Type and press Enter.

How to Edit Photos on Your Mac Without Photoshop

It’s easier than you think to edit photos on a Mac.

Reading Time: 12 minutes read

Even if you’re making simple adjustments, editing photographs can feel like a chore. Whether cropping a family photograph, brightening up holiday snaps, or sharpening a remarkable portrait, Photos on Mac can create images you’ll be proud to show off. Easy-to-use editing tools like red-eye reduction, vignette, and noise reduction will certainly improve your photography results. It also helps with organization and the ability to share them effectively.

Photo editing tools such as Photoshop are a costly investment. The Photos App on Mac is free and easy to use with many of the same features. It’s a great alternative to expensive editing software. What’s more, all photos edited on a Mac are non-destructive. That means that if a picture isn’t turning out perfect, simply revert it to the original and start again. It’s also important to note, simple adjustments can make noticeable differences in the finished product. A simple shift or a slight rotation can make a good photo a great one.

Ready to get started? Keep reading for step-by-step instructions on how to edit photos on a Mac without Photoshop.

Photoshop Alternatives for Photo Editing

It’s helpful to know there are Photoshop alternatives for photo editing. Before starting, make sure the Mac software is up to date for the best experience. Check your device to ensure that iCloud Photos is enabled, so photo adjustments are transferred to Mac and other devices. Then it’s time to edit.

Getting started is easy—double-click on the photo to adjust from the Library. Next, click Edit in the toolbar. Mac photo editor offers a choice from three groups of editing tools; Adjust, Filters, and Crop. Details for each of these are covered below.

Using the Adjust Tool in Mac Photo Editor

There are several ways to use the Adjust tool to make subtle or significant changes to photos. The Adjust tool uses sliders to alter the color saturation, brightness, and sharpness of an image. Find the adjustment tools by clicking on Adjust at the top of the screen. Adjust the photos to their desired look. 

It’s easy to make changes with the various sliders to get an ideal photograph. Simply move one or more sliders and watch the photo change. Click ‘Done’ once you’re happy with the edits.

What is brightness in photography?

Brightness in photography is simply how dark or light a picture is. Changing the brightness of a photograph affects all pixels equally. That means increasing brightness will make the dark areas lighter and light areas lighter. While decreasing the brightness will make light areas darker and the dark regions darker. 

Here’s how to adjust the brightness of a photo on a Mac:

1. With an image in edit mode, click the arrow next to ‘Light’ in the sidebar.

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’ve completed the desired changes, click Done.

What is sharpness in photography?

Sharpness in photography describes the clarity of detail in a photo. When the image’s subject is sharp, the image appears clear and lifelike. It contains a lot of detail, contrast, and texture. Images that don’t have sharpness appear blurry and lack detail. Manipulating sharpness creates a feeling of warmth, movement, or a strong focal point within an image. 

Here’s how to adjust the sharpness of a photo on the Mac:

1. With an image in edit mode, click the arrow next to ‘Sharpness’ in the sidebar.

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

2. Drag the slider left or right to adjust the sharpness. By clicking ‘Auto,’ Photos adjusts the sharpness automatically.

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

3. When you’ve completed the desired changes, click Done.

What is red-eye in photography?

Red-eye in photography describes the bright red or orange spots seen in people’s eyes in photos. Light reflecting on the retina at the back of the eyes causes red-eye. It happens in low light conditions when using a flash. The bright light flashes so quickly that the eyes don’t have time to respond. The pupil doesn’t open enough, so less light enters the eye. This light travels through the front of the eye and is reflected at the back of the eye. 

Luckily, red-eye is removable in the Mac photo editor. Here’s how:

1. With the 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 that needs removing.

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

4. When you’ve completed the desired changes, click Done.

What is color saturation in photography?

Color saturation in photography is the intensity and purity of color in an image. The higher the saturation of a color, the more vivid and intense the image. The lower a color’s saturation, the duller the image will appear. Saturation levels affect the overall composition and mood of photos.

Here’s how to adjust the color saturation of a photo on the Mac:

1. With an image in edit mode, click ‘Color’ 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’ve completed the desired changes, click Done.

What is photography noise reduction?

Noise in photography is the uneven, grainy effect that makes images look awkward or unappealing. Image noise comes from either the camera sensor or the sensitivity of the camera sensor. It’s frequently visible on images shot with a long exposure or a high ISO setting. Photography noise reduction means “fixing” pixels that are distorted in the original photo.

Here’s how to adjust the noise reduction of a photo on the Mac:

1. With an 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 reduce the photo’s noise. Alternatively, click ‘Auto’ to let Photos automatically minimize noise.

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

3. When you’ve completed the desired changes, click Done.

What is a vignette in photography?

In photography, a vignette is a photo with darkened edges of an image and the center bright. Use the vignette setting to give photos a vintage look or draw attention to the more colorful part.

Here’s how to create the vignette of a photo on the Mac:

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 adjust the vignette.

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

3. When you’ve completed the desired changes, click Done.

How to convert an image to black and white

Black and white photos have a classic look that changes the mood of the image. Changing an image from color to black and white makes subjects seem softer. It also reduces the subject to its barest elements of light, shadows, lines, and contrast. Converting images to black and white is as easy as moving a slider – here’s how:

1. With an 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 black and white intensity in the photo. With this tool, Neutrals, Tone, and Grain are also adjusted.

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

3. When you’ve completed the desired changes, click Done.

What is definition in photography?

Definition in photography defines the focal points of a photo. It brings parts of the image into view that otherwise might have gone unnoticed. It also increases the clarity of an image. This includes sharpening lines and depth of the picture. 

Here’s how to adjust the definition of a photo on the Mac:

1. With an 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 adjust the definition.

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

3. When you’ve completed the desired changes, click Done.

Using Filters in Mac Photo Editor

For Instagram-style editing on a Mac, try Filters. The Mac photo editor has nine built-in filters to change the look of photos in various ways. Filters are also non-destructive, so a photo can revert to the original image in order to start again.

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

Here’s how to add Filters:

1. Open the image in Edit mode and click ‘Filters.’

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

2. Select the Filter to apply by clicking on it.

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

3. When you’ve completed the desired changes, click Done.

Using the Crop Tool in Mac Photo Editor

The perfect photo isn’t often snapped on the very first try. Mac photo editor helps get the best out of pictures with the crop, flip, and rotation of an image to create the right end result.

The Crop tool removes any unwanted parts of the edges of an image. It changes the aspect ratio of a photo, so it’s ready for social media. Rotate creates the right angles and lines.

1. In edit mode, select ‘Crop’ at the top navigation bar.

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

2. Crop the image freely by dragging the corners of the image. Alternatively, choose the aspect ratio or enter a custom aspect ratio.

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

3. When you’ve completed the desired changes, click Done.

Bring your photos to life with a personalized photo book.

Once you’ve finished editing your photos, 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 photo book is made easy with Motif.

There are over 80 personalized layouts and various backgrounds and sizes to fit your needs. Photo books are the perfect way to celebrate and share your favorite 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. It does all the complicated stuff leaving the fun creative freedom to you.
Pete