The Ultimate Mac Setup for Photographers (50 Apps)

OS X is a popular platform for professional photographers, and offers a huge range of software which can help to take better photos, streamline post-processing, sell images, and publish them for others to view. Whether you’re a complete amateur or a seasoned pro, this roundup will have something new to show you.

We’ll be covering 50 fantastic applications for various areas of photography: organizing, post-processing, geo-tagging, panoramas, HDR images, uploading/sharing images, and more.

Organizing & Editing Photos


  • iPhoto – The basic photo program shipped with OS X, iPhoto packs a wide range of features and integrates brilliantly with all the other software on your Mac.
  • Adobe Photoshop Lightroom – A professional photo organization tool, complete with powerful editing features. You can quickly import, process, manage, and showcase your images — from one shot to an entire shoot.
  • Aperture – Having improved a great deal in recent versions, Aperture now offers a good way to cull through shoots, enhance images, manage massive libraries, and deliver stunning photos.
  • Capture One Pro – The choice of seasoned professionals, Capture One works well for tethered shooting and offers a solid tool for a RAW workflow.
  • Picasa – Google’s free photo management application, Picasa is friendly and simple to use. It lacks the innovative features found in recent versions of iPhoto.
  • Bibble – Another RAW workflow tool, useful for organizing photos with a wide range of editing functionality.
  • Shoebox – A solid solution for organizing all of your photos by content, with an interface well suited to widescreen displays.
  • JetPhoto Studio – An easy-to-use photo management app with a range of publishing features (including the automatic creation of Flash web galleries)
  • Photoshop Elements – Step-by-step editing, compositing tools, and it’s built on the solid foundation of Adobe Photoshop.

Post Processing


  • Adobe Photoshop – The de-facto photo editing application, Photoshop has been an industry leader for many years. It’s incredibly powerful, but comes at a price.
  • Pixelmator – An incredibly fast photo editing tool for OS X, which uses various speed-enhancing features of Leopard. Definitely worth taking a look at.
  • Seashore – A native application built upon the core of GIMP, offering a well-rounded, free photo editing solution.
  • Corel Painter X – Taking a slightly different angle, this app tries to simulate as accurately as possible the appearance of traditional media associated with drawing and painting.
  • Acorn – A remarkably uncluttered and simple photo editor for OS X, with a great in-built brush designer.
  • Picturesque – Useful for adding the finishing touches to a photo, such as borders, shadows, perspective, reflections etc.
  • PhotoComplete – Similar to Acorn, PhotoComplete is a basic image editor which excels on account of a simple and easy-to-understand interface.
  • Prizmo – This app allows you to easily change the perspective of a photograph, and essentially “scan” using a digital camera. Fascinating stuff.

Batch Processing


  • Automator – The built-in automation app from Apple, which can perform a range of photo manipulation actions and be easily extended with a range of plugins.
  • iMagine Photo – Another tool for automating your image processing workflow. You can scale, crop, blend images, apply filters and rotate.
  • EasyBatchPhoto – Allows you to process hundreds (or thousands) of images with a single drag-and-drop, with a simple looking interface.
  • PhotoDrop – A simple utility that allows you to create small, customized droplets that turn the tedious task of modifying a folder of images into a simple drag-and-drop operation.

HDR Photography


  • Photomatix – A widely popular HDR app with tone mapping and exposure fusion. It works as a standalone app, or as a plugin for Photoshop or Aperture.
  • Qtpfsgui – Despite the horrendous name, this tool is completely open source and offers a free way to start a HDR workflow.
  • Hydra – A user-friendly interface, automatic matching of images and an Aperture plug-in make Hydra definitely worth a look.
  • Silverfast – Whilst starting to look at little dated, Silverfast seems to offer a fairly large set of advanced features. Not too user-friendly.
  • Bracketeer – A front-end GUI for Enfuse, which offers an auto-align feature and can supposedly create far better looking images than Photoshop. You can be the judge!
  • FDRTools – Another similar tool for combining images, tone mapping, and exporting in a variety of different formats.

