What Programs Can You Use to Edit Photos on a Mac?

When it comes to editing photos on a Mac, there are three basic options available: iPhoto, Photoshop and Aperture. iPhoto comes bundled with iLife. Most Mac's come with iLife preloaded, but if yours was not, iLife '09 can be purchased for $50, sometimes even less. Adobe Aperture is a great program, but must be purchased separately. Aperture 2 is available for approximately $200. Of course there is Adobe Photoshop, which costs about $250.


iPhoto is a simple program to operate and has been a staple of Mac software for many years. After installation, merely add photos to the library and then click 'edit'. Within the edit function you can rotate, crop, straighten or remove 'red-eye'. You can also use the 'enhance' function, which instantly adjusts the exposure, brightness and contrast of the image. The 'adjust' function allows you to manually adjust the exposure, color temperature, contrast, tint, saturation and sharpness of the photograph. iPhoto also has many high quality effects such as sepia, matte and fade color. There is even a function named 'retouch' which is great for removing acne or blemishes. Overall, iPhoto is a great program for the average user. It is a simple to use, high quality photo editing program that is also easy on the wallet.


Adobe Aperture, which is more expensive than iPhoto, is still a great program. The layout and simplicity of the program is similar to iPhoto, yet it has more advanced features and is of the highest professional quality. Aperture allows the user, with a few simple clicks, to professionally modify photos. You can change exposure, color temperature and contrast as with iPhoto, but you can also individually adjust the shadow, midtone and highlight tints. Additionally, you can individually adjust the hue, saturation, luminance and range for six different color ranges. Ever want to make a photo where the grass is bright green but the rest of the photo is normal tint? Now you can, and very easily, too. Aperture 2 also allows you to adjust the recovery, black point and definition of a photo, which means you can actually improve the 'focus' of a photo and create a full range of exposure with the black point adjustment. If you have the money, and you want to professional alter the exposure and color settings of photos, then I would strongly recommend Aperture.


Photoshop is the program everyone has heard of but most people don't know how to use. The reason for this is that Photoshop is a complicated program with many features and capabilities. Photoshop can do most of the things that iPhoto and Aperture can do, plus more. For merely altering the exposure and colors, I would still choose Aperture because it is more intuitive to use and it is designed more for a photographer than a graphic designer, but if you want to cut parts of the photo out, or add crazy text lines or superimpose images, then there is no comparison, Photoshop is what you need. 

It should also be mentioned that there is a program called 'Graphic Converter' by Lemkesoft, which costs about $35. It has a similar layout to iPhoto, but Graphic Converter's functions are somwhere between an early version of Photoshop and iPhoto. You can smudge, blur and cut out shapes, along with changing exposure settings. If you wish you could afford Photoshop and Aperture, then Graphic Converter could be a good option for you.

Happy shooting!

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