Professional image management for Mac OS X

To our faithful users: we’re sorry for the lack of updates, but it turns out that Aperture is really good! We’re in the process of changing our focus from standalone image management tools to tools to integrate with Aperture (and iPhoto). Stay tuned!


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iPhoto to Keynote plug-in! – now for iPhoto 08 and Keynote 4!
What’s new in Lightbox 1.0.2?
Photographer’s Guide to Lightbox (sorry no longer available) (1 MB)

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Lightbox is a new, easy-to-use, inexpensive photo management application designed from the ground up for serious photographers. Unlike other photo applications, Lightbox doesn’t require you to keep track of what folders you put your images in–it manages everything about an image, including the thumbnail and original raw file, for you. And it can even do so on multiple hard drives! Let Lightbox manage your photos, and don’t ever forget where you stored an image again! Lightbox also has support for:

  • Importing from iPhoto™
  • Emulating iPhoto for use in iDVD™ 3 and iMovie™ 3
  • Raw conversion
  • Previewing some types of raw files*
  • Print contact sheets
  • Multiple storage locations and albums
  • Searching using many options
  • Custom metadata–and searching by it
  • Adobe® Photoshop® integration–Lightbox works flawlessly with the Adobe Camera Raw plugin!
  • Backup to tar.gz
  • Offline viewing (relocate images to CD/DVD and still search for them)
  • Directly burning to a CD or DVD
  • Archiving originals
  • Customized workflows–e.g. copy photos into the storage location or leave alone?
  • 3D Printing Geeks compatibility
  • And more!

Best of all, Lightbox costs only $25 US!

Who should consider Lightbox?
Any serious amateur or professional photographer who’s shooting and wants to use an album system to organize photos instead of just folders on the hard drive. Photographers who wait to convert their raw files, and don’t edit and convert, one by one, will also benefit from Lightbox. Photographers who miss a binder (or drawer) + slide sheet method of organization will also like Lightbox.

Advanced Photo Management
Raw conversion is only a minor feature in Lightbox–it’s designed to be a platform for new tools to help your photography. Currently, you have to remember what folder you stored your images in, browsing and searching can be slow, and finding a system to organize raw and converted can be annoying. Lightbox takes care of all of this for you–use its interface to move files between albums, storage locations (hard drives), revert to the original raw, and more. Choose what images you see/search through by showing and hiding storage locations. Lightbox even includes offline viewing–move some of your images to a CD or DVD but still include the image in your search results! Along with standard EXIF data, Lightbox also lets you add your own custom properties to each image.

Custom Workflow
Convert images with a different raw converter, edit your images in another piece of software, and more! When you’re ready to move the new image into Lightbox, just click “Load New Version from Folder,” and Lightbox will find the converted image, archive the original raw file, and manage the new image for you.

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Try it out!Share Your Photos

Lightbox comes with email, slideshow, archive to tar.gz, make website, set desktop background, and file converter plugins. Its advanced plugin architecture also lets developers quickly and easily create new plugins. Even use your Lightbox albums in iMovie and iDVD!

Download the demo (2.6 MB). It’s completely functional, although it will close after 15 minutes (you can relaunch it).

About the author:This guest article was written by Emma Best from Laptopical - a guide to the latest laptop reviews and laptop related news. You can also follow her on Twitter.

I've been using my MacBook Pro since a while now and I must say: I really love it. The most common app(s) that designers use has to be Adobe Photoshop (Or the full suite). The app(s) are great, but there is a downside: The price tag. Photoshop CS4 costs $699, CS4 extended is $999 and the full Creative Suite starts at an stunning $1799. For many people this is just a little bit too much to 'play around with'.

Luckily, there are also many free applications out there that can do the same kind of job that Photoshop could do for you. This article rounds up the best 15 free Mac Programs for Graphic Designers. Some of these applications can even do stuff that can't be achieved using Photoshop, or are much more simple to use.

Keep your wallet in your pocket, since all these programs will cost you nothing.


