12 Best Photo Editing Software for 2022
Updated: June 02,2022
Are you in search of the best photo editing software?
Then today’s your lucky day.
I found the highest-rated photo editing apps and reviewed each one.
But that’s not all! During this process, I also:
- Tested each photo editor to get a proper hands-on experience.
- Carefully examined their editing features, ease of use, pricing, and user reviews.
- Explored the strengths and weaknesses of every solution on this list.
- Designed an easy-to-follow buyer’s guide to help you decide which photo app suits you.
Alright, let’s get on with it!
1. Adobe Photoshop CC
- •Great toolbox
- •Rich filters
- •Extensive file support
2. Skylum Luminar
- •Good AI commands
- •Easy workspace
3. Adobe Lightroom
- •Thousands of filters
- •Supports heavy editing
- •Powerful RAW processor
4. Corel PaintShop Pro 2021
- •Cheaper than Adobe
- •AI cloning
- •Layer style duplication
5. Skylum Aurora HDR
- •Excellent HDR settings
- •Easy to use
- •Fixes blurred images
7. Capture One Pro
- •Smooth interface
- •Excellent RAW processing
- •Image cataloging feature
8. ON1 Photo RAW
- •Great facetune features
- •Creative filters
- •Good RAW support
- •Drag-and-drop feature
- •Clean, simple interface
- •Highly accessible
The Best Photo Editing Software for 2022
- •Adobe Photoshop CC – Best photo editor with complete toolsets
- •Skylum Luminar – Best affordable image editor
- •Adobe Lightroom – Best professional photo editing software
- •Corel PaintShop Pro 2021 – Best photo editing software for windows 10
- •Skylum Aurora HDR – Best HDR tone mapping software
- •DxO PhotoLab – Best for adding filters to raw image files
- •Capture One Pro – Best photos editor software for batch processing
- •ON1 Photo RAW – Best mobile-friendly photography editing program
- •Colorcinch – Best for cartoonization
- •GIMP – Best free photo editor for beginners
- •Canva – Best online photo editor
- •PicMonkey – Best picture editing software for fast retouches
1. Adobe Photoshop CC
Basic and advanced features
Photoshop is like the Ferrari of editing apps. Everyone knows it’s the greatest creative software and a household name in graphic design.
The best photo editing app lets you do basic cropping, resizing, retouching, recoloring, and filtering. Its features can literally fit any editing purpose. But, intensive image enhancement is what Photoshop CC lives for.
With the Eraser, Crop, Healing Brush, Clone Stamp, Color Dropper, and Lasso Tool, you can remove or change unnecessary aspects of your image.
The photo editor app is also a master of local adjustments. Got a picture that’s too dark or too bright? The program has quick commands that let you change your image’s exposure, curves, shadow levels, brightness, contrast, or temperature. And if you need to fix blurry shots, Photoshop CC’s Smart Sharpen filter can give you a clear photo finish.
By the way, are you still wondering what “CC” stands for? It means Creative Cloud, which houses all of Adobe’s products. It also refers to the technology used for file management and integration. You can save your images to the Cloud or import them into other Adobe programs like Lightroom or Illustrator.
Speaking of the Cloud, the only way to edit photos with Adobe Photoshop is to pay for an Adobe CC subscription. It costs $21 per month, or around $240 if billed annually.
Obviously, the best photo app isn’t cheap. And since it’s a feature-loaded software, it might be a little intimidating at first. It’s Adobe, so expect some tools to be a bit complicated to maneuver. But it’s nothing that practice and a few tutorials can’t fix.
If you’re a first-time user, I suggest using Adobe Photoshop Express first. It’s Photoshop’s online free photo editor. It’s also one of the best photo editing apps for Android and iOS.
If you simply want to get a feel of the software or do a quick edit, this Photoshop app should do the trick. It won’t work as a vector graphics editor or a 3D modeling software, but it can still perform basic photo editing.
2. Skylum Luminar
Good AI commands
In a graphic world dominated by Adobe’s best editing apps, how does Skylum Luminar stand out? Two words: Artificial Intelligence.
No other picture editor has gotten close to Photoshop or Lightroom. Well, nothing but Luminar 4. If we talk features, interface, and management, this photo software for Mac and PC is the best contender. The cutting-edge graphic computer program is packed with pro features that even newbie editors can work with!
