Best Photo Editing Software for Mac (Ranked and Reviewed)

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Top Choice

Photoshop

Runner Up

Lightroom

Best Value

Affinity Designer Icon

Affinity

Best Usage

Elements

Photo editing is sometimes hard to look for. There are all different kinds of software out there for photo editing. However, some of it focuses on professional editing, with complicated settings, while others are better for just simple touch-ups. 

If you’re looking for something that allows you to make the perfect edits to fit your needs without being overly complicated, then you need one of these photo editing software to help you out. They work well with Mac operating systems so you don’t have to fight with any of the software. 

With some practice, your personal pictures can come out looking professional and gorgeous. This four-photo editing software for Mac provides you the foundation you need to become a professional or to just make your pictures turn out more like you imagined. 

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What Is the Best Photo Editing Software for Mac?

When you start your search, you will see that there are all sorts of photo editing software available, even one specifically designed for Mac.

However, some of them are overly complicated, while others are far too simple to provide you with what you need. Others still look good on the surface but don’t provide the quality you need when saving a photo, or provide variable results every time you use it. 

By choosing one of the best photo editing software out there for Mac, you get something simple to use but offers you a range of features that best fit your needs. They have all the settings you need while offering a user-friendly layout. 

These are some of the top options for photo editing software for Mac, but we will only focus on the top four today:

1. Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop is the number one tool when it comes to photo editing software, for Mac systems or otherwise. There’s a reason why people say to ‘Photoshop’ pictures instead of just editing them.

It offers top-of-the-line features and manages to always stay ahead of other photo editing software with regular updates and groundbreaking technology. 

The latest version offers AI neural filters, automatic sky replacement, a wide range of tools, and an intuitive and fairly simple interface in addition to much more. It’s by far the best software on the market.


Even those who don’t like Adobe or agree with their pricing system find it to be a great product and the one every other photo editing software is compared to. 

Adobe Photoshop Key Features:

  • Has a long and reliable history
  • Provides layered image editing, drawing, effects, and typography to fit your needs
  • Constantly updating to stay at the top of the leaderboard for photo editing software
  • A range of custom tools including fonts and brushes, to allow you to get the exact design you need.

Adobe Photoshop User Experience:

Photoshop is well-organized and intuitive for the most part. Beginners can easily get lost in all the menus and tools, but the main settings are simple enough to use and provide almost everything a beginner would need.

The numerous tutorials and guides online directly from Adobe and from Adobe users make it a product that is easy to learn intricately if someone devices that’s what they want to do. 

Adobe Photoshop Cost:

With the latest round of Adobe products, it’s not always as easy to just get the one product you need. One main problem is that Adobe has moved away from product ownership. This means that if you want to use the product, you can no longer just buy it and have it for life. 

Instead, you need to purchase a subscription. In essence, it’s like renting Adobe products rather than owning them. It’s also hard to get a subscription for just one product anymore. 

It is possible to get Photoshop by itself, unlike other Adobe products. It would cost you about $21 a month and comes with 100 GB of cloud storage, Adobe Fresco, Adobe Express, and Photoshop.

There’s also the Photography Plan which is $20 a month. It comes with Lightroom, Lightroom Classic, Photoshop, and 1TB of cloud storage. 

Another option is a smaller version of the Photography plan. It offers Lightroom and Photoshop, but you save money by only having 20GB of cloud storage. If you’re planning on saving your pictures somewhere else, then this saves you about $10 and the rest of the features stay the same. 

The final option is the Creative Cloud plan. This is the most popular option if you’re going to need any other Adobe software besides Photoshop. It costs $55 a month. For this price, you get Photoshop, Lightroom and Lightroom Classic, Adobe Express, Adobe Fresco, 100GB cloud storage, and over 20 other Creative Cloud apps. 

What We Like/Dislike About Adobe Photoshop:

Like:

  • Amazing customer support
  • Many tutorials, even of the latest versions
  • Robust and powerful
  • Intuitive
  • Amazing plugins
  • Good for simple and complicated photo editing

Dislike:

  • Sometimes, the total amount of tools can be overwhelming
  • Expensive subscriptions instead of one-price
  • May be intimidating for new users

Adobe Photoshop Scoring:

With Photoshop being the leader in photo editing, it deserves nothing less than a 10 out of 10. It may not be perfect, but it is by far the best software and deserves the highest rating for the quality and features it provides, especially once you get the hang of the software. 

The only thing that would bring down the score for some users is the subscription-based cost. Though many companies are moving to subscription services, it’s not very pleasant for the customer and may lead them to think about choosing other options. 

2. Adobe Lightroom

Adobe Lightroom is a great all-in-one product for professionals and the average person alike. It allows you to edit, organize, share, and print your photos all from one service.

You also have the option to work on your images through a mobile app or the web so you can make edits on the go or in the comfort of your home. 

