Pixelmator 2.2 a legitimate Photoshop replacement that costs just $14.99

“I’ll start out by saying that real, hardcore pixel-pushers will probably only ever use Photoshop,” Jason D. O’Grady writes for ZDNet. “But then, there are the rest of us who’ll probably never exploit the depths of Photoshop, and only use a handful of the same basic features over and over again. For most Mac users, Adobe Photoshop is overkill.”

“When Adobe announced this week that it was killing its Creative Suite (which includes Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, among others) as packaged software in exchange for Creative Cloud (CC), a pure-play subscription model, you could almost hear the cry of designers across the globe screaming at their Wacom tablets and color calibrated monitor,” O’Grady writes. “After the initial shock that Adobe had one-upped Microsoft in the software subscription race had wore off, two things immediately came to mind. First, it might be time to upgrade from CS5 to CS6, just in case I really need Photoshop’s extra muscle. And second, it’s time to find a replacement for Photoshop that better suits my needs (and budget).”

O’Grady writes, “Hands down, the best replacement for Photoshop on the Mac is Pixelmator, which is available for $14.99 from the Mac App Store. I’ve been testing Pixelmator 2.2 Blueberry, which is due to be released on Thursday, May 9 (as a free upgrade, natch), and it’s an amazingly tight piece of code that’s extremely fast, functional, and beautiful at the same time. In fact, it performs the half dozen or so tasks that I use Photoshop for, better than Photoshop did.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We’ve been using Pixelmator daily for years now and highly recommend the application.

Related articles:
Pixelmator 2.1.3 released with CMYK support, soft-proofing, and more – November 8, 2012
Pixelmator 2.1 released; major update supports OS X Mountain Lion, iCloud, MacBook Pro with Retina display and more – August 9, 2012


  1. I use both Pixelmater and Acorn 4. The latter’s more Photoshop-like and I prefer it, but both are a far better value for most users than Adobe’s bloatware.

    1. It’s not what they do, but how they do it. When applying effects do you have to use masks, if so how functional are the masking tools? Can the application repair scratches in photos? How does that work? Does the new image look digitally tweaked or does it look natural?

      I love Pixelmator. I used adobe’s cheap an limited version of photoshop but got tired of paying $85 to upgrade every time a new OS came outdo I switched and never looked back. Pixelmator is so much more than elements ever was. And photoshop was too pricey for I used it to do.

    2. Photoshop and Pixelmator are primarily image manipulation tools. Photoshop is the Daddy of them all, Pixelmator a cheap cut-down competitor.

      Aperture and Lightroom are primarily picture management tools. Both include some manipulation facilities too, and for simply stuff, could be all you need.

      I’m moving away from Adobe, and Aperture is an excellent alternative to Lightroom.

    3. I use Pixelmator and Photoshop all the time, and can do 95% of my work in Pixelmator. There are a couple of Photoshop plugins that I use regularly that don’t work in Pixelmator. And Pixelmator has no magic lasso (but that’s not as big a problem as it seems and I can usually work around that). But for $15, I definitely try and make Pixelmator work and look forward to the day when I can trash my old licensed copy of Photoshop Elements.

    4. for BLN

      Photoshop is a pixel base bitmap editor.

      Tools are used to do practically any image manipulation one can imagine. Colour correction, image manipulation, retouching/spotting, file conversion are typical uses for Photoshop. It remains the preferred tool by professionals in the filed of design and advertising. These tools are applied directly to the pixels shown on the screen. Over the years, It has grown to be extremely powerful with 3rd party plug-ins and eventually layers and filters came of it’s own bumping out a lot of 3rd party functionality. Also vector brushes and masks entered Photoshops line or tools; bridging Illustrator paths and selection and type due to workflow. Yet the resulting file is and always will be rasterized bitmap pixels

      Pixelmator is also a pixel base bitmap editor.

