Best Mac Photos Plugins

May 15

11 min. to read

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Explore the unlimited power and versatility of photo editing tools with your favorite Mac apps.

Photos for Mac is one of Apple’s most recent ‘replacements’ on board. It unarguably is a significant improvement for Apple users. Photos for Mac is less confusing for users, and performs great. It’s got excellent iCloud functionalities that enable your devices digitally and securely communicate.

On a broader view, Photo’s editing tools are fantastic especially for the non-photo-professional users. However, advanced users or professionals would want much more; this is where the use extensions come in handy.

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Here's a shortlist of Photos extensions created by Skylum:

  • Luminar - can be used as plugin or standalone Mac software, for any kind of photo editing tasks;
  • Aurora HDR - HDR software created for all types of HDR editing;
  • FX Photo Studio - more than 170 various photo filters and effects in one app;
  • Snapheal - easy and simple app to remove unwanted objects from your pictures;
  • Noiseless - noise reduction software for your images;
  • Tonality - creative convertor to black and white;
  • Intensify - extension for contrast adjustments, detail enhancement and clarity;
  • Focus - blur, bokeh, tilt shift and lens effects.

Photos somewhat limited capabilities notwithstanding, it features fantastic options like support for multiple photo libraries that enable you separate personal photos files from work photos. You could also decide to have only one of your library synced to iCloud while the others remain device-bound or local. A feature that lets you decide what you’d rather use your several hundreds of gigabyte storage space for.

The app also highlights a powerful organizing tool, the Smart Folders, that enables you have all their photos’ grouped together into an easy browsable album by means of keyword or tag with which the photos were previously saved. This feature is similar to Apple Aperture’s. There are several other features that still make Photos for Mac indispensably a photo-editing-utility app. One of such is its excellent compatibility with extensions.

The somewhat limited user-friendly Mac photo editor, depending on the user’s skill level, when used with the appropriate software extensions, can become a far more powerful and effective package than one could ever imagine. There’s indeed a whole lot more that one can get done on Photos for Mac when used with extensions.

Skylum’s Creative Kit Extensions (Plugins)

This is where it gets more interesting. User’s editing options and experience on Apple’s Photos can indeed be further enhanced or expanded by means of extensions. Skylum’s Creative Kit features some of the most intuitive, powerful and efficient Photo’s extension available to Mac users.

The award winning apps which function as standalones and as a Photoshop or Lightroom plugins or extension possess amazing, 21st century photo editing capabilities that perfectly complements Photos for Mac, and transforms it into a super photo editing powerhouse. The Creative Kit’s app(s) can easily be launched, like any other extension, from within Photos, and the rest is history.

Installing Skylum’s Creative Kit Extensions (Plugins) for Photos for Mac

As part of Apple’s standard security requirements, you’ll have to first run the app as a standalone in order to authorize its plugin (extension) for use. It can then be instantly closed afterwards. Subsequent use of the plugin would not require this procedure.

Installing the Creative Kit’s extensions is quite easy and straight forward:

The easiest approach is when you first launch the Pro version of the Creative Kit 2016 installer. You’d usually be prompted with an option to install the plugin or extension on the first launch. If this is skipped, you can do it manually by following these steps:

  • Go to the ‘System Preferences’ of your Mac device, and click on the ‘Extensions’ tab
  • Click on ‘Photos’
  • Select any of the extensions you’d like to use
  • Navigate back to Photos to pick any of the images you’d like to use
  • Click ‘Edit’, then choose Extensions

There are instances where the Skylum’s extension is not featured on the list of preferences. Not to worry, you can easily fix that by doing the following:

  • Try opening each Creative Kit app as a standalone app, at least once.
  • Close all the Creative Kit applications.
  • Then, Open "System Preferences", click on "Extensions" button, and choose "Photos"
  • Putting a tick beside the new CK extension will make it automatically appear the next time you click “Extensions” while editing a photo.

The Creative Kit extensions can be easily launched from within Photos for Mac by:

  • Opening “Photos”
  • Then, click “Edit” which is situated at the top right corner of the screen
  • Click on “Extensions” at the bottom of the editing menu
  • Then, choose the desired Creative Kit app (Extension) you’d like to launch in Photos

Skylum’s Creative Kit Extensions

The Creative Kit applications run excellently as extensions on the El Capitan version of Mac OS X. Of the Creative Kit’s 6-award-winning apps, only four (Tonality, Noiseless, Snapheal and Intensify) are currently support extensions for Photos for Mac (El Capitan OS). The other two (Focus and FX Photo Studio) will be updated shortly.

Tonality CK Extension

The only software of its kind ever to be named the “The Editor’s Choice” by Apple, Tonality CK, features several hundreds of frames, filters and presets. It is undoubtedly the world’s most advanced black and white photo editor for Mac users. Tonality can be described as the digital ultra-modern version of the traditional darkroom.

As an extension, Tonality’s functionalities are integrated into Photos, thus making it super-fast and more efficient. Here are some of the features that the Tonality extension brings to its Photos’ users:

  • Powerful and very efficient controls for structure, clarity, split toning etc.
  • Stunning film effects, lens, textures, frames and grain effects create lovely epic vintage looks
  • Choice coloring of your B&W images for additional impact
  • Selective editing brush, Layers, histogram….
  • And more

Noiseless CK Extension

Noiseless is more or less an easy-to-use noise-reduction tool that offers you a selection of simple presets as well as some more sophisticated manual controls for advanced users who’d like to dig deeper.

The Noiseless extension is literarily a boost for Photos’ native noise reduction tool; it gives Photos wings to fly! With Noiseless extension, Photos now possess the unequalled capability to function as one of the fastest and most powerful noise reduction application for Mac. These features include:

  • Distinct algorithm for your smartphone (iPhone) and digital camera photos.
  • Automatic, self-prompted noise recognition and reduction
  • Intuitively retains noise to ensure "photo-like" results
  • Numerous pre-configured presets for all kinds of photos with varied degree of noise.
  • Additional tools to help fine-tune structure and details of your images after noise reduction

Snapheal CK Extension

Known for possessing one of the world’s fastest object removal algorithms, the Snapheal extension can be a powerful healing tool in Photos for Mac. It also features the clone and stamp tool for basic image enhancements. It’s great for removing single or multiple objects or unwanted details from your image. With the Snapheal extension installed on your Photos, Photos can perform the following and more…

  • Remove imperfections from your images
  • Restore scanned images by means of the digital retouching options
  • Amazing spot-healing precision.
  • And so much more

Intensify CK Extension

The Intensify CK extension adds detail, drama, saturation and fine-tuning to your images. From Intensify’s quick dark-photo fixes to HDR, the extension imports over 60 one-click presets, into Photos for Mac, designed to give your images the desired look. With Skylum’s CK proprietary tools, you can seamlessly enhance pro-contrast, as well as selectively improve details and tonal range. Other Photos’ enhanced features include:

  • Image-sharpening without extra halos or noise
  • Snappily fixes or transforms any image and makes it crisp
  • Boosts image details to accentuate every pixel

With Skylum’s CK extensions installed, Photos for Mac performs photo-editing tasks that stun the professionals.

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