The Best FREE Photo Editing App For Mac | Free But Powerful

Henry Media Group
3 Mar 202246:03

TLDRIn this comprehensive tutorial, the presenter introduces the Photos app on Mac as a powerful and free alternative to paid photo editing software. Despite its status as a built-in app, it offers professional-grade editing tools, including RAW photo support, advanced color adjustments, and the ability to copy and paste edits across multiple photos. The video demonstrates how to import RAW images, use auto and manual adjustments for light and color, and apply selective color changes for a more vibrant or stylized look. The presenter also touches on the app's limitations, such as the lack of advanced monitoring tools, the inability to save presets, and the absence of features like split toning and film grain addition. However, they conclude that the Photos app is highly recommended for beginners and hobbyists, praising its ease of use and the quality of the results, even when using auto settings.


  • 📷 The Photos app on Mac is a powerful free tool for photo editing, often overlooked by users who default to third-party applications like Photoshop or Lightroom.
  • 🌟 To import RAW photos into the Photos app, connect your device and select the images from the sidebar rather than dragging and dropping, which converts RAW to JPEG.
  • 🔍 The Photos app lacks the ability to display full-size images during editing, which can be a drawback for those needing to see fine details.
  • 💡 Use the 'Use RAW as Original' option to ensure you are editing RAW photos instead of JPEGs, which have less editing flexibility.
  • 🎨 The app provides sophisticated editing tools, including curves and selective color adjustments, comparable to professional editing software.
  • ⚙️ For beginners, the auto adjustment feature can be a good starting point for color and white balance, but manual adjustments allow for more creative control.
  • 🖼️ Copying adjustments from one photo to another in the Photos app can save time, but it requires doing so individually and doesn't allow for partial copying of settings.
  • 🚫 The app does not have features like noise reduction, split toning, clarity adjustment, or the ability to add film grain, which are available in some paid apps.
  • 📊 The histogram in the Photos app is less intuitive compared to other photo editing software, which might make it harder for users to monitor exposure levels.
  • 📱 For users looking for a free solution, the Photos app is highly recommended, especially for beginners and hobbyists, as it provides a good foundation for learning photo editing.
  • ➡️ Professionals or users requiring more advanced features may eventually need to transition to paid software for more complex editing tasks like batch processing.

Q & A

  • What is the name of the free photo editing app for Mac that the speaker recommends?

    -The speaker recommends the Photos app, which is a built-in application on Mac computers.

  • How does the Photos app handle RAW photo imports when using drag and drop?

    -When you drag and drop a RAW photo into the Photos app, it converts the RAW file into a JPEG, making it unsuitable for RAW photo editing.

  • What is the correct way to import RAW photos into the Photos app?

    -To import RAW photos correctly, you should open the Photos app, connect your device, and import the photos from the device using the app's import function rather than drag and drop.

  • Why does the speaker suggest not using the 'Auto' feature for brightness adjustments?

    -The speaker suggests avoiding the 'Auto' feature for brightness because it can overexpose the subject and blow out the background details.

  • What is the advantage of using the slider for light adjustments in the Photos app?

    -Using the slider for light adjustments allows for more precise control over the image's brightness and can automatically adjust for skin tones, preventing unwanted changes to the subject's face.

  • How does the Photos app handle color adjustments?

    -The Photos app provides a sophisticated set of tools for color adjustments, including the ability to use curves, which is more advanced than the basic sliders found in some other apps.

  • What feature does the Photos app lack that professional photo editing software like Lightroom offers?

    -The Photos app lacks advanced features like split toning, clarity slider, dehaze, and the ability to add film grain to an image.

  • How can you copy adjustments from one photo to another in the Photos app?

    -You can copy adjustments by going to the image adjustment page of the photo you want to copy settings from, selecting 'Image', and choosing 'Copy Adjustments'. Then, select another photo, go to its adjustment page, and paste the adjustments.

  • Why does the speaker recommend against using noise reduction in the Photos app?

    -The speaker recommends against using noise reduction because it can make the image appear soft and muddy, reducing the overall quality.

  • What is the speaker's opinion on the Photos app's retouch feature?

    -The speaker finds the retouch feature quite interesting and useful for removing minor flaws or unwanted elements from a photo, although it may not be as sophisticated as AI-powered tools in other software.

  • What is the main advantage of using the Photos app for beginners or hobbyists?

    -The main advantage is that it is a powerful, built-in app that is completely free to use, allowing beginners and hobbyists to learn and perform photo editing without the need for a subscription or a one-time payment for other software.



📷 Introduction to the Photos App for Mac

The speaker introduces the Photos app on Mac as a free and powerful alternative to paid photo editing software like Photoshop or Lightroom. They emphasize its underutilized editing capabilities and begin a tutorial on how to import and edit RAW photos using the app.


🖼️ Importing RAW Photos and Limitations

The speaker explains the process of importing RAW photos into the Photos app, noting the limitation that directly dragging and dropping converts photos to JPEG. They demonstrate how to import RAW photos correctly, using the app's device sidebar, and caution about the app's inability to display full-sized images for detailed editing.


🎨 Editing RAW Photos and Adjustments

The speaker details the process of editing RAW photos, including switching to the RAW format within the app and using various adjustment tools such as brightness, contrast, and color. They also discuss the use of curves and the importance of not over-editing to maintain a natural look.