It’s also non-destructive. So if you find out down the line that you made a mistake in your editing, it’s easy to return to a state just before that edit. This allows you to not have to restart a photo just because of a mistake and lets you play around with your favorite settings. 

Adobe Lightroom Key Features:

  • AI assistance allows you to make editing even easier. 
  • A series of buttons and sliders are easy to use and provide the ability to easily adjust images to your exact need
  • Intuitive software that lets professionals make simple edits in seconds and even beginners make the exact edits they want. 
  • Perfect for batches or quick adjustments to any photo or photos. 

Adobe Lightroom User Experience:

The sliders and buttons with previews on how the photo will change when I select them to make the whole process of photo editing super simple and far less scary. Knowing that I can go back to any version of a photo further reduces the stress. 

The auto setting is also nice, as it allows you to not only make small improvements on the photo automatically but the software now tells you exactly which sliders it adjusted and how far the slider was moved so you can make minute changes instead of having to start from scratch. 

Adobe Lightroom Cost:

Like with Photoshop, there are a few different payment plans for Adobe Lightroom. All of them are renting the product, instead of a one-time purchase. The first is just Adobe Lightroom. This costs $10 a month. You only get Lightroom for mobile and web, Adobe Portfolio, and 1TB of storage. 

If you don’t care whether or not you get cloud storage, then there’s a plan for the same price that also gives you Adobe Photoshop, but only 20GB of cloud storage. This is approximately 4,000 JPEG files.

If you’re looking for a little more, a $20 version gives you Lightroom and Photoshop and 1TB of storage, or 20,000 pictures roughly. Then, of course, there is the Creative Cloud option for $55 a month. This offers a wide range of Adobe products, including Photoshop and Lightroom.

What We Like/Dislike About Adobe Lightroom:

Like:

  • Easy to batch-edit pictures
  • Great for those that might not have a lot of editing experience
  • Perfect for most minor and standard photo editing
  • Provided presets make it easy to do a bunch of quick edits
  • The software is fast

Dislike:

  • Takes a lot of power and battery life to run
  • Still needs a subscription to power
  • Bugs are sometimes slow to resolve

Adobe Lightroom Scoring:

Adobe Lightroom gets a 9.7 out of 10. It works great if you need simple or quick edits, but doesn’t have the amount of features that Adobe Photoshop would have for more detailed or professional-level editing. 

Additionally, while Adobe Lightroom does have some great photo editing services, it is first and foremost a software focused on organizing and processing photos. If you need in-depth editing like image manipulation and detailed enhancement, then Photoshop is a better option. 

3. Affinity Photo

Affinity Designer Website

Technically, if you want the newest and most up-to-date version of Affinity Photo, you’re looking at Affinity Photo 2. It has powerful and necessary tools that make it almost comparable to Photoshop and Lightroom by Adobe. 

The main difference is that Photoshop offers more compatibility with third-party software. Additionally, if you use any other Adobe products, then Adobe is the way to go thanks to its seamless connectivity between apps in the same suite. 

Still, Affinity Photo has a lot to offer, especially if you enjoy one-time purchases over a subscription service and you don’t plan on using other Adobe products. 

Affinity Photo Key Features:

  • Live, real-time editing
  • Super fast compositing, painting, and editing
  • Easy to render live filters
  • Professional but easy-to-use setup
  • Hint Lines for beginner assistance

Affinity Photo User Experience:

Affinity Photo is a pleasure to use. It may be a little behind Adobe in terms of tools, but the ability to buy it once and be done with it definitely overshadows these negatives. This is a great product for any type of photo editor, but especially astrophotographers with its specific stacking tools for this field. 

It lacks some features that make Adobe Photoshop a better product, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth a chance. Some edits just take a few more steps. 

Overall, the usability of the two apps is comparable. What really makes one stand out over the other is the extra software.

If you look at their suite options, you’ll find that Adobe wins out due to the pure number of software available and that all work together. Affinity, and other photo editing software, just aren’t able to compete at this point in time. 

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Affinity Photo Cost:

You can buy Affinity Photo as a one-time purchase. For the PC version, it costs $69.99 for either Windows or Mac. If you just want the tablet version of Affinity Photo, it costs $19. 

There’s also the option to get all of Affinity’s products on all platforms for $165. The Affinity suite includes Affinity Designer, Affinity Photo, and Affinity Publisher. 

While these prices seem high, you must remember that it’s a one-time purchase. The $165 that makes up all of Affinity’s apps for life costs less than getting the Creative Cloud suite of apps for four months.

The same goes for the singular version of the app. Even with the individual pricing for web and mobile options, it costs less than a year’s worth of Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom. 

