Top 10 best photo editing software for Mac

Reviewed by Experts for:
- Ease of Use          - Image Editing & Processing
- Speed                      - Value for Money

Last Updated Feb 2021

Rated by Experts

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Skylum Luminar AI

  • Simplest Editing Software
  • Virtually No Learning Curve
  • AI Powered 1 Click Edits
  • Free Trial + No Monthly Payments

Outstanding

9.9

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Use coupon code TOP10PES for additional discount

Skylum Luminar 4

  • A Professional's Dream Editor
  • Cannot be Beaten for Value
  • Small Learning Curve
  • Single Payment + 30 Day Money Back

Outstanding

9.6

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Adobe Lightroom

  • Superb Batch Edits & Export
  • Works With Luminar AI & 4
  • Multi-device Photo Editing
  • Only Monthly Subscription Available

Excellent

9.0

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Exposure X6 Read Review

  • Easy to Use
  • All Skill Levels
  • Fast Processing
  • Great Value for Money

Excellent

8.8

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Free Trial Available

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Capture One Pro Read Review

  • Excellent Raw File Conversion
  • Superior Noise Reduction
  • Fast Importing
  • Easy to Use

Very Good

8.3

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Free Trial Available

ON1 Photo RAW Read Review

  • Easy to Use
  • All Skill Levels
  • Great Value for Money
  • Incredibly Flexible System

Very Good

7.8

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Free Trial Available

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DxO Photolab Read Review

  • Clear Interface
  • Haze Remover
  • Superior Noise Reduction
  • Quick Processing

Very Good

7.0

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Adobe Photoshop Read Review

  • Industry Standard
  • Powerful Tools
  • Highly Customisable
  • Great iPad App

Very Good

6.5

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Free Trial Available

Topaz Studio 2 Read Review

  • Excellent range of presets & filters
  • Simple non-destructive layer editing
  • Wide range of tools
  • Good value

Good

6.0

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Free Trial Available

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Aurora HDR Read Review

  • Easy to Use
  • Intuitive user interface
  • Mac & Windows Support
  • Advanced image processing engine

Good

5.5

View Price
No Subscription
30 Days Money Back

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best photo editing software for Mac

1. Luminar AI

Luminar AI Discount Code: TOP10PES

Skylum Luminar AI: the world’s first image editor fully powered by Artificial Intelligence. Thanks to the incredible AI powered time saving and cost effectiveness, coupled with a one-off payment, Luminar AI tops our list of the best 10 photo editing sofware.

By automating the most common manual image editing tasks and simplifying complexity in post-production, Luminar AI aims to save photographers hours time, while making the photo editing process a lot more fun.

Simple, fast, fun and affordable way to make your photos look 10x better. Zero editing experience required.

When used judiciously, artificial intelligence for photo editing can be an enormous time-saver, and can even help you achieve things that were previously impossible.

Luminar AI is a revolutionary new image editing software that uses artificial intelligence to help with time-consuming and complex editing tasks.

It’s a stand-alone Windows and Mac application, as well as a Plugin for Lightroom, Photoshop and Photos for Mac OS, allowing users ingrained in an Adobe workflow to also take advantage.

Luminar AI is designed for every level of creative – from complete beginner photographers to seasoned pros, although the latter will likely use it more as a plugin, in conjunction with other image editing software.

Despite being incredibly powerful, it’s simple enough to pick up quickly, even for those with zero image editing experience.

As the world’s first photo editing tool that’s fully powered by artificial intelligence, Luminar AI offers a simplified approach to image manipulation, while still retaining full manual control for power users.

The goal of Luminar AI is to make the editing process fun and easy, letting users hone in their creative skills while being guided with Templates and other handy features.

Skylum has attempted to remove all the tedious and complex parts of photo editing, without sacrificing creativity – you as the artist will still be in complete control of the outcome.

