Pixelmator Review: Don’t Buy It Until You’ve Read This!

In my last article I revealed my top three favorite Paint programs for Mac and I received a lot of positive feedback about it.

In this article I want to do a more in-depth Pixelmator review because it seems that this was by far the most popular Paint programs for Mac and the one that most people appear most keen to find out more about.

Pixelmator Review

A quick note before I start: I love this app, so while I’m going to do my best to give a proper “warts and all” analysis – I have to warn you that after testing out several other graphics editing programs, I am ever-so slightly biased towards Pixelmator :)

To start with, it is a superb alternative to other much more expensive programs that cost hundreds of dollars, such as Photoshop and Illustrator, yet it has almost the same features without being ‘overkill’ and it is much more intuitive, easier to use and easier on the eye.

You have your tools on the left, layers top right, tool options bottom left and brush settings / swatches on the lower right. And of course, the image editing magic all happens right in the middle.

The icons are great, very self explanatory, and everything is linked to shortcut keys, so navigating around is very easy.

Despite having a very sleek interface Pixelmator’s secret is that is has an open-source ‘engine’. It’s built on ImageMagick, which is a cross-platform array of image manipulation tools – so the feature set is rich and pretty extensive.

It can process over a hundred image formats and has all the common transform tools, layers, masks, drawing and effects features you’d expect from a premium priced graphics editing suite. Pixelmator also provides specific tools for editing bitmap images.

It looks the part too.  In fact, I am happy to say right here in this Pixelmator review that it’s the best looking app I’ve ever used – and much better looking than it’s much costlier counterpart, Photoshop!  Yet it offers the exact same layer, color and photo tools, but with sleek black palettes.

Click here to buy Pixelmator on the Mac App Store

Importantly for Mac users, Pixelmator has been built by Mac users specifically for the Mac – unlike Photoshop which was originally built for the PC.  Integration with your iSight camera and iLife Media Browser is already included and it offers Core Image support, which enables Pixelmator to make full use of the built-in range of image filters and tools in OS X.

Of course, no app is perfect. Pixelmator does tend to cater more towards screen imaging than print, and it lacks the high-end CMYK support that a lot of designers require as standard. What’s more, there are no quick optimization tools for web images.

However, I am being picky for picky’s sake, Pixelmator’s is the perfect image editor app for both heavy and light users. Once you use Pixelmator, you’ll never want to use another graphics editor again. I’m serious. I really do love this app because it’s fast, easy to use and great value.

What more could you possibly want?

The price alone – a mere $59 (£29) – makes it a must-have app for any Mac user who needs a clean application to work with images.

Let me tell you, if my mother ever drags herself into the 21st century and gets a Mac, and needs to edit her photo’s, Pixelmator would be ideal for her, it’s that easy and intuitive to pick-up and use!

If you’re interested in a stunning, easy-to-use, full-featured, inexpensive image editor then this is the application you’re looking for at a price you simply will not be able to beat. It’s a great investment in a product that gets better with every release and you won’t regret it.

Best of all, you can buy Pixelmator right now on the Mac App Store by simply clicking on the image below. I hope you’ve found this review helpful.

Pixelmator Review


Paint Program For Mac: My Top 3 Equivalents

Looking for a Paint for Mac app?

Back in the day of my first PC, Microsoft Paint was about the only non-gaming program I ever felt compelled to play with (or knew how to use for that matter) on Windows 3.1.Same in school, it was the ultimate way to kill lesson time when the teacher wasn’t looking!

Even today, MS Paint is still a very handy little program for those of us who just don’t need an all-singing, all-dancing graphics editing program like Photoshop or Illustrator, but still need a quick and simple way to edit a few images or add things like captions.

Best of all for Windows users, MS Paint comes bundled in as part of the Windows suite.  But the problem I found when I switched to a Mac was in trying to find a Paint program for Mac that wasn’t complete overkill and didn’t cost me a fortune.

Fortunately, some kind developers out there spotted this need (and heard the cries of quiet desperation) for a Mac equivalent of Paint so now there’s some great alternatives out there for Mac users like me.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been playing around with quite a few of these Paint programs for Mac, but rather than confuse you and give you a big list of everything I’ve looked at, I’ve simply narrowed it down to my top three Mac equivalents of MS Paint which I hope will help you make the right decision.


Paintbrush is probably the program that is most reminiscent of Microsoft Paint. Their tagline is “Paint for Mac” so you can clearly see what their intentions were when they were developing this!

It’s easy to use too: you simply open up a new file and set the size you want. Then it shows you a white canvas with a toolbox that has all the same tools that Paint has – even the good old the spray can (remember that?)!

You choose your tool and draw to your hearts content, then save the image in any popular image format such as BMP, PNG, JPEG, TIFF, and GIF.  You can also paste images copied from many common Mac applications, including Microsoft Office and Apple iWork. 

At the wallet-loving price of free, you really can’t go wrong with this Mac equivalent of Paint because this really is the closest “Paint for Mac” application you will find.