Panoramas & Stitching


  • Panorama Tools – A page crammed with technical information seems to suggest that this is a very proficient set of tools for stitching and viewing panoramas. Also available as a Photoshop plugin.
  • Double Take – A very simple, user-friendly interface make this a good choice for when you can’t get far enough away to fit everything in the viewfinder.
  • PhotoWarp – Capable of producing some fascinating circular warps and panoramas, PhotoWarp is something a little different.
  • Flexify – Allows you to bend and stretch a photo into seemingly any shape, creating some really impressive effects.
  • Panorama2Flash – Support for batch conversion and Flash export make this app a full-featured alternative to those previously mentioned.

Uploading & Sharing


  • Flickr Uploadr – A fantastically simple app for uploading your photos to Flickr and ensuring they remain organized as you’d like.
  • Facebook iPhoto Plugin – A simple plugin for uploading images straight to Facebook, supporting tagging and organization within the app itself. Far better than the web based tools.
  • iStockPhoto Aperture Plugin – If you sell images through iStockPhoto, this plugin can be a real time-saver. If you use another stock site, check around to see if a different plugin has been created (you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised).
  • iWeb – Apple’s basic website design app can be very useful for creating quick, good looking photo galleries and slideshows from images already contained in iPhoto or Aperture.
  • PictureSync – Offering a central app for tagging and organizing photos for upload to a wide range of different online services.
  • Smilebox – A fun and friendly service for scrap-booking, creating cards, and quickly sharing photos.



  • Geophoto – See your pictures from a new perspective and start tagging by location. It can import photos directly from iPhoto or Aperture and share them on Flickr.
  • PhotoLinker – A professional solution than can integrate with GPS tracks, attempting to automatically put your photos in precisely the right location.
  • GeoTagger – A droplet for inserting GPS coordinates into your photos that integrates with Google Earth.
  • HoudahGeo – Catering for both geotagging for archival purposes, and for publishing to Google Earth, Flickr or locr. Also capable of matching photos to a GPS track.
  • PhotoGPSEditor – An easy to use meta-data editor for photo files, plus it can match data from GPS (gpx or NMEA) files. Completely free.
  • Trails for iPhone – If you have an iPhone, Trails is a fantastic way to track exactly where you’ve been for later geotagging. It doesn’t require an internet connection – great for when traveling.

Backup & Recovery


  • CameraSalvage – Retrieve your photos from corrupt or formatted flash cards or other digital camera media. It can recover data from digital camera media cards, hard drives, CD-ROM, external devices, Apple iPods, and much more.
  • Salvage – Salvage is a tool for recovering digital camera pictures from corrupt removable media.
  • ImageRecall – And another. ImageRecall will do it’s best to recover any photos from a corrupt or accidentally deleted card.
  • Time Machine – The OS X Leopard backup solution. All that you require is an external hard drive, and to keep a copy of your website locally.
  • Dropbox – I use Dropbox as a means of keeping an off-site backup of important website documents and files (though it’s also great at keeping multiple computers in sync!)
  • SuperDuper – If you’d like to keep a bootable backup of your Mac hard drive, SuperDuper is an excellent solution.


A huge selection of software is available for photographers, from direct tethered capturing right through to uploading images to a stock photography website. It’s always worth trying out a few options before settling on one in particular (especially when considering major software choices such as Aperture vs Lightroom).

Which pieces of photography software could you not do without? I’m interested to read about the applications that fit into your workflow.


Add Yours
  • sweet!

  • Awesome post, just about to feature it over at

  • Cool. Thanks!

  • A nice addition to this list is If you use multiple cameras on your mac this can be a handy app.

  • Allthough it’s bought by Microsoft and renamed to Expression Media, the good old iView Media is still serving me better than any other app to organise, tag, view, preview and select photo’s. One of the big advantages is that is can drag and drop directly into InDesign.

