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Pixelmator - Powerful Core Image-based image editor Apps
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[Score: 8 out of 10]
Pixelmator is a layer-based image editing program that takes full advantage of OS X's features, opens tons of file formats (including Photoshop files), and has an interface that's easy to use, despite it not necessarily looking like a traditional Mac application. The program uses your Mac's graphics processing unit (GPU) and Core Image to render many effects in real time. James Dempsey covered Pixelmator 1.0.1 for Macworld last October, so I'll point you at his write-up for most the details about this program. You can also learn about many of its features just by reading company's well laid out home page.

Since his review, however, the Pixelmator team has been hard at work, moving from version 1.0.1 to 1.1.4 in that time. You can check out Pixelmator's updates page to see the extensive list of new features (and bug fixes) in each version. The big news in the move from 1.0.x to 1.1.x was the addition of 18 Core Image and 60 Quartz Composer filters for those running 10.5. They also added graphics tablet support, and more goodies for 10.5 users -- a Quick Look generator, and the ability to let you pick exactly which pages of a PDF to open via Cover Flow.

While Pixelmator isn't a complete replacement for Photoshop or Photoshop Elements (you won't find layer styles, for example), at $59 it's about $30 cheaper than Elements and offers a number of features you won't find in the Photoshop program. I've found their online support to be excellent -- they have a support forum, a free downloadable manual, and a selection of free video tutorials. While the interface may take some getting used to, I've found the program easy to use and very responsive on both the Mac Pro and the MacBook Pro -- for best results, the company recommends a machine with a Core Image-supported video card, but it will run even on older Macs, as long as you're running 10.4 or 10.5. If you're in the market for a powerful yet easy to use image editor, Pixelmator may be just what you're looking for.
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Pixelmator - Powerful Core Image-based image editor
Authored by: luhmann on May 05, '08 07:52:38AM

I've been disappointed with Pixelmator, which I got a license to as a part of a package. Instead, I am now using Acorn, which I find much more useful (although performance is sluggish with large files on both).

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Pixelmator - Powerful Core Image-based image editor
Authored by: conigs on May 05, '08 07:58:05AM

Pixelmator is great, but coming from around a decade of Photoshop use, it was very hard to get used to a different workflow. ("Where's 'save for web? Where did my curves control go?")

But one thing that really bugs me about the current release of Pixelmator is that it doesn't respect DPI settings when printing. A 300x300 image @ 300dpi will print 4.2" square, not 1" square.

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Pixelmator - Powerful Core Image-based image editor
Authored by: umijin on May 05, '08 08:48:27AM

Is this a tip or an avertisement?!!

I have Pixelmator and find the interface attractive, and relatively easy to use. However, the performance on both my old G5 iMac and my MacBook Air leave a lot to be desired. Sluggish, sluggish in editing digicam photos.

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Pixelmator - Powerful Core Image-based image editor
Authored by: mat79 on May 05, '08 08:58:23AM

the only thing missing (for me) is TWAIN (Scanner) support.

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Pixelmator - Powerful Core Image-based image editor
Authored by: wack on May 05, '08 08:59:57AM

Personally, I think Pixelmator is a bit pants. I got it as part of the last MacHeist, and I would NEVER, EVER pay $60 for it.

In particular, the Automator actions are incredibly slow compared to Preview actions, for example. And the GUI is a weird, semi-transparent black. Black would be okay, but as it is, the transparency makes it hard to make out the tool palette unless you're working on top of a plain desktop, and much more confusing than it need be.

These may be relatively minor niggles, but a killer is file size. Perhaps I'm doing it wrongly, but any JPEGs I make in Pixelmator are massive compared to those generated by other programs using similar settings.

Spend the $60 on beer and install the Gimp. Better software, much better price.

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Pixelmator - Powerful Core Image-based image editor
Authored by: pub3abn on May 05, '08 09:43:05AM

I received Pixelmator as part of the MacHeist package. I would not have paid the full price, but it's a decent app for simple jobs. As a regular Photoshop CS3 Extended user, I'm a bit frustrated with it at times. It lacks soooo many of the nice little features I use in Photoshop on a regular basis. But it has a nicer interface than GraphicConverter, and I hate GIMP, so it's what I'm using for quick and dirty stuff.

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Pixelmator - Powerful Core Image-based image editor
Authored by: dudemac on May 05, '08 01:01:32PM

As it stands right now, I have not been impressed with any of the core image based editors. There are a few that stand out and I was really hoping this would be one of them. But it is just too unstable for regular work. PS and PSE even the older versions handle large files with no problem. If you happen to have a older video card or an integrated intel chip I would skip it all together. This program has taken my older powerbook out.... hard restart which really never happens. And my mini will hang for ever trying to apply and effect. So even though it handles ps files I would wait until it is a little cleaner running. I would rate it at a solid 5 out of 10. I use graphic programs all the time and this is just not up to snuff. Even gimp, which is free and has so a more contrived interface will smoke Pixelmator in just about every category which is why they really need to work to make the stuff it does do it better than the status PSE so for the price not worth it. I do hope this program gets better as I think there needs to be alternatives to PS and PSE but currently the only thing that looks good to me is Gimp as it is free.


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Pixelmator - Powerful Core Image-based image editor
Authored by: samrhall on May 05, '08 09:52:48PM

I purchased Pixelmator as a package as well, and I love using it. Granted, I still use PhotoShop for my more intensive work, but Pixelmator works great for quick projects and smaller works.

I've always hated PhotoShop's bloat and interface. Pixelmator is just nicer to use. And I find myself frustrated when I have to switch to PS because of Pixelmator's limitations.

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The Window to "jump in" slowly closes...
Authored by: tice on May 06, '08 01:37:20AM

There was a time when a good and affordable image editor was missing. Pixelmator had many good ideas but was missing some important key-features like a preview-based webexport (which is necessary for all us web-geeks).

Now that Photoshop Elements 6 is out, it is (for all non-cmyk users) the much better alternative. Sadly, because I was hoping Pixelmator was able to break that monopol.

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Pixelmator - Powerful Core Image-based image editor
Authored by: obtusegoose on May 07, '08 07:01:23AM

The program still seems a bit clunky to me, and type handling is almost nonexistent. The last time I used it, the only thing you could do with type was make it left-justified.

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Did you actually try to use Pixelmator in production before rating?
Authored by: alec kinnear on May 08, '08 11:48:46AM

Rob, before you rated Pixelmator 8/10 did you actually try to use it? I mean it looks good and demoes okay but folds completely under use.

Pixelmator is slow and crashy. Saving takes ages, files are huge. There's no Save for Web. I was unable to get any real work done, despite spending nearly a full day on Pixelmator over the course of a few days.

I so much wanted to replace Photoshop. I loathe Adobe's whole approach ($2200 for a single software seat). But Pixelmator won't do it. I wish the guys luck, but they are making claims which just don't hold up.

The whole core image approach is overrated. We have great multicore processors with 4 or 8 or more GB of RAM on board. Why are we offloading 2D to the 128/256/512 MB single core 700 MHz graphics card again?

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