To name a few, Luminar 4’s AI Skin Enhancer and Portrait Enhancer work like magic. It’s a huge convenience for photographers who want smoother close-up shots without manual work. The cherry on top - the results are extremely photo-realistic.
In addition, the absolute highlight for me is the AI Sky Replacement. Imagine going on a daytime shoot, say, for a pre-wedding project. The sky turns out gloomy and unappealing. Instead of praying for the sun to come, you can just keep shooting and replace the sky after. No one will know it’s a dupe!
These tools make Luminar 4 the top smart photo editor. You can also use its basic features like masking, filtering, layering, or structuring.
It can also work as a plugin. If you use Photoshop or Lightroom, you can infuse some filters and presets from Luminar into those apps. But take note: you can only do this with the classic versions, not the CC ones.
It’s the best photo editor app if you want something that won’t break the bank. For a one-time purchase of $89, you’re in for a good deal.
But here’s the thing. It’s all fun and games until your computer starts acting sluggish. That’s the issue I have with Luminar 4 - it gets slow with .raw files. So here’s a reminder to review the system requirements and see if your computer is up for it. Otherwise, Skylum Luminar is definitely a steal for small-time photographers.
3. Adobe Lightroom
Thousands of filters
Supports heavy editing
Powerful RAW processor
Do you have hundreds of pictures from weddings, parties, and travels that need photo editing? Adobe Lightroom can do that in one go.
It’s the best raw image editor in the Adobe Creative Suite.
The whole point of using Lightroom is to save time and effort while producing stunning and cohesive photos. In this picture editing software, you can simply upload all your images and edit them at once. Now that’s pretty convenient!
Based on my Lightroom experience, you’re simply following three general steps: Import, Develop, Export.
Adobe Lightroom’s Library Module lets you add, copy, or move multiple images in the navigation tab. The software can read various file formats like Camera RAW, JPEG, PNG, PSD, or TIFF. If you’re using Lightroom CC, the app also backs up your images into the Creative Cloud.
Once your digital photos are imported, you can head to the Develop Module. The panel has controls that let you manipulate exposure, saturation, contrast, brightness, etc. You can configure these settings for future purposes. Or, you can just download filter presets online and apply them.
Now, the great thing about this picture editor app is its export settings. Aside from the ones I mentioned, you can export formats like PDF, MP4 video, or web galleries. There are also Lightroom plugins available that let you directly share your images to websites.
Similar to all Adobe products, Lightroom is a software as a service. That means you can use it only by subscription. A monthly plan costs $10, which is lower than Adobe’s flagship apps. You can also consider the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom bundle, which costs $20 for the two apps.
Still, it doesn’t come with a perpetual license.
It can be a huge spend for hobbyists and casual users. But if you’re a professional photographer or blogger, investing in this image editing software has great value. It’s one of the best photo apps that can do quick edits. It isn’t as detail-oriented as Photoshop though, so it’s best used for adjusting the overall look of images.
4. Corel PaintShop Pro 2021
Cheaper than Adobe
Layer style duplication
If you’re on a scavenger hunt for editing programs like Photoshop, Paintshop Pro is the top candidate. It’s the best Windows photo editor that newbies and experts can both enjoy.
Compared to last year’s version, Paintshop Pro 2021 comes in with new and improved features.
It’s like Photoshop and Lightroom had a baby. Now you can edit a photo in RAW formats, do batch processing, edit raster graphics and vectors, make smoother selections, and quick cloning.
The workspace got a facelift, but it’s far more basic compared to Adobe. By the looks of it, the software is becoming an easy photo editor with every update. Major toolsets lay comfortably on the top and bottom panels for easier access. Plus, everything is touch-friendly.
Moreover, Paintshop Pro’s headline features will satisfy any photographer. The new SmartClone tool is the twin to Photoshop’s Content-Aware. With this, you can simply make a selection and patch it on to an area you want to cover up.
And just like in Lightroom, it’s possible to import multiple photos in Paintshop Pro and edit them all together. You can set up filter presets and apply them at once. You can also buy filter packages online if you want premade filters. Exporting them is a breeze, with various image file formats to choose from.