  1. Simplified Workspaces for a More Efficient Workflow
  2. Templates for ‘Guided’ AI-Powered Editing
  3. Luminar AI as a Powerful Plugin for Existing Lightroom, Photoshop and MacOS Photos users
  4. Time-Saving Artificial Intelligence Powered Editing Tools
    • Atmosphere AI (NEW)
    • Body AI (NEW)
    • Bokeh AI (COMING SOON)
    • Composition AI (NEW)
    • Iris AI (NEW)
    • Sky AI 2.0 (COMING SOON)
    • Accent AI
    • Augmented Sky AI
    • Color Harmony
    • Face AI
    • Golden Hour
    • Mood
    • Skin AI
    • Sky AI
    • Sky Enhancer AI
    • Structure AI
    • Sunrays
    • Supercontrast
  5. Manual Masking Tools to Take Full Control and Selectively Add or Remove AI Edits
  6. AI Tools that Conform to Individual Images for Simplified Batch Editing

"A professional retoucher might spend hours slimming a model’s torsos or removing skin blemishes in Photoshop. Inserting a new sky into a landscape image would also be incredibly time-consuming. With Skylum Luminar AI, an absolute novice can perform these complicated edits in under a second. It really is jaw-droppingly good."

Luminar AI Review | Final Words

With Luminar AI, Skylum has created is a truly revolutionary piece of software at an affordable price.

It offers Tesla-Autopilot-like self-driving capabilities – it’ll get you to the same destination, but with a lot less effort… and if you want to take the steering wheel for full control, you still can!

Tenuous car analogies aside, all you need to know is this – Luminar AI can help unskilled people produce images that previously only highly-skilled people could produce… and all in a matter of seconds.

Using Luminar AI is so easy that it can feel like cheating… but as your audience will only ever see the final result…. who cares! 😜

2. Skylum Luminar 4

Luminar 4 Discount Code: TOP10PES

Luminar 4 has something for every level of photographers: filters and one-click editing for beginners, and a suite of powerful photo editing tools and special effects for professionals or those ready to experiment.

Skylum Luminar 4 would be our number 1 if it wasn't for Luminar AI's incredible Artificial Intelligence. Having said that, Luminar 4 still has its big ups that make it our #2 best photo editing software. With a one off payment plan and no monthly subscriptions, Luminar 4 cannot be beaten for what's on offer at the price, especially for the more keen consumer.

The enormous popularity of Luminar 4 is due to 2 main factors:

First, the price - a one-off payment of less than $100 is hugely attractive, when compared to the other best image editing software available in 2021.

Secondly, Luminar 4 features artificial intelligence-powered tools that simply aren't available elsewhere.

Being able to do things like replacing the entire sky of a photo, whilst relighting elements to keep everything looking realistic, is frankly mind-blowing.

This kind of manipulation was previously only the realm of professional retouchers. Still, with Luminar 4, anyone can perform similar edits in just one click of the mouse - check the video below to me replace the sky behind a complicated mess of girders on the Eiffel Tower in a couple of seconds.

 
As a regular photo editor, Luminar 4 offers most of the same adjustment options as Lightroom, but its strong focus on AI-based auto-correction tools sets it apart for those who want the software to do all the work.

If you're a preset lover, Luminar 4 has some excellent options - both free and commercial. They tend to be a bit heavy-handed (as do some of the editing sliders) but back them way off and you can come up with some great looks.

Luminar 4 also offers some impressive special effects, many of which are hard to find or create elsewhere. Like the presets they can come on strong, but used judiciously they provide exceptional photo enhancement.

A key benefit of Luminar 4 is that it's available as a stand-alone editor, as well as a plugin for Lightroom/ Photoshop/Apple Photos, providing a seamless workflow experience which takes advantage of each software's strong points.

If you're already established in the Adobe ecosystem, but want the unique effects and AI tools of Luminar 4, the plugin provides fast and efficient access, right from within the Lightroom editing screen.

(It's also relatively inexpensive when compared to other high-quality Lightroom plugins).

Like Photoshop, Luminar 4 has layers and blending modes, though the selection devices aren't the same calibre. Still, it creates a level of usability that would typically require both Photoshop and Lightroom.

