective as standalone apps, but when you use them together, a higher order of editing power is unleashed.

A Color Story

Relatively new compared to the OG photo editing apps that came to market in the early days of Instagram, A Color Story operates like a combined editor and marketplace.

While it offers many of the tools you would expect a photo editing app to contain, what makes it special as editing software are its high-quality filters and unique effects, including effects like Flare, giving you the effect of a sun flare, and Light Leak, giving you the effect of light streaming into the image.

Furthermore, not only are there standard free options of these capabilities, you can purchase “packs” from influencers to extend your list of choices and expand your creative control.

Anyone who goes to the trouble to edit every photo they post on Instagram knows how painstaking and tedious it can be. A great function of A Color Story is the ability to batch edit photos, allowing you to apply the same edits to multiple photos at once.

This is great for times where you may want to post a series of photos that were taken together and you want them to match aesthetically.

A final notable function of A Color Story is the ability to connect your Instagram to the app, which will import your Instagram Grid. Once imported, you can import other photos from your personal library to A Color Story’s imitation Instagram Grid, where you can then edit those photos to see what they will look like on your actual Instagram page.

You can also schedule these posts to go out on Instagram–sort of. A Color Story enables you to plan for when you would like a new post to go out. Write the caption for the post and the schedule it.

When it’s time to post, A Color Story will remind you and take you to Instagram to actually make the post, bringing the edited photo and caption along–less work on your end!

VSCO

VSCO is one of the OG apps. Instagram launched in 2010; VSCO in 2011. It was developed for the visual era. Visual Supply Company, the makers of VSCO, foresaw today’s reality, and they accommodated for it.

For those aforementioned visual devotees who have been on Instagram since 2010, VSCO was probably one of the first apps they took to–and for good reasons that persist today.

Like A Color Story, VSCO is packed with great filters and effects, and it emulates your Instagram grid to give you an idea of what to expect when you post an edited photo. Another important feature is Copy Edit, which allows you to make edits, save them and apply them to other photos. But what might be its biggest benefit of VSCO is inspiration.

VSCO isn’t just an app with filters and features, it’s a social network. You have the option to create an account that allows you to share your VSCO-edited images with others and view theirs on VSCO’s network. In a way, it’s much like…Instagram.

But what’s truly powerful about this capability is that you can see how other VSCO users are using the app to edit their photos, and the best VSCO users are the ones who take the time to engage on VSCO’s social network.

Practice makes perfect, and VSCO basically gives you a place to learn from the best on how to use its filters and features and apply them to your own pictures. And that’s the kind of quality the upper echelon of the Instagram community is looking for.

Snapseed

Snapseed is another photo editing app that has been around for quite a while, since 2011 when Nik Software released it (today, Google owns it).

At one time, Snapseed’s filters would have been good enough for any user, and they aren’t bad today; but with apps like A Color Story and VSCO offering superior filters, where Snapseed’s true power lies–and where other apps can’t compete–is its tool. Snapseed is a virtual toolset encased in a photo editing app.

Here are just a few of the unique tools Snapseed offers:

  • Brush: Select Dodge & Burn, Saturation, Exposure or Temperature and brush the image with your finger to increase the effect or to erase too much of a natural effect already in the image.
  • Double Exposure: Overlay two pictures, making the top image transparent over the original image you uploaded into the app
  • Head Pose: Change the position of someone’s head in an image. You can also change the size of a smile, pupils and focal length.
  • Healing: zoom in and touch specific things in your image, like specks on a white wall. Healing will make them disappear and the space left will take on the color of the background.
  • Text: Type text over your image. You can change the font color, size and style.

Another great aspect of Snapseed is that it’s probably the best photo editing app to use for pictures you take with a real camera. This is because you don’t want to ruin the quality of the picture if you’re using a professional camera with great resolution or a specific lens.

Snapseed’s tools are generally more oriented to touching up, tuning and tweaking, rather than overlaying an image with a harsh filter or effect.

Go Edit!

Whether you’re trying to please the Instagram gods, have a business with products you want people to stop on as they’re scrolling, or want to take your photography to the next level, A Color Story, VSCO and Snapseed are three photo editing apps you don’t want to ignore.

These apps make your images aesthetically pleasing and can be used on their own or in combination with each other to give you great results and Instagram worthy photos.