Pixelmator, iPad, photo editor, mobile photography

Pixelmator ( Pixelmator for iPad | Pixelmator for Mac OS ) has always been a great editor on the Mac. It’s popular with people who don’t want to drink the Adobe Photoshop Kool-Aid and get a subscription. It isn’t as feature rich as Photoshop, but it comes very close.

Pixelmator has been out for the iPad ($9.99) for quite some time, and it has had several updates. While we deal mainly with the iPhone on this blog, I know that many, if not most of our readers also have an iPad, so Pixelmator is worth a serious look. Even if you have an iPhone 6 Plus with its large screen, it is still far better editing photos on an iPad.

When Pixelmator came out it was missing some features on older iPads, like repair, which is similar to Adobe’s content aware fill. But an update fixed that, and now older iPads get all the features.



I can’t list all the many features in a review, but of things that matter to iOS photographers, you’ll find retouching tools, color adjustments, crop and straighten, layers, filters including rain drops, bokeh, sunbeams, light leaks and color rays, collage creation, the ability to separate an object or person from a background. and there are 18 predesigned text templates with advanced typography controls for adding labels to your photos.

The app also gives you solid white balance control, color balance, those all important curve controls, and levels that work with a live histogram. Selective focus can be applied, and vignettes. There are excellent sharpening controls, and black and white presets. Images can be shared in Photoshop leaving layers intact, and of course JPEG and PING files can be saved.

Using Pixelmator

Using Pixelmator is generally easy, and there is built-in help. The app is well integrated with iOS 8 and supports iCloud Drive and Handoff, letting you start on Pixelmator on a Mac and pick it up on your iPad or you can go the other way. Sharing is enabled both via mail or social network integration.

The only thing missing of course, is an iPhone version. It would be a challenge on the iPhone screen, but other app developers have managed it. Pixelmator seems far superior to Photoshop Touch, which is not faint praise. In the latest version, updated last month, Pixelmator added watercolor effects, and 16 bit support, along with the ability to open raw files, something you don’t usually see in iOS editors.

The app is snappy on my iPad Air 2. I don’t see any cursor lag, and effects are rendered in nearly real time.

The Bottom Line

Although my opinion is subject to change, Pixelmator stands as the best iOS editor to date. An iPhone version would have a tremendous impact, and quickly become a top seller. It’s hard to figure out what Pixelmator doesn’t do, it’s that complete.

Of course, it’s not perfect, so I’d like to see noise reduction, and the GUI takes some getting used to. I found myself referring to the help documents at times, but that’s not surprising in a full featured editor. I’m still doing that with Photoshop, and I’ve been using it since version one decades ago.

Pixelmator for iPad is compatible with iPad 2, iPad 3, iPad mini, iPad 4, iPad Air, iPad mini 2, iPad Air 2, and iPad mini 3. For best performance, your are better off with an iPad 4 or later, bot on older hardware if works really well.

I’m really hoping to see that iPhone version some day. When I’m around town, my iPad is usually at home. I have plenty of great editors on the iPhone, but Pixelmator still seems a cut above. As it is now, I often grab my iPhone photo from Photostream on the iPad, then save it and return the edited to the iPhone.

If I had to choose one photo editor to use in iOS, Pixelmator would be the editor. As it is, with no iPhone version, you wind up moving your picture around between iPhone platforms, but it’s easy to do – just not ideal.


Pixelmator is iPad-only.

iphoneography, iphone photo, mobile photo, photo app, pixelmator, ipad

App Store link: Pixelmator for iPad – Pixelmator Team

– Mel Martin


Pixelmator for iPad 1.1

Effects Quality/Toolbox
Resolution and Image Quality
User Interface

We Love It!

Even with plenty of great editors on the iPhone, Pixelmator still seems a cut above. Worth a serious look.

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