Top graphics editors for Mac OS X

Apple computers are deservedly positioned as the optimal platform for creative work, digital artist’s digital tool. This compilation presents the most interesting free and paid applications for working with raster graphics on a Mac.

A photo — standard editor for mac os x

Apple’s new native graphics editor was not intended to compete directly with Photoshop or similar heavyweight applications. With it, it is difficult to create complex paintings from scratch, but it is easy to quench the creative itch, editing ready photos. Either use as sole, budget tool full-time specialist in the design of graphic materials for websites and print publications.

The functionality of the Photo application is based on the use of a variety of filters and masks, the range of which can be freely replenished as needed. As additional processing – vignetting, working with histograms, white balance correction, well thought-out revision system. There is no that depth of manipulation with each layer, to which you could get used, work is rather fast strokes, almost on the run. Remove red eye, adjust contrast, trim edges to insert into the article and t.d. – optimal when used with iCloud Media Library.



Full-featured open source graphics editor, for which we love the army of fans. Others can grumble – the application requires some study, practicing new skills. But stubborn professionals, enthusiasts of their business, this is not a hindrance, good, Gimp now works without difficulty in all versions of OS X.

Like the main competitor in the face of Photoshop, This application has a fully customizable multifunctional interface, support for the concept of layered image editing and a rich set of highly specialized tools. Paint a plain picture with a riot of color or create a monochrome masterpiece, make point or scale edits, remove defects, and maybe add them – Gimp is also great for hard work, and for honing new professional receptions.

One of the main limitations – specific support for working with RAW-files, which are recognized by the application, but not directly edited. You will need to take a few lessons and tinker with plugins, that can scare away a hot-tempered neophyte. But for those, who will plunge into the project, additional resources open up, like the GIMPology textbooks, custom filters, various utilities and updates for different occasions. This is the real alternative to Adobe software, which is useful to those, that I decided to migrate from one environment to another or tritely wants to save a labor penny for the purchase of serious software. Gimp – is free.



The project is constantly updated and modernized – the application is fully adapted for OS X El Capitan. But its interface, not to mention the functional, forever remained in the 80s. last century, when users are more than enough the capabilities of a simple graphic editor, supplied by default for each computer sold. Nor Microsoft with its Paint, neither Apple thought it appropriate to change something – Paintbrush authors agree with them. There will always be a lot of simple tasks, for solving which a sufficient set of virtual crayons, eraser and fill functions. The application supports only the most popular formats: BMP, TIFF, JPEG, PNG, GIF.

Fotor for mac


Is free, simply, not at all like bulky editors and intuitive. Fotor in the version for desktop apple computers can:

  • Adjust contrast, brightness and other picture settings
  • Crop image
  • Supply it with filters or templates «scenes»
  • To apply «shift effect»
  • Make a photo collage

Do not try to open RAW files in Fotor – there is a high risk of falling out of image fragments during processing. There is no work with layers, complex tools, author’s interface settings, and most of the manipulations are limited to using ready-made, pattern correction algorithms. But – fast and easy, optimal for in-line operation.

Pixlr Desktop

Pixlr Desktop

Autodesk is known for creating such complex and sought-after products, like maya and sketchbook. Pixlr Family – from the same category, and its desktop scion is a simplified version of a large graphical editor, native application for OS X and Windows environments. The focus is on the usability of the program, that applies to its availability. Users can choose between the free version, subscription for a month or payment of an annual account.

Quickly combine two images, overlay text or visual effect, adjust size, smooth out sharpness, use a modest set of retouching tools and t.d. This functionality is always available to the artist, pay the same is offered, eg, for unlocking individual masks and filters for individual objects. Or for that, to get an update – more advanced algorithms for the implementation of traditional options. Flexible system, user is free to freeze payments, if it counts, that next quarter will manage to manage and, what is.

Adobe Photoshop Express

An important advantage of all versions of Photoshop – easy to learn, without even looking at the pages of the curriculum. The technique is built on the expansive principle, from the simplest lessons to individual guides to solve specific, challenging tasks. At the same time, the interface and user interaction algorithms remained almost unchanged, despite the introduction of cloud technologies. Photoshop has been and remains one of the most wonderful editors for any platform, including Mac.



The editor is recommended to two categories of users – by that, who does not need to process RAW files, as well as to all who wish to get rid of the burden in the form of a paid subscription and the need to buy more updates. You pay the equivalent $30 and get «budget photoshop», with the difference, That Pixelmator was originally created for Mac OS X (Apple often advertises Pixelmator). That is why it demonstrates excellent performance on computers with the age of several years and more.

Comparison with Adobe products is not a coincidence, Support for proprietary PSD format is available in this editor. Yes Yes, created in Photoshop can be edited in Pixelmator, and with almost the same functionality. This and thoughtful work with layers, and megatons of filters, and tool «regenerating brush» and much more. But there is not that flexibility in data export, there is no functionality for processing digital photos, no support for 3D structures. It is quite normal to pay for the desire to save on the graphics editor, without losing the point.

Acorn 5

Acorn 5

Another argument in favor of, what bulky decisions – not the best. The list of key options Acorn 5 is generally identical to Pixelmator, a selection of tools focused on thoughtful image processing. I.e, flexible settings of the brushes, many prepared effects, projection manipulations, vector graphics elements and t.d. Among the unique solutions worth noting the function of a multi-layer screenshot, composed of all windows open on the desktop. Plus at least some RAW support, the ability to import images with a digit capacity of 8 to 128 bits, but no more than that.

Acorn 5 can work with PSD files, but in general the range of supported formats is poor. No here and «friendliness» to the web environment, typical of Adobe software products. All disadvantages are compensated by simple financial policies – You have 14 days to meet the editor. After that, the Mac user will be asked to pay $30 and nothing more. Taking into account the price and size of the functional, Acorn 5 can be easily recorded in Pixelmator direct competitors.

Affinity Photo

Affinity Photo

We are asked, in fact, save a little, abandoning not the most important part of Photoshop functionality, like that, what is in the Lightroom package. User gets the most important:

  • full editor of RAW-files
  • adjustment of the entire spectrum of image parameters
  • use of lenses, masks, gradient tools and histograms
  • clarification, blackout, veil effects and t.d.
  • instant filters
  • custom effects
  • working with layers and editing several photos into one
  • many plug-ins for Apple Photo
  • convenient interface, native to the Mac platform
  • a full set of tools typical for Adobe products

Pixen – pixel art editor

Pixen - pixel art editor

Talking title editor – it is designed for use in a narrow niche, for creativity on the field of pixel art. Who in the era of Retina-displays may need an application weighing 2,4 MB, drawing 8-bit icons and sprites, separate question. This does not prevent Pixen authors from stating, that the editor is designed specifically for the Mac and works great in the latest versions of OS X.

The interesting features of the application include a unique color palette, mechanism for creating mini-movies from GIF-files, special aiming system, without which the exact pixel arrangement becomes problematic. Pixen distinguishes meticulous implementation and well-thought-out interface, being a specialized solution, it meets stringent requirements for commercial products.