As for the editing experience, all the various tools are organised into just six tabs which run down the side of the edit pane: Layers, Canvas, Essentials, Creative, Portrait and Pro.

Each tool panel appears when clicked, and disappears when the next panel is clicked, which keeps the workspace uncluttered.

Tools are labelled based on their result, as opposed to the process - i.e. AI Sky Replacement; Sunrays; Matte Look, etc. This makes Luminar 4 simple to pick up, which still offering all the core editing functions necessary for more nuanced edits.

professional photo editing sun rays filter

Sunrays adjust intelligently depending on the foreground.

Golden Hour warms things up, and SunRays allows you to place a realistic sun behind your scene, with the rays 'wrapping around' anything in the foreground - a sight that's quite mesmerising.

The AI Skin Enhancer does precisely that, with the AI Portrait Enhancer helping to make people photos look magazine-cover ready.

Then there's AI Structure which is similar to Lightroom's Clarity/Sharpen/Texture tools; all rolled into one.

With all the power of each tool, application is ridiculously simple - just click to apply, and Luminar 4 decides the best value for you. Then its a case of tweaking till you reach your desired outcome, but more often than not, the AI gets it right first time.

The places where Luminar 4 still trails behind Lightroom are in its limited import or export options and lack of keywording or metadata options. The image search capacities are also quite limited.

Also, Luminar 4 for Windows still lags considerably behind the Mac version. Its digital asset manager (DAM) also leaves much to be desired, not offering much in the way of image search.

Ultimately Lightroom Classic offers better performance, workflow and output options, particularly for professional photographers.

However, given its unique AI adjustment tools, ease of use for all levels of photographer, and the fact that you can use it as a standalone program or a Photoshop/Lightroom plug-in, Luminar 4 is a superb investment.

There's also a strong community of support, including numerous forums, Facebook groups, and online tutorials.

Skylum is invested in providing the simplest photo editing solution to users of all standards, and it's great to see such innovation in Luminar 4.

3. Adobe Lightroom Classic

screenshot from editor

Despite its rather confusing naming convention, Adobe Lightroom Classic still makes it in our top 3 best photo editing software here in 2021. A close third to the two leading Skylum flagships, primarily because of the unavailability of a one off payment.

With superb organisation and photo editing tools, Adobe is a serious contender that's often set benchmarks for most other photo editing programs.

If you’re a photographer with a high-volume workflow, Lightroom’s ability to batch edit and set import/export presets saves hours of time.

For those of us who use metadata (stock photographers, bloggers, website designers, etc.), Lightroom’s options are brilliant, including being able to set import presets – a huge time saver.

This focus on metadata also allows for incredibly useful image search features – you can search by just about anything, including lens type, camera type, and location.

Another star feature of Lightroom Classic is the ability to seamlessly edit in other programs (both Adobe and third party), and then return to Lightroom to finalise the image.

Want to add in a new sky using Luminar? Easy! Need to dip into Photoshop for some intensive editing? No problem.

While other programs offer plugin support, many often just send you out to the other program, offering no easy way back.

easy to use UI

Applying Profiles and Presets to photos in Lightroom allows you to improve their appearance in one click.

Most photographers rely on 'Presets' to edit their images - the ability to apply a 'look' to a series of photos with one click is a big time-saver, and benefits editing consistency.

Many Lightroom presets are available for free, (with some great ones included in the software), and many other paid presets are downloadable from various industry sites.

A new feature called 'Profiles' brings further editing efficiency to the process, with the Profile Browser providing a quick and easy way to sample the various styles.

Other top-of-the-line features include profile-based lens corrections, a Healing Brush that works as well as Photoshop's, and noise and chromatic aberration adjustments.

There's also HDR and panorama integration, face recognition, optional cloud storage, and a mobile app.

In fact, Lightroom Classic's integration with 'Lightroom', (formerly known as 'Lightroom CC' - I told you the names were confusing!), is another top drawcard for this impressive photo editing software.

