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Pixelmator 3.0 (pixelmator.com)
214 points by sebkomianos on Oct 23, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 103 comments

Pixemlator is positively awesome, one of the highest quality + polished native apps I've used, at insane value! It quickly became my primary graphics editor of choice.

Though it's weird that I bought a copy years ago and am still getting free upgrades? I'd happily pay for an upgrade again.

I'm glad others like it, but I find it a massive pain every time I use it. A million things seem the opposite way than they should be to me. I really, really wish there were more all-purpose lightweight image editors on OS X so I could get away from it. I suppose it's high time I gave Gimp another shot...

Have you tried Acorn? http://www.flyingmeat.com/acorn/

Have you tried Acorn?

I have not, at least not in a long time. I think last I tried it it was still a little early so I ended up with Pixelmator. I'll give it another shot, thanks for the reminder.

Tried v2 and didn't like it and actually got a refund from MAS for it. They are so good at marketing but Acorn is a better product.

I really want to like Gimp, but at least on OS X the experience is pretty dreadful.

Have you tried Seashore?


Based on GIMP it adds a proper Mac UI. Not all GIMP functionality is there but for the basic stuff it's not bad.

Yes and was underwhelmed (though the UI is greatly improved). Does not appear to support PSD files at all, for one thing.

Can you give an example of an opposite way?

There are almost no preferences at all. It automatically opts into the Lion-era autosaving and document-persistence garbage that I have no need or desire for, with no way out.

The text tool starts with "Text" in it, which has to be selected and replaced! What?! And instead of a default text style, it just uses the last one you used, regardless of time or document? And text attributes just overflow off the side of a document with no way to access them except to resize the window?

The effects toolbox could easily have been a dropdown menu instead of a huge, inefficient mix of UI pieces...

Effects and tools don't cancel if you try to select another tool... if I am in the crop tool and think "oops, I need to move that text," I have to hit cancel. Clicking anywhere but OK ought to cancel the action, but everything is greyed out instead.

I have to drag a corner in and out a little in order to reveal the ability to rotate with the cursor. Why didn't these controls show up when I selected the move pixels tool? Literally nothing shows until you try resizing the image, even though the resize handles are there.

Anyway, it's stuff like this, on and on, every time I try to do something, it's like they read my mind and do it a different and weird way that makes no sense to me.

Obviously this is just my opinion, though, lots of people seem to love it. But there just haven't been many options until fairly recently.

From the features list it looks like they might have fixed some of these things. I haven't quite managed to figure out pixelmator myself, though I personally chalk it up to my familiarity with photoshop biasing my expectations, rather than anything inherently wrong with pixelmator which seems like it deserves to have a bit of a learning curve, from the praise it gets.

I tend to agree with a lot of what you've said. I bought pixelmator a long time ago and use it a lot, but these things bug me too.

It is an insane value.

Over a year ago I was looking for a more lightweight image editor that could replace photoshop. After trying a few different options I downloaded Pixelmator and was blown away at how accessible yet powerful and featured it was. Just rock solid and as you said, and they keep developing.

If any hobbyist, amateur, or semi-pro editors out there needs a great editor that isn't as robust as photoshop, this is certainly worth checking out. Money well spent.

Photoshop is a lot of things, but I've never thought of it as "robust" These are two very different programs, and there are lots of things that one may still need the real deal photoshop for, but I wonder what you mean by "robust" here?

My guess is that he meant "fat"

Ha, yeah, no > Photoshop is a little better at handling files that are REALLY big dude. You know like Pro's use...

My bad then. Where I live it's not uncommon to use "robust" as an euphemism for fay. Sorry for misunderstanding.

This is probably the most successful Lithuanian IT startup (which is still based there, as far as I know). As a Lithuanian, I'm feeling really happy to see how far and awesome they got!

OK, this belies my ignorant American self, but for some reason I got the idea in my head they were Greek and were based in Philadelphia....

Awesome to see indy Mac development in Lithuania...here's to them keeping it up. I haven't launched an Adobe product in years, in part thanks to them.

