Best Mac For Photo Editing

Jan 04, 2020 The Mac is still the best device for serious photo editing, so you need some serious photo editing apps to make an impact. The built-in Photos app on Mac offers several useful photo editing tools. You can crop, adjust lighting and color, set the white balance, add filters, remove unwanted blemishes, and a few more things. Aug 19, 2020 The Best Photo Editing Software for 2020. Whether you're a casual smartphone shooter or a professional using an SLR, software can get the most out of your images.

Mac Tips

Mac TipsUpdated: September 04, 2020 13 min read

Before we start

Regardless of the device you choose, you need to keep it in perfect condition to help it cope with any large and resource-intensive apps, such as photo editing.

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You might think that photo editing doesn’t require any special hardware. However, if you’re an experienced photographer, you know that not all computers can pull off the necessary software such as Adobe Photoshop.

But what about Macs? As with any other brand, some Apple computers are more fit for the purpose than others. In this article, we look at the best Macs for photographers, compare their characteristics, and discuss the most popular photo editing software.

Here’s a short list of the best MacBooks for photography:

  • Ultimate best:MacBook Pro 16-inch (2019) or 13-inch (2020)
  • Best budget: MacBook Air (2020)
  • Best desktop:27-inch iMac with 5K Retina Display (2020)

Why use a Mac for photo editing?

Apple products are well-known for their powerful hardware, loved by many creators—from photographers and filmmakers to app developers.

All of the high-end components of a MacBook are packed into a light-weight body, making it portable and easy to carry around at all times. Not to mention the exceptionally long battery life that provides the opportunity to work away from a charging port for an entire day. As for iMacs, photographers can take advantage of the large screen size, superb resolution, and powerful multi-core i7 processors of these phenomenal computers.

Recommended system requirements

We’ve prepared a list of key things you need to look out for when buying your best Mac for photo editing.

For the best photo editing experience, it is essential that you pick the best available display. Ideally, you need a large, high definition Retina screen. IPS technology, which is incorporated in all MacBook and iMac models post-2012, makes images brighter and bolder and guarantees accurate color reproduction. A Retina display with a substantial pixel density is what you’re looking for—regardless of the size of the project you’re working on.

Photo editing software is rather demanding—especially if you deal with high-resolution raw files and work with advanced effects in Photoshop or Lightroom. It’s crucial that you invest in a powerful discrete graphics card—make sure your Mac has at least Intel UHD Graphics 617.

Don’t forget about RAM and storage space—you’ll need a lot of those. We recommend at least 8GB of RAM and 500GB of internal SSD storage minimum. The more RAM you have, the faster and smoother your editing experience will be.

As a photographer, you know that you have to connect cameras, SD cards, and other peripherals to your Mac on a regular basis. Therefore, the number and type of ports on a computer is an important aspect when making a choice. Think about the camera input and the type of cable you use for your camera when selecting a Mac, and don’t forget about the SD cards.

Finally, consider the portability of your device. Whether photography is an occupation or a hobby for you, it’s a dynamic activity—you’ll need to move around a lot even if you have your own studio. A laptop is in advantage over a desktop computer due to its low weight combined with impressive components. Mac laptops have pixel-perfect screens with excellent color support. Additionally, the wide contrast of the Retina displays will keep highlights and shadow detail consistently visible.

You’ll probably need to free up some space to install a photo editing app—they’re usually pretty big.

To clean junk and useless apps from your Mac, just follow these 3 easy steps—install MacKeeper, scan your device, and delete rubbish!
Let’s start right away.

The best MacBooks for photographers in 2020

We talked to professional photographers to our team, analyzed all the specs and evaluated reviews to compile a list of the most preferred choices for photo editing. Here’s what we’ve got:

MacBook Pro for photo editing

The new 13-inch MacBook Pro 2020 is one of the best Apple creations yet, featuring the Magic Keyboard, a Touch Bar, and Touch ID for utmost efficiency and productivity. With the Touch Bar innovation that came in 2018, it got easier to work in Photoshop as there are a number of useful shortcuts you won't find on any other laptop. These include a selection of your favorite photos, quick addition to albums, and editing straight in the Photos app, among other handy functions.

