• Price: 35

  • Company: Pixelmator

  • Pros: Photoshop file support; layers; natural paint engine; save for web.

  • Cons: Type handling could be better; not in the same league as Photoshop; no Windows version.

  • Our Rating: We rate this 8 out of 10 We rate this 8 out of 10

We’re big fans of Pixelmator. In a market dominated by Adobe Photoshop, it does its best to stand out, with a unique interface and an ever-growing set of impressive features.

Version 1.5 has lots of new features aimed at web designers, such as slicing tools, Save for Web, and Trimming (cropping into objects using background colours or transparency). It’s great for getting rid of selection halos – the pesky border of white or light pixels you sometimes get around a cut-and-pasted object.

The new Web Colors plug-in is brilliant when used alongside web-coding applications. When you need to match a background colour, you can cut and paste the hexadecimal notation from Pixelmator to your authoring tool.

One of the most attractive things about Pixelmator is that it’s a true Mac application, dependent on and integrated into OS X Core technologies. Many other components are built on open-source code that’s been tweaked over years.
So, though Pixelmator is relatively new compared to rivals, its features are tried and tested. However, there’s no PC version.

The slick UI design is welcome. Open-source image editor The GIMP is Pixelmator’s closest relative, but in comparison GIMP looks like it was thrown together in the dark.

That’s one of the reasons Pixelmator works so well. It’s not just a clone of far more expensive tools: it’s a different approach, with a look and feel that echoes competitors without aping them.

Pixelmator’s biggest flaw is that it’s not Photoshop, which you almost certainly own and use every day. Pixelmator can’t match its high-end toolset. When it comes into its own is when you want to use your MacBook Pro on the move – Pixelmator runs much faster for many tasks.

At £35 it’s worth buying just to quickly tweak or resize images – or prepare them for the web – on your laptop, even if you do most of your work in Photoshop.