11 Best Photoshop Alternatives for Mac

October 02

17 min. to read

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Discover best Photoshop alternative for Mac to enhance details, remove or heal imperfections with one click.

Adobe bought Photoshop in 1988 from Thomas and John Knoll. The original Photoshop program was developed for the Macintosh Plus to display grayscale images on a monitor. Photoshop has come a long way since then. Today, it’s the most famous and popular photo editor among photographers and graphic designers. Adobe Photoshop is so well known that it’s responsible for the verb to photoshop. According to Merriam-Webster, to photoshop is “to alter (a digital image) with Photoshop software or other image-editing software especially in a way that distorts reality (as for deliberately deceptive purposes).”

In its more than three decades of existence, Adobe Photoshop has acquired new functionalities and state-of-the-art technologies, courses, books, tutorials, experts, and important clients. You can find a wide range of plugins that run in Photoshop. But the new millennium has brought a new wave of photo editors, and they might be a better option for you.

Young, fresh, and smart, the editors of the twenty-first century have grown into strong Photoshop competitors. They use artificial intelligence to detect objects, faces, and patterns and provide custom adjustments for each image. Modern photo editors include digital asset management, cloud storage, and sharing capabilities. They’re also cheaper and easier to learn than Photoshop. Check out the best Photoshop alternatives for Mac and see if it’s time for a change.

1. Luminar

Luminar is a powerful photo editor for Mac that’s dedicated to professional photography. It doesn’t have the graphic design capabilities of Photoshop, but it provides image retouching tools, non-destructive adjustments, and creative filters and effects. Moreover, it provides digital asset management to keep your images organized and save time.

Like Photoshop, Luminar works with layers and masks and allows you to make selective adjustments. But it lets you do this without complicated selection tools that require lots of time and practice to learn. Luminar’s workflow is straightforward and intuitive: the workspace can be personalized to your skill level, and the interface is neat and clear.

Luminar provides more than 70 filters for image retouching and creative effects. You can fine-tune their settings and mix multiple filters to achieve your artistic vision. Luminar’s filters range from basic exposure and contrast adjustments to smart filters powered by artificial intelligence (AI). AI Sky Replacement, AI Skin Enhancer, and Accent AI are content-aware filters that adjust an image using custom settings. Luminar also offers presets called Looks that are designed by professional photographers. Looks recreate a specific style, adding atmosphere and transforming dull images into artworks. You can use more than 80 built-in Looks and download others from the Luminar Marketplace. Looks are also editable so you can create your own unique styles.

Unlike Photoshop, Luminar doesn’t require a monthly subscription. You can buy Luminar 4 during the pre-sale for €79.

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2. Capture One

Capture One is a complete software solution for professional photographers. While it doesn’t have Photoshop’s graphic design capabilities, in terms of photo editing it doesn’t miss a thing. This Photoshop competitor for Mac provides support for more than 500 cameras, custom lens and camera profiles, and tethered capture. Plus, its color handling is exceptional.

Among the best features of Capture One are advanced masking functionalities, automatic adjustments, and tools for clarity and sharpening, lens and keystone corrections, noise removal, color adjustments, and black and white conversion. 

Capture One also provides geometrical transformations and predefined styles, digital asset management, and tools for organizing images, importing and exporting in different formats, batch processing, and editing metadata. It allows you to add watermarks and annotate images, preview files and create slideshows, and customize print layouts.

Capture One is a powerful Photoshop competitor for Mac. You can buy a perpetual license to Capture One for €349 and a subscription for €29 per month.

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3. Apple Photos

Photos is Apple’s solution for editing and organizing images on Mac and iOS. It’s the built-in photo editor for Mac, so you don’t have to pay for it. Like any modern photo editor, Photos offers smart and fast photo management and includes sleek tools to search, sort, display, and share images. It also comes with tools for basic image adjustments, automatic edits, and geometric transformations, lots of filters and effects, and RAW support. You can even use Photos to create slideshows and videos from photos.

If you want to sync photos across Apple devices, you can buy iCloud storage space and use the Photos editor everywhere. Photos is well integrated with all Apple services and products. Moreover, you can install extensions to add functionality not provided by Photos.

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4. Aurora HDR

You may need to find a good alternative to Photoshop for Mac if you want to do professional HDR editing. Real estate agents and commercial photographers regularly use HDR merging and require advanced HDR photo editors. Aurora HDR is an award-winning photo editor that uses AI algorithms to deliver high-quality images.

Aurora HDR provides more than 20 tools designed for HDR editing. Among its best features are color toning, denoising, detail and clarity enhancement, and LUT mapping. Aurora HDR merges HDR images without creating halos, artifacts, and chromatic aberrations. It’s also extremely fast, works with layers and masks for maximum control, and supports RAW files and batch processing.

To avoid creating the same style over and over again, Aurora offers more than 80 styles designed by renowned photographers. These predefined styles cover all types of photography and can be applied to individual layers and fine-tuned for unique results.

Aurora HDR costs €99.

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5. AfterShot Pro

AfterShot Pro is a RAW photo editor developed by Corel that aims to be four times faster than Adobe Lightroom. AfterShot Pro provides camera profiles and lens correction, highlights recovery, skin retouching, and selective editing. It also offers powerful image adjustments, presets and creative effects, noise reduction, and HDR tools. In terms of photo editing, it has the same features as Photoshop. 