The baseline dual-core laptop can be equipped with a 4.5GHz 10th generation quad-core i7 processor and 32GB of RAM, which is twice the usual amount for a 13-inch MacBook Pro. This makes editing in Photoshop a seamless process with up to 50% speed improvement. The Iris Plus graphics card delivers 80% faster processing of threaded filters.

The display of the MacBook uses True Tone technology with 500 nits brightness and as much as 25% more colours than sRGB, which is ideal for accurate image representation. You can incorporate up to 4TB of SSD storage—an incredible space to store your photographs. Finally, four Thunderbolt 3 ports are available to connect your peripherals. All of these components are packed in just 1.4 kilos.

In addition to the 13-inch model, photographers must consider the 16-inch MacBook that came out in 2019 and is due to be updated soon. It’s a larger, more powerful and more expensive device that will fit those hungry for better components and a larger screen, still packed in a relatively small frame.

MacBook Air for photo editing

MacBook Air is the cheapest among all Apple laptops with Retina display. It can become your favorite photo editing assistant. Being the most portable Mac laptop with the longest battery life, MacBook Air is a great option for photographers who are always on the run.

The base model costs as little as $999, although the specs of such a laptop won’t satisfy the needs for bigger projects. The processor is 10th Gen Core i3—we recommend at least i5. RAM of 8GB is substantial with 256GB of SSD storage on top of it. Finally, the laptop is equipped with Intel Iris Plus Graphics. All of this is packed in just 1.27 kilos.

The computer can have several upgrades. The first would increase the cost to $1,299, but the specs are much better: 1.1GHz quad-core i5 CPU and 512GB of SSD storage among the ones that are different. The most customized MacBook Air would come at $2,249 with a 10th Gen core i7 CPU, 16GB RAM and 2TB SSD. One would argue that it’s easier to just buy a MacBook Pro.

The slim laptop doesn’t allow a lot of room for ports—you’ll only find two Thunderbolt 3 ports as opposed to four in a 13-inch MacBook Pro. Thus, if you want to connect more than just a camera and a pair of headphones, you might need to invest in a USB hub.

The display of an Air is quite rewarding. The 13.3-inch 2560x2600 panel does create size limitations, but it reaches 113% of the sRGB gamut and outstands the nit average, having an impressive 382 nits.

The best iMac for photo editing

If you’re one of those people who prefer a desktop computer to a light and portable laptop, a 27-inch iMac with a 5K Retina display is your best bet for Mac photo editing. The new 2020 release equips the technological giant with a nano-texture glass, bringing the photo editing experience up to a new level.

The powerful Coffee Lake processor of up to 10 cores can handle pretty much anything you throw its way. You’re also presented with up to 126GB of on-board RAM and terabytes of SSD storage space.

How to Optimize your Mac for Photo Editing?

Photo editing is an intricate art and it's also one of the most resource-consuming tasks you can do on a Mac. Lack of free space, plenty of duplicated photos scattered all over the folders may hamper your photo editing process.

Whenever you get the beach ball icon on your screen, it's high time to clean up your RAM memory. The Memory Cleaner feature in MacKeeper will easily do that for you. Simply run this tool when working on your photos to enhance the performance of your photo-editing software. And speaking about such software, Update Tracker will keep your photo editing apps updated at all times.

As a photographer you do need a lot of storage space to store images after photoshoots. Not to spend extra money on additional gigabytes, you can get rid of photo duplicates. Use Duplicates Finder to scan for copies and check how much space can be reclaimed! Besides duplicates, such files as caches, logs, apps leftovers, and items sent to Trash but still not deleted from there can be the reason for lack of space. Delete these items with one simple feature—that is Safe Cleanup!


Macs have become exceedingly popular among photographers. Most of all it is because they are powerful machines with outstanding color accuracy. Their portability and long battery life are distinguished among all creatives. But let’s not forget about the exceptionally aesthetically pleasing design of every Apple device—any photographer is strongly receptive of beauty and will definitely find them exceptionally attractive.

