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7 Best Free Mac Photo Editing Software in 2022 [Incl. M1 Macs]

Last Updated on May. 6, 2022 – 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 not enough.

A good photo editing software can enhance your photographs to professional quality. It can even erase graininess, bad lighting, and other photography issues, making images look as if conditions were perfect when the shot was taken - even if they weren’t. 

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

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

Top 3 Free Mac Photo Editing Software Snapshot

PhotoDirector Logo

1. PhotoDirector - Best Overall

PhotoDirector is a professional-grade free Mac photo editing software made with the consumer in mind. It features advanced tools that are easy-to-use, so anyone can make stunning photography and swoon-worthy social media posts. More Info >

Pixelmator Logo

2. Pixelmator - Best for Mac Integration

Pixelmator is a free Mac photo editing software made with full Mac integration, so Apple users can easily share and edit between devices and apps. Pixelmator offers some advanced editing tools and is beginner-friendly. More Info >

GIMP Logo

3. GIMP - Best for Professionals

GIMP is an open-source free Mac photo editing software for professionals. It offers tons of advanced tools and support from the GIMP community. More Info >

What is Photo Editing?

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

7 Best Free Mac Photo Editing Software in 2022 [Incl.M1 Macs]

1. PhotoDirector Essential: Best Overall

Photodirector Interface

Compatibility: Mac, Windows

Overall Rating: 10/10

Beginner-Friendly Tools: 10/10

Key Features:

Based on our review, PhotoDirector Essential is the best overall free Mac photo editing software available. A lot of the software on our list will be beginner-friendly but lack advanced features. PhotoDirector Essential offers a comprehensive range of features for professional and amateur photographers alike. And it has an easy-to-use interface that lets you jump in and start editing right away. 

With PhotoDirector Essential, you get Photoshop and Lightroom in a single application, complete with unique video-to-photo, photo animation tools, and glitch art, which involves separating, layering, and combining your original photos colors to create unique aesthetics. 

We found that not many free Mac photo editing software support layers. PhotoDirector Essential not only offers layer editing options, but other powerful tools like advanced color replacement, panorama photo merge, and dispersion effects. You also get easy adjustment tools like tone, white balance, level, curve, split toning, and HSL & HDR effects. 

This editor is suitable for professional use but easy enough for beginners to use. Using the software's guided edits, you can add effects and create professional-level images in seconds.

PhotoDirector Essential also includes photo management and efficient workflow features, including tethered shooting, soft proofing, GPS photo logs, and AI facial recognition.

Pros
  • Updated regularly
  • User-friendly interface
Cons
  • Some advanced features require a subscription

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


2. Pixelmator: Best for Mac Integration

Pixelmator Interface

Image from Pixelmator Pro Tutorials.

Compatibility: Mac

Overall Rating: 9/10

Beginner-Friendly Tools: 8/10

Key Features:

  • 200+ vector shapes
  • RAW photo editing
  • Comparison slider
  • Nondestructive edits

Pixelmator is a robust photo editor offering various high-end photo editing features. It is one of the top free Mac photo editing software for its complete macOS integration. The software has all the default Mac menus and shortcuts and allows users to easily pull photos from apps like Mail, Messages, AirDrop, Notes, and Photos. You can even pull still images from FaceTime. In addition, Pixelmator supports all macOS tools like Magic Mouse, Apple Fonts, Apple Pencil, and more. 

The pro features you get with Pixelmator include layer editing, retouching, vector, and AI tools. In addition, Pixelmator offers various pens, pencils, and brushes for precision image enhancements. As you become familiar with the software, you can customize the main toolbar to contain only the needed tools. You can also organize the various effects and filters in their palettes for quick access. 

Pixelmator has many pro tools but lacks quite a few found in PhotoDirector Essential. But like PhotoDirector, we found it easy to use, with an intuitive user interface and plenty of free tutorials, making it the second-best free Mac photo editing software on our list.

Pros
  • Beginner-friendly
  • Flexible user interface
Cons
  • Lacks some advanced features
  • Free version has an end date

3. GIMP: Best for Professionals

Gimp Interface

Image from GIMP.

Compatibility: Mac, Windows, Linux

Overall Rating: 8/10

Beginner-Friendly Tools: 9/10

Key Features:

  • Customizable brushes
  • Original artwork creation
  • Auto image enhancement tools
  • Graphic design tools

GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation) is a free, open-source, and cross-platform photo editor you can access online. We reviewed GIMP as the best free Mac photo editing software for professionals because it is packed with advanced tools you don’t often find in free software, like bezier curves, animation tools, and layer masks. GIMP is a tool used by photographers, illustrators, graphic designers, and even scientists for its varied features.  

GIMP offers a library containing various effects and filters. Other professional editing tools include precise selection tools, clone brush, and transformation features, such as shear, scale, and crop. This free Mac photo editing software offers high-quality image manipulation with retouching and restoring tools and a handy split-screen that lets you preview effects before application.

