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How to pick the best photo editor for your life

Lesa Snider | Dec. 12, 2014
Browsing the App Store for new photo-editing software can be overwhelming. There are dozens of image editors, and it's difficult to tell which is the right one for your needs.

Price: $150 for perpetual license, included in $10/month Adobe Creative Cloud Photography program and the $50/month full Creative Cloud subscription.


Launched in late October 2014, this database-driven, non-destructive editor is generating a lot of buzz. Mylio is designed for everyone who takes pictures (hobbyists and pros) and manages all your photos — iPhone, Facebook, point-and-shoot, DSLR, etc. — in your own directory structure, so you can view them side-by-side and easily search your whole library. Mylio syncs your photos among the desktop and mobile devices you tell it about, so your entire collection is constantly backed up and accessible in multiple places. You can edit, share, and export photos using Mylio, too. Its editing features are much like Lightroom, though without the ability to adjust parts of the photo or create projects. Look for my Macworld review later this month.

Price: $100 - $250 per year.

Adobe Photoshop CC

This pro-level pixel pusher is as powerful (and complex) as it gets. Aimed at graphic designers, web designers, and pro photographers, nothing screams digital status like Photoshop mastery. It supports many color modes, including CMYK (crucial for printing newspapers and magazines) and ProPhoto RGB (great for pro photographers), it gives you access to the individual color channels that comprise your image — red, green, blue, and so on — and you can create channels for fancy print effects (spot colors, varnish, metallic coatings, etc.). Photoshop is the original layer-based editor and its layer masks let you hide the content of a layer in specific areas (handy for adjusting parts of your image and for swapping heads). It supports 8-bit or 16-bit editing (the latter supports more colors) and lets you alter exposure and color using a wide variety of methods — it comes with the full Adobe Camera Raw plug-in that sports nearly the exact same panels, sliders, and tools found in Lightroom. You can create simple and extremely complex selections around hair and fur that you can save, and it includes many intelligent tools that let you realistically remove and reposition objects.

You can also create vector-based art with it — art that's based on points and paths instead of pixels — either by converting text, by drawing with its mighty Pen tool or by using built-in shapes; you can edit the points and paths of vector art, and use its powerful brush engine to create paintings from scratch. Photoshop also lets you create 3D objects, record actions (keystrokes), edit video (it supports multiple video and audio tracks), create animated GIFs, and animate layer content using key-frames.

Photoshop is no database though, so you can't use it to import or manage photos; however, you can do that using Adobe Bridge (separate download; free with Photoshop subscription). Adobe Bridge isn't a database either, so it doesn't store your edit requests in a catalog like iPhoto, Lightroom and Mylio; instead, it's an image browser and batch-processing tool.


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