If you’re still unsure about the device you should choose—download MacKeeper and contact our tech experts.

They’d love to help you choose the best Mac to suit you. In addition, they can share their top tips on how to keep your Mac clean and optimized.

Read more:

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Most free photo editors available on the App Store are quite basic, offering just a limited number of filters and allowing you to easily and quickly liven up your photos before posting them on social media.

But if you’re an aspiring or professional photographer, you probably need a more powerful app with a broader set of tools to use your creativity to the fullest. Besides, you probably use your Mac for photo editing because working on a large screen makes it possible to adjust the slightest details.

1. Apple’s Photos (Built-in app)

Apple’s Photos app is included for free on all recently released Macs. It does a good job at organizing your photos, but its collection of photo enhancement tools leaves much to be desired. Hopefully, our selection of the best free programs for photo editing on Mac will help you choose the right app to suit all your creative needs.

2. Luminar (7 days trial)

Luminar is another full-featured photo editor that’s popular with both Mac and Windows users. It can work as a standalone app as well as a plugin for such popular programs as Apple Photos.

Luminar uses Artificial Intelligence to enable sophisticated yet quick photo enhancements. Among these AI features are Sky Enhancer, which adds more depth and detail to the sky in your photos while leaving other areas untouched; Accent AI, which analyzes a photo and automatically applies the best combination of different effects to enhance your image; and Sun Rays, which allows you to place an artificial sun and adjust the lighting to your liking or make the sun rays already in your photo look even more incredible.

Luminar has over 60 filters you can apply to your photos to enhance them in a moment. Luminar also provides a set of powerful tools for cropping, transforming, cloning, erasing, and stamping, along with layers, brushes, and many more incredible features. Luminar supports the Touch Bar on the latest MacBook Pro, making photo editing even more effortless and pleasing.

3. Photolemur 3 (Free Version with watermark)

Photolemur is a relative newcomer on the photo editing market but it has all the chances to win the favor of beginner photographers and hobbyists. Running on Artificial Intelligence, Photolemur is a completely automatic photo enhancer, meaning that it does all the editing for you in no time. It has the simplest interface, with only a few buttons and sliders to adjust the enhancement to your liking and view the before and after results.

All you need to do is choose a photo (or a few) that you want to improve, drag and drop or import them using the Import button, and let the program make enhancements. After it’s done, you can compare the edited version with the original image by using the before–after slider and, if you want, adjust the skin tone or even enlarge the eyes using additional sliders. Pretty easy, huh?

Photolemur also offers a number of impressive styles to touch up your photos and give them a sophisticated and professional look. With this app, you don’t need to stuff your head with photo editing nuances and terms. Just run Photolemur and watch the magic happen!

4. Aurora HDR (14 days trial)

As you probably can tell from the name, Aurora HDR is designed to help photographers enhance their HDR photos, making them even more detailed and beautiful. It’s an ideal tool for editing your photos, with an extensive collection of more than 20 tools including details, tone, mapping, color, glow, and vignette. Each tool has its unique selection of controls to adjust its effects.

Aurora HDR enables you to work with brushes, layers, and masks, and provides a number of automatic AI tools for recognizing and removing noise, enhancing colors, lighting, and details, improving clarity, and adding contrast to dull areas while leaving other areas untouched.

Aurora HDR does a great job dealing with difficult lighting situations and creating full-of-life images while being easy to use.

Best Free Photo Editing Software For Mac

5. Pixelmator (Trial 30 Days)

Pixelmator is a photo enhancer beloved by many Mac users, as it offers a good combination of a modern and simple interface, the ability to work on multiple layers, and powerful features that take photo editing to a whole new level. With so many editing tools, brushes, and effects, you can enhance your photos to your liking. You can choose between two versions of Pixelmator – standard and pro – depending on your needs. The standard version is great for basic photo editing with its selection of essential tools and filters, while the pro version is packed with extra brushes, tools, and effects that let you push your creativity to new boundaries. You can decide which version is suitable for you according to what features you’re looking for in a photo editing app.