Interestingly Pennsylvania is the only place where I was suspected being Greek (I'm Lithuanian). Lithuanian and Greek surnames sometimes has the same ending "is" but in Pixelmator case it does not apply.

I've been using Pixelmator since they pushed it to the Mac App store, and all this time I thought they where German... good to know I was wrong!

I've bought Pixelmator twice now. Once on the App Store and once before. $30 is IMO way too little to pay for an app of this quality.

Very happy to see Pixelmator continue to enjoy some well-deserved success.

That's interesting, I live in the UK and most of the people think I'm German as well :)

I haven't downloaded v3 yet, but I love using Pixelmator for quick edits and tweaks to images. It loads much faster on my MacBook Air than Photoshop, and I've found the learning curve to be much lower too. All while having 80% of the features from Photoshop; which for my basic needs is 98% of everything I'll do.

Version 3 looks like a huge win for customers, really excited to be grabbing the update for free from the App Store. Although honestly, I'd pay for it again at this point.

Almost made this exact post... I was looking for a Photoshop clone for Mac and stumbled on Pixelmator years ago, it's definitely not as full-featured as PS but it's a fraction of the cost and it does what I need it to do 98% of the time. For $30 it's a steal, especially if they're upgrading it like this.

36MB to download the full app. It takes up 66MB on my disk. Photoshop CC takes up 1.1GB, that’s 20 times as much – quite a contrast.

I wonder what takes up that much space in Photoshop. I suspect the brush files, iirc those take up quite some space. I can imagine Pixelmator uses much more native / vertex images, like those you can create using PaintCode [1], which generates a bit of native Objective C code to produce the image you draw in that app. Paintcode is a great way to reduce the size of your app's downloaded content, btw.

[1] http://www.paintcodeapp.com/

Vectormator is awesome, but still can't export to either EPS or SVG.

I'm hoping they add it soon - SnapSVG, the Raphael replacement, supports animating SVGs created in other apps: http://snapsvg.io/

wow! I didn't know Pixelmator could do that. It's an instant buy for me! I've been looking for a replacement to illustrator for a long time.

Please Pixelmator people give love to vector graphics!

Can anybody spread some light on the business model they are trying to follow? I know they sell software, but with a single software for $29 and few employees. They need to sell quite a few licenses to make it.

I know its an ignorant statement, but can anybody explain it to me.

Pixelmator sells very well, in their first 20 days on the Mac Store they grossed $1 million.


Not Apple level of sales, but if your development team is small and focussed, it's pretty good.

I'm also curious how well this will work in the long run. Apple doesn't have a good model for paid upgrades on the app store and so far they've refused to implement anything to deal with it.

They've made enough money at this point that they could just tell all their developers to work on whatever they wanted and they'd still be well off in the medium term.

Their next big product should be a good standalone vector engine app that people can replace Illustrator with. That'd save a lot of designers I know several hundred dollars a year. Especially with Adobe's cloud stuff getting more and more mandatory…

They sell millions of licenses a year. Their revenue per employee exceeds that of Google or Apple.

Is more explanation needed?

Do you have a source for those numbers? I have no reason to doubt you, but you seem put off by the question. It's a legitimate concern before sending money to a company to ask how financially secure they are.

I was put off by the idea they needed a business model other than selling the app for money.

A little googling should provide the due diligence you require.

Wow, layer styles! This was the only major thing missing compared to Photoshop. Everything else was already far better than Photoshop for my use.

Did anybody else spend half a minute trying to interact with the "app", then give up and close the tab, thinking it was broken before coming back here to discover that it was just a full-page screenshot of a desktop app?

I'd never heard of Pixelmator, so I made the natural assumption from what came up on screen that it was some form of web-based photoshop thing.

But it's not. And there's nothing but a screenshot above the fold. So it just looks broken.

I wonder how many potential customers they're bouncing this way.

> Did anybody else spend half a minute trying to interact with the "app", then give up and close the tab

Nope, sorry. Looked like a pretty obvious screenshot to me. The palettes in the screenshot are way too small for me to confuse it for a web app.

Also, most people will probably get this from the Mac App Store, which has a very different presentation.

This sort of negative commentary is always distasteful.

