Few of those under $10 are as worth as the free Image Tricks app which relies on the core image filters built-in to OS X, but the real bargain is with big brother Image Tricks Pro, the little app that is packed with filters, masks, and effects. Packed? Hundreds and hundreds.
Start Free, Go Pro
As always, I recommend that any Mac user who wants more from their photos give the free version of Image Tricks a try. Even the Pro version has a try-before-you-buy trial version. What you get is an incredibly diverse photo enhancement app.
Here’s a look at some of the basic math in the big brother version. 149 Core Image filters (these are basic to OS X, so they’re lightning fast to apply). 225 unique photo masks. 116 photo frames. 62 vector borders. 43 Quartz compositions (also built-in to OS X) and 20 image generators.
Along with all those filters and effects there are controls for saturation, contrast, tone, brightness, plus image blurs and masks, and options to blend everything together, layer upon layer. The user interface is straightforward. Filters, Quartz, and Generators in the lefthand sidebar with details for each in the righthand sidebar. The image in them main photo window is updated instantly.
All those different effects and filters can be applied to an imported photo with just a click. Other effects let you colorize, tile, adjust, and distort certain features. Even the photo frames can be customized.
Image Tricks isn’t called Photo Tricks because there are options to apply those same effects and filters to graphic elements, background images, or any kind of non-photo image. The built-in options make the number of unique images infinite in number.
Image Tricks has been around about a decade but the history is on again, off again, on again, including a few years where development lagged. The latest version brings Image Tricks up to date with OS X El Capitan, adds a bunch of new El Capitan filters (light tunnel distortion, perspective transform, smooth linear gradient, triangle kaleidoscope, and more), but many features are available and work fine on older Intel-based Macs going back to OS X Snow Leopard.
Just remember that Image Tricks is an entry-level photo and image enhancement app, so it’s not much of a replacement for Photoshop or Pixelmator. It’s much easier to use, though, and the learning curve is nearly zilch. I can’t say the same for the trial-and-error factor. It’s fun to try out all the filters and effects and that can suck up a few hours at a time.