Good image editing app for the Mac?

One of my favorite image editing apps is Paint.net,  a program that comes very close to matching the features of Adobe Photoshop. With Photoshop priced at $700 US, Paint.net is a steal since it’s free! Unfortunately, Paint.net is only Windows-Based, so there is no Mac equivalent.

I’ve explored running Paint.net using the app called CrossOver (which allows you to run Windows apps directly on the Mac), but it just wouldn’t install within CrossOver. Another alternative is to run Paint.net in a virualization environment (using VirtualBox, Parallels, or VM Fusion running the Windows OS), but that would just be a big hassle to setup, etc.

As such, I’ve been looking for something equivalent to Paint.net (or Photoshop) that I can use on my new iMac OS X. Unfotunately, I can’t seem to find anything that suits my needs. After Googling for such an image editor app, I came up with a short list of freeware and shareware apps. For my needs, I need to have the ability to use layers, have anti-aliased lines and text, and a few other advanced features. This requirement quickly eliminated most of the photo editing-based apps for the Mac.

The short list I went down included apps such as Pixel, Pixen, Cinepaint, GIMP, Seashore, Pinta, and Pixelmator. Nearly all of these apps had their flaws, as some couldn’t handle anti-aliasing of lines and text very well, while others just had a bad user interface. GIMP is a famous open source app that is recommended by many, but it runs under the X11 environment which gives it a very old user interface. I ended up narrowing my choices down to Pinta, Seashore, and Pixelmator.

Yesterday I worked with some basic image editing using Pinta and Seashore, and was disappointed in what I couldn’t do as they are limited compared to Paint.net. From what I can tell, the only real contender is Pixelmator, as it has lots of good features. The online help is really nice, as well as the very pretty user interface. Also, Pixelmator is a native Mac OS X application, which is a big bonus. The only bad thing I found during my testing, is that the app crashed on me twice which is a bad thing.

So for now, I’m planning to try using GIMP and/or Pixelmator for the next month. I have a feeling Pixelmator will win out, and I’ll then have to buy a copy once the demo period is over.

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