🌈 Color Adjustments and Auto Features

The speaker focuses on color adjustments, advising the use of auto features for colors and saturation, while manually adjusting other aspects like white balance and tone curves. They also mention the complexity of color channel adjustments for beginners and suggest starting with auto adjustments before fine-tuning manually.


🔍 Selective Color and Advanced Adjustments

The speaker discusses the selective color tool, which allows for adjustments to specific colors within the image. They demonstrate how to adjust hues, saturation, and luminance for particular colors and emphasize subtlety in adjustments to avoid unnatural results.


🖌️ Retouch and Sharpening Techniques

The speaker explores the retouch feature for removing unwanted elements and the sharpening tool for enhancing image details. They advise caution with sharpening to avoid introducing flaws and suggest using the retouch tool sparingly to maintain a natural look.


📚 Copying Adjustments Across Photos

The speaker discovers a feature that allows copying adjustments from one photo and pasting them onto another, which is helpful for editing multiple photos with consistent settings. They note the limitation that all adjustments must be copied at once and cannot be selectively applied.


🚫 Limitations and Missing Features

The speaker lists the limitations of the Photos app, such as the lack of a clarity slider, dehaze feature, film grain addition, and the inability to save presets for batch editing. They express hope for future updates to include these features.


🌟 Conclusion and Recommendation

The speaker concludes by recommending the Photos app for beginners and hobbyists, appreciating its power and free availability. They suggest starting with the app and moving to paid alternatives only if more advanced features are needed in the future.


📝 Final Thoughts and Thanks

The speaker wraps up the tutorial by encouraging viewers to experiment with the app's auto settings and sliders. They express gratitude for the viewers' time and invite comments or questions, signaling the end of the video.



💡Photo Editing App

A photo editing app is a software program designed to modify and enhance digital photos. In the video, the presenter discusses the Photos app on Mac computers, which is a built-in application that offers a range of editing tools comparable to professional programs like Photoshop or Lightroom.

💡RAW Photos

RAW photos are high-quality image files produced by digital cameras that capture all the data from the image sensor without any compression or processing. The video explains how to import RAW photos into the Photos app and emphasizes the importance of editing RAW files for better image quality.


JPEG is a common file format for digital images that uses lossy compression to reduce file size. The script mentions that dragging and dropping photos directly into the Photos app will convert them to JPEG, which is not ideal for editing as it lacks the depth and flexibility of RAW files.


Adjustments in photo editing refer to the modifications made to various aspects of an image, such as brightness, contrast, color balance, and saturation. The video provides a detailed walkthrough of how to use the different adjustment tools in the Photos app to enhance the appearance of photos.

💡Auto Adjustment

Auto adjustment is a feature in photo editing software that automatically applies changes to an image to improve its overall appearance. The presenter discusses the use of auto adjustments in the Photos app, suggesting that while they can be a good starting point, manual adjustments often yield better results.

💡Selective Color

Selective color is a photo editing technique that allows the user to adjust specific colors within an image independently from the rest. The script describes how the Photos app enables users to fine-tune the hue, saturation, and luminance of individual colors to create a more visually appealing image.


Retouch is the process of making minor corrections or enhancements to a photo, often to remove blemishes or unwanted elements. The video demonstrates the retouch feature in the Photos app, which can be used to clean up the subject's appearance without making the image look overly processed.


A histogram is a graphical representation of the tonal values in a photograph, showing the distribution of shadows, mid-tones, and highlights. The script notes that the Photos app has a histogram, but it is not as intuitive as those found in other photo editing programs, which may affect the user's ability to monitor exposure levels.

💡Batch Editing

Batch editing is the process of applying the same set of edits to multiple photos at once, which is a time-saving feature for editing large volumes of images. The video points out that the Photos app lacks advanced batch editing capabilities, requiring users to manually copy and paste adjustments to each photo individually.


Filters in photo editing are preset adjustments that can be applied to an image to achieve a specific look or effect. The script mentions that the Photos app includes filters, but the presenter personally does not use them due to their dramatic and often unnatural appearance.


Cropping is the process of removing parts of an image to improve its composition or focus on a particular subject. The video describes how to crop photos in the Photos app, including adjusting the straightness and selecting the desired aspect ratio.


The Photos app on Mac is a free and powerful photo editing tool often overlooked by users.

It offers many features comparable to professional programs like Photoshop or Lightroom.

To import RAW photos, open the Photos app and connect your device to see thumbnails for import.

When importing, ensure to select 'Use RAW as Original' to edit RAW photos instead of JPEGs.

The app has a sophisticated editing interface with tools like curves and selective color.

Auto adjustments can be a good starting point, especially for light and white balance.

Manual adjustments using sliders allow for more precise control over image aspects.

The Photos app lacks advanced features like split toning and clarity adjustments.

It does not support batch editing; adjustments must be copied manually to each photo.

The app is user-friendly and suitable for beginners and hobbyists.

Professionals may find the lack of advanced features limiting for large-scale editing projects.

The Photos app is a great alternative to paid apps for those starting out in photo editing.

Editing RAW photos is straightforward once you know the correct import method.

The app provides a 'Retouch' feature for basic flaw removal, although more complex edits may require other software.

Filters, crop, and aspect ratio tools are available for additional photo adjustments.

The Photos app does not have a histogram for monitoring channel brightness and darkness.

Even with the limitations, the app's auto settings can produce surprisingly good results.

For those who outgrow the app's capabilities, transitioning to paid software is a natural next step.