It may not be a free photo editing software, but it’s cheap. Paintshop Pro 2021 costs $79.99. The Ultimate version is $99.99, which includes Corel Painter, Corel Painter Essentials, Corel Photo-Paint, etc. The biggest perk here is that you can purchase it as a standalone app. And once you buy it, it’s yours forever!
All in all, Paintshop Pro is a simple image editor that can match up with Adobe’s features. It’s just a shame that it’s Windows-only software. But for experienced users, it’s definitely a worthy upgrade. And for new users, it’s the best photo editing software for Windows.
5. Skylum Aurora HDR
Excellent HDR settings
Easy to use
Fixes blurred images
Do you like taking scenic shots of places, skylines, and landmarks? If yes, then you’ll absolutely love the High Dynamic Range features of top photo editing apps like Skylum Aurora HDR.
HDR photography lets you take highly-enhanced photos without losing photo-realistic quality. It adds drama to your images. It brings out sharp details. It does so by combining multiple versions of a single shot using different exposures and shadows.
Not all cameras can do this, so that’s what the best photo editors are for.
Aurora HDR is a great example. The photo software has smart tone mapping controls that let you enhance your images using one-click presets. They are called Looks, which is a collection of visual styles and toning adjustments. Some of these Looks are formulated by HDR photographer Trey Ratcliff - the co-creator of Aurora HDR 2019.
These presets are instant filters, but they are highly editable. That means you can choose one Look and apply extra edits. Just like Photoshop, Aurora HDR is built with layers and masks. You can stack edits without compromising quality.
Since I mentioned Photoshop, it’s important to note that Aurora HDR is not only an easy to use photo editing software. It’s also an excellent integration for Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. Adding Aurora HDR as a Photoshop plugin will allow you to edit HDR photos in Adobe.
Either as a standalone app or a plugin, you can purchase Aurora HDR for $99. Skylum also offers a bundle with Luminar for $149. It’s a cheaper option against buying these apps individually.
Hands down, it’s the best photo editing software for PC and mac for HDR Photography. I wouldn’t use it for micro-adjustments and retouches though. It lacks the spot healing and cloning tools you can find in other picture editing apps.
6. DxO PhotoLab
Great local adjustments
DxO PhotoLab is a simple photo editing software with advanced abilities. If you're a newcomer, it won’t make you feel like a fish out of water.
Fresh off its latest update, PhotoLab has exciting features that meet an ideal photo software’s quality standards. The program is meant for post-processing a legion of photos at once.
It works with an array of bitmap images like JPEG and PNG, but it works best with raw image files.
The PhotoLab experience is quite simple. The general process only entails two types of navigation - the PhotoLibrary Window and Customize Window. The first one is where you import, organize, and manage your photos. The next one is where the editing happens.
You’ll find effect controls you can use to edit, adjust, or enhance your images. Previous versions didn’t have a Local Adjustment Palette. Now the latest one has. This will help you apply minor tweaks in your photo’s exposure, contrast, saturation, and more. It’s like an Adobe editor, minus the complex settings.
The ColorWheel is also a great addition. Just by playing with the gradient of colors, you can easily adjust the temperature of your photos.
Now, PhotoLab may not be a free photo editor, but it’s an affordable one. You can purchase the PhotoLab Essential for $129, or the Elite version for $199. It’s not software as a service (SaaS), so once you buy it, you own it forever.
Here’s the trick. PhotoLab is indeed a powerful photo editor for PC or Mac. But on its own, it may be a little too simple. Usually, photographers who use this software also purchase DxO ViewPoint and DxO FilmPack to unlock more correction tools and filters. So that can be an added expense for you.
7. Capture One Pro
Excellent RAW processing
Image cataloging feature
When Adobe Creative Suite feels unattainable to you, Capture One Pro is a great second option. As the name goes, it’s an expert-level software that can match Adobe’s best photo editing apps in terms of features, functionality, and performance.
The way I see it, C1 Pro is Adobe Lightroom’s top competition.
The multiple-picture editor is a robust program that organizes, enhances, and exports your photos in a neat fashion.
Unlike Lightroom, C1 Pro doesn’t have separate windows for importing, editing, and saving .raw or .jpg images. It just has one general workspace. This explains why the software’s interface looks a bit stacked.
