Editing is easy if you know the tricks. Learn how to use the built-in Mac photo editor to achieve more with your photos.

Apple’s Mac has divided people for as long as it has been around. Some people love the brand and will use nothing but Mac; others absolutely can’t stand it. However, even the opposing team reluctantly agrees that Mac computers have solid performance, especially for tasks like photo and video editing.

Have you ever wondered how to edit photos on Mac? Photo editing software varies from simple to complex and caters to different types of photographers. Think about your needs and choose  a program that suits your workflow — but also an image editor Mac users recommend.

If you want to become a professional, Photoshop is probably your friend already. Lightroom is another photo editor Mac users have been using for a long time. However, the default Mac photo editor, Photos, is a built-in piece of software that many take for granted even though it’s suitable both for beginners and for anyone who needs to quickly fix their photos in an image editor Mac provides for free. 

In this article, we’ll tell you exactly what you can achieve with Photos, the built-in photo editing software for Mac. If you’re looking for a level-up alternative, consider Luminar Neo, which lets you store, rate, organize, and edit photos quickly and efficiently. Click below to check out Luminar Neo and edit photos on your Mac for free during your trial period.

Mac photo editor tools

What features should a photo editor for Mac have? Let’s look at the Photos image editor and analyze its tools one by one.

How to edit a photo on Mac - Mac photo editor tools

Viewing and storing tools

A photo editor Mac users love should not only be compatible with the system but also follow the overall minimalist and user-friendly design of all Apple products. Photos lets you store, view, rate, and group images.

A great feature that raises brand loyalty is the ability to automatically add photos to your iCloud library. Some people specifically choose Photos so they can sync their edited photographs quickly to all of their devices through iCloud. This way they can view them later on any other Apple device. You can also “like” images in Photos, which automatically adds them to favorites.

Not only that, Photos is constantly being improved. Also, it intelligently groups photos based on time and place. It’s an image editor Mac users adore because of how easy it is to find all the photos you took in Sri Lanka or on a particular day in May 2016. Another feature of this photo editing software for Mac is face detection, which lets you see all the photos you have of a particular person.

Editing tools

Editing is easy in Photos because the features this Mac photo editor offers are basic and intuitive. For size and overall appearance, you can crop, flip, rotate, and straighten your photos just like in any photo editor for Mac. There are also sliders and tools that let you control color details, from a magic wand to basic color, light, and black and white tweaks and even full granular control over exposure, saturation, and intensity.

Photos offers everything you need in basic photo editing software for Mac. Using Photos, it’s easy to remove red-eye, touch up blemishes, and make your portrait photos look appealing. To open an image for editing in Photos, double click on the photo and choose "Edit" option in the right top corner of your app window.

How to take a picture on macbook - Editing tools

Let's look closer at the sliders in Photos:

  • Light: illuminates dark areas and highlights hidden details
  • Color: adjusts saturation, contrast, and color cast
  • Black & white: removes colors to let you focus on the details and adds a special kind of dramatic effect 
  • White balance: makes your photos warmer or cooler
  • Curves: fine-tunes contrast and color adjustments
  • Levels: adjusts the tonal balance in your photos, perfecting midtones, highlights, and shadows
  • Definition: increases the clarity of an image
  • Selective color: brings out particular colors in your photos
  • Vignette: adds shading near the edges to create a unique focus

Since Photos uses a non-destructive system, you can edit your photos to infinity. Click Compare and see the adjustments that you’ve made. If you’re not satisfied at any point, you can always go back to your original photo or make other adjustments.

Copy & paste

Photos is a great Mac photo editor also because 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 the same look and feel. Once you’ve edited an image, you can copy all your adjustments and paste them to other images. This feature is usually present in a much more advanced photo editors like Luminar, and its addition in this built-in editor is great.

Even more tricks for your Mac image editor

The sliders listed above 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. As you can see, Photos isn’t just another built-in Mac image 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 extensions

Photos users like to boost the app’s potential by using Photos extensions. There are multiple extensions for this Mac photo editor that you can use to quickly adjust and enhance your photos according to your needs. If you want to do edit quickly and automatically, Photolemur can help you. To apply great looks, fix saturation and vibrance, or boost your photos with cool AI features, Luminar Neo is perfect. If you’re a fan of HDR bracketing, Aurora is a great choice. Other professional tools like BeFunky, Pixelmator, and Affinity Photo also work well with Photos.

There are also plenty of other third-party editing extensions for this image editor Mac users love, because they’re specifically designed for Photos. You can find them on the Mac App Store. They let you add filters and textures and use even more retouching tools. To start editing with extension, right click on the photo and find "Edit with" option in the drop-down menu:

Editing photos on Mac - photos extensions

Alternative photo editor for Mac

If you’re looking for alternative editors with the same beautiful design and ease of use as Photos, Luminar Neo might be a perfect choice for you if you want to edit photos on Mac.

How to edit photos on Mac with alternative photo editor

View mode in Luminar Neo

Luminar Neo is a great photo editor for Mac that lets you store, organize, and edit your photos quickly and easily. There’s no need to manually import your images to Luminar Neo. Once you guide Luminar Neo to your default photo folder, you can use Luminar just like Photos. It lets you view your photos in a gallery by date, color code, favorites, and so on.

This photo editing software for Mac is perfect both for beginners and professionals because of its intuitive user interface and powerful arsenal of tools. It’s a Mac photo editor worth giving a shot.

Edit mode in Luminar Neo

Luminar Neo is a Mac image editor that lets you quickly edit photos. Add stunning looks and find handy Workspaces to edit any type of photo, from portraits to landscapes, with built-in filters. The editing tools are plentiful, and Luminar Neo has everything you need to make your photos shine. AI sliders automatically analyze problem spots in your photos and edit them with just one slider.

Thanks to the layers system, you can edit your photos professionally, creating levitation effects, adding logos and watermarks, adding textures, and more. Not all photo editing software for Mac has these features, so it’s extremely wonderful to access them in this Mac image editor that’s perfect for professionals and amateurs alike. 

Editing photos on Mac - edit mode in Luminar Neo

Advanced yet easy-to-use photo editor

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If you want to give this Mac photo editor a try and quickly learn how to edit photos on Mac, click the button below to try Luminar Neo for free. 

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