Pixelmator review

An innovative, organic and fluid program with a tiny learning curve. It’s perfect for creating imaginative images from your photos.

Jay Stansfield
6 Mar 2012
Price when reviewed 

The moment you open Pixelmator and start playing around with the tools and filters you know you are using something different. This Mac-only package has no album organiser and clearly presents itself as a package with no complexities or add-ons; it has a basic photo browser and uses a rather minimalist system of floating palettes instead of a single editing window. This can result in you moving and dragging windows around a lot. However, it isn’t long before things fall into place, and once that happens it’s a joy to use.

Highlights include the magic wand tool, where you can decide how much the selection grows or shrinks simply by dragging the mouse, and the filters and adjustments, which use the processing power of newer Macs to preview changes as they happen in real-time. For example, some of the filters have a dot appear on the image attached to what appears to be a flexible cable. When you drag the dot around it alters the image in the place under the mouse cursor.


It’s more like playing with liquid or some kind of gooey substance than conventional image-editing. In class, you can find yourselves playing with this for ages, and it’s a great way of grabbing and holding the pupils’ attention. Features like this could hopefully pave the way for a much more innovative and organic way of processing photos and images in the future.

It’s not all good news. Unfortunately the menus and adjustments are not as easy to access as other packages and many things can only be done via the menu buttons which means an awful lot of clicking. The photo enhancement and correction tools are fairly basic, and without the Makeover tools and step-by-step colour adjustment features of rival packages it can be difficult to get exactly the effect you’re looking for. To balance this, the tutorials on the website cover most things from simple editing to creating professional posters and they are presented in a clear and easy to follow manner.

The great thing about Pixelmator is that it’s not a Photoshop clone, but a program in its own right. Put it in front of some eager students and it can capture the imagination in a way that other photo-editing packages might not, even if it takes an unconventional path to manipulating images. Sometimes it feels too simple to be true, but then that’s part of its charm. It’s arguably the most unique, organic and innovative image-editing program around.

Price when reviewed 
22(£22 inc VAT)


Software subcategory Photo editing software

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