1. Technology

Top 8 Free Photo Editors for Mac

The best free software for photo editing on your Macintosh


If you can't afford to purchase software, you can still find free software to create and edit images. Some of this software is developed by individuals, and some is feature limited or an earlier version of a more advanced program. In some rare instances, there are no strings attached, but most often you will need to provide information to the company by registering, or endure ads or "nag" screens.

1. The GIMP for Mac OS X

The GIMP Logo
Source: Pixabay
GIMP is a popular open-source image editor originally developed for Unix/Linux. Often lauded as the "free Photoshop," it does have an interface and features similar to Photoshop. Because it's volunteer-developed beta software, stability and frequency of updates could be an issue; however, many happy users report using GIMP for OS X without significant problems. GIMP is not compatible with Mac OS 9 and earlier.
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2. Seashore

© Seashore
Seashore is an open source image editor for Cocoa. It is based around The GIMP's technology and uses the same native file format, but was developed as a Mac OS X application and not a port of The GIMP. According to the developer, "It features gradients, textures and anti-aliasing for both text and brush strokes. It supports multiple layers and alpha channel editing." Although it does not yet have a lot of features and development has been slow, many users prefer it over running The GIMP.

3. Pinta

Pinta is a free pixel-based image editor for Mac OS X. One of the most interesting aspects of Pinta is that it is based on the Windows image editor Paint.NET. Pinta offers the basic drawing tools that you'd expect from an image editor, as well as some more advanced features, such as layers and a range of image adjustment tools. These features mean that Pinta is also a viable tool for users looking for an application to allow them to edit and improve their digital photos.

4. Pixen

Pixen is a free (donation-ware) graphics editor for Mac OS X. It has been specially designed for pixel artists, but is also suitable for other types of pixel-based illustration and animation. It offers layers capabilities, animation features, a tile view, and features for working with restricted palettes. You can even assign a separate tool and color to the right mouse button.

5. Image Tricks

Image Tricks is a fun and easy to use free image editor for Mac OS X. It is an application that encourages experimentation and offers the ability for a wide range of effects to be combined and applied to pictures. It is an ideal application for less experienced users to achieve creative results, thanks to the range of filters and masks that are available. There is also a paid Pro version that offers more filters, though you can see the effects that they produce in the free version, without saving them.

6. GraphicConverter X

GraphicConverter is a multi-purpose graphics tool for converting, viewing, browsing, and editing hundreds of image types on the Macintosh platform. If there is a file format or image processing task that your existing software can't handle, chances are that GraphicConverter can do it if you're willing to tackle the learning curve. GraphicConverter is a worthwhile tool to have on-hand, but needs some serious work in the usability department. GraphicConverter is not free, but you can use the shareware without time limitation if you don't need batch processing features.

7. Picasa

Technically, Picasa does not meet my criteria for a photo editor because it does not allow you to do pixel-level editing. However, I have received so many reader suggestions for Picasa, that I am including it here as an honorary mention. Although it does have some basic editing functions, it is primarily photo organizing software, and as such it is listed in my Top Digital Photo Software for Family Photos list.

8. Chocoflop

Reader-recommended Chocoflop has been discontinued, but it still available for free and runs on Leopard. Chocoflop offers non-destructive image editing, painting and selection tools, dozens of adjustment filters and effects, RAW support, rich text, and CoreImage filters support. Currently the only documentation for Chocoflop is a sparsely-populated wiki or the user forum so learning it may be a challenge if you have little photo editing experience.

Last Updated: August 2013

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