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Best Free Photo Editor for Mac

Last Updated on Oct. 7, 2021 – by David Morgan
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Best Free Photo Editing Tools for Mac

As a photographer, you go to great lengths to capture the perfect shot. Finding the right setting, waiting for that time of day when the light is perfect, and composing your shot will go a long way toward creating great photographs, but these steps alone are often not enough.

Photo editing is the process of digitally manipulating your photos to fit your specific requirements. Using professional software, you can correct imperfections, enhance colors, add effects, and more. With the right editor, you can give your photos a unique personality, making them more engaging.

However, many photographers who use Mac computers run into one problem when looking for photo editing software—high price tags. Fortunately, various free photo editors are available for Mac, and some of them offer all the high-end editing features you need.

Which free photo editor for Mac is right for you? With so many options available, finding the best software to edit your photos can be a challenge. This guide takes an in-depth look at the best free photo editors for Mac to help you make an informed decision.

What Should You Look for in Free Photo Editing Software?

Editing Capabilities

When evaluating free photo editors, consider the capabilities of each editor to determine if they match your image editing needs. Some free editors only offer essential tools, such as color, contrast, and exposure adjustments. However, higher-end software also lets you work with professional masking techniques and layers.

Mac Compatibility

Generally speaking, Mac is among the best systems for photo editing, thanks to its combination of performance, functionality, and style. If you are a Mac user, you need to select a free photo editor that runs well on this operating system. Ideally, the software you choose should also be compatible with Windows, as this will allow for editing across multiple devices.

User-Friendly Interface

Spending hours learning new software and editing tools can be frustrating and time-consuming. Many beginner editors make the mistake of thinking that high-end editing platforms are always complicated, but that's not the case. The best free photo editor for Mac is one with an intuitive user interface, accessible editing features, and a simplistic design.

Output Type

The output type is another critical consideration when choosing a free photo editor. Most free editors can export images in a jpg file format or other formats with lower resolutions. If you want to produce photos in higher-resolution formats, consider the advanced software in this guide.

5 Best Photo Editors for Mac

1. PhotoDirector Essential

PhotoDirector Essential from CyberLink is a high-end photo editing software compatible with Mac and Windows. This editor offers a comprehensive range of features for professional and amateur photographers alike.

It features an easy-to-use user interface that lets you jump in and start editing right away. With PhotoDirector Essential, you get Photoshop Elements and Lightroom in a single application, complete with unique video-to-photo and photo animation tools. Using the software's guided edits, you can add effects and create professional-level images in seconds.

PhotoDirector Essential is incredibly powerful, especially when taking into account that it's a free tool. This editor's most popular features include an advanced color replacement tool, layer editing options, 360-degree photo editing, and dispersion effects. You also get easy adjustment tools like tone, white balance, level, curve, split toning, and HSL & HDR effects.

The software is continually updated. Some of the latest additions to PhotoDirector Essential include AI sky replacement and glitch art, which involves separating, layering, and combining your original photo's colors to create unique aesthetics.

Using the AI object segmentation feature, you can detect and carve out elements in your photos, creating masks to select and edit an object in your image. With this feature, you can expertly replace backgrounds in seconds.

This editor is suitable for professional use but easy enough for beginners to use. It includes photo management and efficient workflow features, including tethered shooting, soft proofing, GPS photo logs, and AI facial recognition.

Best Features

  • User-friendly interface
  • Photo effects with layer editing tools
  • AI sky replacement and object segmentation for easy professional editing
  • Compatible with Mac and Windows

To give your photos a unique and engaging edge, download PhotoDirector Essential today.


Gimp Interface

GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation) is an open-source photo editing platform for Mac that you can access online for free. This platform is also compatible with other operating systems, including Windows and Linux.

GIMP offers a library containing various effects and filters. You also get animated effects that you can use to create GIFs from your photos. Other professional editing tools include precise selection tools, clone brush, layer editing, and transformation features, such as shear, scale, and crop.

The software's user interface is relatively easy to use, albeit somewhat dull and unattractive. The split-screen gives you a before-and-after view of the photo you are editing, which is handy. However, when using a Mac, applying some of the advanced effects can result in lag.

GIMP is a powerful and versatile free editor for Mac, but if you prefer a free editor that is optimized for Mac-specific technologies, consider PhotoDirector Essential.

