Thanks to the advancement of smartphone cameras, everybody and their grandmas take tons of photos every day. And you can bet that most of those snaps are far from perfect. That’s why we need to edit a photo or two every once in a while. Nothing fancy or complicated – just to darken the image a little bit, to crop and resize it to fit your blog, or maybe to change the picture format.
Using a Photoshop-level image editor to do simple image editing would be an overkill and require a steep learning curve. For that purpose you can get away with a simple photo editor. If you are a Mac user, here are four simple and free photo editors that you can use for your everyday photo editing.
Preview is the default quick file viewer that comes with macOS. We can safely assume that even Mac users uses the app every day to get a quick glimpse of everything including images, documents, presentations, spreadsheets, and PDFs, to name just a view.
What many users probably don’t know is that Preview also comes with basic image-editing tools. If you open an image using the app, you will find options to rotate, resize, add border, add text, adjust color, and more. If you can’t locate the editing tools, go to “View -> Show Markup Toolbar” to reveal them.
You need other apps to get more advanced image-editing tools, but for a quick preview and light editing, Preview should be sufficient. Plus, it’s free and no installation needed.
Apple released Photos in 2015 along with OS X 10.10 Yosemite to replace iPhoto as the default photo management for macOS. Other than managing your photo library, Photos is also able to do quick edits and touchups to your image collection.
The absence of layers, selection marquees, and in-depth RAW editing tells us that Photos is not in the league of Photoshop, and it does not position itself as such, but the editing tools are far more complete than Preview.
The app integrates well with iCloud Photo Library, offers users the ability to do non-destructive photo edits, and supports RAW images to some extent. There are also proper histogram, some sharpening masks, vignetting, layer adjustment, white balance correction, support for a pile of ready-made filters, and the ability to add more customized filters using extensions. And don’t forget the quick red-eye removal.
3. Fotor Photo Editor
There’s a reason why many people recommend Fotor as their choice of simple photo editor for Mac. The app is incredibly easy to use. Everything is pre-set from the very beginning, and you don’t need to deal with complicated settings.
The app will start by giving users three choices: to do a standard edit, to make a collage from a selection of pictures, or to batch edit multiple photos at once. Then you can continue by selecting the image(s) that you want to deal with.
The editing interface is also simple. You get all the viewing tools such as rotate and zoom below the image and the editing tools such as scenes, crop, adjust, and effects on the right side. Clicking one of these tools will give you even more actions.
The simplicity of the app will make sure that you won’t get overwhelmed and intimidated by the editing process of the more advanced editor.
If you are more of a social media kind of guy/gal who loves to take and share customized and cute pictures, you might want to try Pixlr. This image editor from Autodesk is the perfect filter and overlay app to create unique and interesting pictures. The app features a dozen artistic effects, attractive lighting options, vector graphic shapes, stickers, and more.
The app is perfect for those who want to make flashy pictures without the trouble of touching scary photo-editing things like white balance, saturation, or hue. Pixlr might be your ticket to social networking fandom. But please note that you need to register or log in to your Autodesk account to download and use some of the fancy effects.
The Not-Free Honorable Mentions
The question is why mention paid apps, even as the honorable mention, in the list of free apps. And the answer is because they are so good at what they do and they fit the topic so well that it would be a crime not to mention them. We won’t go crazy with this list and will only pick two.
The first one is Snapheal. This $7.99 app does one thing, but it does it really well: it will help you remove unwanted objects from your photos. If someone photo-bombed your family portrait, there is an electric cable in front of your great mountain shots, or a couple sitting in front of your perfect sunset, you can remove them easily with this app.
And the second one is Pixelmator. If you need the advanced image editing feature of Photoshop but don’t want the steep learning curve, the complicated interface, nor the heart-wrenching pricing, then the $29.99 Pixelmator might be your app of choice. It has a complete set of image-editing tools and features and yet is still simple enough to use.
As the platform for the creatives, Mac gives its users plenty of options in choosing image editors. It’s impossible to include everything in the short list above, but it should be enough to get anyone started in his/her image-editing journey. Those who need a more specific tool or a more advanced suite might opt to get the paid apps in the honorable mention list.
What tool do you use for your image editing? If your favorite app is not on the list, please share it in the comments below.