By subscribing to one of the Creative Cloud Photography Plans, users benefit from a regular desktop-focused workflow with Lr Classic, as well as a cloud-based mobile workflow with Lightroom and its free mobile app.

Being able to start editing a photo in Lightroom on your computer, then continue on a tablet or mobile phone, (with everything backed up to the cloud), is a revolutionary workflow which justifies an Adobe subscription, whether for professional or amateur photographers.

With recent updates to the Lightroom Mobile app, users can even import images directly to their tablet or phone, right from their camera's memory card, to edit, organise and share them immediately.

The Lightroom app also features a built-in camera, which benefits anyone who uses their phone to take photos. Every image is immediately backed up to the cloud, meaning you can cancel any additional iCloud/Google Drive subscriptions.

The Lightroom mobile app is the best way to free yourself from your computer as a photographer, and definitely worth an upgrade if you're an existing user of Lightroom 6.

Any edit you make on a mobile device will be waiting for you when you return to your computer, with everything kept in perfect sync - this is the future of image editing!

Also included with Lightroom is Adobe Photoshop, a powerful photo editor for more intensive photo manipulation.

As mentioned previously, Photoshop works seamlessly with Lightroom, and also features an excellent iOS and Android tablet app, perfect for those wanting to edit a photo on the go.

There are several plans to choose from (learn how to buy Lightroom here), but the fact remains - Adobe's move to a subscription model upset many photographers, hence the various alternatives that popped up.

While affordable, the plan tethers you to monthly or yearly payments, which may not suit everyone.

However, the combination of Photoshop and Lightroom as part of the Creative Cloud plan is unbeatable, especially if you consider the enormous benefits of a truly mobile workflow.

4. Exposure X6

Exposure X6 Discount Code: SHOTKIT

If you're looking for an affordable RAW photo editing program with all the core functionality of Lightroom plus a few useful extras, Exposure X6 should definitely be in your sights for best photo editing software for Mac.

Functioning as a standalone photo editor as well as a plugin for Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, X6 has been a recent favourite of wedding photographers seeking to manage and edit large volumes of images.

While Luminar 4 falls short in the Digital Asset Management stakes, Exposure X6 has bulk image editing and management performance that rivals the best photo editing software available this year.

Featuring all the core editing features to adjust colour palette, tonal values, composition and more, X6 brings a simple and intuitive workflow to all levels of photographer.

The workspace of Exposure X6 will be familiar for those coming from Lightroom, with panels neatly and logically arranged, and a similar tool naming convention.

However, while Lightroom forces users to hop between various 'modules' to edit, organise and share photos, Exposure X6 features just one screen, which vastly improves the entire image handling experience.

An additional benefit over other photo editing software is the ability to fully customise the workspace panels and tools to suit your needs.

file manager easy to use

Panels and tools are customisable to organise the perfect editing workspace.

The 'Overlays' feature is similar to a Photoshop layer, allowing users to add various effects and textures to images, such as a light flare or scratch marks and dust for a film look.

Speaking of film, the number of presets available in Exposure X6 is impressive, with numerous options to replicate popular film stock, as well as others for distinct looks and styles.

For those already ingrained in a Lightroom workflow, the migration process is thankfully straightforward, with all edits and metadata being transferred to your new X6 library.

Importing images can be performed in several ways, with the most straightforward being to simply drag and drop them on the main workspace, be it from your computer's internal storage or external hard drive.

Refreshingly, files aren't copied or moved from these locations (as they can be with Lightroom), but simply referenced for access via Exposure X6.

Another great feature is the ability to collaborate on images via a cloud-based service such as Dropbox. For the average user, this could mean editing on multiple computers, and for the pro, editing via a team or studio.

You can check our review of Exposure X6 for a deeper dive into whether this is the best photo editing software for you, or just click the button above to download a free trial.

