It's a famous problem. Users need to write a document, adjust the font, run spell check, and maybe print the file. Yet, office suite manufacturers include hundreds of additional, sometimes extraneous, features within word processing programs, ultimately making it difficult to navigate corresponding menus and perform such common tasks. Most all photo-editing applications suffer the same bloat.
iPhoto, now free with OS X, isn't a rudimentary, limited editing tool included with the operating system as is, say, Microsoft Paint. iPhoto includes 64-bit support, numerous pre-packaged effects, re-touching, cropping, image rotation, organization and sharing, integrated cloud support, and exposure-editing capabilities. Yet, the program is still easy to use, which means most business users — with little to no training — can begin effectively using the program to complete the most basic photo editing tasks:
- Minor color correction
- Red eye removal
- JPEG, TIFF or PNG conversion
At the end of the day, the majority of non-graphic artist photo-editing needs are simple. Sophisticated layering capabilities typically aren't required to prepare attractive MLS photos if you're a realtor. An HR director doesn't really need complex filters to post the company's picnic images on the corporate intranet. A technical engineer doesn't require a rich illustration engine to document a server rack or network installation.
Too many photo-editing programs overthink the task at hand. iPhoto's multi-featured, yet easy-to-use, interface makes it ideal for the typical business user needing to perform the most common photo-editing tasks described above.
If your definition of basic business tasks includes marketing or advertising responsibilities, however, iPhoto won't likely possess the image manipulation capacity required. Apple's Aperture is the next logical step in managing photo- and image-editing tasks on Macs.
In addition to boosting re-touching capabilities, Aperture offers simple integration and upgrading from iPhoto, especially as it shares the same photo database on a Mac. The $79.99 application, available from Apple's App store, also adds precision brushes, more pre-packaged effects, and RAW camera support. The program also simplifies the process of creating and editing slideshows and printed materials.
Professional graphics users typically encounter regular challenges that justify the additional investment in Adobe Photoshop. Now provided via creative cloud subscription, individuals can purchase a single Adobe app — including Photoshop — for $19.99 a month.
Photoshop is the consensus go-to image-editing app for graphics professionals. The program's earned the accolade. Photoshop CC includes a dizzying array of capabilities, features, and tools, not too mention additional filters, effects, and illustration capabilities.
Unfortunately, most business users will find the full-blown application complex and potentially difficult to master without formal training or years of experience. For that reason, Adobe also offers a downsized version — Photoshop Elements — that may better fit any gap between Aperture and Photoshop CC for most business users not working in publishing, as graphic artists, or as professional photographers. Available from Apple's App store, Adobe's Photoshop Elements costs $79.99.
What photo editing tool for Macs do you prefer? Share your opinion in the discussion thread below.
Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president of Eckel Media Corp., a communications company specializing in public relations and technical authoring projects.