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A Powerful Mac Editor You Probably Don’t Know Of

August 23

8 min. to read

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Apple did a great job developing the built-in photo editors in Mac computers.

There seem to be two types of people in the world: those who love Apple’s Mac and those who can’t stand it. But no matter which camp you belong to, you can’t really deny that Macs are known for their solid performance, especially for tasks like photo and video editing.

Mac systems have a wide variety of photo editing software available for them, ranging from the simple to the complex. But many people don’t realize that Macs also come with a very capable editor, called Photos, pre-installed. This is one of the many alternative editors that people are using instead of Lightroom and Photoshop, and it may very well be all that you need.


The history of Photos

Photos was born with the demise of Apple’s own Aperture and iPhoto. Both of these programs were widely used by photographers around the world for different purposes. When combined, they provided users with pretty much all they needed to be able to edit professional grade photos.

When Apple decided to kill both of these image editors, people weren’t happy. But Apple soon announced that it was going to combine the power of Aperture and iPhoto and release a brand-new photo editor called Photos.

A solid Mac image editor

Photos has become the default image editor for large numbers of Mac users. It stands out in the world of complicated photo editors like Photoshop because of its simple interface and easy-to-use controls. Upon opening the editing mode in Photos, you’re greeted with some sliders that help you adjust basic parameters like exposure, color, and saturation. For people looking to add a little extra color or mood to their photos, this is all they need.

However, it’s when you go deeper by clicking the drop-down menu that you realize all that Photos is capable of. Here are some of the controls that this Mac image editor gives you:

  • Exposure to control how bright your photo looks overall
  • Contrast to control how vintage your photo looks
  • Highlights to control how bright the bright parts of your photo look
  • Shadows to control how dark the dark parts of your photo look
  • Brightness to add some overall brightness to your photo (like artificial light)

All of these parameters can be controlled with simple sliders. But these aren’t the only options you have. You can click the Add button to get access to more advanced tools like Noise Reduction, Sharpening, Levels, and Histogram. So as you can see, Photos isn’t just another built-in editor that doesn’t give you much control over your photos. Instead, it’s something that can actually replace expensive editors provided you don’t need something overly advanced.

Photos goes even further

So far we’ve talked about the editing powers of Apple’s pre-installed photo editor for Mac computers. Now let’s talk about some important features of Photos. The first great feature of Photos is that it allows you to copy and paste your adjustments between images. This makes it easy to edit a batch of images that you want to give a similar look and feel. Once you’ve edited an image, you can copy all your adjustments and then paste them to other images. This feature is usually present in much more advanced editors like Luminar, and its addition in this built-in editor is great.

Another important feature is the ability to extend the range of particular parameters while editing. For example, if you want to give your photo a very dark feel but the exposure limit of -1 isn’t making it as dark as you’d like, you can simply change the minimum exposure limit to -2. This feature is helpful as otherwise you would have to save your image with the lowest possible exposure setting, bring it back into the editor, and repeat the process. Being able to simply change the minimum and maximum values can save a lot of time.

Extensions make Photos even better

By now, we’ve established that Photos is quite capable of becoming your go-to image editor, but what if you want even more control? Photos has you covered even then because its powers can be extended using extensions! Various Photos extensions can add more features to the software and can be helpful in getting your images to look the way you want. For example, Luminar can be used as an extension in Photos, bringing professional grade editing tools to the default Mac photo editor.

If after all this you still think that Photos doesn’t all the power you need, then you really should give Luminar a try. It comes with a free trial so you can take it for a spin with all of its features before you decide whether to buy. Luminar is an inexpensive but very capable photo editor with a fresh interface, unlike other advanced editors. It’s easy to understand and has a lot of automatic options for beginners, yet it has everything an experienced photographer could want. Give Luminar a try if Photos doesn't offer everything you need.

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