Who among the growing ranks of Mac users does not collect their photos in iPhoto? Yes, a few of the pros will use Apple’s Aperture, or Adobe’s Lightroom, but the rest of us trudge along with iPhoto, which does the job except for one thing. Really cool effects.
Here’s my updated list of the nifty things your Mac can do with photos that iPhoto won’t. It’s not that iPhoto isn’t good for a touch up here and there, and an effect or two, but free brings with it some limitations.
An interesting change has taken place in the last half dozen years. Film cameras are out. Digital cameras are in. We’ve said goodbye to film and prints and hello to digital storage and printing our own photos.
Along with that newfound ability to roll our own photographic presses comes the need to stylize and get creative with the digital photos we store on our Macs.
High on my list of fun Mac utilities to enhance digital photos is Funtastic Photos. FunP is a Swiss Army Knife utility for photos.
Add a digital photo from iPhoto and you’re one click away from adding a bunch of styles not found in iPhoto; from artistic to romantic, from the old camera look to creative borders, and plenty of effects in between.
FunP also gives you photo layouts, Photo Cubes, mosaics, effects, and a stack of effects which you can create. Seriously, FunP alone provides more than 9 things more than iPhoto can do alone, but also comes with integration for uploading photos to Flickr, Facebook, MobileMe, and Picassa.
For a more specific look that both enhances and dehances (I made that up but you’ll understand why in a moment), PhotoStyler provides the retro look among photo filters and effects.
My first thought was that PhotoStyler is a non-starter. After all, it takes decent digital photos and makes them look like crappy old photos you dug out of a shoe box from the back of grandma’s closet. What’s up with that?
On closer examination I saw the artistic merit. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and if you want to make your new photos look really old, this is a handy utility that does just that.
PhotoStyler does scratches, old style frames, textured backgrounds, fading, and a bunch of other nifty effects and filters you won’t find in iPhoto.
This next group of utilities is a suite that come from a single Mac developer, YellowMug Software. I’ve always been captivated by those rough edges in styled photos. EasyFrame does just that. Select from a variety of brush stroke frame edges and one click later your photo looks cool.
iPhoto crops your digital photos but EasyCrop also reduces file size and gives you more precision over the cropping process. If you’re big into processing a lot of digital photos, changing file formats, adding watermarks and copyright, as well as resizing, then EasyBatchPhoto is the one click tool that does all those little things iPhoto won’t do.
iPhoto does keywords and keywords are useful for searching through thousands of photos trying to find that one picture of you and the boyfriend you now hate. If you’re not into using keywords, start now, get caught up, and keep using keywords.
The best way to use keywords is with Keyword Manager. Period. There’s nothing better. Nothing easier. Select a bunch of photos and add keywords just for them. Keyword Manager tags all your photos with your user specified keywords.
Keywords are a pain, right? It’s easier just to suck the photos into iPhoto and search until your eyes hurt. Unless you use keywords. KeyMan lets you tag photos, tag keywords onto keywords, and manage them all with a little pop up window.
When you get down to basics, iPhoto is great, but the ability to do more just isn’t there and won’t be. For example, what if you really want to add effects, Photoshop style, to your photos but don’t want to mortgage the house for Adobe’s Donald Trump version of Photoshop (as in expensive; or, you have to be rich to afford it)?
That’s where Pixelmator does more than iPhoto would ever think of and what only the Photoshop users know, for about 1/10th the price of Photoshop. Think of it as Photoshop for the masses.
One of my all time favorite Mac specialty utilities is Photo Desktop. Basically, PhoTop becomes a live photo album where you can stick photos.
Add from iPhoto, iSight camera, Photo Booth, email, or whatever. Photos stick to your Mac’s desktop. Neat. Especially if you have pets or boyfriends or kids or too much time on your hands.
iPhoto has options to create books and albums from your photos. So does Blurb’s BookSmart, but with far more options.
This Mac utility lets you create your own book from your own photographs, similar to the iPhoto version, except with more styles, more options, more sizes. And you can still order online.
The point here is not to knock iPhoto. I use it. I love it. But I want more, especially of those creative features, filters, and effects which have a more artistic flare. Got a favorite Mac utility that enhances your digital photos? Share with Mac360 readers in the Comments section below.