Create easy photo collages on a Mac with CollageIt Free

With no collage feature in iPhoto, where does a Mac user turn when the need arises for a quick photo collage? One place you might start is CollageIt Free.

CollageIt Free seems to be making its way up the ranks in the Mac App Store, so let's take a look at what this free collage app can do.

When you first launch the app, it opens a window with a variety of templates spread across four styles: Mosaic, Grid, Center, and Pile. After you choose a template, you can then start adding photos to the app to start making your collage. You can either use the "+" button in the lower-left corner of the CollageIt window to browse photos to add to your collage, or you can simply drag photos to the left-hand panel of CollageIt from a folder or directly from iPhoto. With either method, you can select multiple photos to import, saving you from having to go one by one. If you select more than 20 photos, however, you'll discover one of the limitations of the free app. It puts a cap on the number of photos you can include in any single collage at 20. Upgrade to the $4.99 Pro app and that number increases to 200.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

Once you have selected your photos, you can drag photos from one collage box to another to swap places, and by clicking on a photo in a collage and then clicking the Crop button below it, you can reposition the photo in that frame. You can also use the Random Layout and Shuffle buttons at the top of the CollageIt window to reorder your photos.

To the right of the center work area are a handful of sliders to tweak the look of your collage. You can rotate the photos in the collage, increase or decrease the spacing between the photos, and increase or decrease the size of the photos (which, in turn, decreases or increases the number of photos that are included in a collage). Your changes show up in real time, and the app felt responsive during my time with it today.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

In addition to your choice in templates, you also have a choice in background. You can choose from any number of (largely corny, in my humble opinion) images/patterns, or you can select Color Fill. With Color Fill, you can choose a solid color or choose a gradient fill of two colors that run either top to bottom or left to right

Between the Templates and Background buttons in the upper-left corner of the app is a Page Setup button. Here, you can choose from six predefined page sizes, ranging from 800x600 pixels to 1,920x1,440, and either landscape or portrait orientation. The Pro version of the app will let you select a custom-size page.

When your collage is set, click the Export button in the upper-right corner. You can export it as an image (PNG, JPEG, TIFF, GIF, BMP) or a PDF, or you can set it as your Mac's wallpaper or e-mail it. The Share on Facebook link at the bottom does not let you share your works of art but only lets you trumpet your discovery of the app to your friends.

CollageIt Free is not without its limits, but it offers enough tools to merit a trial run if you are in need of a collage app on your Mac.

 

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