Although the default Photos application on Mac includes a handful of tools for editing photos, it's not intended to replace a powerful and professional photo editing application. If you want your pictures to look professional, it is time to begin considering third-party photo editors that provide more significant features and more control. I realize that editing your photos isn't for everyone since many don't like spending long hours editing their photographs. That's why it's excellent having choices. You can select as robust or automated photo editing software as you want. You can also get editing software for your photos on Mac to enhance your photos with just a click. I've tested and compiled an 8-point list of the best photo editing applications for Mac that are both paid and free to aid you in your editing journey.
People have various needs regarding editing photos, and no anyone software is suitable for all. This is why, to make it easier for my viewers, I've separated the 8 photo editors into distinct sections. The sections aren't exclusive as the photo editing software has many overlapping features. However, the teams will allow you to understand what you're looking for.
Best photo editing software for mac users in 2021, Source: Proreviewsapp
The first photo-editing application on our list I have been employing for the past two years. It is one of two photo editing applications I depend on. It has professional tools and can work with almost all popular files formats, including JPG, TIFF, PNG GIF, PDF, PSD, and RAW images. It has all the necessary tools for editing images you'd think of from a professional photo editing program, such as removing red eyes, cropping, drawing and selection tools, and color correction tools. It also includes filters, mask layers, and many other devices. It also comes with a simple user interface marked with tools that are simple to locate and use. Affinity Photo also brings support for a variety of keyboard shortcuts that allows you to edit photos more accessible and faster when you invest some time in mastering the program.
Affinity Photo - Tutorial for Beginners in 12 MINUTES, Source: Youtube, Skills Factory
Although there is some standard learning curve, the creators offer a wealth of video and written tutorials that will be sufficient to start anyone off. I also love the non-destructive approach to editing photos that keeps the original image intact until you choose to replace the picture with an edited version. The program also allows for a long history, and users can redo or undo changes as much as 8000 times.
Additionally, it comes with the Apple Photos plugin allowing you to make minor changes right within the Photos application. The only thing lacking is a selection of Digital Asset Management or DAM meaning you are unable to use it as a picture repository. Something that Adobe Lightroom users will surely be lacking. If this is not a problem for you, I would recommend this program without a doubt.
Take Affinity Photos Free trial, $49.99
Luminar 4 is a full-fledged professional tool for editing photos on Mac that is also most simple to use. When I switched from Affinity Photo to Luminar, I've halved the amount of time I spent editing photos without sacrificing quality. This is a great deal I'm willing to accept any time. This before-and-after image which you can view within the Affinity Photo section took me about 5 minutes to edit, and the photo you're viewing below was only one click. Luminar 4 comes with an array with more than sixty filters. Some that even use artificial intelligence to improve your photos with just one click.
Luminar 4 Tutorials - A Beginners Guide To Getting Started, Source: Youtube, Anthony Turnham
The filters utilize the presets of a pre-configured set that alters based on the photo's subject matter. Based on my experience, Luminar 4 is the best choice for scenic and portrait shots. Luminar 4 also lets you modify the presets if you aren't satisfied with the results. You can access all photo editing tools like layers, masks, the ability to adjust color, gradients, and much more. They can be used to manually change your photos, just like you would in any other professional photo editing software. The filters allow you to achieve a close final result in only one click. After that, you can make minor adjustments that will result in your perfect photograph. One of the top aspects that I love about Luminar 4 is its before and after slider. I can instantly see the changes I've made and then compare the edited image to the original.
It also comes with an integrated DAM. It lets you sort, rate, organize and sort images just as you would on Adobe Lightroom. Similar to Affinity Photo and the other top-quality photo editing applications discussed in this section, Luminar 4 is a beast in editing photographs. But, it's an animal that can be easily controlled and used with ease without causing any issues for us. If you're an experienced professional needing to speed up your workflow or an amateur looking to master the art of photo editing techniques, Luminar 4 is an excellent tool for editing photos to use in any of the scenarios.
Get Luminar 4: $89.99
A list of photo editing software should be complete without including Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC as it is among the most powerful editing applications is available using your Mac. In addition to the apparent editing capabilities for photos, one of the main advantages to having Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC is that it includes a significantly functioning Digital Asset Management or DAM, that allows users to not only manage their entire catalog of photos as well as save their photos to the cloud, so they are able to retrieve it from any device. This is the main advantage that comes with Adobe Lightroom, and if that is what you are looking for now, there's no better software available.
The Adobe Lightroom CC is packed with these tools in terms of tools for editing photos. It may not be as user-friendly as Luminar, but it isn't far behind in terms of power. You have access to all of the standard tools like blend, blur layers, coloring matching, correction of color, and much more.
A Beginner's Guide to Lightroom - A 15 Minute Overview of EVERYTHING, Source: Youtube, Ed Gregory
I am awestruck by its user-friendly sliders that offer users total control over their images' color and light properties. It also lets you change the focus and improve the sharpness of your photos to highlight your subject or eliminate distractions in your photo. The main issue I have concerning Adobe Lightroom CC is its subscription-based pricing model, making it only feasible for those using it to make money. If you're using the application for fun, either Affinity Photos and Luminar are better choices in terms of return on investment is related.
Get Adobe Photoshop Lightroom: $9.9/month
Pixelmator Pro is another pro photo editing software for Mac that you must try. It not only offers an extensive set of tools to edit and retouch images but also lets you draw, create graphic designs, add effects, and so many more. But, as we focus only on editing tools for Mac's photos here, we'll restrict our focus to these features only.