For those who decide to purchase outright, there's a one-off payment of less than $120 - great value for money, and not a subscription fee in sight ;-)

5. Capture One Pro 21

Known for its exceptional Raw conversion, fantastic color adjustment options, and exceptional tethered capture features, Capture One Pro has long been the professional photographer's choice.

This most current update adds in several much-needed features, including Heal Brush, Clone Brush, Before / After tool, layers and even a Lightroom importer.

As expected, Capture One Pro has many of the same features as Lightroom, some of which are more refined - the colour adjustments, noise reduction, and sharpening features in particular.

However, the photo organisation options, while acceptable, still lag behind Lightroom.

Like Lightroom Classic, Capture One Pro uses a catalogue system, giving you the automatic backup options missing in On1 and Luminar.

This can make a bit of a learning curve for getting started, but once you get used to it, you'll have more versatility than with programs that use your hard drive's folder structure.

All the editings tools sit in a singular interface, which allows users to toggle through buttons to change functions.

Everything is fully customisable, which is quite overwhelming at first, but soon becomes an intuitive way to produce a more efficient workflow assigned perfectly to your needs.

The ability to have various tool panels 'hover' over the main image viewing area is a neat touch, allowing you to drag and drop items wherever you like, making the most of cramped laptop monitors.

Users transitioning from Lightroom can set up their Capture One workspace to mimic it almost exactly. You can even assign the same keyboard shortcuts, to make the migration a lot less painful.

As far as the selection of adjustment tools is concerned, Capture One excels - there's a macro and micro adjustment for everything any photographer could ever need.

Autocorrect options can be powerful when used judiciously, and the masks and layers tools are almost as powerful as those found in Photoshop.

Using layers allows you to make targeted adjustments to your photos, while still having access to the majority of main image editing tools - not just the ones that apply to the tool you're using. This allows a much finer level of control during photo manipulation.

One place that Capture One really shines is in its superior RAW conversion - images have noticeably more detail and dynamic range than other photo editing software, right from the intial import.

Other features that make this an exceptional piece of software include the ability to insert annotations, best-in-class tethered camera options, and the fact that it tends to be faster and more stable than Lightroom.

Performance is generally fast and smooth - launching the software for the first time initiates a 'hardware acceleration' process, which uses OpenCL/GPU to dedicate memory to things like Previews, sorting, rating, and processing.

You do need a relatively powerful computer to run Capture One Pro smoothly, with at least 8GB of RAM, 10GB of free disk space and an Intel Core i3 (Mac) or Intel or AMD CPU with two cores (Windows), minimum.

The only real strikes against it are the fact that there's no HDR or panorama options, the steep learning curve, limited plugin support compared to other software, and the price.

The full-fledged version retails at close to $300. There's also a subscription option at $20/month ($15/month if you prepay for a year) - considerably more expensive than Adobe's Creative Cloud Photography Plans.

If you're a Sony or Fujifilm camera user, you can buy the software for around $130, or use a paired-down free version that's understandably limited.

If you want to give it a try, there's a free fully functioning 30-day trial available.

6. ON1 Photo RAW 2021

ON1 Photo RAW Discount Code: SHOTKIT

On1 is another company that jumped into the Lightroom-alternative melee. Originally known for its special effects and amazing Portrait plugin, it's since become a full-fledged piece of RAW photo editing software.

Offered as both a standalone program and a Lightroom/Photoshop/Apple Photos plugin, the newest edition of ON1 Photo Raw 2021 now includes various AI-powered features that make image editing much more powerful.

The newest features include AI Match and AI Auto, Effects (Weather, Sun Flare, Color Balance and Channel Mixer), improved decoding of RAW files (especially for Fujifilm), custom camera profiles with X-Rite, SmugMug integration, improved noise reduction, a map view, a Print Module, speed/performance enhancements, and more.

On1 Photo RAW's performance is snappy, especially start up time, which is noticeably quicker than the other photo editing software we tested.

ON1's Digital Asset Management (DAM) is similar to Luminar but provides keyword, metadata, and advanced search options.

