Pixelmator 2.4 for iOS brings full iOS 11 compatibility, including HEIF and Drag and Drop support


The iOS version of the image editing tool Pixelmator received an update on Tuesday, with version 2.4 “Cobalt” making the app fully compatible with iOS 11, including support for the HEIF format for images and the ability to Drag and Drop files into Pixelmator projects.

A useful addition for iPad users and part of the productivity additions introduced with iOS 11, the ability to use Drag and Drop makes it easier for users to incorporate other media into their Pixelmator compositions. Files can be moved individually or as a group into Pixelmator, including from Split View and the recent files pop-up window from apps located in the Dock.

The addition of High Efficiency Image File (HEIF) support means that Pixelmator is able to use photographs taken on an iPad or an iPhone using the format, instead of JPEG images. Apple introduced HEIF in iOS 11 to improve the compression of images, reducing the amount of an iPhone or iPad’s storage that photographs consume without losing quality, though apps also have to be updated to support images using it.

The Cobalt update also incorporates a number of bug fixes and other improvements, with the developers highlighting four of the main changes in its release notes. One fix related to the app unexpectedly quitting when “zooming in after starting a selection,” while another solves a problem where Pixelmator would occasionally stop responding after the user immediately tries reopening an image after closing it.

The development team also fixed an error where the composition would randomly disappear when layers are added or removed. Lastly, an issue where buttons in the Color and Format popovers would not respond to touches by the user has been cleared up.

Pixelmator for iOS is available in the iOS App Store for $4.99. It is compatible with the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch running iOS 9.1 or later, and takes up 138 megabytes of storage.

The update to the iOS version of Pixelmator echoes similar changes made to the macOS edition earlier in October. Version 3.7 “Mount Whitney” updated the image editor to be fully compatible with macOS High Sierra and added support for HEIF photographs, as well as a number of other integration and performance improvements.

Pixelmator 3.7 for macOS fully compatible with High Sierra, launchable from Photos app


Image editing app Pixelmator has been updated with full compatibility for macOS High Sierra, with version 3.7 ‘Mount Whitney’ of the app also adding support for HEIF files and more integration with the Photos app, along with a number of other performance improvements and bug fixes.

As part of the macOS High Sierra compatibility, Pixelmator’s High Efficiency Image File (HEIF) support allows images using the image format to be imported into the editing tool. HEIF photographs created by iOS devices are said to be more efficiently compressed than equivalent JPEG images, effectively taking up less of an iPhone or iPad’s storage while maintaining quality.

The increased integration empowered by High Sierra now means that it is possible to open Pixelmator from within the Photos app, by right-clicking and selecting Pixelmator under the “Edit With” menu. Once editing has completed, the resulting image can be saved back into the Photos app library.

Pixelmator’s existing Photos app extensions have also been updated, fixing an issue where the extensions would quit unexpectedly on “certain new Mac computers,” according to the update’s release notes.

Other changes included as part of the update include improvements to the repair tool algorithm to make it faster and more accurate, better support for Photoshop files, and a repositioning of the quick selection tool’s live preview. A bug where the rulers would occasionally disappear when text was being edited has been fixed, and the developers have also reintroduced the ability to drag and drop images from Safari and Photos directly into Pixelmator documents.

The update is available to download free from the Mac App Store, where Pixelmator is priced at $29.99.

An upgraded version of Pixelmator is due to arrive this fall to take on the dominant Adobe Photoshop, with Pixelmator Pro introducing a redesigned interface, new tools for retouching images, and a “remove and replace” repair tool powered by Apple’s Core ML. Custom key layouts for the MacBook Pro Touch Bar, iCloud sync between the iOS and macOS versions, and split-screen multitasking on the iPad are also touted in this new version.

Pricing and a release date for Pixelmator Pro remain unknown, but the company confirms Pixelmator will continue to be maintained after Pixelmator Pro ships.

Pixelmator Pro to Feature AI-Powered Photo Editing Features

Pixelmator is an image editor for macOS that launched back in 2007 and has since grown into a formidable alternative to Adobe Photoshop in a previously untouchable domain. Now the company has just announced a Pro version of its software, which is set to be released this fall.

On the surface, Pixelmator Pro has a completely redesigned interface that aims to reduce the clutter. The company says it is “designed exclusively for working with images”, and it puts the image front-and-center, eschewing the floating windows of its predecessor for a streamlined and unified display.

Unlike Photoshop, Pixelmator Pro is fully native to macOS, meaning you get all of the niceties that the operating system brings: built-in versioning, split view, iCloud support, native tabs, touch bar support, and trackpad force touch.

