The price of a powerful piece of free photoediting software is that the Gimps presentation and operation is a little quirky But dont give up youll soon find your way around

Download the Gimp from http://gimp-win.sourceforge. net/stable.html. Installation is similar to most other Windows applications. Just pick your installation directory and you're done.

This is what you'll see when you first open the Gimp, and if you think it isnt particularly friendly, you'll find plenty of people to agree with you. The blank slate approach can be a bit off-putting, but youll soon get used to it

Click on the File menu and choose Open, which will produce the Gimp's very non-standard file-chooser dialog box. It doesnt have shortcuts to the likes of your My Pictures folder, but you can add those manually.

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Once your photo is open, you'll see a more familiar set of menu entries in the top line of the image window itself. It's fairly standard stuff, with some of the Gimp's more esoteric features hidden beneath the surface.

Basic operations are simple. For instance, to crop an image, click Tools | Transform Tools | Crop. Then simply click and drag a box. A dialog box will pop up, but you can still use the mouse to drag your crop area.

Now hit the Crop button in the pop-up dialog. If you dont like the result just undo the operation by clicking Edit | Undo Crop Image from the top menu, or using the shortcut <Ctrl-Z>.

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HOW HARD?

If you can download and install an application, you can do this.

HOW LONG?

As long as you have time to explore - it's a big application!

DIGITAL PHOTO SOFTWARE

THERE'S PLENTY OF COMPETITION IN THE AREA OF RETOUCHING SOFTWARE. OVER THE NEXT FEW PAGES, WE'LL LOOK AT THE MARKET LEADERS.

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