In terms of the photo editing software’s local adjustments, C1 Pro is up there with the best. Its effect controls are pretty straightforward. You can manipulate your image’s brightness, contrast, exposure, and white balance in a non-destructive manner. The app also lets you apply HDR effects, lens-geometric corrections, and default noise reduction settings.
I also found C1 Pro’s new Variants tab quite interesting. This section displays a single image but in different adjustments. It’s a useful feature if you want to compare edits or see the before-and-after effects.
As for the price, it’s far more expensive than most photo editing apps that are not Adobe. An annual subscription costs $180, while a one-time payment is a staggering $448.
Now that’s a lot of money. But unlike Adobe, the huge price comes with a lifetime license. Still, it doesn’t hide the fact that C1 Pro has some weak spots. To name one, the software can’t match Adobe Lightroom’s amount of filters and presets. And another, it works on its own. You can integrate it with other photo editor apps. But that’s what plugins are for, which C1 Pro didn’t skimp on.
8. ON1 Photo RAW
Great facetune features
Good RAW support
Photographers just usually just go to ON1 for Photoshop plugins. But now, its latest release of Photo RAW is here to change the game. The computer program and its photo editor app for Android & iOS proves that it can stand on its own.
ON1 Photo RAW provides a rich workspace for photo management and enhancement. Some of the highlights include non-destructive layer editing and a few AI-powered toolsets.
You can connect your digital cameras or memory card and directly import your images. The interface looks busier than most apps, which is quite reminiscent of Photoshop software.
Within the Develop window, you’ll find a generous amount of tools and controls. Its essential adjustment options are pretty sufficient. You’re free to play with your image’s exposure, contrast, highlights, midtones, etc.
Its individual tools are also good enough for micro-adjustments. The new smart Retouch Tool mimics the cloning and healing abilities you’ll find in Photoshop.
I know the question hovering in your mind. Since the name says ‘RAW’, is the app only for editing raw image files? Nope. It can also work with other file formats. Just as long as they’re RGB and at 8 or 16 bits per pixel, they’re good.
Since we have Adobe as a point of comparison here, Photo RAW is the cheaper rival. Plus, it’s a one-off payment - license included. The software costs $99.99 for new users and $79.99 for upgraders.
In conclusion, ON1 Photo RAW is absolutely feature-packed, and it’s cheaper. However, I find it a bit odd that the newest update got rid of keywording and geotagging for albums. The tools are also not the best fit for newbies.
Otherwise, it’s a good pro-grade photo software. And if you’re looking for good photo editing apps on your smartphone or tablet, Photo Raw is a considerable option. It’s the best photo editing app for Android.
Suitable for experienced and novice
Flexible, affordable pricing
If you haven’t used an online picture editor before, Colorcinch will make you feel right at home.
Working with a new platform can be intimidating. Not this one. It has tips to help you around in case you’re wondering what goes where.
Once you get a feel of how different stuff works, you can start using the picture editor.
This professional photo editing software lets you enhance, resize and transform like a pro. It allows you to either choose from its vast library or stock photos (about 2.5 million high-quality pictures) or upload from your device.
The Cartoonizer has hundreds of options all with region smoothing and edge detection to make your images appear animated. Its intensity adjustor also lets you further fine-tune your work.
If you’re looking for an elegant lens, Vignette introduces borders to your work. A perfect way to make the center stand out!
Colorcinch is one of the best picture editing software because it offers hundreds of different filters, effects, and overlays to improve photos’ appearance. Some examples here include black and white, vintage, matte, infra light, simple, or scene.
There are more goodies!
It has about ten overlays such as:
- falling snow
If your photo looks dull, you can make your colors pop, sharpen the clarity, and adjust its brightness. Although the freehand drawing tool won’t allow you to create an image from scratch, you can still use it to create stunning sketches on your pre-existing photo. With this feature, you can erase unwanted parts, paint with a brush, and adjust the softness, size, and intensity.
Text function helps you add messages, change fonts, sizes, or even play around with the background!
This easy-to-use photo editing software saves work in different formats, so you don’t have to worry about converting them later. Examples here include PNG, JPG, and PDF.
Just note that saving your work under Projects won’t be instant. The good news is that it only takes a couple of seconds to complete the process.
So, what’s the damage?
Colorcinch is very affordable.