      The genius of Pixelmator comes at the power of Apple Core imaging built into OSX. Plus the learning curve is eased by familiarity from Photoshop. There are some critical differences in Pixelmator, however the principles and methods of image work basically feel and act like Photoshop. Truly is an amazing tool at a unbelievable price. And it will only improve and erode Adobes’ strong hold – wait until industry starts to look at Pixelmator as an alternative. There are some functions that Pixelmator will blow Photoshop away. However, Photoshop has many more reliable and proven capabilities handling spot/special/pantone colours that Pixelmator needs to address. That said, there is not much Pixelmator can not do, so why buy Photoshop. Pixelmator even can save files in layered specific/native Photoshop files but not at current version 5 or 6.

      Summarizing – BLM, there isn’t much of a difference on these packages Pixelmator is cheaper and of high quality. You would not be wasting your money purchasing it. Acorn has a different curve to using its image editor, thought it has some really nice things too – it basically all comes from Apples Core engine effects similar to Pixelmator yet at a higher price tag. Those who used Photoshop will feel more at home using Pixelmator over Acorn.

      Aperture & Lightroom:
      These are image base – photo correction suites.

      Some attention is on pin-pointed pixel editing but generally, unlike Photoshop. Areas like blue cast can be adjusted and red eye removed. You would not use either of these softwares to make a collage or creative illustration. Photographers will use these applications on RAW images to make adjustments according to taste and desired visual effect. For me, these are amazing tools but much more for professional photographers, not designers or to manipulate and create.

      1. BLN, try Fotor
        basic Lightroom & Aperture alternative.
        It’s free from the App store

        Also, If you are running OSX 10.7 or higher maybe this is only available in 10.8.3, sorry I forget now, but try
        Apple Preview… what you will discover is Preview will not allow single pixel painting (so this will give you an idea what the differences on the question you asked.)

        Preview is more a entire image base correction suite, as it has colour adjustment, size tools, selection tools, sharpening, cropping and file conversion etc. that EFFECT typically the entire image – these are, all basic stuff that Aperture also uses from Apple core imaging in OSX.

  2. The thing is, for most people they will only need an app like this once in a blue moon, and even then pixelmator will still be more than they need, so there is no reason to spend more. For people who do have Photoshop a percentage could legitimately get away with not spending a fortune on it, and those who do need it would probably be as well to try Pixelmator anyway since it’s so cheap and may at least be easier to use for the odd bits and pieces. Adobe seem to want to really restrict their market.

  3. On some MacBook Pro models (including my own 13in) Pixelmator randomly hangs and crashes, occasional sucking the whole computer to restart doom.

    I want to like though, and just hope that 2.2 deals with these issues, as for day-to-day stuff it ought to fine.

    Re Adobe CC and Photoshop, a world-wide hunt is now on to find a replacement. Wonder where we’ll be come 2014?!

    1. I must say I have seen odd colour banding to Pixelmator imaging and also crashes. However, version 2.2 has been a major improvement on those issues. Plus Pixelmator 2.2 offered new filter, layer and vector abilities.

      Long ago, I had started to find and use alternatives to Adobe suite. Pixelmator remains to be a wonderful choice.

  4. I have REALLY wanted to like Pixelmator. But up to this point there are just far too many features that it doesn’t have. The big issue is… if they start to fill those holes, will it make the software all bloated like Photoshop?

    1. Totally agree. I tried Pixelmator sometime last year and found missing features within a few minutes. Mind you, I was just trying to do something fairly simple that I do all the time in Photoshop. I wasn’t looking for holes. Common sense suggests that there is no way that a $15 app can actually replace a $600 app, even if Photoshop is overkill for many Photoshop users.

  5. With regard to Adobe pushing all CS work to the cloud…

    What about those U.S. defense contractors that CAN’T use cloud based services. Is Adobe writing all those seats/users off?