The team has taken advantage of macOS’ Metal 2 to improve GPU utilization, and Apple’s CoreML framework to introduce AI machine learning features to the software. This enables things like automatic layer naming based on content, automatic horizon straightening, more intelligent selections and a Repair tool to remove and replace sections of your image (think Photoshop’s Content-Aware Fill).

“Using machine learning, Pixelmator Pro automatically recognizes the contents of images and gives descriptive names to every layer you add to your composition. In real-time. So you don’t end up with a bunch of layers called Layer 1 to Layer 99. Just drop in a photo from your Photos library or elsewhere on your Mac and it will automatically be named for you.”
“With the help of machine learning, Pixelmator Pro detects the horizon in images to automatically straighten your shots for you.”
“Featuring an algorithm developed and enhanced using machine learning, the Repair Tool lets you paint over objects to remove them, recreating image areas with stunning realism. It intelligently matches surrounding colors, textures, and even the structure of the image to naturally repair areas. As if by magic.”

Pixelmator Pro allows full RAW editing and adjustments with nondestructive edits, but it lacks the library management tools of Lightroom. It also includes what the company calls a “cutting-edge painting engine”, allowing for brush painting that is “staggeringly responsive, fluid, and natural”.

The software will be available this fall, with the price yet to be announced. It’s not clear whether the original Pixelmator will run alongside the advanced Pro version, but the former is currently priced at $30 on macOS. Pixelmator Pro will also be released on the iPad sometime after the macOS launch and will be competing heavily with Affinity Photo for the iOS photo editing crown.

You can find out more about Pixelmator Pro on the extensive launch website that has just gone live.

Enable Pixelmator Extensions in Photos for Mac to Gain Retouch & Distort Tools

Pixelmator Extensions can be added to Photos app

Pixelmator for Mac is a powerful photo editing and image manipulation app which makes for an excellent Photoshop alternative. Even better, the latest versions of Pixelmator come with a couple of optional Extensions for Photos app on the Mac that bring some interesting and fun capabilities into the Photos app editing tools.

Enabling these Pixelmator Extensions in Photos app will give you a set of powerful retouching capabilities and distortion tools that are easy to use, and can be accessed directly from Photos app without launching Pixelmator.

This is a fun little extension toolkit to add into Photos app on the Mac, but if if you’re anything like me you had no idea these little extensions were included in Pixelmator, perhaps because they must be manually enabled.

How to Enable Pixelmator Extensions in Photos on Mac

You will obviously need Photos app for Mac, which is bundled with modern MacOS releases, and Pixelmator for Mac, which is a third party application that can be purchased separately for around $30. Assuming you have Pixelmator (update it if you haven’t done so recently) and Photos on the Mac, here’s how you can enable the optional Pixelmator Extensions for Photos:

  1. Open Photos app on Mac and open any picture, then click on the Edit button (it looks like a couple of sliding knobs)
  2. Choose the photo editing adjustment option

  3. Click on the “Extensions” button (it looks like a circle with three dots)
  4. Choose the Extensions button

  5. Choose “More” from the Extensions popup
  6. Choose the More button

  7. Check the boxes next to “Pixelmator Distort” and “Pixelmator Retouch” in Extensions System Preferences
  8. Enable the Pixelmator Extensions in Photos for Mac

  9. Back in Photos for Mac, click on the “Extensions” button again to reveal the newly enabled Pixelmator extensions, select either to access the corresponding Pixelmator Extensions tools
  • Pixelmator Retouch gives you Repair, Clone, Light, Color, Soften, and Sharpen brushes
  • Pixelmator Distort gives you Warp, Bump, Pinch, Twirl Left, Twirl Right, and Restore

The two Pixelmator Extensions options in Photos for Mac

These Pixelmator extensions are remarkably easy to use, directly inside of Photos app and without opening Pixelmator at all.

Keep in mind these aren’t meant to be a replacement for using Pixelmator with it’s full suite of extensive image editing, manipulation, and modification tools, they’re just meant to augment the Photos app experience on the Mac.

Anyway, if you have Pixelmator on your Mac and you use the Photos app too, be sure to give these little hidden extensions a try, they’re fun and a nice little addition to the built-in Photos app editing features.

Pixelmator is a fun app in general and if you want something quite similar to Photoshop without the hefty price tag, it can fit the bill. Beyond standard photo editing and image manipulation tools, Pixelmator also has capabilities to draw vector art and to create pixel art too. For those not interested in spending any money on a paint and image editing app, a lesser capable but still nice tool is Gimp, a free Photoshop alternative for Mac that is reasonably good as well.

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