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Your Mac comes with iPhoto, which is adequate for organizing and sharing photos and even doing some editing: red eye reduction, cropping and straightening, even color adjustments. Flying Meat developed Acorn as an easier-to-use alternative to some of the more expensive and complex apps out there (like Adobe's Photoshop). For the more sophisticated user, Acorn also sports advanced support for Automator, AppleScript and JavaScript to help support really complicated automated workflows. The GNU Image Manipulation Program — GIMP for short — has long been lauded by open source advocates as the open source alternative to Photoshop. GIMP's functionality is similar to what you can do with Photoshop, though its interface may throw you.
It used to be that to use GIMP on OS X you had to first install X11, a Unix windowing system.
Adobe's Lightroom won't replace a full-blown image editor, but it's an excellent adjunct to having an image editor. The latest major update to Lightroom, version 5, sports an advanced healing brush to get rid of dust, splotches and other aberrations that make your images look bad.
If you're a photographer who works with photo metadata extensively, that's where Lightroom shines. PhotoLine sports a pretty heavy set of features: 16-bits-per-channel processing, ICC profile color management, IPTC and EXIF data handling, extensive image processing features, filters, correction tools, batch conversion support, and much more. PhotoLine is positioned as a less expensive alternative to Photoshop, but it's clearly aimed at the same users - people who already have a lot of image editing and manipulation experience.
A demo version is available for download from the PhotoLine web site, so feel free to check it out and judge for yourself. Certainly Photoshop isn't for everyone — it's an incredibly daunting tool that can be very confusing if you don't know what you're doing.
Adobe offers Photoshop CC as a subscription-based application for as little as $9.99 per month. If the idea of subscribing to software fills you with dread, and if your needs are more modest than full-blown Photoshop, you should consider Adobe's consumer-friendly Photoshop Elements application.
Photoshop Elements makes it much easier to do things like move objects in photos, enhance color, correct not just red eye shots but also those weird glowing eyes you see in your pet photos, fixing, straightening and creating panoramic images; keeping track of photo data and organizing photos too.


Adobe makes both Photoshop Elements and Photoshop Elements Editor, the latter which is available for purchase from the Mac App Store.
Pixelmator supports a large variety of image formats, sports tons of filters, has vector tools and excellent color correction tools. Its most recent update (as of this writing) reworked its image editing engine to be faster.
If you'd like to kick Pixelmator's tires before buying it, you can download a free trial from its web site before ponying up at the Mac App Store. If you're curious why I didn't include Apple's Aperture on here, it's because Apple announced in June plans to move away from both Aperture and iPhoto in favor of a new app called Photos.
There are a lot of great tools to choose from, so hopefully there's something on this list that meets your needs and your budget. It's easy to take and edit quick videos on the iPhone, but getting great audio isn't always as simple as pointing and shooting.
But it could be just a bit better if I tweaked it somehow." If that's the case, then you need an image editor in your arsenal. But if you've run the gamut (no pun intended) with what you can do with iPhoto, you're probably in need of something a bit more sophisticated. It's very quick, sports features like layer support and non-destructive filters, curves and levels. In short, don't let the price fool you — Acorn is only $30, but it's got a huge amount of power under the hood. It has many of the requisite features you'll need to get your photos looking better, plus a lot of other stuff besides. If advanced image editing functions are a mystery to you, GIMP may be a bit daunting — I might recommend Acorn or Photoshop Elements instead. Lightroom's real strength is in photo cataloging and organization, but Adobe has built in a lot of functionality that make it possible to make your photos look a whole lot better without resorting to other tools. You can organize and search tens of thousands of photos easily with Lightroom not even breaking a sweat, and you can edit some of that data just as easily.
That nets you not only the applications but the regular updates that Adobe releases for it, along with Adobe's companion Lightroom application — a supremely useful photo cataloging and non-destructive photo editing tool in its own right.


Photoshop Elements includes myriad tools to help your photos look better, with an interface that isn't quite as daunting as Photoshop's. Photoshop Elements Editor eschews search, organization and sharing functionality included with the "regular" version, which you can download from Adobe directly. The black interface is prescient — Apple's offering a dark interface for Yosemite, but Pixelmator had it long before.
It also sports non-destructive Layer Styles, an all-new repair tool, 16-bits-per-channel support and other handy features and capabilities.
We'll find out more about Photos' functionality and capabilities in the months to come, since it's expected out in 2015. This week, check out the new album from Meghan Trainor, pop discounts, and pre-order Blake Shelton’s next album.
Acorn even lets you lay in text over your images, along with multiple drawing tools so you can add shapes and objects to your heart's content, including vector-based objects. It also has the virtue of being free, so if you're on a very strict budget and can't afford anything else, that's something to consider. What's more, Lightroom does most of them non-destructively, so you can easily revert back to the original file without any hassle. Don't expect to dive into this app and know what you're doing without having a good handle on the fundamentals of image editing tools, however.
Photoshop has been the gold standard for raster image editing for decades thanks to Adobe's relentless marketing, its architecture which supports third-party filter plug-ins and its constant reinvention with steady development to aid in new feature design and deployment. But without knowing what Apple's upgrade path will be from iPhoto or Aperture to Photos, it's kind of tough to recommend two products that are clearly coming to the end of their runs.
I find Acorn a bit easier to use, but I'm always impressed by Pixelmator's power and flexibility.



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