AfterShot Pro is a good Photoshop alternative for Mac in terms of graphic design tools too. It offers easy integration with PaintShop Pro, which allows you to use painting and drawing tools. Like all modern editors, AfterShot Pro has digital asset management tools, a customizable workspace, and tools for creating web galleries and archiving images.

And while it has more features than Photoshop, AfterShot Pro is cheaper and doesn’t require a monthly subscription. It costs €59.99.

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6. Affinity Photo

Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer are Serif’s Photoshop alternatives for Mac. They’re dedicated to professional photographers and graphic designers and provide all the tools they need.

Affinity Photo has won many awards and is a complete solution for photo editing. It offers quick and subtle corrections and adjustments, creative tools for fine art photography, and optimal control through layers and masks. Among its best features are tools for HDR and RAW editing, professional retouching, and digital painting. Like Photoshop, Affinity Photo provides selection tools for cutting out objects and selective editing. 

Affinity Photo works well with large files and supports .PSD files. It offers batch processing and focus stacking, panorama stitching, and editing of 360-degree images. It also provides a library of brushes for painting over images and supports graphical tablets and Apple Pencil.

You can buy Affinity Photo for €53.

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7. DxO Photo Lab

Designed by photographers, DxO Photo Lab offers accurate color profiles and adjustments. It matches the rendering of more than 60 cameras, provides optical corrections and lens profiles, and preserves all details from RAW files. In terms of photo editing, DxO Photo Lab offers full control and professional adjustments that exceed Photoshop’s functionalities.

Among the best features of DxO Photo Lab are smart lighting for revealing details from underexposed and overexposed areas, cloning and spot corrections, automatic repairs, denoising, optimized contrast enhancement, and selective editing. DxO Photo Lab includes 40 presets for fast styling, works with layers and masks, and automatically corrects red eye.

DxO Photo Lab is a good Photoshop replacement for Mac not only for its photo editing functionalities but also for its digital asset management features. It provides fast and smart search tools, works with metadata and keywords, supports a wide range of file formats and batch processing, and allows fullscreen viewing.

DxO Photo Lab costs €99.99.

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8. GIMP

GIMP is a free alternative to Photoshop for Mac. This software started as an open-source photo editor for Linux and gathered a large community of developers and editors. GIMP looks a lot like Photoshop and provides the same functionalities for photo editing and graphic design. You can use it for retouching and enhancing images, manipulating images, and creating artwork.

GIMP is frequently updated and improved. There are many extensions, scripts, and plugins you can use for specific functionalities. Even though it’s free, it includes advanced color management and photo retouching features. Moreover, it supports various devices and requires few resources.

The transition from Photoshop to GIMP is easy and intuitive. The interface and workflow are similar and GIMP even supports .PSD files.

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9. darktable

Another free alternative to Photoshop for Mac, darktable isn’t just a RAW photo editor; it’s a virtual darkroom and light table for photographers. It supports digital negatives and allows you to view them like in your own studio.

darktable provides non-destructive editing, professional color management, tethered shooting, and support for a wide range of file formats. It includes tools for sorting, filtering, and searching through images and allows you to perform repetitive tasks using scripts. In terms of image editing, darktable offers functionalities similar to Photoshop: basic adjustments for exposure, contrast, and color, geometric transformations, white balance correction, noise and haze removal, lens and perspective corrections, and more. It also provides creative effects and filters, watermarks, and vignetting.

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10. PhotoDirector

Developed by CyberLink, PhotoDirector is a complete solution for photo adjustment and design. Like Photoshop, PhotoDirector provides tools for image retouching as well as for image manipulation and creative artwork. It allows you to edit 360-degree images, stitch panoramas, create GIFs and motion stills, and apply textures.

Among PhotoDirector’s best features are merging of multi-exposure photos, haze and fog removal, and support for layers and blending modes. PhotoDirector is a fun alternative to Photoshop for Mac and gives you tools to swap faces in group pictures, turn 360-degree pictures into spherical planets, and remove or clone objects. While it doesn’t have complex selection tools and filters, PhotoDirector stimulates your creativity and provides quick and fun tools for outstanding photos.

PhotoDirector costs €90, or €13.50 per month if you prefer a subscription plan.

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11. Pixelmator Pro

If you want both photo editing and graphic design functionalities, Pixelmator Pro is a good Photoshop alternative for Mac. It’s accessible and easy to use and aims to deliver professional editing to everyone. Pixelmator Pro is designed exclusively for Mac. It has a stylish and neat interface along with tools for image retouching, painting, vector graphics, and more.

In terms of photo editing, Pixelmator Pro offers many of Photoshop’s functionalities such as RAW editing, non-destructive adjustments, color edits, noise removal, geometric transformations, and layering. It also has amazing effects you can fine-tune and save for later use. Like Photoshop, Pixelmator has selection, shape, and drawing tools. You can use them to repair your photos or create artistic compositions.

Pixelmator Pro costs €36.

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In conclusion

Adobe Photoshop is no longer the only professional photo editor. You can find other editors that offer the same functionalities in better interfaces and at lower prices. These Photoshop alternatives require less time to learn and come with digital asset management tools for a complete workflow. Many of them even support the Photoshop file format, making for an easy transition.

If you’re looking for alternatives to Photoshop for Mac, download the editors we’ve mentioned and see which one fits your style and workflow. You can get trial versions of all the paid software to decide if you like it before you buy. You may decide to stick with the built-in Apple Photos or choose the free GIMP or darktable, or you may want a more sophisticated editor like Capture One. Regardless of your choice, remember to be creative and have fun!

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