Best Features

  • Free, open-source photo editor for all operating systems
  • Dozens of professional effects and filters
  • Split-screen that lets you preview effects before application
  • Precise selection tools with layer editing
  • High-end transformation tools such as crop and shear

3. Fotor Photo Editor

Fotor Photo Editor Interface

Fotor Photo Editor is a free RAW image processing software compatible with Mac and Windows. The stand-out features of this editor include support for importing and exporting various high-resolution image formats and effects libraries. Note that you need to pay for some of the effects in the Fotor library.

The Fotor editing platform is easy to use, and navigating the menus and editing tools is quick and easy. While Fotor Photo Editor doesn't offer the same extensive range of editing features as PhotoDirector, this desktop software is sufficient for basic image editing.

The software editing tools include image manipulation and transformation, color correction, and adjustments. You can also use this editor to view EXIF data images.

The web-based application offers basic adjustments with additional photo editing features such as adjustment fine-tuning, curving and resizing, and white balance settings. Fotor also offers a batch processing tool, which is ideal for simultaneously filtering a memory card of photos.

If you need a photo editor with a healing tool, clone brush, and layer editing, Fotor Photo Editor is not for you, and you should consider PhotoDirector.

Best Features

  • User-friendly interface
  • Essential yet powerful photo editing tools
  • Batch processing feature to save time
  • Support for RAW image processing and various file formats
  • Professional effects libraries

4. Pixelmator

Pixelmator Interface

Pixelmator is a robust photo editing software for Mac offering various high-end photo editing features.

As you become familiar with the software, you can customize the main toolbar to contain only the tools you need. You can also organize the various effects and filters in their own palettes for quick access. If you have difficulty using this editor, you can visit the Pixelmator website and watch video tutorials.

The photo editing features you get with Pixelmator include quick selection and layer editing tools. Pixelmator also offers various pens, pencils, and brushes for precision image enhancements.

Pixelmator is an option for photographers who need a straightforward and free editor. Even so, the software lacks some of the key features you need for professional-level projects, and it tends to run slow on Mac.

Best Features

  • User-friendly and intuitive interface
  • Batch processing capability
  • Free online tutorials
  • Professional retouching and vector tools
  • Advanced editing features including layer editing, effects, and filters

5. Photoscape X

Photoscape X Interface

Photoscape X may be the new kid on the block, but it offers various professional photo editing tools for Mac and Windows users.

This photo editor has a relatively straightforward interface, but it differs significantly from most other platforms and has a bit of a learning curve. Unlike other editors featuring palettes and toolbars, the Photoscape X platform has tabs at the top of the window, and each tab has a unique function.

You can preview all the photos within a folder and select the image you want to edit using the Viewer tab. Then, move to the Editor tab, which features all the lighting controls, filters, and effects. Use the “Compare” function in this tab to preview an effect before applying it to your image.

Most photographers will use the Viewer and Editor tabs, but the editor also has a GIF tab and a Batch tab for editing multiple photos simultaneously.

Photoscape X lacks the selection and layer editing tools you get with PhotoDirector, but it is a viable option if you just need basic editing and batch processing.

Best Features

  • Compatible with Windows and Mac
  • Unique but intuitive user interface
  • Essential editing tools, including lighting controls, effects, and filters
  • Red-eye removal with a healing brush
  • Batch processing feature

Download the Best Free Photo Editor for Mac Today

Editing is integral to the photo creation process. As a professional photographer, you need a robust editor to enhance your photos and give them a personal touch. A high-end photo editing software also brings out the best aspects of your photo while removing imperfections or distracting elements.

Contrary to popular belief, you don't need to dish out hundreds of dollars for a powerful and feature-rich photo editor. As a Mac user, you can choose from various free photo editors. The challenge is finding an editor that fits your unique project requirements.

CyberLink PhotoDirector Essential is going to hit that mark for most photographers. That's why we consider it the best free photo editor for Mac. This product offers an extensive range of professional photo editing tools and features to streamline your workflow. The PhotoDirector user interface is also highly intuitive and easy to learn, even if you don't have a background in photo editing.

If you need support for high-resolution formats, layer editing features, and precision selection tools, PhotoDirector is the photo editor for you.

Download CyberLink PhotoDirector Essential today.

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