Top Free Photo Editors for Mac

The best free software for photo editing on your Macintosh

If you can't afford to purchase software, you can still find free software to create and edit images. Some of this software is developed by individuals, and some is feature limited or an earlier version of a more advanced program. In some rare instances, there are no strings attached, but most often you will need to provide information to the company by registering, or endure ads or "nag" screens.
Though these are all "stand alone" applications you also might want to take a look at the free mobile apps from Adobe. They include:

Also don't forget such there are mobile apps from SketchGuru , Skitch, and a number of other Android and iOS imaging apps such as Instagram which give you the ability to play with images by applying a variety of preset effects and filters to your images.

The key decision behind using any imaging application lies with what the requirements are for the task at hand. You need to closely research the product and get really clear on both the product's strengths and its weaknesses. Also take the time to look at the work others have created with the product. For example, if you are looking to create simple graphics or to touch up family photos, then an application without a serious number of filters and effects may just fit the bill. On the other hand, if you want to do compositing and add effects then a limited feature set may not be ideal for your needs.

Also, it is important that you check out whether the application has been updated recently. A lack of updates is the first clue that this software may just be on its last legs. Also just doing a simple Google or Bing search around the application will tell you volumes. For example, Picassa, one of the apps mentioned in this piece has been withdrawn. That's the bad news. The good news is its feature set has been folded into Google Photos which is free.

The bottom line is that old saying :Buyer Beware. Do your research before installing.

Updated by Tom Green

The GIMP Logo
The GIMP Logo. Source: Pixabay

GIMP is a popular open-source image editor originally developed for Unix/Linux. Often lauded as the "free Photoshop," it does have an interface and features similar to Photoshop. Because it's volunteer-developed beta software, stability and frequency of updates could be an issue; however, many happy users report using GIMP for OS X without significant problems. GIMP is not compatible with Mac OS 9 and earlier.
GIMP User Reviews | Write a Review More »

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Seashore
Seashore. © Seashore

Seashore is an open source image editor for Cocoa. It is based around The GIMP's technology and uses the same native file format, but was developed as a Mac OS X application and not a port of The GIMP. According to the developer, "It features gradients, textures and anti-aliasing for both text and brush strokes. It supports multiple layers and alpha channel editing." Although it does not yet have a lot of features and development has been slow, many users prefer it over running The GIMP. More »

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Pinta Screen Shot
© Ian Pullen

Pinta is a free pixel-based image editor for Mac OS X. One of the most interesting aspects of Pinta is that it is based on the Windows image editor Paint.NET. Pinta offers the basic drawing tools that you'd expect from an image editor, as well as some more advanced features, such as layers and a range of image adjustment tools. These features mean that Pinta is also a viable tool for users looking for an application to allow them to edit and improve their digital photos. More »

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Image Tricks

The Image Tricks Home Page
Image Tricks is a free app with a paid Pro version as well.
Image Tricks is a fun and easy to use free image editor for Mac OS X. It is an application that encourages experimentation and offers the ability for a wide range of effects to be combined and applied to pictures. It is an ideal application for less experienced users to achieve creative results, thanks to the range of filters and masks that are available. There is also a paid Pro version that offers more filters, though you can see the effects that they produce in the free version, without saving them.
The GraphicConverter interface
GraphicConverter 10 is the current version of the application.

GraphicConverter is a multi-purpose graphics tool for converting, viewing, browsing, and editing hundreds of image types on the Macintosh platform. If there is a file format or image processing task that your existing software can't handle, chances are that GraphicConverter can do it if you're willing to tackle the learning curve. GraphicConverter is a worthwhile tool to have on-hand, but needs some serious work in the usability department. GraphicConverter is not free, but you can use the shareware without time limitation if you don't need batch processing features. More »

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The Google Photos interface is shown
All of the Picassa goodness has been added to Google Photos.

Technically, Picasa does not meet my criteria for a photo editor because it does not allow you to do pixel-level editing. However, I have received so many reader suggestions for Picasa, that I am including it here as an honorary mention. Although it does have some basic editing functions, it is primarily photo organizing software, and as such it is listed in my Top Digital Photo Software for Family Photos list. Picassa was folded into Google Photos in 2016. More »