How to Edit Text in Pixelmator

Overview of the Text Editing Tools in Pixelmator

If you're new to using Pixelmator, this piece will help you to understand more about how to edit text in this image editor. Pixelmator is a stylish and well featured image editor produced solely for use on Apple Macs running OS X. It doesn't have the raw grunt of Adobe Photoshop or GIMP, but is considerably cheaper than the former and offers a much more coherent user experience on OS X than the latter.

When Should You Work With Text in Pixelmator?

While image editors like Pixelmator are really designed for working with images and other raster based files, there are occasions when the need arises for adding text to such files.

I must stress that Pixelmator is not designed for working with large bodies of text. If you're looking to add anymore than headings or brief annotations then other free applications, such as Inkscape or Scribus, may be better suited for your purposes. You can produce the graphics part of your design in Pixelmator and then import it into Inkscape or Scribus specifically to add the text element.

I'm going to run through how Pixelmator allows users to work with small amounts of text, using both the application's Tool Options dialog and OS X's own Fonts dialog.

Pixelmator Text Tool

The Text tool in Pixelmator is selected by clicking on the T icon in the Tools palette – go to View > Show Tools if the palette isn't visible. When you click on the document, a new layer is inserted above the currently active layer and the text is applied to this layer. Instead of just clicking on the document, you can click and drag to draw a text frame and any text that you add will be contained within this space. If there is too much text, any overflow will be hidden. You can adjust the size and shape of the text frame by clicking on one of the eight grab handles that surround the text frame and dragging them to a new position.

Basics of Text Editing in Pixelmator

You can edit the appearance of text using the Tool Options dialog – go to View > Show Tool Options if the dialog isn't visible.

If you highlight any text on the document, by clicking and dragging on the characters you want to highlight, any changes that you make to the settings in the Tool Options will only be applied to the highlighted characters. If you can see a flashing cursor on the text layer and no text is highlighted, if you edit the Tool Options, the text will not be affected but any text that you add will have the new settings applied to it. If the flashing cursor is not visible, but a text layer is the active layer, if you edit the Tool Options, the new settings will be applied to all the text on the layer.

Pixelmator Tool Options Dialog

The Tool Options dialog offers most of the controls that you'll need for editing text. The first drop down menu allows you to pick a font and the drop down to the right allows you to select a variant if it is a family of fonts. Below that is a drop down that allows you to select from a specified range of font sizes, a button that displays the current font color and opens the OS X color picker when clicked and four buttons that allow you to set the alignment of the text. You can gain a few more controls by clicking the Show Fonts button which opens the OS X Fonts dialog. This allows you to input a custom point size for the the text and show and hide a font preview that can help you to select the best font for your job.


While Pixelmator doesn't offer a particularly full set of features for working with text (for instance, you can't adjust leading between lines), there should be enough tools to cover basic requirements, such as adding headlines or small amounts of text. If you do need to add greater quantities of text, then Pixelmator probably isn't the right tool for the job. You can however prepare the graphics in Pixelmator and then import these into another application such as Inkscape or Scribus and add the text using their more advanced text tools.