The Best Photoshop Alternative for Mac OS X is Pixelmator

Oct 27, 2011 - 25 Comments

Pixelmator 2 screen shot

Pixelmator for Mac has long been a killer photo editing app. But I’ll cut straight to the point, Pixelmator is the single best Photoshop alternative for the Mac platform at it’s price point, and at just $29.99 (App Store link) it’s much more affordable for the average joe than Adobe Photoshops whopping $500 tag.

The fact is Pixelmator has all the standard photo editing and drawing tools, and new versions include tons of new features like content-aware fill, healing, smudge tools, and full Mac OS X feature support for Full Screen Mode, Auto Save, and Versions. No, it doesn’t include every option from the competition, but at a fraction of the price it’s more than competent for the majority of users needs.

But don’t take my word for it, you should try it yourself. Fortunately the creators of Pixelmator have enough confidence in their app that they offer a full working trial version before you buy it, you can download the free 30 day trial here to make sure it fits your photo editing and design needs before you buy. If you’re in the market for an image editor, check it out. With a free download and trial period, you can’t really go wrong.

Pixelmator 2 Screenshot

Now I admit I am no image editing pro, but I adjust photos and have to make graphics for the web fairly often, and it more than does the job for all of my needs. My only two complaints with Pixelmator are; selecting elements within a layer can be challenging as the click often passes through the layers below that have larger elements, and text effects are nonexistent for things like gradients, shadows, etc, they have to be applied manually the old fashion way. Now that is obviously nothing that can’t be worked with, it’s just a little different to adjust to for those coming from a Photoshop background. I cut my editing chops on Photoshop long ago, back when it was more affordable and frequently found in school computer labs, but these days all of my image editing and web graphic creation is done with Pixelmator.

You can even get creative with Pixelmator too, I have just about zero artistic ability but my hideous 10 minute creation in the process of checking out the updated version looks like this:

Pixelmator 2 test image

Not quite a Picasso, but you get the point. It’s a full fledged image editor with a lot of creative options.

By the way, the app has been on sale at $29.99, but the apps price is expected to jump to $60 sometime in the future. Once it’s $60 the competition heats up a bit because Acorn is another great image editor for the Mac and costs $49.99. Ultimately you should try both and decide which you like best, but for me Pixelmator is the obvious choice and what I recommend to 95% of Mac users who are looking for an affordable powerful image editing app on Mac OS X.


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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS, News


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  1. […] Preview app, or replacing them with completely different images and your own art drawn up through Pixelmator, Photoshop, or your image editing app of […]

  2. […] already know that Pixelmator is the best Photoshop alternative out there at a tiny fraction of the price, but version 2.2+ includes an incredible easter egg that […]

  3. […] Lion users aren’t so lucky to get CS2 for free, but you can always pay $15 or so to get the best PS alternative around, Pixelmator, or download Gimp for free which is pretty capable […]

  4. […] straight into the pool of Longcat memes, and there’s nothing better than boredom and some Pixelmator fun to create something totally stupid. Don’t worry, we’ll be back to our normal useful […]

  5. […] best used and edited with Photoshop, but it will open with most elements respected in apps like Pixelmator and Gimp, though there are some […]

  6. […] editing tools, like layers, brushes, filters, text tools, color adjustments, and much more. Though Pixelmator remains the best Photoshop alternative for Mac users it also costs $15, and Gimp is a perfectly adequate solution for anyone looking to do […]

  7. dude says:

    I’m glad the Gimp exists, but also glad I can afford not to use it! Going to download Pixelmator whiles its on sale for $15

  8. Kuttyjoe says:

    Pixelmator definitely looks very polished. Maybe the people behind it have big ideas for it’s future. I would love to see something give Photoshop some competition.

  9. Julie says:

    Biggest problem with PixelMator is it is not really at the pro level yet, until it supports 16bit files or CMYK i do not think it is a real alternative…

  10. […] announced, but typically Photoshop is the same price as a new iPad or more. For that reason, many alternatives like Pixelmator or even iPhoto can be good enough for many users photo editing needs. […]

  11. Zeal says:

    Woah nelly, how about them aplpes!

  12. Clyde says:

    How can a program that only supports Apple Raw be the best alternative to Photoshop? It makes absolutely no sense.

  13. Kurt says:

    Graphic Convertor is a nice alternative to Photoshop. Lemke (the Developer) has been actively working on it since the 90s.

  14. Alberto says:

    Photoshop killer?
    Alternative to Photoshop?

    Please!! Why always (want to) compare things that you cannot compare?

    It is like to compare a Lada and an Aston Martin, and say that the Lada is an Aston Martin Killer :D

    Photoshop is a professional software used by professionals to do professional works.
    Pixelmator is just a toy… a very good one, but still a toy…

  15. Rohan Agashe says:

    can somebody share the tree wallpaper in first picture.

    • Paul McGuire says:

      and also share the story behind the pic. If it’s for a sci-fy.fantasy novel, I want to read it!

      • Paul McGuire says:

        I found it. Used the TinEye Firefox plugin to search for it.
        (cropped copy of desktop pic above, opened file in FF, right-clicked pic)
        It’s “Tree Walker” by Abdullah Alhourani.
        Unfortunately, not novel art, but still a great pic.

  16. Skyline says:

    This is just like Mac vs Windows.

    When in doubt… or short in money… get Linux!!!

    Or Gimp in this case :)

    Gimp… the jack-of-all-trades, the open-source prince and the best alternative to Photoshop :D

    • Mario says:

      GIMP is a hideous beast, though. Plus, you need to install X11 to run it in a Mac. Pixelmator, and Acorn are Mac-native.

    • vdiv says:

      Agree, for the occasional image editing GIMP is good. And if you are not running X on your MAC you are missing the whole BSD Unix fun of it.

    • Makka says:

      The GIMP is a great application on Linux, but I really don’t want it on my Mac. I want to run nice Mac-native Cocoa-apps on my Mac, so I’m not running ugly X11-apps like the GIMP on my Mac. On a Mac I use Pixelmator.

  17. Acorn is more capable than Pixelmator in general (layer styles and much better typographic controls), although Pixelmator is ahead in a few small areas. If you’re not concerned about a really nice Cocoa UI, Photoline crushes them both like bugs (as does Photoshop Elements, which people often forget).

  18. Josh says:

    Too bad there’s not an option to ditch the black interface, looks weird.

  19. Daniel Suzuki says:

    Pixelmater is the best alternative to Photoshop Elements, but not an alternative to CS5.

  20. Mowi says:

    I think Acorn is better for making quick web graphics, but Pixelmator is better for editing images. It’s a shame they don’t merge because the two combined could probably replace Photoshop, but there’s a few shortcomings for those of us who do this stuff for a living (no layer styles, no text paths, no alpha channels, etc).

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