This software ranks high on our list because of its advanced features. However, it remains under PhotoDirector and Pixelmator because it is not as user-friendly. GIMP has a bit of a learning curve, and the interface is cluttered. We also discovered that some of the advanced effects could result in lag, which doesn’t happen with a free editor optimized for Mac-specific technologies like our first and second choices for the best free Mac photo editing software.

Pros
  • Regular updates
  • Plug-in support
Cons
  • High learning curve
  • Lags when using advanced features

4. Pixlr X: Best for Quick Edits

Pixlr X Interface

Image from ThePhotoFinishes.com.

Compatibility: Mac, Windows, Linux

Overall Rating: 8/10

Beginner-Friendly Tools: 7/10

Key Features:

  • Pop-art effects
  • Picture collage maker
  • Design templates
  • Skin retouch tools

We found Pixlr X to be the best free Mac photo editing software for making quick edits in our research. Pixlr X's web-based editing software works well for beginners and more experienced editors needing a quick solution for basic edits. The program has a clean, easy-to-use interface with easily labeled tools. It has many great features, but not so many that it is overwhelming to find the tools you need. Pixlr also features tools for different skill levels, so you can choose to make automated edits or spend some time applying manual changes to your photos. 

While not as robust as other free Mac photo editing software on our list, Pixlr X does have some professional tools like customizable brushes and a selection of cutting tools like shape, lasso, drag, and magic. There are also tools for painting and drawing, fine-tuning color tools, and support for layer editing. Unfortunately, Pixlr's huge stock library and Remove Background app are separate from Pixlr X and require additional sign-in. 

Based on our research, Pixlr's advanced features fall somewhere in the middle of other editors of its kind. Unfortunately, the software contains a lot of intrusive ads, which is typical of freeware but not seen in the other free Mac photo editing software on our list. 

Pros
  • No need to download software
  • Streamlined layout
Cons
  • Slow rendering
  • Intrusive ads

5. Photoscape X: Best for Batch Editing

Photoscape X Interface

Image from Malavida.

Compatibility: Mac, Windows

Overall Rating: 7/10

Beginner-Friendly Tools: 7/10

Key Features:

  • Light Leaks
  • Cutout tool
  • Photo splitter
  • Spot healing brush

If you often need to apply quick edits to multiple photos at once, then Photoscape X is for you. Photoscape X has multiple tabs dedicated to batch editing, such as Batch Resize, Batch Rename, and Batch Format Change. Users can convert multiple images into a different format with one click. 

This free Mac photo editing software has an abundance of essential tools - anything a novice photo editor could need. Merge, crop, combine, and resize photos, then add stickers, filters, or text. The program also has some impressive color tools, such as Point Color (choose one color to highlight and make the rest of the photo back and white), Selective Color (change vibrancy up or down of each color you choose), and Replace Color (replace one color with another throughout the photo). There is also a gradient map for more precise color changes.

Photoscape X has an unusual interface that differs significantly from other free Mac photo editing software and may take some getting used to. However, despite the confusing layout, the program remains beginner-friendly. The program has many outstanding editing tools, but it is further down our list because of its lack of format support and export quality. Photoscape X lacks HDR and EXIF information support and tends to freeze if editing multiple RAW files. Also, when you save a file, we’ve found the quality is noticeably decreased.

Pros
  • Huge selection of editing tools
  • Beginner-friendly
Cons
  • Interface is not user-friendly
  • Quality decreases when saving files

6. Canva Free: Best for Graphic Design

Canva Interface

Compatibility: Mac, Windows, Linux

Overall Rating: 6/10

Beginner-Friendly Tools: 5/10

Key Features:

  • 5GB free cloud storage
  • Intuitive text editing
  • 100,000+ free photos and graphics
  • PDF editor

We found Canva Free to be a one-stop shop for graphic design needs. This free Mac photo editing software has over 250,000 free templates in 100 categories for any visual project. Turn your favorite photos into cards, invites, calendars, and more. You can also work from a blank slate and use Canva’s many fonts, colors, backgrounds, and shapes to design your look. Canva is a good choice for social media influencers, with lots of tools to help create your brand and maintain a polished presence online. Create a logo and save your brand’s colors and fonts in all your posts. 

Canva is browser-based with an intuitive, user-friendly interface. The free version of Canva is perfect for home users and beginners. In addition, we liked Canva’s team features, where you can invite members to design with you, then collaborate and comment in real-time. 

While we love Canva for design, it lacks some essential photo editing features. There aren’t any precision manual editing tools, no support for layers, and no AI tools. However, since it is free, Canva could be a good design tool to use alongside one of our more feature-rich photo editors further up on our list. 

Pros
  • Browser-based - no installation needed
  • Tons of free templates for beginners
Cons
  • Best tools require a subscription
  • Lacks some essential photo editing tools

7. Fotor Photo Editor: Best for Beginners

Fotor Photo Editor Interface

Image from Fotor.

