The Free Way to Edit Photos on a Mac

In Gear and Software, Photo Editing by max

Whether you like Mac OS or you are a diehard Windows fan, like me, you can’t really deny the stability and impressive performance that Macs are usually known for. Yes, they may be expensive and may not have all the features you could get from a Windows machine in a similar price range, but it is still a fact that a massive number of people around the world have no problem spending a little more money to gain the added stability that comes with a Mac.

This is just one of the reasons why photographers are usually seen with a MacBook under their arms. Another reason is the staggering number of apps they can use for editing their photos on the go. However, what many people don’t know is that they don’t have to spend a dime extra to get an impressive photo editing tool they can use every day. I myself had no idea until a few months ago that such an app existed on the MacBook, mainly because my daily driver is a Windows 10 laptop.

Say hello to Mac’s own Preview.

The App Looks Plain at First..

When you open a photo on your Mac, by default it opens into the Preview app. Usually, you would take a look at the photo, make a couple of comments on how beautiful (or horrible) it is, and then close the app to edit the same photo in a different program.

However, if you happen to click on one of the tiny buttons at the top of your photo, you’ll see that you probably didn’t need to install another app for your basic image adjustment needs.

.. But Provides an Impressive Array of Options

Preview lets you adjust all the basics of your photos, and a little more. You have options to adjust your photos’ colors, fix their exposure, add more contrast, play around with the color levels, get the highlights in check, pull some detail out of the shadows, and more!

No, the app is not going to be able to go head-to-head with the likes of Photoshop or Lightroom of course, but for basic to semi-professional image editing, you don’t really need much more than what it offers. And that too for completely no extra charge over what you paid for your shiny new MacBook.

Get the Basics Right First

Adjusting basic aspects of your photos is a breeze with Preview. If you wish to resize an image, for example, simply navigate to Tools -> Adjust Size, and voila! You can now recompose your shot just the way you want.

Preview 1

Similarly, tweaking the colors and exposure of your photos is just a matter of moving some sliders around to get the look you want. All in all, it’s very easy and simple to use Preview for adjusting some basic things about your photos before you post them on Facebook, or even print them.

Preview 2

Dive into Some Detail

I did mention that Preview is no replacement for Photoshop, but it does have some useful features that people usually rely on Photoshop for. One of these is the lasso tool. For those of you who are not familiar with it, the lasso tool helps select certain parts of your photos that you can adjust without affecting the rest of the image. So imagine you wanted to add some light to a darker part of your photo but didn’t want to ruin the rest of it by overexposing it, the lasso tool can help in such situations.

If you don’t like the intricacy required to master the lasso tool (I know I don’t), the magic wand is also present here to help make quick selections in larger chunks.

Unleash your Creativity

Preview 3Mac’s Preview app also allows you to add text, shapes, and even manually drawn pieces of art to your photos. The annotation capabilities of the app are useful in various scenarios like adding some quick comments on a photo or even a PDF, creating a fun greeting card for a loved one, or just adding some fun commentary to an image. The app also has brushes that you can use to draw custom shapes over your photos.

So the next time you want to quickly edit a photo on your Mac but don’t have any dedicated apps for the purpose, give Preview a try. Chances are, if you’re a casual photographer who doesn’t need to drop more money on a professional grade photo editor, you’ll be happy with what Mac’s sneaky Preview app has to offer.