Any person who's used a computer in the last twenty years would understand that the interface is not responding and try alternate input methods (like scrolling, one of the most common paradigms on web pages.)

It doesn't "just look broken".

It's not negative commentary. It is a legitimate user interface issue that several people experienced. It is also super easy for them to fix. Sometimes(always) when you launch a new product or design, you want feedback on the silly little things you wouldn't have thought of that could potentially turn people away. The attention span of cold clicks is measured in seconds. Any silly issue can push someone to click off. I have used a computer extensively for many years and thought it was a live demo for a few seconds. As they say in web usability, don't make people think.

The dramatic hyperbole drives it from being "surfacing an issue" to negative bashing.

"Did anybody else spend half a minute trying to interact with the "app", then give up and close the tab, thinking it was broken before coming back here to discover that it was just a full-page screenshot of a desktop app?"

xauronx, and the majority of the other folks explaining the issue, took a much more reasonable approach—"it was a .5 second instinct to interact with it and then I figured it out. Not sure if that constitutes a negative UI experience or not, but it IS an issue. "

It's just unbelievable to think that anyone familiar with a web interface would get so confused by the screenshot that their only recourse would be to abandon ship.

At least 4 people on HN had the same instinct, myself among them. HN is definitely a more technical cross section of the internet population. Anyhow, yes, it was a .5 second instinct to interact with it and then I figured it out. Not sure if that constitutes a negative UI experience or not, but it IS an issue. Hell, maybe there's some psychology at work that makes me want to download it to get the ability to interact! Who knows!

I tried clicking the little white boxes, thinking they were tooltips, explaining how that part of the image used a particular Pixelmator feature.

Then I realized it was just a screenshot, so I clicked free trial. Same image, but now no site navigation (it doesn't fade in). Refreshed, thinking it was broken. Then it took a few seconds, but I realized you could scroll down, and it had a download button. Why is this so common these days? Full screen images or giant headers filling the screen with no indication of more content? I've had this happen a few times this year. I also just noticed this happens on the homepage too, and it has actual information under the giant screenshot. Sigh, doesn't anyone test these things?

I thought it was interactive at first too, but it didn't stop my curiosity.

Yes, I did the same thing. I was trying to resize her star makeup for a bit.

It would be nice if they made it cross-platform, like on Linux/Windows and even Android/iOS eventually. It might give Adobe a run for their money.

I doubt this will happen anytime soon. Pixelmator is heavily dependent on OSX-specific tech, like core graphics. Porting it to other platforms would require basically reimplementing all this functionality from scratch, making it performant, and then recreating the entire UI.

Indeed; ~half of the technologies listed in their splash image for the "New Image Editing Engine" are Apple-specific: vImage, Accelerate framework, vDSP, Core Animation, ColorSync, Core Image, ...

Some of these have rough equivalents on other platforms, but the interfaces definitely don't line up exactly, so it wouldn't be completely straightforward to shim them. Others simply don't have existing equivalents.

Leveraging Apple's native frameworks such as Core Image make it much, much faster to implement something like Pixelmator on OS X than any other platform. It makes it very enticing as a graphics app developer to go Mac-only and cut your workload by a factor of 10.

I recently stumbled on Chasys Draw Artist. It's pretty amazing coming from one person. Many more features over Paint.net, yet startup time is about the same as compared to Gimp.


I would also really like to see this, but it doesn't look like it'll ever happen. Linux doesn't have any good alternatives to Photoshop, GIMP just isn't there in terms of usability. I use GIMP for quick edits, cropping, etc. But I just can't use it for more than that.

Even if they don't make it cross platform, it will probably give Adobe a run for their money. Progress on this thing had been astoundingly fast, and compared to Adobe it's practically free.

Wow, I just checked all the tutorial videos. I've never seen such delightful Demos in my life, makes me want to buy the thing. I wonder how effective would it be to create UI's for Mobile apps in Pixelmator, I'm donwloading the Trial.

What a fantastic application! I wish more companies operated like the Pixelmator Team

Remember "Google buys Sparrow"? I wonder if we'll see "Adobe buys Pixelmator" in the near future.