Compatibility: Mac, Windows

Overall Rating: 5/10

Beginner-Friendly Tools: 6/10

Key Features:

  • Batch processing
  • Clone tool
  • Vignette effect
  • Rotate/Flip

Fotor Photo Editor is a free Mac photo editing software for beginners. The Fotor editing platform is easy to use, and navigating the menus and editing tools is quick and easy. All effects and edits are automatic, with a slider to adjust intensity. The limited tools are laid out so you can see all options at once. When you click on a feature, a little box pops up explaining what it is and how to use it. 

The stand-out feature of this editor includes support for importing and exporting various high-resolution image formats. Fotor is a RAW image converter and can be used 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

You can upload up to 50 photos onto the site, but we couldn’t get even one photo to open after trying both upload options multiple times. So we tried out the software with a test image provided by Fotor instead. Applying effects took longer than other photo editors, and the Color Splash tool we tried did not work well. This could be an excellent tool for beginners and offers some fun filters and effects, but Fotor Photo Editor needs to work out some bugs before competing with other free Mac photo editing software.

Pros
  • User-friendly interface
  • Lots of filters and effects
Cons
  • Slow
  • Many tools require subscription

Best Free Mac Photo Editing Software Comparison Chart

Software PhotoDirector Essential Pixelmator GIMP Pixlr X Photoscape X Canva Free Fotor Photo Editor
OS Mac, Windows Mac Mac, Windows, Linux Mac, Windows, Linux Mac, Windows Mac, Windows Mac, Windows
Beginner-friendly Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Color Tools Advanced color replacement, color splash tool, easily adjustable tone, white balance, level, curve, split toning, and HSL & HDR effects. Histogram, white balance, hue, and saturation sliders, color balance wheel, color adjustment layers Top-notch color management in conjunction with SwatchBooker Fine changes to color and saturation, tools to tweak vibrancy Manage white balance and gradient temperature of image, Color Picker tool, Color Fill Sliders for brightness, contrast and saturation Basic adjust, Fine Tune, temperature, tint and RGB curve adjustment
Layer Editing Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
360-degree Editing Yes No No No No No No
Free Download
Free Download
Secure Download
Download Download Download Download Download Download

PhotoDirector Essential vs

OS

Mac, Windows

-

Beginner-friendly

Yes

-

Color Tools

Advanced color replacement, color splash tool, easily adjustable tone, white balance, level, curve, split toning, and HSL & HDR effects.

-

Layer Editing

Yes

-

360-degree Editing

Yes

-


How to Edit a Photo With PhotoDirector

Here is a step-by-step guide for basic photo editing with our top choice for free Mac photo editing software, PhotoDirector: 

Download PhotoDirector for free below and follow along: 


  1. OpenPhotoDirectorand click + next to Projects. Choose Import Photos, then choose the photo you want to edit and click Open
  2. Click Adjustment, then the Crop icon under Regional Adjustment Tools. 
  3. PhotoDirector - Adjustments

    Crop photo as needed by moving the corners of the crop box around your image. 

  4. Open the Global Adjustment Tools menu by clicking on the arrow next to it.
  5. Scroll through the different color tools and adjust as necessary.  

For more information on photo editing with PhotoDirector, click here

Download the Best Mac Photo Editing Software for Free

Editing is integral to the photo creation process. Professional photographers need a robust editor to enhance their photos and give them a personal touch. An editor will bring out the best aspects of their photos while removing imperfections and distracting elements. And beginners need software that is intuitive and easy to use and that offers guided edits and tutorials so they can utilize all the advanced features available. 

PhotoDirector Essential is all of the above. That's why we consider it the best free Mac photo editing software. This product offers an extensive range of professional photo editing tools and features to streamline your workflow. And contrary to popular belief, you don't need to dish out hundreds of dollars for a powerful and feature-rich photo editor. 

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

Download PhotoDirector Essential below and start making studio-quality edits today.

Free Mac Photo Editing Software FAQs

1. What are the Best Free Photo Editing Apps for iPhone?

The best free photo editing apps for iPhone are: 

  1. PhotoDirector
  2. Pixlr
  3. PicsArt
  4. Snapseed
  5. Adobe Photoshop Camera

For an in-depth look at the above apps, check out 7 Best Free Photo Editing Apps for iPhone and Android in 2022. 

2. What Features Should I Look for in Free Mac Photo Editing Software?

Features you should look for in free Mac photo editing software are:

  1. Beginner-friendly
  2. Color adjustment tools
  3. Filters and effects
  4. Background removal/sky replacement
  5. AI-powered tools
  6. Beautification tools
  7. Layer editing
  8. Text tool
  9. Light effects
  10. Video-to-photo features

For a free Mac photo editing software that checks all of these boxes, we recommend PhotoDirector Essential. 

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