  • A couple of others. For simple panoramas there’s Panorama Factory and for uploading to flickr, the wonderful Flickery. I do love Pixelmator!

  • I look forward to checking some of those out. Also very cool is HuginOSX for stitching and Maperture, an Aperture plugin for geotagging. Both are free.

  • Sorry, but I think some of the best are missing: Photo Mechanic, Image Ingester Pro, Autopano Pro.

  • I think this is too much for a photographer. I use Aperture, Photoshop and Automator, & even when I’m not an authority, I think that with this three apps I’m more than suited.

  • No Lightroom?

    • Look again, Lightroom is on there.

      • I guess it’s confusing because this list calls it “Photoshop Lightroom” and that’s incorrect. It’s simply “Adobe Lightroom.” and speaking of is vers.3.0 out yet? Or we still on 2? Which is awesome for batch processing I must say!

  • Thanks for a good posting!! You may wish to add CDFinder, it catalogs all data, supports geotagging and metadata of all kind, and can even upload photo to I would be lost without it. It also has a “FileCheck” to see if the photos are really unchaged. Very cool…

  • Surprised not to see any mention of watermarking applications like iWatermark. I would have thought any ‘Pro’ photographers sharing images with potential clients or via web galleries would be looking to add basic watermarks or other notices / credits to their works?

  • I’ll be writing some features about post production for car photographers on my blog soon. Did you also know about a new image management app. called Photo Key? I’m trying out a version of it and quite like it so far.

  • great bunch of collection bro,
    thanks for the share

  • Another nice one I’ve found recently was DxO optics. Great for distortion correction and touch up.

  • i like superduper, use it when i move from G5 to Intel

  • Yes, Adobe Lightroom and Bridge also is very good for organizing photos.
    You can even add tags on Metadata for searching option!!

  • Does anyone know of Event photography software? I’m currently using PC Event for Santa and team photos, but would love to move to the mac platform for that type of photography.

    I have 2 olmec dy sublimation roll printers for 5×7 prints, and with PC Event can shoot, border, print out a 5×7 in about 30 seconds.

  • In the post processing section you mention software based on the GIMP engine. Why not mention GIMP itself?

  • I can’t believe you left PhotoMechanic off the list.

    • I’ve worked at 3 different newspapers over 10 years, and at every one PhotoMechanic was part of the workflow.

      I believe that it is also a part of the workflow for the Associated Press (Considering there are tools built into it specifically for the AP). I continue to use it in my workflow as a wedding photographer.

      I’m in strong agreement with Jonathan. I really can’t believe that one of the most powerful keywording, editing and industry standard tools was left off of this list.

  • I second Hugin. I’ve used it for the PC and I know they have a mac version which I have yet to try out. Sounds like I have a plan for the weekend.

  • Very helpful collection. Thank you.

  • cant a majority of these apps be eliminated? Photoshop handles a majority of what 20 of the apps do.

  • Being new to the DSLR world it would be helpful if this list was brought into perspective a little more and with some hints and suggestions on how to pare it down to 2 – 4 apps that, not only work well but work well together.

    I was hoping for a short “best of” list or an actual mac setup of apps and a short brief on how to work with them. This is just a google list of apps to work with via mac or pc in some cases.


  • Picassa uploader….super easy, free (tied into with gmail), although storage space is limited…it’s great for my work (tv production)

  • Don’t forget Graphic Converter It’s the Swiss Army knife of the Mac world. $35, but worth every penny.

    • Graphic Converter is so close to Photoshop that for my humble needs, I’ve dropped Photoshop for years. You won’t believe the power and simplicity contained in Graphic Converter. Research it and see if it doesn’t fulfill most of your needs at an extraordinarily low price.

  • For those looking for a freeopen-source photo-stitching software, checkout Hugin at

  • Thanks for the article, but can I add one more app?

    Thousands of Photographers use Photojunction for wedding album design. It integrates seamlessly with Photoshop then directly to album companies and labs.

