Simple Picture Editing on Photos for Mac

Everyone these days has either used or heard of Photoshop. An editing powerhouse, it’s use by photographers and artists across the web and across the world. But what do the rest of us do? Drop the $20 a month for Adobe Creative Cloud? Spend a ton of money on other, less professional, photo editing programs? Oh, the plights of a poor college student.

However, something many of us have is a Apple computer. Apple has, in the past couple years, stepped up their game when it comes to their built in applications. With some of the most recent updates they gave us Pages, Keynote, and Numbers. And surprisingly, Photos has become a respectable, if not minimal, photo editing program. Use this tutorial to get a picture from this:

to this:


Some simple changes can make a visually pleasing and vibrant picture.

First, choose a photo to edit.

When you open Photos, the application should open to something like this:

To use Photos to edit a picture, the app needs to have the picture saved onto it. If that’s the case, then the picture should show up on the above page. If the picture isn’t showing up, you probably have it in your computer files. Open Finder, find the picture, and then click and drag your chosen picture over to the Photos window. A little green plus sign will show up once you can drop the picture.

Then once you have your chosen photo, double click on it to open the next window.

Once you have your photo open, click edit on the upper right hand corner.

This will open all of the options for editing that you have.

These options are: Enhance, Rotate, Crop, Filters, Adjust, Retouch, and Extensions. Extensions is only if you’ve bought extra features for Photos,

For the example photo, I won’t be using all of the editing options. However, I’ll go through each and explain them all.

Enhance: In simple terms, it’s like putting glasses on your photo. It boosts the contrast, which makes the objects in the image clearer, and it boosts the saturation, to make the colors more vibrant.

Rotate and Crop: They’re both fairly self explanatory. Use Rotate to turn the image in the direction that you want, and use Crop to cut out edges of the image that you don’t need.

Filters: These are the basic filters that change the color scheme or contrast of your photo. Similar to Instagram, each one gives a different effect.

Adjust: This feature has three options; Light, Color, and Black and White. Adjusting the light changes the exposure in the image, or how much light is shining. Color changes the saturation in the image, so the vibrancy of the colors. And Black and White changes the levels of the picture, but only if you want it to be greyscale (no colors in the image).

Retouch: This has the bandaid icon for a reason. Click and drag on an image to remove, or erase, any parts of the image that you don’t want to be there. This feature is sort of touch and go on any editing program, however the rule of thumb is that it tends to work better on images with “broad canvases”, like portraits or flat landscapes. It doesn’t work well on and image that has so much detail, like the example.

Now, the basic starting point is to click Enhance.

This only works once, but it gives you a good starting point if you don’t want to do too much work.


Next I went to Adjust. 

This is where I decided what specific levels of light and color that I wanted. Though I recommend messing around with the settings until you find something you like, I moved both the Light and the Color toggle a little to the right.

This allowed me to see more detail, especially in the hair of the figures, as well as appreciate the colors of the buildings.

Then you could go to filters.

Though I personally did not do this, filters could give you more options for color value and contrast that you may have not considered.

Once you’re finished, click Done in the upper right hand corner, and you’ll have an edited photo!

Try it out on your own Mac computer, or find Photos on the Apple Store.

Have fun editing!