Photo editors for Mac, iPhone, and iPad are everywhere these days. A few are free, many are expensive (Photoshop Creative Cloud, I’m looking at you), others are designed specifically for photographers with needs beyond Photos and Lightroom (Creative Kit comes to mind), and not many are as easy and fun to use as this Polarr Photo Editor for the Mac. The name is a bit odd, spelled differently, but easy enough to remember– Polarr.
If Photoshop, Lightroom, and even Creative Kit are too much too much to learn and unaffordable with a monthly subscription fee forever– but Photos, iPhoto and other entry-level photo editors are too anemic, then try Polarr Photo Editor. Why? It’s good. It’s fast. It’s easy. It delivers great photo enhancements. And the Lite version is so you can try it out without obligation.
What I like most about Polarr, other than the end result, is the limited amount of time, effort, and education it takes to get from a mundane photo to a remarkable photo. Point and click. Slider bar left or right. Choose from presets.
Polarr comes with a dozen hand-crafted presets to use as basic filters to get started. Basic inline adjustments include the following:
- Color: Temperature, Tint, Contrast, Saturation, Vibrance
- Light: Exposure, Highlights and Shadows
- Detail: Clarity, Sharpen, Denoise (color and luminance), Diffuse and Dehaze
- Optics: Distortions, Vignette, Fringing
- Eight channel HSL adjustments
- 3 channel curve adjustments
- Highlights/shadows toning
- Filter blending and mixing
- Highlights/shadows toning tools
- Grain simulation
Photos can also be cropped, tilted, zoomed into, mirrored, rotated, and it handles JPG, PNG and RAW photo file formats but exports only in JPG. Yes, there’s an undo built in so you never muck up an original photo.
Controls are straightforward and fully self explanatory with presets in the lefthand sidebar and granular controls in the righthand sidebar. The slider bars make adjustments on-the-fly and in real time. The only things I would add would be a numeric indicator for each. That would provide for more precise controls, and an option to display both Before and After photos in the same window as the controls.
Polarr also includes an option for importing custom filters, and you can add a watermark when photos are exported.
There’s just much to like here and the Mac App Store has both versions, including Lite, so you can try out the basics before committing to the full version. The developer’s website also lists details that differentiate the two.
The app is deserving of the many five star reviews and priced about right.