Price: Free
Requires: Mac OS X 10.4 or later


Next up is Acorn which sells itself as “an image editor for humans”, which apparently is a dig at editing tools like Photoshop and Illustrator which are overly complex and come with a steep learning curve. Its interface is clean and simple: all of the tools are condensed into one easy to use palette at the side, which keeps your screen uncluttered and feeling nice to use.

While Acorn is a paid-for application, I would describe it as “Paint on steroids” because as well as being very simple to use, it also has some pretty nifty features such as the easy social network integration and a gorgeous interface.

As a Paint equivalent for the Mac it will fill all of your needs and more without the overkill of most image programs.

Price: $49.95
Requires: Mac OS X 10.4 or later


Pixelmator is my favorite one of the lot and you could say I have saved the best for last.  It is a stunningly designed application which I can only really describe it as a “premium version” of Paint.  It is has all the features Paint has as well as plenty of additional functionality too, such as Layer Groups, Transform Tools, Gradient Tools and much more.

This program takes the functionality of Paint to a whole new level, while at the same time managing to keep everything nice and simple and easy to use.

Pixelmator is slightly more expensive than Acorn but in my humble opinion, as far as Paint for Mac applications go, you are getting the absolute best value for money by investing in this little beauty.

To find out more details about this particular app, read my Pixelmator Review.

Price: $59
Requires: Mac OS X 10.6 or later

Pixelmator - Pixelmator Team

Final Thoughts

In this article I’ve shown you three great Mac equivalents to MS Paint. There are plenty more Paint for Mac options out there than these three of course, so feel free to do your own research.  But, after playing around with several you won’t go wrong with either of these great options.

Which program you should choose really comes down to what you actually want to do with your image editor, and what type of functionality you need. If you really are a basic user and are looking for something very easy to use and free, then definitely go with Paintbrush. There’s no contest there.

If you need something with a few more features but you don’t need Photoshop, then it is well worth investing in a premium paid app like Pixelmator. It will be money very well spent.


Mac Equivalent of Print Screen

When I switched from a PC to a Mac I couldn’t find an equivalent to the Windows Print Screen button, which I used to use all the time.  This frustrated me greatly, until I found the Mac equivalent solution of  course :)

There are two different types of screenshot you can take; ‘Screen’ and ‘Selection’. Screen is where you capture the entire screen as you see it.  Selection is where you drag a box around the selection of the screen that you want to appear in the image.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Windows print screen button, it’s a handy button located on the top row, towards the right-hand side of the Windows keyboard. It allows you to copy the entire screen as you see it, and save it as an image file ready for editing, just by pushing the button.

Unfortunately this is not a button you’ll find on a Mac. However, there is a Mac equivalent shortcut which is actually better because it also allows you to capture either the entire screen or just a selection of your screen, as discussion earlier.


To take a screen shot of your entire screen, just push the following keys together:


Here’s an image showing the location of these keys:


If you only want to capture a selected area of your screen rather than the entire screen, then hold down the following keys and then click and drag your mouse over the area of your screen you wish to capture.


Once you have captured the screen or a selection of the screen, the image of your screenshot will be automatically saved to your Desktop as a .png file and named as ‘Screen Shot 1’, ‘Screen Shot 2’, etc.

You can change the file type by simply double-clicking on the image icon on your Desktop and choosing ‘File >> Save As…’ then choose from the following formats in the dropdown list:

  • BMP
  • JP2
  • JPEG
  • PDF
  • Photoshop
  • PICT
  • PNG
  • QuickTime Image
  • SGI
  • TGA
  • TIFF

JPEG is the most common format since it has the smallest file size.

The Grab Tool

As well as the above keyboard shortcuts in OS X there is also a very handy “Grab” utility application built into your Mac.  Just navigate to Hard Drive/Applications/Utilities/Grab.

You may find this handy to keep in your Dock if you would like quick access for taking screen shots.

Once you open the Grab utility there are selections for capturing Selection, Window, Screen or Timed Screen under its Capture Menu.

Grab saves the file as a .tiff file by default.

I hope you’ve found this Mac Equivalent article helpful.

Mac Tips

Mac Equivalent of Windows Task Manager

Is there a Mac Equivalent to the Windows Task Manager application?

Common uses of the Windows Task Manager is to view how much memory your system is consuming at any one time, and which programs are using the most amount of memory.

As it happens there is a Mac Equivalent called Activity Monitor which is located in the Utilities folder which is in the Applications folder which can be found in the Dock.

Try using the Activity Monitor. It’s actually more informative than Windows Task Manager.  Some Mac users even find it helpful to move the Activity Monitor to the Dock.

How to Find the Activity Monitor:

Open up the Applications folder

Mac Equivalent of Windows Task Manager

Then open up the Utilities Folder

Click on the Activity Monitor

Mac Equivalent to Task Manager

View the Activity Monitor

Mac Equivalent of Windows Task Manager

An Alternative to the Activity Monitor

Another method of viewing the same information which the Activity Monitor provides is to open up the Terminal program in the Applications/Utilities folder (as demonstrated above) and simply typing the command ‘top’ in the terminal window.

It will give the same information as the Activity Monitor:

I hope you’ve found this Mac equivalent tip helpful.