What’s the most popular photo editor on the Mac? I’m willing to bet it’s Photos, followed closely by Photoshop, Lightroom, perhaps some iPhoto stragglers, and then a few dozen other Mac photo editors of renown.
Adobe’s flagship graphic design and image enhancement app may be as good as they get but the monthly-forever subscription price tag and extensive learning curve move Photoshop to a category not attractive for the average everyday Mac user who simply wants to improve photos with a few clicks.
Enter Polarr, a free, and affordable, and drop dead easy to use Mac photo enhancement app, packed with tools you can use if all you know how to do is read, point, and click. Free? And affordable? Polarr has a free version and a Pro version with more features.
That’s it. Polarr, despite a wide variety of filters, effects, and settings, is self explanatory.
Self explanatory means the user interface is obvious. Take a look. Your imported photo its displayed in the center main column. Presets– filters and effects– are in the sidebars with individual controls for each preset. Click on a preset and the photo adjusts instantly to match. Then, in the control section, click to adjust the built-in options for each preset.
That means you have complete controls over Color, Light, Detail, Optics, plus HSL, Curves, and Toning, and each of those has granular slide-bar controls (a numeric option here would be a big plus).
Polarr does far more for a photo than Photos or iPhoto. Not as much as Photoshop or Creative Kit options, of course, but those are professional level apps with a price tag to match. Polarr gets you enhanced photos but with far less effort.
Photos can be cropped and edited with a few clicks from the toolbar. Adding a preset filter (there are 12 categories with over 100 filters) is a single click, but each has adjustable controls which means you can create a nearly unlimited number of filters and effects (which is where a numeric setting beside the slider bar would be handy).
Polarr is light and fast and works great even on anemic and older MacBook Air or the new MacBook model. Guess what? It even does most RAW image formats but experts in JPG. There’s even an option to add a custom watermark when exporting photos.
Fast, affordable, loaded with presets, and plenty of granular controls for each one. What’s not to like? The Pro version offers more filters, more masks, text and denoise tools, and batch options.
This is a nicely done photo enhancement app that goes far beyond the anemic tools in Photos or iPhoto, but is much easier to learn than Photoshop Elements for far less money. The try-before-you-buy option on the Mac App Store as a free version with some limitations. I have and use a number of other Mac photo editors, but Polarr gets used the most because it’s faster, easier, has the right amount of filter combinations, and if you’re in a big hurry, there’s Photos extensions so you can make enhancements without really leaving Photos.