What We Like/Dislike About Affinity Photo:

Like:

  • Made to save you time
  • No subscription
  • The user interface is well-designed and customizable for easy use
  • Everything is quite responsive
  • The team behind Affinity backs and cares for its product, constantly fixing bugs

Dislike:

  • Lacks some of the newer features of Lightroom and Photoshop like AI tools and top-tier masking options
  • Not as many mobile options
  • Some menus and layers are confusing

Affinity Photo Scoring:

This product may not work for most users who want a mobile option for work, but it’s a great option for MacOS users as Affinity has made an iPad-friendly version. Affinity Photo deserves a 9 out of 10

The cost and ease of use make it worth getting the product, though it still lags behind Adobe’s Lightroom and Photoshop in terms of time-saving features and assistance. It also lacks the same level of cloud services and the total number of different software that make Adobe the leader in this field. 

4. Adobe Photoshop Elements

If you edit photos as a hobby and aren’t quite ready to drop money on a super expensive product or a monthly subscription, Photoshop Elements offers a great solution. You can get a one-time purchase of this product online or in any store. 

Though it’s not as complicated as Photoshop, it does have a similar outline to Photoshop. This means that if you do decide to upgrade to the software down the line to better suit your needs, then you’ll benefit from already having an idea of the layout. 

Elements Key Features:

  • Both web and mobile versions of the product
  • Specifically focused on working with the Apple M1 chip
  • AI tools to help make basic improvements
  • Guides and assistance for any difficult steps or editing

Elements User Experience:

Honestly, when opening the software, it’s a little disappointing. The software doesn’t offer the sleek design of modern and higher-level products.

Instead, it feels a little like old-school paint software. Despite the appearance, the product does its job well. It lets you make necessary edits with a simple layout to stop beginners from feeling overwhelmed. 

It can do a lot of what the more expensive software is able to do but with a lot more steps. If you can think about the image editing you want, you can do it with Adobe Photoshop Elements. 

Elements Cost:

Adobe Photoshop Elements is one of the only Adobe products out there that no longer needs a subscription. It’s a one-time cost of $100. Though the price is a little expensive, it’s nice to know that you don’t have to pay for it again. 

However, it is still a fairly steep price, especially for the layout and features you get. Some of its competitors cost a little less and offer almost the same options. 

What We Like/Dislike About Adobe Photoshop Elements:

Like:

  • Offers guidance for more difficult techniques
  • Great for face-tagging and geotagging of images
  • Powerful tools for photo manipulation
  • Good for tagging and blogging photos
  • Simple user interface

Dislike:

  • Doesn’t have some of the more advanced features
  • The blur and sharpening tools are a little weak
  • The layout is simple, but not very attractive
  • Still an expensive product for the features you get

Elements Scoring:

This product gets an 8 out of 10. It’s great that it still offers the features you come to expect from Adobe but in a one-time purchase. However, the layout and ease of features leave a lot to be desired. 

It’s not a bad option for hobbyists though, especially ones that are intimidated by the sheer number of settings and features that come with the traditional Adobe Photoshop.

This is similar to free versions of photo editing software in terms of simple and fast edits, but provides a lot more than even the cheap ones do, and provides a great stepping stone to anyone who is considering eventually getting the full-sized Adobe Photoshop. 

Best Photo Editing Software for Macs FAQS

Do Macs Come With a Photo Editing Software?

There is a photo editing software that comes with the MacOS. It’s known as Apple Photos and actually does a rather great job if you’re just looking for simple edits for your photos, such as color correction, brightness, and contrast. 

However, if you’re looking for something more complicated and detailed, Apple Photos falls a little short. This is where other software like the four above come into play. You can even use a mix of two software, one for more simple edits, and one for more complicated ones, to make the most out of your time. 

Can I Use Adobe Photoshop for Free?

Unfortunately, Photoshop doesn’t have a free option. If the monthly cost is too high or intimidating, Adobe Photoshop Elements offers a lot of the same features in a cheaper, one-time payment. There’s also the option for a seven-day free trial if you want to test out Photoshop before investing in the product. 

What Is the Cheapest Way to Get Photoshop?

The answer to this depends on what you need. If you’re looking for just Photoshop. There are options to get it for as little as $10 a month. However, if you’re going to use other Adobe software and apps and you want to take advantage of the cloud storage, then you may get the most out of the Creative Cloud subscription, which costs about $55 a month. 

So while the first option is the cheapest just in terms of getting Photoshop, the Creative Cloud option is the best if you’re planning to use any other products by Adobe. 

What Is the Easiest Photo Editor for Mac?

If you’re looking for something simple and uncomplicated, Affinity Photo is probably one of the best. It has a lot to offer and great features but has a simple layout that won’t frustrate beginners. 

If you’re looking for something a little different than the products listed above, Pixlr and Gimp are also easy to use. Their downside is that they lack a lot of the more advanced features for photo editing. 

Conclusion

It’s up to you to make the final decision on which photo editing software for Mac best fits your needs. Even though Adobe Photoshop is the overall best option, the cost and complicated layout may turn off many users and lead them to choose products that offer a little less but also cost less. 

Think about the pros and cons of each of the products above before making your final decision. This will save you money in the long run and prevent you from buying multiple photo editing software while looking for the best option for your needs. 

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