In our review, we noted that the ON1 Photo Raw interface looks very similar to Lightroom's. Most of the adjustment sliders have the same names, the placement of the editing tools is very similar, and many of the keyboard shortcuts are the same.

Luminar 4's interface is much sleeker and easier to learn, but the latest version of ON1 Photo Raw made a lot of improvements and now works seamlessly.

Like Photoshop and Luminar, ON1 Photo Raw has layers, blending modes, and masking. The masking options in On1 are superior to Luminar's, with an AI masking feature and "refine edge" included.

Other features include full integration with Apple Photos, the ability to add text to an image, HDR, panorama photo merging, and the ability to migrate your Lightroom catalogue over to On1's DAM.

The new Timeline Albums feature provides a simple and efficient way to organise photos automatically, with the software organising files by year, month and day, much like in the iPhone photos app.

In an attempt to keep pace with the various cloud-based image editing workflows on offer by other products, ON1 360 in conjunction with On1 Photo Mobile allows users to view, organise, edit and share photos between computers and mobile devices.

 

Also new for 2021, Map View allows you to explore where your photos were taken and add location metadata to images that don't already include embedded GPS.

There are presets aplenty in On1, with over 100 new and trending looks and styles curated from recent photographic trends.

The Effects filters are a fun feature, allowing users to experiment with colour balance, weather, channels and even sun flare - although the latter is not as intuitive as Luminar's AI version.

ON1 Photo Raw also works well on Windows if you have a computer with at least 4GB RAM (8GB when used as a Photoshop plugin), and 1.5 GB disk space for installation.

If you're a portrait photographer, you'll love On1's legacy portrait plug-in. It provides genuinely excellent skin retouching, eye and mouth controls, and even an automatic face finder that creates a separate mask and adjustment panel for each face.

All of this makes it a cinch to add detail to eyes, whiten teeth, accentuate lips, and improve skin. Many photographers consider the program worth it for the Portrait editing plugin alone.

Instant previews of all editing effects is also a nice touch, allowing users to dial in every setting to taste - there's a great preview on their sales page here, if you'd like to try yourself before downloading.

At just around $100 for a one-time purchase, you'll often find ON1 Photo RAW on sale - click the button below to see the latest offer.

7. DxO Photolab 4

Best known for its exceptional RAW conversion, noise reduction and sharpening tools, PhotoLab has long been an add-on of choice for many photographers - it does things that other programs simply can't match.

With the inclusion of a DAM in this newest version of DxO PhotoLab 4 (review), you can now edit photos from start to finish without using any other software.

Like On1 and Luminar, DxO PhotoLab 4 conveniently uses your computer's hard drive and existing folder hierarchy for its DAM, in contrast to Lightroom, which uses a confusing catalogue structure.

Once your images have been imported into DxO, you can make use of its advanced rating system, add keywords, and/or search for your other files as you see fit.

As a RAW image converter, DxO is hard to beat. Its automatic lens and camera-calibrated corrections manage to achieve results that are a couple of steps above other image editing software - Capture One Pro is the only other photo editor that comes close.

Signature tools include DeepPrime for noise-reduction, a Smart Lighting Module, an excellent dehaze tool, the best noise reduction on the market, and Nik's U-Point local selection technology for spectacularly precise local adjustments.

Other features include tons of presets, customisable workspaces, virtual copies, and excellent metadata and keyword options.

For those who shoot architecture, the keystone corrections in DxO are essential. Portrait and landscape photographers will love the auto-micro contrast, ClearView (for brightening the horizon), and various spot-metering tools.

Where the latest update to DxO PhotoLab 4 shines is in its completely redesigned approach to managing colour, with a new HSL (Hue, Saturation, and Luminance) Tool which can help you produce more creative and natural-looking images. There's also a neat watermarking preview feature and a completely customisable workspace.

 

The DxO ColorWheel is a new colour adjustment tool that you can use to select colour ranges from eight separate channels, fine-tune values, select replacements, and adjust transitions and tints creative effects.

