Enable Pixelmator Extensions in Photos for Mac to Gain Retouch & Distort Tools

Jul 2, 2017 - 5 Comments

Pixelmator Extensions can be added to Photos app

Pixelmator for Mac is a powerful photo editing and image manipulation app which makes for an excellent Photoshop alternative. Even better, the latest versions of Pixelmator come with a couple of optional Extensions for Photos app on the Mac that bring some interesting and fun capabilities into the Photos app editing tools.

Enabling these Pixelmator Extensions in Photos app will give you a set of powerful retouching capabilities and distortion tools that are easy to use, and can be accessed directly from Photos app without launching Pixelmator.

This is a fun little extension toolkit to add into Photos app on the Mac, but if if you’re anything like me you had no idea these little extensions were included in Pixelmator, perhaps because they must be manually enabled.

How to Enable Pixelmator Extensions in Photos on Mac

You will obviously need Photos app for Mac, which is bundled with modern MacOS releases, and Pixelmator for Mac, which is a third party application that can be purchased separately for around $30. Assuming you have Pixelmator (update it if you haven’t done so recently) and Photos on the Mac, here’s how you can enable the optional Pixelmator Extensions for Photos:

  1. Open Photos app on Mac and open any picture, then click on the Edit button (it looks like a couple of sliding knobs)
  2. Choose the photo editing adjustment option

  3. Click on the “Extensions” button (it looks like a circle with three dots)
  4. Choose the Extensions button

  5. Choose “More” from the Extensions popup
  6. Choose the More button

  7. Check the boxes next to “Pixelmator Distort” and “Pixelmator Retouch” in Extensions System Preferences
  8. Enable the Pixelmator Extensions in Photos for Mac

  9. Back in Photos for Mac, click on the “Extensions” button again to reveal the newly enabled Pixelmator extensions, select either to access the corresponding Pixelmator Extensions tools
    • Pixelmator Retouch gives you Repair, Clone, Light, Color, Soften, and Sharpen brushes
    • Pixelmator Distort gives you Warp, Bump, Pinch, Twirl Left, Twirl Right, and Restore

    The two Pixelmator Extensions options in Photos for Mac

These Pixelmator extensions are remarkably easy to use, directly inside of Photos app and without opening Pixelmator at all.

Keep in mind these aren’t meant to be a replacement for using Pixelmator with it’s full suite of extensive image editing, manipulation, and modification tools, they’re just meant to augment the Photos app experience on the Mac.

Anyway, if you have Pixelmator on your Mac and you use the Photos app too, be sure to give these little hidden extensions a try, they’re fun and a nice little addition to the built-in Photos app editing features.

Pixelmator is a fun app in general and if you want something quite similar to Photoshop without the hefty price tag, it can fit the bill. Beyond standard photo editing and image manipulation tools, Pixelmator also has capabilities to draw vector art and to create pixel art too. For those not interested in spending any money on a paint and image editing app, a lesser capable but still nice tool is Gimp, a free Photoshop alternative for Mac that is reasonably good as well.


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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS, Tips & Tricks


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  1. Brian says:

    Is the Extensions only available via Pixelmator Pro? I have Pixelmator Classic on a 2017 iMac and I have no means of enabling Extensions through Photos.

  2. veronique says:

    the link never showed up after i checked the extension checkmark

  3. expobill says:

    30 bucks?
    sketch pad ($3)replaced my photoshop as far as colouring while procreate is phenomenal at 6 bucks.

  4. Anne says:

    Photoshop offers a free mini-version of their program for the iPad. It comes as three Apps.

    I use it all the time! I’ve become an addict.

    I guess the idea is to get you familiar with their tools and vocabulary so you will be tempted to buy the full suite for your Mac.

    I’ll keep Pixelmator in mind if I’m tempted.

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