It has a monthly plan that goes for $5.99. The yearly package has a discounted price of $3.99/month which translates to around $47.88 annually.
Colorcinch is one of the best photo editing software for beginners. It’s not only a breeze to use, but is also insanely pocket-friendly.
Works like Photoshop
Probably one of the cheapest and easiest alternatives to Adobe Photoshop is GIMP. It’s not only the best free photo editing software. It’s also a graphic design program that can satisfy novice and seasoned artists.
GIMP is open-source software. Just like PhotoScape, Paint 3D, Fotografix, and Fresh Paint, it’s completely free to use. If you’re a photographer, graphic designer, product developer, or digital artist, you can use its tools for any design purpose. And it’s highly accessible.
Along with photo editing, you can do side tasks in graphic design with GIMP. Some of them include 3D rendering, prototyping, web page design, logos, cartoons, GIFs, and more.
Let’s tackle its photo editing features.
GIMP is mainly used for enhancing raster images and building compositions. Like Photoshop, it supports layer editing, so you can stack them with highly-editable adjustments. It’s a good photo editing software for cropping, retouching, filtering, combining, or converting photos without breaking a sweat. You can also rearrange your workstation with its customizable interface.
The best thing about this free program is the GIMP Community. When the system gets too simple, they offer downloadable plugins like Batch Manipulation, Stitch Panorama, Contrast Fix, and more.
As I’ve mentioned, you need not worry about the cost. You can use this photo editing software for free. Even the plugins don’t come with a price.
This, and the fact that the workspace and tools are easy to use, makes GIMP the best photo editing software for beginners. Needless to say, pro-grade photo editing isn’t its strong asset. But for a free editing program, it’s definitely worth a shot.
Clean, simple interface
Ever wonder if there’s an online photo editor like Photoshop? Many claim to be, but there’s only one app that fits the shoe. It’s Canva.
Aside from the fact that you can edit a photo online, Canva requires no experience at all. So if you’re someone who’s just popping a new tab to crop your photo, add text, apply filters or make collages, Canva is the best free photo editor online.
It’s also the go-to design website for social media content creators. Since it’s web-based and very easy to navigate, most creatives use it as a photo and text editor. It’s a fast platform for creating posts, online ads, banners, and more.
What makes it an easy online photo editing software? Canva has templates, which is a breath of fresh air for those who’ve had trouble figuring out complex photo editors. It comes in handy if you’re in a rush and you want to build image compositions without spending a lot of time.
It just lacks a bit in the photo manipulation department. Since it’s free, don’t expect Canva to blow your mind. It has basic effect controls, so you won’t see cloning tools, texture maps, and other advanced features.
But, it still delivers. It may not be the best photo editing software that gives mindblowing edits, but it’s definitely among the best free online photo editors. And it’s also great for logos!
Simple and easy
Good retouching tools
If you’re looking for a professional photo editor online that’s also fit for a newcomer, PicMonkey is the answer.
It’s a convenient solution because you can just open a new tab on your browser and use this picture editor. The site has entry-level features like cropping, retouching, resizing, and local adjusting.
You have a panel that lets you do basic edits like trimming, rotating, exposure-setting, as well as adding texts or shapes. It’s one of those apps like Photoshop, but the highly simplified one.
But I have to say, the overall navigation looks a lot like Canva, which is also a web-based editor. It goes without saying that you can use PicMonkey as graphic design software. You’ll find thousands of templates for poster-making, diagramming, flowcharting, and more.
But unlike Canva, PicMonkey has a few more tools meant for fixing and enhancing bitmap images. The Touch-Up feature lets you easily remove blemishes, wrinkles, and spots for a smoother complexion.
PicMonkey offers two paid plans:
- Basic - $7.99/month with 1GB storage
- Pro - $120/month with unlimited storage
Overall, PicMonkey is an impressive online image editing software that stacks some good features. However, I should warn you that it’s not the best for editing raw files. With images that large, it’s likely that your browser will go haywire.
And lastly, PicMonkey has layers, but they have a very basic function. That is, to separate visual elements like fonts, photos, or vectors. Unlike most photo editor apps, the Layer feature can’t be used for compositing multiple images.
What Is Photo Editing Software?
A photo editor software is a computer program or app where you can post-process your photos. This usually entails changing the lighting, highlighting details, removing unnecessary elements, or adding compositions to an image.