The Uniformity Slider helps standardise colour variations within a specific range, while the Saturation and Luminance Sliders now work independently of each other, allowing users to convert photos to black and white without the use of complex masks.

Render matching is another useful feature, which allows you to match the rendering of over 60 cameras, meaning your RAWs can look more like the JPEG previews shown on the back of your camera screen.

PhotoLab 4 doesn't have HDR merging or panorama stitching, but that might come in the next update. The workflow module could also use a bit more work, but overall this is one excellent piece of software.

Offered as both a plugin and a standalone program, DxO PhotoLab 4 comes at two pricing levels: Essential ($129) and Elite ($199). Essential comes with all the standard features, but if you want to make use of DxO's excellent noise reduction, dehaze tools, multiple exports and the ability to customise your workspace, you'll need the Elite version.

Runs on Windows 7, 8, and 10, as well as on Mac OS X - click the button below to learn more about system requirements and see the latest offers.

8. Adobe Photoshop 2021

Anyone who knows anything about photo editing and graphic design will have used one of various the Adobe Photoshop versions. Now with Photoshop 2020, has evolved into much more than its humble beginnings.

Photoshop is defined as a 'raster graphics editor' developed by Adobe for Windows and macOS. It was created in 1988 by Thomas and John Knoll and has become the industry standard for all the various facets of digital art.

Photoshop is also used for image editing, manipulation and retouching, and offers similar tools to any other software in this realm, but to the nth degree - there are often several ways for performing the same function in Photoshop, be it changing a background colour, cloning elements, frequency separation, or any of the myriad other photo editing tasks.

Then there are the special effects and healing tools that only Photoshop can accomplish - AI-assisted tools like content-aware scale and fill often leave me with my jaw on the floor. Being able to recreate a scene that doesn't already digitally exist is a powerful feature for photographers - see my example video below.

 

Other newer features that aid photographers, in particular, include improved subject auto-selection (helps with background removal), an improved lens blur tool, customisable warp functions, new preset panels, and an advanced Adobe Camera RAW integration.

With the latest 2021 update, Adobe Sensei bring AI to the new Neural Filters and Sky Replacement features - the Smart Portrait mode offers one-click image manipulation as you've never seen before, changing subjects' expressions, gaze direction and even age!

In addition to making AI-powered adjustments to portraits, Neural Filters also includes features to help repair damaged images, including Photo Restoration, Dust and Scratches, Noise Reduction, Face Cleanup, JPEG Artifacts Restoration and even a way to colourise a black and white image.

While Adobe Camera RAW is excellent for adjusting exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows and all the other various image editing tweaks, it can only work on one image at a time, with edits stored as separate XMP sidecar files.

Similarly, Photoshop isn't designed to browse or batch-edit multiple images at once - it is possible with the file viewer and actions, but at its core, Photoshop is a graphics design tool, and no match for Lightroom when it comes to organising and editing photos.

Fortunately, Photoshop is included with Lightroom in the various Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plans, making it a handy addition for editing tasks that simply aren't possible in Lr.

Getting images from Lr to Ps and back again is a cinch, with PSD files retaining all the editing history (and layers) of any work performed in Photoshop.

Then there's the Photoshop iPad app, allowing you to take your edits on the road, syncing your progress from desktop to mobile device. Paired with an iPad Pro and stylus, it offers a fun and powerful (if not slightly overwhelming) experience and is 100% free, whether you are an Adobe subscriber or not.

(You only need to pay monthly if you want to use the desktop version, and/or store your edited files in the Adobe cloud.)

The only big caveat of Photoshop is its steep learning curve. Tools and features are hidden away, and it's challenging to dive right in without first consulting Google for a tutorial. That's why so many alternatives have popped up, offering a vastly simplified UI, such as Inpixo Photo Studio.

That said, anyone who manages to tame the beast is many rungs ahead of even the most adept Lightroom user, with Photoshop giving access to an unlimited world of image manipulation and creative potential.

9. Topaz Studio 2

This is a review of Topaz Studio 2 – “the future of creative photo editing”…. at least, that’s what their sales page says!

