Twitter is the latest social network to give its members the option of posting a header image at the tops of their individual profiles. Many people and companies on the platform have already used the header image as a place to showcase personality or branding, and it’s a great way to present a visual side to the text-heavy network.

But we’ve already written about how Twitter’s internal system for cropping or resizing your photo is not the most reliable way to prep your header image. Depending on how involved your brand is with producing beautiful images, you may not already have a program for basic image editing. Here are five free apps — two for Mac, two for Windows, and one for both — that can get your chosen photo ready for display on Twitter.

1. PhotoScape (Windows)

PhotoScape is one of the more popular image editors for Windows users. It goes beyond the simple crop and resize function, with options for creating GIFs and taking screenshots.

The photo editor houses most of the program’s features for tweaking the look of a single image, but PhotoScape also has a tool for Batch Processing. This allows you to apply filters and functions to multiple files at once, which is a great way to develop some consistency in your visual content. PhotoScape is a solid choice for an all-around photo editor that could also be useful after you upload your Twitter header image.

2. GIMP (Mac and Windows)

GIMP stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program. The powerful image editor has been favorably compared to Adobe Photoshop as the developers have added new and improved features. It also has extensive opportunities for plug-ins and the potential for further new features, since the program is community-developed. With a little practice, you can get serious graphic quality without a high price tag.

In general, the downside to open-source software is occasional reliability issues or bugginess, but GIMP usually holds up very well. However, the overall performance and power of the program makes it an excellent choice for a free app.

3. Seashore (Mac)

Seashore was built on the same technology as GIMP, but it doesn’t have as many frills or powerful features. The program was built specifically as an OS X app, so it installs and runs easily on a Mac computer.

As with GIMP, its freeware roots mean that Seashore can occasionally be buggy. With the more limited suite of tools, this is an option for companies that just want the minimum fuss for resizing or cropping images.

4. Serif PhotoPlus Starter Edition (Windows)

PhotoPlus, from Serif, is a comprehensive image editor with loads of features — and a $90 price tag. However, Serif offers a free Starter Edition of its paid products to get people acclimated to the titles.

PhotoPlus SE has the standard editing features that you’ll need to prepare a cover image, such as resizing, cropping, and color correction. The free version doesn’t have the depth of the paid program, so don’t expect to use many filters or effects on your photos. If you think you may want to have professional capabilities in the future, this is a strong option that can get you acquainted with the interface before deciding to upgrade.

5. Image Tricks (Mac)

While there is a paid, pro-version of Image Tricks available, the Lite version has plenty of great features for cropping, resizing, and styling your image. On top of the basic editing functions, one of the unique features here is the ability to create graphics from scratch with the program’s random image generator.

If your company doesn’t have an arsenal of branded images to pull from, and you simply need an attractive header for Twitter or any other social media network, Image Tricks is a great way to make one quickly and easily.

Got any suggestions for great free image editors? Let us know in the comments!

[Image credit: Mike Baird]