Pixelmator gives Adobe Photoshop Elements a run for its money

“I’ve been following Pixelmator’s development since I first downloaded it last summer, and I’ve found it to be both the most visually arresting graphics program I’ve ever encountered in terms of user interface aesthetics and also very capable and likable in a functional sense. The developers say their target is to make Pixelmator a Photoshop challenger – and that isn’t just hype (if they’re talking Elements rather than CS),” Charles Moore reports for Low End Mac.

“And speaking of Photoshop Elements, the bar is about to be raised substantially with the imminent release of Elements 6 for the Mac. Adobe has kindly supplied me with a prerelease beta copy of Elements 6, and what was already the class of the field in affordable bitmap programs for the Mac is now even more powerful, polished, attractive, and impressive, but Pixelmator (version 1.1.3 of which was released last week) is coming on strong as well,” Moore reports.

“In comparing the two programs, it’s impossible not to infer that Adobe seems to have taken serious notice of Pixelmator, since Photoshop Elements 6’s revised interface appearance, which had been generally ho-hum and bland in previous versions, has received a radical facelift and now sports a charcoal background theme, which obviously has a flattering resemblance to Pixelmator’s stunningly gorgeous obsidian black interface theme. Pixelmator is still better looking, in my estimation, but Elements 6’s more subdued charcoal is arguably more functionally practical,” Moore reports.

“Anyway, I find myself more and more likely to choose Pixelmator for graphics editing chores, partly because it starts up quickly – a very respectable 13 seconds on my 1.33 GHz G4 PowerBook (Photoshop Elements – go make a coffee – well actually about 40 seconds), a distinction that looms larger when you’re using older, slower hardware like I am, but also because once it’s up and running, I can usually accomplish what I need to do quickly and efficiently using Pixelmator’s powerful tool inventory, which I like more and more as I become increasingly familiar with it,” Moore reports.

Moore reports, “Make no mistake, this is one serious and very good graphics application for $59.95.”

Much more in the full article – highly recommended – here.

MacDailyNews Take: MacDailyNews has been using Pixelmator exclusively in place of Adobe Photoshop since early December 2007 for online graphics. Obviously, we can recommend Pixelmator. It is “demoware,” so you can try it before you buy. More info about and download link for Pixelmator: http://www.pixelmator.com/


  1. I have been using Pixelmator for a couple of months now and everyone that I show (teachers and students) are equally impressed with the software.

    We just need to persuade them to have an educational site licence and Photoshop will be no more in our school.

  2. I bought it rather than pay to upgrade my old copy of PS7 when Leopard came out. Very quick to learn it if you already know Photoshop or Gimp, and very quick especially when you have a decent graphics card (it uses Core Image for processing). Even if it stays with the same feature set it’s well worth the money, but with these regular updates they keep refining the features and adding nice little touches to make it even better.

    Unless you really need to use Photoshop’s power this will do for you.

  3. I bought it as part of a MacHeist bundle. My image tweaking needs are modest, so Photoshop Elements never gets opened nowadays.

    A minor criticism: Pixelmator’s tools are somewhat hard to see against the dark background.

  4. Although I have not tried Pixelmator, I can’t help being very skeptical of the claim that a $60 program intends to compete with the Big Kahuna itself, Photoshop CS3. For my money, even Photoshop 3, the version that introduced layers back in 1994, is a far subtler, deeper, more powerful program than any “affordable” image editor I’ve ever laid eyes on.

  5. Pixelmator has some really great tools, some more superior than photoshop. I was very close to using it it instead of photoshop, however it’s missing quite a few things I use/need in photoshop. Pixelmator is missing layer styles which is an important tool. I also can’t seem to find how to draw basic shapes. Pixelmator also needs a Save for Web function.

    Having said this Pixelmator has a far superior interface which is much simpler to grasp and more “fun” like the general Mac style. Pixelmator’s gradient handling is far superior to that of photoshop. In fact any tools are far superior and if Pixelmator can catch-up on a lot of the features (which it will) it will definitely become a viable alternative to photoshop.

  6. I’ve been using Photoshop since version 1 back in 1990. I’m currently on CS3. I use it daily.

    I downloaded the Pixelmator demo last summer, and immediately went back to Photoshop. For some reason I just don’t find programs easy to use when they are lacking the tools I need.

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