Image editor for an Adobe phobe?

Hi all,

Just discovered that my beloved cheap image editor does not work with Lion.
It was known as Bosco’s Foto Trimmer, cost $10, and did all that I wanted.
I think the code was in RealBasic and it did not evolve beyond PowerPC.

Can anyone recommend a non-Adobe application that does basic image editing?
I’m looking at Pixelmator for $30; has anyone tried it?
I want to avoid open source stuff like Gimp or Seashore.
And I can do a fair amount with iPhoto, I know.


I prefer Acorn to Pixelmator (latter just seems more flash than bang like something cloying for an Apple Design Award; not that it’s bad, I just don’t like it when I see that much glimmer because I have to wonder how much was sacrificed elsewhere). An old Mac classic is GraphicConverter. That one has been around since the Days of Yore, but I’m not sure if it qualifies as being super basic. It’s not wildly complicated like Photoshop or Gimp, but it definitely has features. Of course the nice thing about GC is that in addition to its basic image editing, it performs the goal of its name rather well. It can read and write to nearly anything, which can come in handy when resurrecting ancient picture files or trying to figure out stuff from someone and you don’t even know what format it is in. As one person put on the App Store review page that they were even able to load up the raw data from an MRI scan. So, one of those applications that you might not always need, but when you do it can come in handy.

I’ve never used Acorn, but I have Pixelmator and I’ve been a Graphic Converter user for nearly 20 years.
I keep trying Pixelmator, but really can’t warm to it. I suppose it’s because I haven’t yet discovered how it works; nothing seems to work the way I expect it to, so in the end I keep reverting to Graphic Converter. But it does have layers.
The only thing that I would like in Graphic Converter which still doesn’t seem to be there is layers. Apart from that, it does everything I want and more, it is stable and the latest version has apparently been completely rebuilt in Cocoa, so it is a fully-fledged OS-X app.
Of course, I also have iPhoto, and the current version gives you much more control than earlier ones did, so apart again from layers, for most basic work it will probably be quite adequate, and of course its library function is something that neither Pixelmator nor GC have.
Another low-cost ($30) basic, but very usable image editor is PhotoComplete ( straightforward UI, non-destructive editing, you can go back and change earlier edits without having to roll back through history. No library function or one-click upload to Picasa/Flickr/.me/whatever, but I guess the real big disadvantage is that it hasn’t been under development for a few years it seems. Perhaps worth a try to see if it works under Lion and if you get on with it.
More expensive but much more powerful is LightZone ( A lot of people reject it out of hand as it’s cross-platform and written in Java — I must admit to not understanding why people reject things which do their job well, are stable, and in my experience no slower than the opposition, just because they’re written in java, but still … — Comes in two versions; the one without a library function is now up to $99, the library version if it’s still available will be double that, I guess. I have yet to install it under Lion, but I usually have it as my external editor for iPhoto for dealing with photos that need real sorting out.


Edit: You might like to look at this, which I’ve just seen, by the developers of LightZone.

If it’s photo fixes (colour, exposure, balance etc) rather than drawing/ editing you could look at Apple’s own software, Aperture.

It might be a bit more pricey than you were looking for, but I’ve heard it’s pretty powerful within it’s remit:

(I’ve not used it myself as I’m a Windows user and that means I don’t get to use some programs. Funny how things have reversed in the last 10 years!)

So, what’s wrong with Adobe? :neutral_face:

In fact, Photoshop Elements 9 can be had for about 70 USD mail order and is a very capable program. It now also includes a highly useful cataloging module which used to be Windows only.

I evaluate and review image editing software for a photo magazine as (part of) my living and I have great respect for Elements 9.


I second the recommendation for Aperture, Graphic Converter and Acorn, all of which I have been using for years. I do have licenses for Lightzone, Lightroom, Pixelmator and many other but these days I am using Aperture most often. It costs 63 Euros in the App Store and has quite decent picture editing tools. De-noising is not as good as Lightroom though.
Pixelmator has always been nice to look at but very unstable. Try working with a simple overlay and mask and you’ll see what I mean.

Adobe used to employ very intrusive measures to fight software piracy such as installing stuff in the MBR and such. Don’t know if that is still the case.

I used to own Photoshop and Elements. To me, Adobe products always feel hostile to the Mac OS. They use odd installers, have too many security features, awkward and cluttered interfaces, and 90% more tools than I need. It’s all very subjective on my part, but an Adobe product seems more designed for Windows and the corporate world, and I’m not comfortable there. The quarrel over Flash confirmed for me a decision not to use Adobe products any longer. I did the same with Microsoft when they dumped Office '08 on the world. I appreciate that others will feel differently, so we don’t need to argue the point; it’s just a matter of my own biases showing. :open_mouth:

Quite a bit cheaper than I expected actually! Is this the MacAppStore impact?

I note they have a 30 day free trial advertised on the apple site as well.

Aperture used to compete head to head with Lightroom and the like, I believe at the time of the introduction around 450€. The price was reduced several times, the most recent cut being when it was moved to the App Store. Although I also have Lightroom I happen to prefer Aperture. It has solid non-destructive image processing tools, good RAW development and good archiving capabilities. The the current price it is hard to beat if its features match your requirements.

Well, Dru, it depends on what you want to do. :slight_smile:

“Basic Image Editor” covers a lot of bases! You could say quite rightly that iPhoto is a basic image editor and it’s free. . . .

Photoshop is the best, period. It has the best imaging science behind it and it is fantastically powerful but unless you’re regularly working on things like 1 gig files with 60 layers (yes, you see things like that regularly in professional publishing), it’s overkill.

If you want to manage large numbers of photographs, Lightroom and Aperture are the best. Aperture is particularly nice because it integrates directly with iPhoto (so you don’t have to move pictures into yet another archive); yet, gives you full-blown RAW editing. However, neither Lightroom nor Aperture permit you to do image compositing, masking and the like.

Elements, Pixelmator, Acorn, are all sort of mini-Photoshops: much less expensive, fewer features, more accessible.

Graphic Converter is on an odd beast. It will convert damn near anything and can do some amazing batch processing but its interface is, er, often opaque.

If you just want to work on your photographs in the classic darkroom sense, I’d get Aperture. Otherwise, despite your Adobe-antipathy, I’d get Elements—it’s got the Photoshop engine running in the background and is really pretty easy to use.


Wow, thanks so much to everyone for their advice.
You not only informed me about the software, but helped me clarify my thoughts.
I said “image” editor, but nearly all my work is on photos.
I like the sound of Aperture, especially for its integration with iPhoto.
And the price is down to $80, via the App Store.
But GraphicConverter sounds very useful, too.
Thanks to all; I appreciate the time and thought you put into your replies.
And I guess I better buy…while the market is UP! 8)

Keep in mind that non-destructive editing is of particular importance for photos, it also reduces the space requirements if you play with different versions. Graphic Converter and Pixelmator do not have this, Aperture and Lightroom and some others do.