5 Best Light­room Alter­na­tives for Mac

Parth Shah

Adobe Lightroom is undoubtedly the most popular photo editing software out there. Millions of creators and photographers rely on Adobe’s solution to craft perfect photos with a blend of editing tools at their fingertips. However, the software isn’t as intuitive and a one-time purchase as it used to be. Adobe is cleverly forcing users to go with the Creative Cloud subscription that costs $52.99 per month. If you are looking for a Lightroom alternative for Mac, then read along to find some of the best options.

Lightroom alternatives

Many companies focus on one-time payments and continue to support the software for years to come. If you are in the same boat as other GT members and looking to get out of the Adobe ecosystem then explore the below Lightroom alternatives for Mac.

1. Pixelmator Pro

Pixelmator is one of the best photo editing software available for Mac. We love the whole Pixelmator interface. It’s easy to understand and use, and unlike other apps, Pixelmator doesn’t throw every possible option to the user.

The Pixelmator Pro editing engine is written from the ground up on Metal, Apple’s unique hardware-accelerated graphics API. Built to take full advantage of the latest Mac graphics technologies, Pixelmator Pro squeezes maximum performance out of every Mac.

Pixelmator

Pixelmator Pro includes hundreds of major additions and smaller thoughtful improvements at every turn to the image editing tools, the interface, and the image editing engine.

With full support for RAW photos, a collection of adjustment presets, and incredible retouching tools, it couldn’t be easier to turn good-looking photos spectacular.

Pixelmator is available as a one-time payment for $39.99 on the Mac App Store.

2. Affinity Photo

Thanks to frequent sales and promotions, Affinity’s suite of apps is getting popular among creatives. Affinity Photo is more of an Adobe Photoshop replacement, but you can perfectly use it to replace your Lightroom usage.

Some of the headline-grabbing features of Affinity Photo include 100MP image support, PSD and PSB file support, support for complex vector docs, studio presets for the UI layout, and other time-saving tools. Of course, it does support full RAW development as well.

Affinity photo

The company recently added a path text feature which the GT team simply adores. You can explore a range of diverse typographical designs by adding text along a path. Create a path from any line, curve, or shape drawn with any of the line or shape tools.

Affinity is currently offering 50% off on Affinity Photo, bringing the overall cost to $25 from the original $50 price tag. Go ahead, give it a try and we are sure that you will be left impressed.

3. Skylum Luminar 4

We haven’t been a fan of Luminar’s product at first glance. But the company’s recent release of Luminar 4.1 in March 2021 takes the whole experience to the next level.

Our favorite feature from the bunch is the AI Structure tool. It’s similar to what Google has been trying to achieve with the Google Photos app. The add-on helps to give your images an instant ‘pop’ by improving your photo areas that could look richer and leave everything else in its natural state.

Luminar

Adobe Lightroom, by contrast, offers very few A.I. editing features – any ‘pop’ you want to give your photos, you have to do it manually.

Another huge advantage of Luminar’s library feature is that it can mirror your hard drive. If you move or rename your images or folders outside of Luminar, it will adjust its catalog accordingly.

Other features include the erase tool, portrait enhancer, adjustments amount slider, Lightroom/Photoshop support, and more.

Luminar is offering a 30 days money-back guarantee. You can get the license for one seat at $69.99.

4. RawTherapee

So far, we have only talked about paid Lightroom alternatives for Mac. Let’s talk about a capable open-source Lightroom rival with dedicated RAW support.

At first glance, the default interface will remind you of a perfect mixture between Photoshop and Lightroom. The app isn’t feature-heavy, and it’s an ideal solution for a beginner looking to take a swing at the photography world without costing hundreds of dollars.

Rawtherapee

As the name suggests, RawTherapee shines when working with files and will always keep them intact. It also has many of the editing tools that you’ll find in Lightroom, like adjusting exposure, sharpening and curves, and color correction.

A couple of points to keep in mind before you make up your mind on RawTherapee. There is no way to organize photos like Lightroom, and because it’s not as popular as Lightroom, you will have a hard time finding tutorials on the web.

5. On1 Photo RAW

ON1 Photo RAW is another of our favorite alternatives, and the 2021 version brings in many new features.

Our biggest gripe with On1 Photo RAW is a complex user interface. It’s not simple or streamlined as Lightroom or Luminar. There is a high learning curve, and once you are past that, you will be left amazed with the whole offering.

ON1 has all the photo adjustments you would expect from a Lightroom replacement, including excellent AI auto options for tone. Other new features include SmugMug integration, better noise reduction, an excellent map view mode, new timeline albums, and a new focus mask overlay so you can tell which photos are in focus.

On1 photo raw

When using Photo RAW, there’s no need to import images, as the program will automatically recognize images on your computer’s hard drive.

ON1 Photo RAW has a decent one-time cost at $149.99 and comes with a 30-day free trial and a 90-day money-back guarantee. You can opt for a subscription at $10 per month. A monthly recurring cost is a prime factor in moving away from Lightroom in the first place.

Ditch Lightroom

Adobe continues to dominate the design world with a plethora of apps and services. With that, the company kept increasing the price of single apps subscriptions and the Creative Cloud package. If you are in the same boat as us, then go ahead and give these Lightroom alternatives a try.

Do let us know if you want us to cover alternatives for other Adobe apps.

Next up: Looking to optimize Mac performance? Read the post below to learn about the top seven macOS apps to optimize Mac.


The above article may contain affiliate links which help support Guiding Tech. However, it does not affect our editorial integrity. The content remains unbiased and authentic.

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Parth Shah

Written By

Parth Shah

Parth previously worked at EOTO.tech covering tech news. He is currently freelancing at Guiding Tech writing about apps comparison, tutorials, software tips and tricks and diving deep into iOS, Android, macOS, and Windows platforms.