Best Photo Editing Software For Mac 2021: Photoshop Alternatives

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If you’re a professional photographer or designer you need editing software that provides precision and control over your images, as well as support for editing RAW files and multi-layer editing tools.

The popularity of selfies and smartphone photography in recent years has given rise to dozens of affordable photo-editing programs aimed at amateur photographers. While these free (or low cost) apps are great for people who simply want to smarten up their selfies or holiday snaps, they may not offer the features pro photographers need to edit photos.

If you want to edit your photos like a pro – or you are a pro photographer, designer, web developer, graphic artist or other creative professional, then you may wish to consider one of these pro photo editors.

If you don’t quite consider yourself a pro, or you are just looking for a free or really cheap Photoshop alternative then check out our round up of free photo editing software for Mac.

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That’s not to say we won’t be considering some excellent alternatives to Photoshop here.

Photoshop has always been the king of the photo-editing market – a position reinforced once more by Adobe’s release of a native version of Photoshop designed for the new generation of Macs with Apple’s own processor in March 2021 (see Apps that work on M1 Macs).

The sheer depth and range of Photoshop’s editing tools is still unrivalled, with the latest version boasting a new artificial intelligence features that can actually change the expression on a person’s face, or even make them look older (and balder).

However, Adobe’s decision to move its professional software products to a subscription payment system a few years ago antagonized many users, and opened the door to rival photo-editors that still just require a simple one-off payment, without committing you to a long-term subscription.

Rivals such as Pixelmator Pro and Affinity Photo can provide impressive editing tools for less than £50, and while they may not match the sheer scope of Photoshop they will be more than adequate for many professional users and more serious amateur photographers. And don’t forget that most of these professional-level editing programs also provide a free trial – ranging from one week to a whole 90 days in some cases – so you can take your time deciding which program best suits your needs and your budget.

If you are also considering buying a new Mac read our guide to the best Mac for photo editing.

Read on for our guide to the best pro photo editors for Mac, including some excellent Photoshop alternatives.

Best photo editors for professional photographers

Adobe Photoshop


Adobe Lightroom


Affinity Photo

Affinity Photo

PixelMator Pro

Pixelmator Pro

DxO PhotoLab 4

PhotoLab 4

Cyberlink PhotoDirector 365

Cyberlink PhotoDirector 365

Cyberlink isn’t a well-known name among Mac users, but it has just launched a Mac version of its PhotoDirector 365 for the first time.

PhotoDirector’s interface does feel rather Windows-oriented, and rather than providing the familiar sets of tools found in most Mac editing programs, it takes a more task-based approach that divides editing work into a series of modules that are displayed as a row of tabs running across the top of the screen.

The Library module allows you to import and organize your photos, while the Create module can combine images to create slideshows or animated GIFs. The Edit module will be the most straightforward for most Mac users, as it provides a more familiar palette that contains selection and crop tools, paintbrush, fill bucket, and text.

The program does have a habit of filling the screen with a rather dense selection of tools and controls, but there’s also a Guided module that provides a bit more help. Options here include a sky replacement feature, a variety of colour effects and photo filters, and some handy options for working with 360-degree panoramic photos.

When you launch the program, it also gives you the option of starting up in a completely separate Express Mode that allows you to quickly apply a variety of preset colour and style effects.

There’s no doubt that PhotoDirector 365 is a powerful and versatile photo-editor, but Mac users should definitely check out the free trial to see how they get on with the program’s unfamiliar way of doing things.

You’ve got a choice of buying options, as you can buy different versions of the program with either a subscription of one-off payment.

PhotoDirector 365 charges a monthly subscription fee of £17.99/$19.99 – which, to be honest, seems a bit overpriced – but the annual option is a more affordable £59.99/$69.99 (on special offer until 14 April at £44.99/$51.99), and there’s a 7-day free trial available too.

You’ll need macOS 10.14 or later installed.


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