In the age of smartphones, photo editing programs are becoming more and more mobile-friendly. A research study by Statista found that among the 1.3 trillion photos taken in 2017, 85% of them were taken using mobile phones. Many of the best photo editing software now have free photo editing apps. Mobile photography is here to stay.
Artificial Intelligence is also starting to take over the photography industry. Most of the standout editing apps today are made with smart photo enhancing tools that are powered by AI.
How To Choose the Best Photo Editing Software for You?
There are thousands of photo editor apps out there. Choosing the right one is simple. Just follow our lead.
What do you need the best photo editing software for?
If you’re a detail-oriented person who wants to tweak every detail manually, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom have the most comprehensive photo editing features here.
On the flip side, if you prefer quick and automated edits, then go for Skylum Luminar, Paintshop Pro, or ON1 Photo Raw.
Side note: if you’re looking for extra features like graphic design, Adobe Photoshop can work as a photo editor, graphic design program, or 3D modeling software. GIMP can fit the mold too, but it’s the much simpler variant.
It’s highly important for a picture editing program to be able to read numerous file formats. For basic editing, you’ll mostly be using non-large formats like JPEG, PNG, or SVG. All apps above are able to support that – even the picture editor online like Canva.
But if you’re a professional photographer, I know you’ll be dealing with a lot of raw files for lossless compression. In that case, the best apps for you would be Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom, ON1 Photo RAW, Capture One Pro, and Skylum editors.
Canva, GIMP, and PicMonkey are the best photo editing apps for casual photographers and hobbyists. These programs are incredibly easy to use – the recommended photo editing software for beginners.
On the other hand, pro-grade image editors include the Adobe Creative Suite, Capture One Pro, and DxO PhotoLab. These apps are more on the complex side, which most high-profile photographers use for their work.
If you’re fairly new to photo editing, I’m assuming you’d be looking for cheaper options. If my guess is right, then the best move is to use a photo editor free, like GIMP or Canva. Skylum Luminar, Paintshop Pro, and PicMonkey are also inexpensive.
But if you’re willing to pay for a really good photo editing software, then you might as well splurge on Adobe programs. They are the most expensive, but the best ones in the market.
It doesn’t take much to produce eye-catching photos.
Today, you only need three things. A great vision. A good camera. And most importantly, the best photo editing software.
These programs are accessible, flexible, creative, innovative, and come at a reasonable price. In other words, all the exceptional photo editors that made it to this list.
Ready to WOW Instagram?
What software do most photographers use?
Professional photographers have Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom as their go-to photos editor. Mostly, they use it for photo enhancement and mass post-processing. As for beginners, GIMP is the most commonly used because it’s a free photo editing software like Photoshop.
Is Adobe Photoshop worth the money?
You probably know by now that you can’t use Adobe Photoshop for free. In fact, it’s quite expensive. But, it’s a great investment if you’re a professional photographer. Aside from having the tools needed for image editing, it can also support graphic design projects like logos, technical illustrations, 3D graphics, etc.
Is there anything better than Photoshop?
So far, Photoshop CC is still the best photo editing application. However, Skylum Luminar 4 and Paintshop Pro 2020 are very close contenders. Feature-wise, they almost have the same enhancing, cloning, and retouching tools. And they’re much cheaper.
Can I buy Adobe Photoshop permanently?
Unfortunately, Adobe Photoshop is subscription-based only. You can’t acquire a perpetual license yet.
Which photo editing software is best for beginners?
GIMP, Canva, and PicMonkey are the best photo editing software for novice or casual editors. Adobe Photoshop Express is also a free photo editing app that simplifies all of Photoshop’s features.
What is the best free photo editing software?
There are a handful of photo editing tools you can use free of charge. GIMP and Canva are the best photo editing apps that don’t charge you.
Techjury.net's manager. Deyan has been fascinated by technology his whole life. From the first Tetris game all the way to Falcon Heavy. Working for TechJury is like a dream come true, combining both his passions – writing and technology. In his free time (which is pretty scarce, thanks to his three kids), Deyan enjoys traveling and exploring new places. Always with a few chargers and a couple of gadgets in the backpack. He makes mean dizzying Island Paradise cocktails too.
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