Pixelmator enables capable image editing for Mac users on a tight budget

Basic image editing tasks are frustrating without a professional-grade editing platform. The Apple Essentials app Pixelmator is easy to learn and won't strain your budget.

Currently the number one paid Apple Graphics & Design app, Pixelmator 3.4 offers business professionals a bargain-priced image-editing tool.
Image: Erik Eckel/TechRepublic

Most business professionals at least occasionally require the assistance of a capable image- or photo-editing application. Frequently (and I lump myself into this group), it's tempting to use a low-grade free program. For simple tasks -- cropping, resizing, converting file format, scaling, etc. -- that strategy often works. For more complex needs -- retouching, adding text, applying effects, correcting color, publishing edited images to social media sites, etc. -- a more capable tool is required. That's where Pixelmator 3.4, an Apple Essentials app, comes into play.

Many users are familiar with Adobe Photoshop Elements, which runs $149.99 in the Apple Store, with Adobe Premier included. At just $29.99, Pixelmator offers an easy-to-learn alternative for performing the basic tasks previously described. (Note: At the time of this article's publication, Pixelmator is being offered for $14.99.) And, at just 93 MB, Pixelmator enjoys a smaller footprint (which is convenient for business professionals possessing smaller SSD drives in their Macs) than the 2.3 GB Elements/Premier combination.

Simple image rotation commands are available from the Edit menu, as are fill, stroke, transform, and flip commands. Users administer color adjustments, canvas trimming, canvas rotation, canvas sizing, image sizing, color depth, and color profile adjustments and settings using the Image menu. The Layer menu option enables adding or duplicating layers, adding layer masks, locking layers, and otherwise manipulating images using traditional layers. The View menu permits adjusting zoom, revealing rulers and grids, showing styles, hiding layers, and performing similar actions.

Pixelmator loads quickly. On my late 2013-series MacBook Air the program processed editing and effect commands lightning fast. Even while managing multiple image-editing windows simultaneously, the application used few resources. With three active image-editing windows open, the program used negligible CPU resources (0.1% when standing by and 10-11% when performing color adjustments and applying effects) and just 207 MB RAM.

One quick test of an image-editing program's capabilities and approachability is the application's ability to easily adjust image and canvas size. Pixelmator's makes it easy to access straightforward menus for trimming and specifying canvas size, down to specific pixel width, height, and resolution. Adjusting images within Pixelmator feels as powerful and easy as performing the same process using IrfanView -- a free tool widely used to perform image-editing functions on Windows machines within non-commercial environments (a $12 license payment is requested of commercial firms) -- which is a compliment.

The bottom line

Business professionals on the hunt for a capable image-editing platform possessing a small footprint that doesn't break the bank should check out Pixelmator. With a free fully functioning trial available, it's hard to go wrong. Work with just a few images and you'll quickly know whether the app can meet your specific needs.

Give it a shot, and you'll likely quickly understand why it's the number one paid Apple Graphics and Design app.

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