There’s such an impressive variety of photo editing programs nowadays that you can easily get overwhelmed when trying to choose the one that’s best for you.

Adding to the confusion, not all of the software companies set clear goals and priorities when developing their products, meaning it can be difficult to know who they’re best suited for.

Thankfully, that’s not the case with Topaz Labs’ Studio 2.

Its a powerful image editor for amazing one-click filter effects and non-destructive editing.

Officially released at the end of July 2019, it was created a clear and direct purpose in mind. And, as we’ll see in this review, it does an excellent job of catering to its niche.

Studio 2 is an image editing software which can be used both as a standalone program and as a Photoshop or Lightroom plug-in. It’s compatible with both Mac and Windows.

As hinted above, this is not a do-all software package.

With Studio 2, Topaz makes it clear that it’s a specific software designed to fulfil one major purpose only: creative photo editing.

Creative is definitely a key word here, as the software focuses on offering the ultimate package of effects that can make your image look anything but ordinary.

What they also strive for is giving you the opportunity to control and further develop those effects on your own.

The one-off purchase price seems like a great deal when compared to the subscription model you need to enter in when you buy Adobe Lightroom – however, Topaz Studio 2 obviously has far fewer features than Lr.

If you’re interested in experimenting with your images using powerful filters, masks and layers, Studio 2 is good value for money.

Remember though, that you won’t find library management, design tools, batch editing, or other common image editor tools in Studio. Its sole purpose is to make single images look better, through efficient and simple post-processing.

10. Aurora HDR

Aurora HDR is Mac and Windows compatible software inspired by the workflow of Trey Ratcliff, a famous HDR photographer who’s really set the bar high for HDR photography.

Trey’s involvement is no doubt one of the main reasons why the interface and style is so different from other programs.

Like other HDR programs, Aurora can either combine bracketed photos taken at different exposures or create a tonal map of a single image shot in Raw.

The results are a higher tonal dynamic range than your camera could normally produce in a single exposure, with far more information in the shadows and highlights.

It can be used both as a stand-alone program and as a plugin for Lightroom, Photoshop, Elements and Apple Aperture.

The superb ghost reduction in Aurora HDR made the edge of this wave look realistic | 1/6 f/8 ISO 100 | Sony a7III + Sony FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA

All HDR programs have their unique way of merging photos. Aurora HDR uses AI in their new Quantum HDR engine, and the results are excellent.

I’ve run a number of my old sets of bracketed exposures through it, and the opening image is often (though not always) far superior than what I was working with in the 2018 version or in Nik’s HDR Pro. (It was certainly better than anything I’ve ever done in Photomatrix Pro).

There’s far less noise in the final image and considerably better tonal blending. In addition, the ghost reduction is impressive and the color denoise and chromatic aberration reduction really works.

Not once have I ended up with halos or fringing. Literally not once!

On top of that, Aurora HDR is also far more powerful and pleasant to use than any other HDR software I’ve ever worked with.

Whether you’re someone who’s never shot in HDR or you’ve been doing it for years, the UI is sleek and easy. Everything is laid out in front of you and it only takes a little experimentation to figure out your work flow.

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While free photo editors do exist, premium software offers so much more, and despite the allure of one-off payment options, subscription plans tend to ensure consistency in valuable updates and feature additions. Whatever app, tool or plugin you end up using, remember that they can often be used in conjunction with your existing programs without interrupting existing workflows. Our list of top 10 best photo editing software for Mac has been carefully curated to cover needs of both beginner and advanced photo editing professionals.

Final Words

It should be clear at this point that there are plenty of options for editing and organising your RAW photos in our list of 10 best photo editing software for Mac.

While free photo editors do exist, premium software offers so much more, and despite the allure of one-off payment options, subscription plans tend to ensure consistency in valuable updates and feature additions.

Whatever app, tool or plugin you end up using, remember that they can often be used in conjunction with your existing programs without interrupting existing workflows.

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