I’d rather it not be acquired, but if it were, I’d much rather that it be acquired by Apple. That company doesn’t currently have a full-fledged image editor in its software lineup and probably wouldn’t cancel or cripple the product. As Adobe already ships several full-fledged image editing tools, I don’t have much faith they would leave this product intact.

I use Adobe products for much of my day, but I still hate them for what they did to GoLive CyberStudio.

Those 2 have an obsessive, abusive relationship. Adobe cancels Premiere for the Mac, Apple releases Final Cut Pro. I wouldn't be surprised if Apple has a mole in Pixelmator who calls the Apple batphone if Adobe starts to sniff around their office.

I do agree with you that Apple and Adobe have a strained relationship, it has been so for decades. However, your example isn’t correct.

Apple bought Final Cut Pro from Macromedia in 1998 and released its first version in 1999. At the time, Adobe had been releasing new versions of Premiere for both Mac and PC for years, and the product only went Windows-only in 2003 (when it renamed the product Premiere Pro.) In 2007, it started releasing Premiere for both platforms again.

I'm curious as to what reasons people think Adobe might buy Pixelmator other than to shut down the competition? They already have a budget image editor - albeit not as cheap as Pixelmator and is there any technology in Pixelmator that Adobe doesn't already have?

Looks like the v3 update still doesn't support NetPBM files (.pgm, .ppm, etc) - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Netpbm_format

A much earlier version did support this common file format, but for some strange reason it was removed in 2.x.

A pgm/ppm file is a wonderfully simple format - it is basically a simple textual header followed by a binary dump of the image data. So it is trivially easy to parse and load or save. It is for this reason that it is so useful, for example when working on image processing algorithms, it is so convenient to export test data, intermediate results and so forth.

I hope they will (re-)add support for pgm/ppm files soon. If you think this would be useful too, please vote on the support site.

Looks nice, but no thanks. I think I will stick with GIMP (it's free!)

Note to Pixelmator folks:

  Turn good-looking pictures into spectacular.
Perhaps that should say:

  Turn good-looking pictures into spectacular images.
Or something.

Grammatically speaking, you might be best off with,

  Make good-looking pictures spectacular.

  Turn good-looking pictures into spectacular ones.
I think "good-looking pictures" is an awkward phrase that negatively affects the whole sentence. Personally, I would go with:

  Turn a good image into a spectacular one
or, brevis:

  Make good images spectacular

Or "Turn 'good looking' into 'spectacular'".

There are several other grammatical errors or awkward sentence constructions. Pixelmator team: I think you could benefit greatly from hiring a native English speaker to comb through your website copy and fix these (admittedly small) issues. Please don't take offense at that suggestion; I honestly think it would benefit you and your business to do so.

This sentence is grammatically incorrect, too:

"With the new Layer Styles, a complete set of Liquify Tools, and support for the new OS X Mavericks features — creating advanced and polished compositions — is now so much simpler, faster, and more enjoyable."

I suggest something like:

"Creating advanced and polished compositions is now simpler, faster, and more enjoyable with new Layer Styles, a complete set of Liquify Tools, and support for the new OS X Mavericks features."

Its very clunky, maybe 'into something spectacular' (i'm not sure if thats any better)?

Think different!

I like the clever use of css-based animations on the marketing site. The Invision feature tour (http://www.invisionapp.com/tour) does a great job of this as well. It probably goes unnoticed by the majority of visitors, but I think it communicates great design and attention to detail in a very subtle way. Hats off to the designers and marketing team that built a great site to get the message out.

Has anyone tried using this for web design? Any idea how it compares to Photoshop in that regard?

(Obviously Photoshop is not great for web design, but it's still the de-facto standard...)

I have been moving more-and-more toward designing in code because CSS3 has replaced a lot of assets I use to create in PS. I purchased Pixelmator a few months back b/c PS was honestly too expensive for what I needed. It does take a little while to get use to all the new icons, but overall, I am pretty happy with it. It is easy to manipulate and re-size photos, and there are some nice built-in filters to quickly touch photos.

