Pixelmator 3.0 FX

If you use a Mac for photo editing, Pixelmator is definitely an app to check out. For an astoundingly affordable price—$29 via the Mac App Store—it offers a very robust toolset that competes with applications several times its price. One of the reasons why it’s possible for Pixelmator to deliver so much for so little is that it harnesses technologies already built into OS X, like Core Image. Version 3.0 is optimized for OS X Mavericks, and lets you take advantage of features like Multiple Display support, iCloud storage, Autosaves and Fullscreen interface.

In addition to the all-new Image Editing Engine, version 3.0 adds Layer Styles to apply gradients, shadows, reflections and more to individual layers, as well as Liquify Tools, which you can use to reshape individual parts of an image. A wide variety of file types are supported, including layered Photoshop PSD files, making this app a terrific value. There’s a free 30-day trial and many excellent tutorials available on the Pixelmator site, www.pixelmator.com.


Photoshop users will feel right at home in the Pixelmator interface, with its familiar approach to tool and enhancement palettes. Here you’ll find tools to crop, make selections, burn and dodge, clone and heal, fix red eye and much more. The icon of the currently selected tool enlarges to indicate that it’s active.

You can even customize the Tools palette by removing tools you don’t use, grouping tools so they’re intuitive for you to find, or resizing the palette itself. It’s easy to add a removed tool back into the palette or you can reset it to its original configuration with one click in the app’s Preference pane.


Select a tool from the Tools palette, and the Tool Options bar automatically displays the available controls for that tool.


Similar to Photoshop’s Layers palette, this is where you manage your layers, add layer masks, and adjust layer blending and opacity.


All of the usual effects and adjustments you’ll want to apply—levels, curves, sharpening and color adjustments—are found in the Effects Browser. There are also some wild effects in here that you may not use often, but are fun to experiment with. Double-clicking or dragging the effect’s icon onto your photo will bring up a control dialog with the settings for that effect. More than 120 effects and adjustments are available.

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