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How to Edit Photos on Your Mac (Without Using Photoshop)

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Reading Time: 9 minutes read

Whether you need to crop a family photograph, brighten up your holiday snaps or sharpen your latest portrait, Photos on Mac can help you create images to be proud of. With easy-to-use editing tools – such as red-eye reduction, vignette and noise reduction – you’re free to make the very best of your photographs, plus organize and share them effectively.

Photo editing tools such as Photoshop can be a costly investment if you only need to make a few simple adjustments. The Photos App on Mac, however, is free and simple to use with many of the same editing tools, providing a great alternative to costly editing software.

What’s more, all photos edited on your Mac are non-destructive. So, if you don’t like something, simply revert it to the original and start again.

Ready to get started? Keep reading for our top tips on how to edit photos on a Mac.

Getting started with Mac photo editor

Before you begin, make sure you’re using the most up-to-date Mac software for the best experience. Then, check that iCloud Photos is enabled so your adjustments will be made on your Mac and other devices. Now, it’s time to edit.

Getting started is easy, simply double-click on the photo you want to adjust in your Library, then hit Edit in the toolbar. Mac photo editor allows you to choose from three groups of editing tools; Adjust, Filters, and Crop. We’ll cover each of these in detail below.

Using the Adjust tool in Mac photo editor

The adjustment tool allows you to alter things such as the color saturation, brightness, and sharpness of your image. Using sliders, you can easily adjust your image to the correct levels.

You can find the adjustment tools by clicking on Adjust at the top of the screen.

How to adjust brightness 

1. With your image in edit mode, click the arrow next to ‘Light’ on the right-hand side.

How to Edit Photos on Your Mac (Without Using Photoshop)

2. Drag the slider left or right to adjust the Brightness.

How to Edit Photos on Your Mac (Without Using Photoshop)

3. When you’re happy, click Done.

How to adjust sharpness

1. With your image in edit mode, click the arrow next to Sharpness on the right-hand side

How to Edit Photos on Your Mac (Without Using Photoshop)

2. Drag the slider left or right to adjust the Sharpness. Alternatively, click Auto to let Photos do this for you automatically.

How to Edit Photos on Your Mac (Without Using Photoshop)

3. When you’re happy, click Done.

How to correct Red-Eye

1. With your image in edit mode, click Red-eye in the sidebar.

How to Edit Photos on Your Mac (Without Using Photoshop)

2. Using the slider, adjust the size of the brush.

How to Edit Photos on Your Mac (Without Using Photoshop)

3. Click the brush tool, then click on the red-eye you want to remove.

How to Edit Photos on Your Mac (Without Using Photoshop)

4. When you’re happy, click Done.

How to adjust color saturation

1. With your image in edit mode, click Colour in the sidebar.

How to Edit Photos on Your Mac (Without Using Photoshop)

2. Drag the slider left or right to adjust the Color saturation.

How to Edit Photos on Your Mac (Without Using Photoshop)

3. When you’re happy, click Done.

How to adjust noise reduction

1. With your image in edit mode, click Noise Reduction in the sidebar.

How to Edit Photos on Your Mac (Without Using Photoshop)

2. Drag the slider left or right to adjust your photo’s noise. Alternatively, click Auto to let Photos automatically do this for you.

How to Edit Photos on Your Mac (Without Using Photoshop)

3. When you’re happy, click Done.

How to adjust Vignette

1. With your image in edit mode, click Vignette in the sidebar.

How to Edit Photos on Your Mac (Without Using Photoshop)

2. Drag the slider left or right to adjust the Vignette. Alternatively, click Auto to let Photos automatically do this for you.

How to Edit Photos on Your Mac (Without Using Photoshop)

3. When you’re happy, click Done.

How to convert an image to black and white

1. With your image in edit mode, click Black and White in the sidebar.

How to Edit Photos on Your Mac (Without Using Photoshop)

2. Drag the slider left or right to adjust the intensity of black and white in your photo. You can also adjust Neutrals, Tone, and Grain.

How to Edit Photos on Your Mac (Without Using Photoshop)

3. When you’re happy, click Done.

How to adjust Definition

1. With your image in edit mode, click Definition in the sidebar.

How to Edit Photos on Your Mac (Without Using Photoshop)

2. Drag the slider left or right to adjust the Definition. Alternatively, click Auto to let Photos automatically do this for you.

How to Edit Photos on Your Mac (Without Using Photoshop)

3. When you’re happy, click Done.

Using Filters in Mac photo editor

If you’re looking to edit photos on your Mac like Instagram, then Filters are for you. The Mac photo editor has nine built-in filters which you can use to boost your images. Again, Filters are non-destructive so if you change your mind, you can revert to the original image and start again.

Filters aim to mimic classic photography styles, such as black and white, vivid, and dramatic. While keeping skin tones neutral, they help to boost colours, saturation or contrast to create striking photographs. The Vivid filter is great for enhancing the vibrancy of your photos, Dramatic is great for adding contrast, and Silvertone gives your image a classic look.

Adding Filters is easy, find out how below.

1. Open your image in Edit mode and click Filters.

How to Edit Photos on Your Mac (Without Using Photoshop)

2. Select the Filter you’d like to apply by clicking on it.

How to Edit Photos on Your Mac (Without Using Photoshop)

3. When you find one you like, click Done.

Using the Crop tool in Mac photo editor

You can’t always capture the perfect photo the first time, but with Mac photo editor, you can crop, flip, and rotate your image to create the right end result.

The Crop tool allows you to remove any unwanted parts of your image, plus change the aspect ratio to make your photo ready for social media, while Rotate allows you to create the right angles and lines.

1. In edit mode, select Crop in the top navigation.

How to Edit Photos on Your Mac (Without Using Photoshop)

2. Crop your image freely by dragging the corners of your image. Alternatively, you can choose the aspect ratio you’d like or enter your own custom ratio.

How to Edit Photos on Your Mac (Without Using Photoshop)

3. When you’re happy, click Done.

Bring your photos to life with a personalized photo book

Once you’ve finished editing your photos, why not create a beautiful memory book with Motif? Whether it’s your latest holiday photos, candid everyday shots, or a family photo album for Grandma, creating a personalized photobook is made easy with Motif.

With over 80 personalized layouts and the option to choose backgrounds and sizes that suit you, a photobook offers a great way to celebrate and share your favourite photographs with family and friends. Download the app today and give your stories a home with Motif.

Bring your photo memories to life with Motif.

Experience the joy of creating personalized photo projects with Motif. Our photo book app seamlessly works with Apple Photos in macOS and iOS, doing the heavy-lifting while leaving the creative freedom to you.