    One U.S. defense contractor with which I do work does not let its 4,000+ engineering staff have direct Internet access. Those that do get access have to do it through a virtual machine on their computers and then they *only* get to run Firefox within that virtual machine. No other direct ‘net access is allowed. Their rather large graphics department (50+) currently uses CS/Lightroom/etc. If Adobe insists on going to a “Cloud Only” structure, I’m guessing this company will seriously consider dropping Adobe software altogether. While Pixelmator does 80-90% of what they need to do, it does not cover all aspects.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if their case will be similar to a very significant fraction of the U.S. Defense industry.

    1. “Cloud” here is a marketing term to seem hip. 8 years ago they would have used the term “Extreme”

      The apps reside on your computer, not as a service on some server somewhere on the net.

      1. It may as well reside on a server somewhere. Just be late on a monthly payment, and the software ain’t gonna work. Sorry, being tied into $50 a month for the rest of my life doesn’t seem like such a great ‘deal’ just to use blotdobe software.

        I’ll try to grab one of the few remaining hard copies of 6, and that will be it, final Adobe purchase ever.

    2. While the general public seems to be discontent
      with cable television subscription and rentals
      why then,
      does Adobe think renting its software will work?

  6. I’ve tried Pixelmator but unfortunately, Photoshop is still the best. Pixelmator is nice BUT if you need to do any serious or professional photo-editing and graphics work, you will win with Photoshop. Also, Pixelmator tends to crash and that’s the last thing you want.

  7. Well kids, there are these people called “Pro’s”, that’s short for “professional” btw, and they offer design, graphics and image services, creating content and products for their clients and other businesses. This means they use complex, demanding and critical workflows and not software that’s knocked out of a shop in less than a month. A long time ago Apple used to have
    a very close relationship with these people, some even say they were central to Apple in it’s darkest days, but, you know, I can’t remember the last time Apple released something high end for this market (sorry FCP X doesn’t count). It’s a pity because while you hear a lot about the “ecosystem”, the creators are right at the heart of it, and this lack of vision seems to be the glaring hole in Apple’s 5 year+ strategy. You can go back to sleep now.

    1. I used versions of Photoshop through version 4.0, and used PS 4.0 for years until my PowerMac HDD finally bit the dust around 2003. I was not willing to spring for the cost of a new version of PS (and Adobe was actively pissing off Mac users at the time), so I tried the less expensive PS Elements. I found it to be frustrating and unintuitive, and I was amazed that it was released by the same company that developed Photoshop. Elements might have improved a lot by now, but I will never know because Pixelmator works fine for my needs and Adobe will not get another dollar from me.

      I have also tried some other software, such as GIMP and GraphicConverter (shareware, and I paid). GC offers a wide range of open and save formats, making it a workhorse for converting files from obscure sources. I have not upgraded GC in a while. I should look into it.

  8. I seriously don’t understand the hatred aimed at Adobe. Well, maybe I do. Their applications have gotten out of control since CS3 (the last decent version, maybe ever) – so disorganized – applications and components exploded all over the place on my hard drive – INSANELY huge application files (and the deluge of plugins/components that go with them) – all that stuff is a bit crazy.


    If you don’t like Adobe (as a company), don’t like their products, think their prices are outrageous, etc., then how about just not buying their stuff? Simple, right? If you’re a professional and need the power (which usually comes with complexity) of their applications, then cough up the dough and get on with things (or have a 13-year-old kid ‘procure’ a copy for you and deal with the issues that come along with that).

    I actually don’t mind paying $20/mo (I get the edu discount) for essentially a $2,000+ software suite (Master Collection). I use Photoshop, Illustrator, Lightroom, Premiere, After Effects, etc. on a regular basis, and this small (tax-deductible) expense is worth every penny. I did have an ‘evaluation’ (wink) copy of CS 5.5 that I could’ve used, but keeping it running (not talking to Adobe’s servers) was a pain in the neck. I’ll pay my “App Rent” and be done with it.

  9. At that price Pixelmator is well worth it. I support this developer and hopefully the dev will continue adding features or maybe a full Pro Version to replace PS in the near future. Oh, Adobe SUCKS for treating Mac Customers as 3rd class citizens.

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