  • +1 on Photo Mechanic. No workflow should be without it. And, though it might be a bit of a ‘tweener’ in terms of functionality, the Slide Show Pro hosted service is a must have for me.

  • Amazing the amount of stuff with the Mac. I’m still new to Mac and learning.

  • Awesome … though some of them might be obsolete, due to integration in newer versions, but pretty substantial … thanks!

  • wow, great! makes me wanna get paid for pictures and get this setup!

  • I’m thinking you didn’t dig deep enough in your panoramic applications research. Panotools is a powerful tool, but needs a GUI for the average user.

    PTGui ( is a powerful tool for stitching panoramas from any camera/lens combination. Its Assistant mode makes panorama stitching quite simple, and its advanced modes provide the most up-to-date tools for the advanced photographer.

    I don’t work for them, I just use the product and enjoy its power.

  • add ‘iPhoto Buddy’ to yoru list, for managing different libraries with iPhoto

  • LightZone belongs on the list of post-processing software.

  • wow! that. was. immense. Great post… Its now my mission to get every software on it!

  • Please, for the love of humanity, don’t encourage more damn HDR images—they’re like the “Hang in there, buddy” kitten poster of the 2000’s!

  • You are missing FlickExport for Aperture and for iPhoto from Fraser Speirs

  • Hi. Did you hear about the new uploading/organizing tool called Fotopedia? The project is still quite young, yet worth a check:

  • hmm…
    i only have some of them.
    gotta try them all.
    awesome list there.

  • How you could miss Stitcher and Autopano Giga in the Panoramas section is beyond me. Just another reminder of how sponsored this blog is…

    Autodesk Stitcher

    Autopano Giga

    • Hi Belinda, thanks for the comment. Sorry we missed those two – it’s remarkably difficult to get every relevant app together for all these different categories!

      I can assure you that our sponsors have no influence on what we write or select to feature in a roundup.

  • I’d like to congratulate you for this beautiful article was a really nice article.

  • beautiful information… thank you,

  • great info, made it easy for me to choose my apps.

    thank you.

  • a very good topic thank you Merry Christmas

  • great share many thanks

  • Nice list, and let indeed not forget gimp

  • Article should be called 50 great photo apps for mac instead of ultimate photographers setup!

  • . Just another reminder of how sponsored this blog is……..

  • This is the best post ever! thanks a million!!!!

  • PhotoDrop seems to have disappeared!
    Anyone have a copy lying around?

  • is this app good for studio picture

  • Thank You site Owner Super….

  • The Cantarell font doesn’t show very well for my screen.

  • Just to let everyone know that the QTPFSGUI for HDR photography is now known as Luminance HDR and can be downloaded here:

  • very nice photos thank you for sharing..
    Good works!

  • can I swipe any WordPress theme from any blog, including trademarked graphics?

  • Hi there, i read your blog from time to time and i own a similar one and i was just curious if you get a lot of spam responses? If so how do you prevent it, any plugin or anything you can advise? I get so much lately it’s driving me crazy so any assistance is very much appreciated.

  • LightZone belongs on the list of post-processing software.

  • Hi there, i read your blog from time to time and i own a similar one and i was just curious if you get a lot of spam responses? If so how do you prevent it, any plugin or anything you can advise?

  • Essay writing is my assistence in MBA education.

    MBA admission essays

  • I just wanted to comment on your blog and say I really enjoyed reading your blog here. It was very informative and I also digg the way you write! Keep it up and I’ll be back soon to find out more mate.

  • Hi there,

    Wow, thanks for that informative review, much appreciated.

    I want an application that will help me with the following:

    I have a folder with 2500 photos in it, a lot of these photos I want to delete and the rest I want to organise into about 8 folders. This is my only objective for an application ie. the best photo folder organiser which also makes it easy to delete the photos at the same time.

    What do you recommend?


  • Awesome article, exactly what I was looking for. Thanks for this!!

  • Great Article. How about an update?