Pixelmator for iPad review: The best image editor on the iPad

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The Good Pixelmator for iPad has tons of advanced photo-editing tools and each have intuitive controls for making precise adjustments.

The Bad There is no version for the iPhone.

The Bottom Line Advanced photo editing features and tons of artistic tools for creating and editing images make Pixelmator a must-have for photo enthusiasts and well worth the price.


9.3 Overall
  • Setup 9
  • Features 10
  • Interface 9
  • Performance 9

Pixelmator for iPad is a pro-level image editor with tons of templates, tools and effects for perfecting your photo projects. It has a full set of artistic tools so you can touch up a photo or paint a picture from scratch. It also supports iCloud Drive and handoff features so you can start working on one Apple device and seamlessly move to the next.

Pixelmator has been available for Mac for a long time, acting as an affordable ($29.99) but serviceable alternative to Adobe Photoshop. But with the iPad version, it feels as though a lot of thought went into creating the best tools for a touchscreen, making it a benchmark to compare to other top-shelf photo editors for iPad. To sweeten the deal, it only costs $4.99.

Made for touchscreens

On the Mac desktop, Pixelmator closely resembled the Photoshop experience with separated tool palettes, a layer manager, and other windows you could move for flexibility in your personal workflow.

Many photo editors for iOS come packed with features, but the screen often gets crowded with buttons, sliders and toolbars that get confusing. With Pixelmator on the iPad your project is front and center, but by using a handful of buttons at the top and onscreen tools, you can get to the app's many features without much screen clutter.

You start by touching the plus sign in the upper left to either take a picture or import one from your photo library or iCloud Drive. You can also create a project from scratch using this menu, with a number of templates that include several collage types, poster layouts, or even greeting cards. Even if you just want to start with a blank sheet to work with, you have complete control over its dimensions with a keypad where you can enter the width and height.

Few buttons, enormous feature list

Once you have an image onscreen or if you decided to start with a blank slate, your main tools are in the upper right. Touching the paintbrush gives you a dropdown menu with artistic tools for painting, retouching, or drawing; lets you adjust colors and effects; gives you selection tools (like the lasso from Photoshop); and you can make formatting adjustments.

To the right of that is a plus sign button where you can shoot or import a new image as a layer, add text with several font selections, or add basic shapes (squares, stars, etc.) in a few different colors.

Next to that is the settings menu button where you can adjust canvas dimensions, toggle onscreen rulers and snap-to guides, and enable supported pressure sensitive stylus devices.

A sharing button lets you send a copy via the iOS sharing menu, open your project in another app, save to iCloud Drive, or save to your photo library.

The fifth and final button in the upper right is a question mark that lets you toggle tool tips so you can get the gist of the main controls.

Editing images

With this simple set of controls, you can do a multitude of different actions, all of which are extremely intuitive on the touch screen.

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