I tried Pixelmator Pro for about a month and found that it has everything you could need for a photo editing program. The latest 2.0 update for Pixelmator Pro also brings several additional features that aren't found in most other photo-editing programs on this list. For instance, it supports Apple M1 Macs and multi GPUs (looking at your Mac Pro) and RAW editing workflows using the latest Pro Display XDR.
One-Click Background Removal – Pixelmator Pro Tutorial, Source: Youtube, Pixelmator
Pixelmator Pro comes with a new ML-Enhance mode that uses artificial intelligence, based on 20 million professional images that automatically fine-tune 37 color adjustments. Like Luminar, it gives you an ideal base for making precise adjustments to your photos.
The ML-Enhance, however, does not have a preset, and I prefer Luminar's method much better. I like the latest ML De-noise feature that removes noise and compression artifacts from images. There aren't many photo editing programs for Mac that have this feature. I thoroughly liked working with Pixelmator Pro, and if you aren't a fan of any of the software mentioned above, you must give a chance for Pixelmator Pro.
Get Pixelmator Pro: Free trial, $39.99
If you're looking for affordable and easy-to-use software for editing photos, take an interest in Fotor Photo Editor. Fotor Photo Editor. Although it's not as robust as GIMP, it's simple to master, making it a fantastic application for editing images for beginners. It supports importing and exporting a broad array of formats, such as TIFF, JPEG, PNG, and even RAW files. In terms of options, Fotor brings enough tools to ensure that you don't have it hindering your workflow unless you're an experienced user.
Fotor review/tutorial, Source: Youtube, MyInterest.tv
One of my favorite tools that Fotor offers is batch processing. It lets me apply preset conditions to photos in batches, saving me time. Other features provided by Fotor include borders, effects, the ability to create collages with tilt-shift and tilt-shift effects, and much more. In simple terms, Fotor is a more simplified and straightforward version of Lightroom, Luminar, or other professional image editing software for Mac in this list. Although the application is free, it also launched the Fotor Pro version, which brings more features and costs $39.99/year. You can check out the free and paid versions that come with Fotor by clicking this link.
Get Fotor: Free
I considered long and long about whether to include this app in the list or not since the app doesn't technically allow editing photos. However, I know that some users don't want to invest time editing photos but need their photos to look good. If you're one of them, this app is perfect for you. To utilize, Photolemur you have to drag photos onto it. It is possible to do this in a series or one by one. After you drop the images onto it, it'll apply AI to detect the colors, scenes, and faces, then automatically enhance them.
Photolemur 3 - Overview and Full Demo, Source: Youtube, TDCatTech
Keep in mind that you won't control the editing process whatsoever. In my tests, the program produced acceptable images in 90% of instances, which is why it was included on the list. One area where it does not succeed always occurs when there are already high-contrast photos with vibrant colors. Other than that, it's pretty good. I'll repeat this: it's not an image editing program that you must make use of if you're looking to have complete control.
Get Photolemur 3: $35
If you're interested in HDR (or HDR or High Dynamic Range photography, Aurora HDR is the most useful app to download. For those who aren't acquainted, HDR is a combination of multiple photos (low exposure, medium exposure, the high-exposure) to produce an image that has a more excellent dynamic range. It means that your images will display an improved ratio of darkness and light. The iPhone already has this capability when you have this feature while taking photos. However, traditionally, a photographer captures three photographs with different exposures and blends them with an HDR editing application to achieve the most effective results.
Aurora HDR: Still a Good Option in 2021? Source: Youtube, Jim Nix
For this work, Aurora HDR is the most effective tool available. The same team makes Aurora HDR of developers that created Luminar. As such, I discovered that both apps have almost the same user interface, with a particular focus on various photo editing styles. Be aware that if you don't use HDR photographs manually, it's not necessary to install this app. However, I tested it using similar photos with other photo editing software with impressive results. The app isn't suitable for everyone. However, some of you may enjoy using it.
Get AuroraHDR: $99
Photopea is a great photo editor that works on Mac even if you do not download a native application. Photopea is a web application that includes nearly all options available in Adobe Photoshop has for free. The most notable features are content-aware fill filters layers, support for layers, a vast selection of brushes, and more.
The application can also support all standard image formats and special formats specific to the app, like PSD, XD, Sketch, CXF, RAW, and many more. If you've previously utilized Adobe Photoshop but would like to switch due to its cost, it is the ideal option for you. It also supports the majority of keys that Photoshop utilizes.
Photopea Tutorial for Beginners: How to Use the Best FREE Photo Editing Software (2021), Source: Youtube, Ziovo
It also comes with many PSD templates; you can make thumbnails of videos profiles, avatars for profile pictures, cards, and others. The most significant drawback with this application is the fact that its interface seems to be a bit old-fashioned. However, the app is fantastic for a no-cost web-based photo editing program. If you search for an alternative to Photoshop alternative to Photoshop, I suggest that you give this application an attempt. If you find the application intriguing, it is possible to get started by visiting its learning page.
Get Photopea: Free
Although all of these photo editing applications are excellent, you'll realize that some are better for you than others. My personal preference is Luminar, along with Affinity Photo work best, and that's why I'm sticking with these two. You must pick the option that best fits your style of editing and your needs. If you find this post helpful, please leave a comment to let us know which photo editing program you think is the best choice for you.
I hope this information is useful to you and can help you to choose the best suitable for your macOS. Thanks for reading.