The Best Free Photo Editors for Mac

These free photo editors for your Mac aren't lacking in quality features

The Graphic Convertor interface is shown

Even if you can't afford to purchase photo editing software, you can still find free software to create and edit images. Some is developed by individuals, and some is feature limited or an earlier version of a more advanced program. In some rare instances, there are no strings attached, but most often you will need to provide information to the company by registering, or endure ads or nag screens.

Though these are all stand alone applications you also might want to take a look at the free mobile apps from Adobe. They include:

Also don't forget there are also mobile apps from SketchGuru , Skitch, and a number of other Android and iOS imaging apps such as Instagram which give you the ability to play with images by applying a variety of preset effects and filters to your images.

Finding the Best Photo Editing App for You

The key decision behind using any imaging application lies with what the requirements are for the task at hand. You need to closely research the product and get really clear on both the product's strengths and its weaknesses. Also take the time to look at the work others have created with the product. For example, if you are looking to create simple graphics or to touch up family photos, then an application without a serious number of filters and effects may just fit the bill. On the other hand, if you want to do compositing and add effects then a limited feature set may not be ideal for your needs.

Also, it is important that you check out whether the application has been updated recently. A lack of updates is the first clue that this software may just be on its last legs. Also just doing a simple Google or Bing search around the application will tell you volumes. For example, Picassa, one of the apps mentioned in this piece has been withdrawn. That's the bad news. The good news is its feature set has been folded into Google Photos which is free.

The bottom line is that old saying: Buyer Beware. Do your research before installing.

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The GIMP for Mac OS X

Screenshot of the GIMP website.

GIMP is a popular open-source image editor originally developed for Unix/Linux. Often lauded as the "free Photoshop," it does have an interface and features similar to Photoshop.

Because it's volunteer-developed beta software, stability and frequency of updates could be an issue; however, many happy users report using GIMP for OS X without significant problems. GIMP is not compatible with Mac OS 9 and earlier.

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Screenshot from the Seashore website.

Seashore is an open source image editor for Cocoa. It is based around The GIMP's technology and uses the same native file format, but was developed as a Mac OS X application and not a port of The GIMP.

According to the developer, "It features gradients, textures and anti-aliasing for both text and brush strokes. It supports multiple layers and alpha channel editing." Although it does not yet have a lot of features and development has been slow, many users prefer it over running The GIMP.

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Screenshot of the Pinta Photo Editor website.

Pinta is a free pixel-based image editor for Mac OS X. One of the most interesting aspects of Pinta is that it is based on the Windows image editor Paint.NET.

Pinta offers the basic drawing tools that you'd expect from an image editor, as well as some more advanced features, such as layers and a range of image adjustment tools. These features mean that Pinta is also a viable tool for users looking for an application to allow them to edit and improve their digital photos.

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Image Tricks

Screenshot of the Image Tricks photo editor for Macs by Belight website.

Image Tricks is a fun and easy to use free image editor for Mac OS X. It is an application that encourages experimentation and offers the ability for a wide range of effects to be combined and applied to pictures.

Image Tricks is an ideal application for less experienced users to achieve creative results, thanks to the range of filters and masks that are available. There is also a paid Pro version that offers more filters, though you can see the effects that they produce in the free version, without saving them.

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GraphicConverter X

The GraphicConverter interface
GraphicConverter 10 is the current version of the application.

GraphicConverter is a multi-purpose graphics tool for converting, viewing, browsing, and editing hundreds of image types on the Macintosh platform. If there is a file format or image processing task that your existing software can't handle, chances are that GraphicConverter can do it if you're willing to tackle the learning curve.

GraphicConverter is a worthwhile tool to have on-hand, but needs some serious work in the usability department. The application is not free, but you can use the shareware without time limitation if you don't need batch processing features.