How long have you been in design? Do you remember what things were like before Adobe took over Macromedia? If you're still doing the majority of your design with raster graphics then I'd say that leaving Photoshop for Pixelmator is sort of like leaving it for Fireworks– raw feature lists probably won't make you switch, but if you get the workflow it really shines.

I think Sketch would be more suitable for web design.

Is Sketch a suitable replacement for Illustrator? I've been trying to find the right application to replace Illustrator for my very-infrequent needs which can't justify Adobe's Creative Cloud subscription pricing.

I use Sketch almost exclusively for iOS UI design now. It has its weak points (most specifically relating to undo), but I find it much easier to create pixel-aligned icons than anything else.

We use Sketch + iDraw. Both are not Illustrator, but they deal well with the vector stuff we need. (I'm a dev, not designer, so don't really know exactly what's going on, but we migrated from PS + FW to these tools over a couple of years).

I also use this setup. Sometimes Sketch can be a little fiddly to get SVG export working properly, so iDraw fills that niche nicely for me.

I'm glad to finally see Layer Styles in Pixelmator, for years this feature has been preventing it from being comparable to Photoshop in the eyes of many. The forum was full of people requesting it, the argument was they wanted to "get it right" rather than rushing, which is valid, but it's not really any different from Sketch or Photoshop, so I'm not sure that was really the truth (maybe a Pixelmator dev could shine some light on that?), that said - it's here now so no complaints :-) excellent work chaps & chapettes!

Sketch is good, particularly for smaller intricate work, but runs out of steam under stress. The focus is tighter - Illustrator does much more - and for some categories of work it's a delight to use.

It depends on your infrequent needs. Are you using advanced Illustrator features?

I also cannot justify a subscription to Adobe CC and try to use Sketch as a Fireworks/Photoshop alternative.

I'm definitely not using the advanced Illustrator features. The one limiting factor I've found with Sketch is importing existing .AI files. Seems like I'm unable to ungroup the various elements of a file to work with.

I'm a pretty heavy Photoshop user, so I'll probably take advantage of their photography offer for $10/month which is easily justifiable:


The latest version of Sketch pretty reliably accepts clipboard input from Illustrator. It's not as nice as being able to import .ai files directly, but at least it's a hint of where they might be heading.

I use it for iOS design. It beats Sketch and Photoshop.

I still find sketch better for vectors though.

Pixelmator is great (and I've bought it long ago), but I still have just one simple feature request:


I really wanted to love Pixelmator but this update finally makes it usable for me solely for baseline support in text.

My first thought when on the iTunes web page of Pixelmator: "$29.99, wow this is nothing for that many features"

My second thought when on the App Store Page of Pixelmator: "Update [for free since I bought yrs ago Pixelmator]": WTF these guys are awesome

I am very impressed with this and for $30! Giving photoshop a run for their money!

Can it save 16-bit tifs? I've searched but didn't find any mention.

I've found it in their forum. We'll have more to say about 16-bit support later this year when the new Mac Pro is out.

Nice!. I was glad when I found Pixelmator as an easy to use image tool on OSX after working with Paint.Net on Windows.

I was expecting a paid upgrade, and would have gladly paid because I love it, but this is just great :D

Between this and Sketch I think I am ready to never buy another copy of Photoshop or Illustrator.

I wish the color selectors were better. The pallets need work imho. Otherwise, love the update!

Anyone know how PSD read support has come along?

This is exactly what I wanted to know. Last time I tried it it was nice, but without the ability to read PSDs correctly (and not misinterpret things to be all over the place) it's quite useless to me.

I have to open PSDs that make use of layer styles on a regular basis, so I'd love to pay a much higher price, would it fully support PSDs.

It was pretty much flawless as of 2.2.1, with the obvious exception of layer styles.

Layer styles are HUGE with photoshop work. Once they get that under control, I wonder what else they'll need to make a dent, maybe some design maven to vouch for the tool

I am downloading now. I've always loved the simplicity of the app, very Mac-like

I don't know much about this type of software but one of the big new features they talk about on the linked page is Layer Styles.

Any idea of how their layer styles are now?

this is awesome, i wish I had a mac to make use of it. Are there any good alternatives to this on windows?

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