6. Adobe Photoshop Elements 2020 (Trial link)

Photoshop Elements isn’t as affordable as other photo enhancers for beginner photographers. But luckily there’s a trial version available, so you can check it out before deciding whether this app is worthy of your money. Photoshop Elements acquired many powerful features from Photoshop, only Elements is simplified for amateur photographers and enthusiasts. It includes a good number of effects and filters, plus automated editing options for improving lighting, color balance, and exposure, and even opening closed eyes and reducing the effects of camera shake.

In addition to all of these awesome features, Photoshop also offers editing modes for beginners, intermediate users, and experts. Beginners will probably prefer Quick mode, as it focuses on essential tools to quickly enhance your photos by improving color, lighting, and other basic settings. Guided mode provides intermediate users with step-by-step guidance with more professional features like artistic effects, skin tone correction, and background replacement. Expert mode gives you full access to the app’s really powerful editing features and is ideal for creating stunning images.

7. Affinity Photo (Free Trial)

Affinity Photo’s interface may seem overwhelming at first, especially for novices, but when you come to grips with it you’ll find that the app is just what you’ve been looking for. Its numerous professional tools, effects, and filters encourage you to get creative with your photos. Among the coolest features Affinity Photo has to offer is a before and after view to compare the original photo with its edited version.

Affinity Photo works with 15 file types, including common ones like PDF, PSD, JPG, and GIF as well as some less popular ones. The app amazes with its abundance of basic and top-notch editing tools, allowing you to tweak your photos using all possible kinds of instruments. Affinity Photo allows you to edit HDR photos, apply artistic filters and effects, play with masks and layers, and create breathtaking compositions by combining several images in one. If you find its interface a bit much and are afraid of getting lost in all those advanced tools, you should probably look for something more suitable for your level. But Affinity Photo is worth mastering.

8. Google Photos

Google Photos is a popular cloud storage service for photos and videos. It can’t boast countless masterly tools like other photo enhancers that we review in this article, but it includes some fundamental features like filters, color adjustment sliders, and transformation tools.

Although Google Photos may not be that helpful when it comes to editing photos, it does a pretty good job at storing high-resolution images and videos with 15GB of free online storage, compared to iCloud’s mere 5GB (which you can upgrade to 50GB for a monthly fee). If you’re planning to go on a trip and take plenty of photos, then it might be smart to sign up for Google Photos to use that extra storage space when you come back.

9. PhotoScape X (Free)

A relatively new photo editing app, PhotoScape X has been gaining popularity with many Mac and PC users since its release in 2008. Its interface is simple but unconventional, with a number of tabs running along the top of the window. Each is responsible for a specific stage of editing. The Viewer tab allows you to browse and organize your photos. After you pick a photo, you can switch to the Editor tab, which includes a broad set of instruments, filters, and effects and a useful feature that enables you to compare the adjusted photo with the original.

Best Mac Mini For Photo Editing

Best Mac For Photo Editing

The next tabs, including the Batch tab, mainly concentrate on editing and renaming multiple photos at once. The GIF tab allows you to easily create an animated GIF from a group of selected photos.

The downside of PhotoScape X is a lack of selection tools, so all changes are applied to the whole image rather than to a selected part.

10. Gimp (Free)

Gimp is a free open-source photo editing app that has been on the market for over 22 years and is available for Windows, Mac, and even Linux. Unlike many free apps, Gimp doesn’t have any ads or in-app purchases. Its grey interface might seem a little old-fashioned and it may be a bit sluggish when it comes to complex effects, though.

Best Free Photo Editing Programs

Gimp offers a vast collection of advanced tools that hardly any free photo editor can boast. It has numerous enhancement options such as clone and heal brushes, layers and channels, accurate selection tools, a number of transformation instruments, and, of course, color adjustment controls. Gimp is one of the most powerful tools for enhancing photos and is beloved by so many users for its price (free) and versatility. But if you can’t come to grips with Gimp’s interface, it may be worth paying some cash for a more user-friendly program.