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Best Photo Editing Apps for Creating Vintage Polaroid Prints

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The nostalgia of Polaroid photography, with its unique charm and instant gratification, has a timeless appeal. In an era dominated by digital photography, the craving for that retro, vintage feel in photos is stronger than ever. Thankfully, the digital revolution hasn’t forgotten this allure. Numerous photo editing apps have emerged, offering tools to recreate the classic Polaroid look. This article explores the best photo editing apps for transforming your digital photos into vintage Polaroid prints, combining the convenience of modern technology with the timeless aesthetic of yesteryear.

1. Polaroid Originals: The Official Experience

Polaroid Originals, the app from the creators of the iconic Polaroid camera, offers an authentic experience. This app isn’t just a photo editor; it’s a gateway to the Polaroid ecosystem. Users can apply classic Polaroid filters, add the famous white frame, and even simulate the development process. Its strength lies in its authenticity, making it the first choice for purists seeking the true Polaroid experience.

2. Hipstamatic: The Pioneer in Retro Photography

Hipstamatic is often credited with igniting the trend of retro photo apps. Its strength lies in its ability to mimic vintage cameras and films, including Polaroid styles. The app offers a range of lenses, films, and flashes that can be mixed and matched to create unique effects, closely resembling the unpredictable nature of old-school photography.

3. Afterlight 2: Artistic Flexibility

Afterlight 2 offers extensive editing tools that go beyond basic filters. While it has a selection of vintage filters, including those mimicking the Polaroid look, its true power is in its adjustment tools. Users can tweak the texture, light leaks, and double exposure to create a photo that feels both retro and personalized.

4. VSCO: Subtle and Classy Vintage Edits

VSCO is known for its tasteful filters, and it includes several that emulate the Polaroid aesthetic. The app allows for subtle adjustments, ensuring that the vintage effect enhances the photo without overwhelming it. VSCO’s strength lies in its ability to balance modern photo quality with retro charm.

5. Snapseed: Comprehensive Editing with a Retro Touch

Snapseed, a versatile photo editing app by Google, offers a range of editing tools including vintage filters that can be adjusted for a custom Polaroid effect. Its ‘Grainy Film’ tool is particularly useful for adding that distinctive Polaroid texture to your photos.

6. Retrica: The Fun and Easy Vintage Editor

Retrica is all about fun and easy photo editing with a vintage touch. It offers more than just Polaroid-style filters; it’s packed with over 190 different styles, including classic camera looks. Its interface is user-friendly, making it a great option for those who want a quick and easy way to turn their photos into retro-looking prints.

7. Pixlr: Creative Vintage Editing

Pixlr offers a creative suite of vintage effects, overlays, and borders, perfect for crafting Polaroid-style images. Its double exposure feature allows for creative combinations, reminiscent of the experimental film techniques popular in the heyday of Polaroid photography.

8. A Color Story: Vibrant and Nostalgic Edits

A Color Story focuses on making colors pop while providing tools to infuse photos with a vintage, Polaroid-inspired look. It offers light leaks, grainy textures, and vintage filters that can be layered and adjusted for a personalized effect.

9. RNI Films: Real Film Aesthetics

RNI Films is designed to bring the authentic character of analog film to digital photography. It features a range of film presets, including those inspired by classic Polaroid film. The app is designed for subtlety and realism, appealing to those who want their digital photos to have the genuine feel of film.

10. Gudak Cam: The Disposable Camera Experience

While not exclusively a Polaroid-style app, Gudak Cam deserves mention for its unique approach to vintage photography. It simulates the experience of using a disposable camera, complete with a waiting period to ‘develop’ your photos, adding an element of surprise and anticipation reminiscent of the Polaroid experience.

Tips for Creating Vintage Polaroid Prints Digitally

  1. Embrace Imperfections: Part of the Polaroid charm is its imperfections. Don’t be afraid to add grain, light leaks, and slightly off colors.
  2. Play with Borders: The classic Polaroid is known for its distinctive white frame. Experiment with different border styles to frame your photos.
  3. Adjust Colors for a Retro Feel: Polaroids often have a distinct color palette with faded tones and warm hues. Use color adjustments to mimic this look.
  4. Experiment with Textures: Adding textures can give your photo the physical feel of a Polaroid print.
  5. Consider Composition: Polaroid photos are square. Cropping your photos to this aspect ratio can add to the authenticity.


The allure of Polaroid photography remains strong in the digital age, and these photo editing apps offer a bridge between the classic and the contemporary. Whether you’re a professional photographer looking to add a vintage touch to your portfolio or an enthusiast longing for the nostalgia of the past, these apps provide the tools to transform your digital photos into charming, vintage-style Polaroid prints. With features ranging from authentic replication to creative reinterpretation, each app offers a unique way to celebrate the enduring legacy of Polaroid photography. As you explore these apps, remember that the heart of Polaroid’s appeal lies in its ability to capture moments in a timeless, instantly recognizable format. In blending the old with the new, these apps allow us to keep the spirit of Polaroid alive, one digital print at a time.

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