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At the best of times, even with the smallest of images, photo editing has always been a challenging process for any app to cope with. This problem has only worsened with the ever-increasing number of pixels being added to sensors, and the ever-increasing size of the files those sensors produce. Add the uncompressed nature of RAW files into the equation, and you have a recipe for crash-inducing disaster — a disaster that is only avoided with highly skilful development.

Adobe has managed to avoid such troubles, in the shape of Photoshop RAW plugin, and with Lightroom, both of which are trusted by photographers the world over. Apple, too, has raised the standard of Aperture over the years, and it is now as good as any all-in-one you’d care to mention. And the choice doesn’t stop at the software giants — Capture One, darktable and CameraBag are great RAW converters as well.

Hoping to join this league is AccuRaw ($29.99), a new, lightweight conversion app from small development studio, PCDMagic. It looks the part and is well equipped on paper; but is AccuRaw an alternative that’s worth having?

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Among photographic editing apps, Adobe’s Photoshop is not exactly strides ahead of the competition, particularly not in terms of the features required by the average user. Yet it holds the majority market share, mostly due to the Photoshop brand’s early establishment as the go-to image editor. Nowadays, it is a brand name we even use as a verb.

But the competition is catching up. OnOne is not as well known as Adobe, but it is a development company dedicated to photographic apps. Perfect Photo Suite 8 is the latest instalment of its flagship series, and it has just been unveiled in a pre-release beta. It is a package that is designed to work as a comprehensive standalone editor, but it is also happy to work alongside the likes of Photoshop, Lightroom and Aperture.

But can OnOne’s latest offering tempt long-time Adobe customers away from their beloved ‘shop?

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iWork is Apple’s answer to Microsoft Office, and its pro apps directly compete with Adobe’s Lightroom, Premiere Pro, and Audition. But when it comes to Photoshop, the alternate even Apple itself shows off these days is Pixelmator.

Just over 6 years after the first version of Pixelmator was released, the 3rd version of Pixelmator is here with a slightly new name: Pixelmator 3 FX. This new version brings the long-awaited layer styles along with new liquify effects and a brand new, faster-than-ever editing engine.

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The Realmac team's LittleSnapper was the Mac screenshot tool of choice for anyone who wanted to save more than just individual image images to Finder. LittleSnapper turned made it simple to keep a library of everything you've ever snapped, and then annotate and tweak the shots all from one app. And then they decided to start over and make a new app: Ember.

Ember was designed from the ground up to be the best way to organize all of your design inspirations — not just for geeks managing screenshots of apps, even though it's still awesome for that as well. Essentially, you throw all the pictures you want — screenshots, sure, but also photos of architecture or crafts or web design mockups — into your library to easily find them later. Throw in tags and descriptions, and you've got a whole new way to manage those images that otherwise would get lost in Finder.

And now, with the Mavericks-focused v1.2 upgrade, Ember is smart enough to help you find just what you want from your library, and keeps your image assets backed up in iCloud.

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AirPlay is built into iOS and OS X these days, making it simple to mirror anything on any of your devices to your Apple TV. Oddly, though, there’s no built-in way to steam your iOS screen to a Mac using AirPlay, even though the 27” iMac might as well be a TV at that size.

As is so often the case, there’s an app for that. There’s AirServer, the tool that, once installed, lives in your Mac’s Preferences and makes it easy to stream from iOS to your Mac, and Reflector, which makes it look like you’ve actually got an iOS device on your Mac screen. Then, there’s the brand-new X-Mirage that aims to be the best tool both for AirPlay streaming and one-touch recording of anything on your iOS device screen.

Keep reading to see how it stacks up to the competition, and to get a chance to win one of 5 copies of X-Mirage.

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For every Microsoft Word, there’s a Pages — a lightweight option that dispels with a couple of professional features, but still manages to find users because of what’s often described as a superior user interface and compelling ease-of-use. In the case of Photoshop, those options are Acorn and Pixelmator (with Pixelmator being my weapon of choice).

Apps like these aren’t necessarily matching Photoshop feature-for-feature, but they do capture enough of those tools at bargain-bin prices to make them valuable assets to anybody’s digital arsenal. When compared to Adobe Illustrator, iDraw is the Mac-exclusive beautiful-but-bargain-bin competition — especially compared to the often-despised steep subscription fee for Creative Cloud. Read on to find out if iDraw wows me in the same way Pixelmator and Pages do.

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I’m a big fan of UI customization, and I’m always trying to make my desktop look just so. I’ve spent hours searching out just the right icons to match whatever wallpaper I’m using, and a big part of that is finding the perfect set of folders.

That can be a big pain, though, and it can be just as aggravating to switch out all of those folder icons, too. That’s why I jumped at the chance to try out Folder Factory, which promised to be a simple way to not only switch out my folders, but to create new looks myself. (more…)

Whether you’re making a flow or org chart for a report, sketching the changes you want done to your front yard landscaping, or drafting an interactive mockup of your next iPhone app, OmniGraffle is the professional tool on the Mac we’ve come to love and trust. It’s powerful — and yet, it was beginning to feel a bit more than dated, along with the Omni Group’s other apps. They’d already promised revamped versions of OmniFocus and OmniOutliner, but before either of those hit the market, we’ve got a new version of OmniGraffle to try out.

OmniGraffle 6 is a sweeping redesign of the app that reimagines how modern Mac apps should work, while making the popular diagramming app work with Photoshop, Retina Displays, and more.

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At AppStorm we pay very close attention to the App Store. We monitor the introduction of new apps in much the same way that a trader keeps their eyes glued to the markets. We know what’s going up, what’s going down, as well as what’s desperately in need of a bug-fixing update.

As a result, I’m able to inform you that the general trend among vector drawing apps is downsizing. Rather than competing with Adobe’s mighty Illustrator, apps such as iDraw, Artboard and Sketch offer something a little simpler, more compact and more reasonably priced. Happily, from the app buyer’s perspective, the growing number of apps in this niche is creating intense competition, which, in turn, is having a positive effect on quality. In fact, vector artists are spoilt for choice right now.

Yet somehow, still more contenders are finding the room to squeeze into the ring. One such app is Bluetail. It wants to undercut the undercutters, offering a stripped-back, no-nonsense workspace at a rock-bottom price. But does Bluetail fall on the side of value-for-money simplicity, or does it creep into ill-equipped incapability? Time to find out.
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I’ve been slowly putting together a website and a brand for the creative firm that I’m starting (it hasn’t launched, but if you’re curious, feel free to check it out). Branding is not an easy thing. It’s a large, multifaceted process that requires a lot of time, effort and yes, Photoshop skills.

That’s why I admire any company or app that tries to make certain parts of the task easier. I love playing around with text, but I don’t have weeks and weeks to make a great logo. And sometimes, I just need an easy way to experiment. That’s where Logoist comes in. The app makes it as easy as possible to put together a logo by eliminating a lot of the cumbersome heavy lifting Photoshop mandates. Let’s take a look and see if it’s worth your time and money.

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