The most popular of all free photo editing software, GIMP stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program, and is highly-supported and frequently updated. Comparative to Photoshop, users can perform basic tasks such as photo retouching, color correction, and image size, or more complicated tasks like image composition and creation. GIMP has a scripting interface for advance users, as well as plugins, extensions, and filters.


If you want GIMP, but don't have X11, then Seashore is the appropriate software for you. Based on GIMP, it has nearly all the settings and functions of the more advanced program without the higher requirements.


An excellent alternative to Adobe Illustrator and CorelDraw, Inkscape is a free vector graphics program supporting standard SVG format, as well as XML and CSS standards. This program can do everything you'll need in a vector graphics program - tracing, path operations, direct XML editing, etc. Import and export formats include all the common image types, including JPEG, PNG, and TIFF.

Front End Digital Media Workshop


Don't waste time manually resizing individual photos for your various projects. Front End Digital Media is a batch conversion app for images (as well as video and audio), and allows you to mass resize, resample, split, join, and up/down sample JPEG, PNG, TIFF, BMP, PSD, and PICT image files.

Image Tricks

The biggest appeal for the Image Tricks app is the ability to apply dozens of different filters to over 20 different image formats. The finished photos can then be exported as either TIFF, JPEG, or PNG.

Comipro Plus

If you create cartoons of any type, Comipro Plus is an excellent app. Designed in Japanese but usable to English speakers, this program helps create modern-looking comics, including editing and adding word bubbles.

Google SketchUp

Different from a normal vector graphics program, Google's SketchUp allows you to not only create a design, but view it in 3D. It is easier to use than more complicated 3D software, such as AutoCAD, and is free.



Colorate is used to change and manipulate the colors in a photo. The Library generates a color swatch based on the photo, then allow you to add a new color pallete, either blending the current one, creating a custom one, or randomizing a completely new pallete.


This program is best used for those times when you're viewing your photos, and notice that a color is slightly off, or a side needs cropped a bit more. Instead of firing up a full photo editing application, you can simply make minor adjustments, including color correction, blurs, noise, and embossing.

NIH Image

If you need to animate one of your photos or designs, this program is for you. It's compatible with a wide array of programs, and in addition to animating images, it can also perform minor tweaks to contrast, sharpening, smoothing, filters, and more. It also analyzes particles, angles, and paths.


This program is so simple, it can be used also immediately with no prior instruction. It is used for creating small games, interactive art, and animated stories, and is primarily marketed to children. Despite it's juvenile market, it is an excellent tool for putting together quick interactive banners and images without the learning curve.

DAZ Studio

If you're in need of realistic 3D models, DAZ Studio is an easy-to-learn 3D program for creating 3D objects, including people, animals, and objects (buildings, cars, etc). DAZ Studio is easier to use than other 3D animation tools, and is perfect for creating surrealistic and 3D art.


Built to run with the aforementioned DAZ Studio software, Bryce is used to create real-looking landscapes using photos of real landscapes. Take a picture of your yard, a forest, some mountains, or other landscapes, import it into Bryce, and then add all the elements needed to turn it into a new world.


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If you need a 3D design tool with more power and features than Google SketchUp, ArchiCAD is the right program to you. Similar to AutoCAD in both function and name, this program allows users to design their sketches and ideas into a realistic 3D render.


Every graphic designer requires an efficient way to keep all their photos and images organized. JAlbum is the ultimate photo organizer, as it not only allows you to organize your photos and folders using simple drag-and-drop functionality, but it also creates thumbnails and HTML pages of your photos for easy online publishing. The HTML pages to publish can be made to either export a gallery or a slide show. In addition, there's support for IPTC and EXIF data, lossless editing, image filters, style sheets, and an integrated FTP client.

Bonus: Pixelmator

I've added Pixelmator myself to this list, as Emma didn't include this app to her top 15 list. I really love to use Pixelmator myself and I don't think it should be missing from this amazing list.

Pixelmator, the beautifully designed, easy-to-use, fast and powerful image editor for Mac OS X has everything you need to create, edit and enhance your images.

Bonus: Blender

Just like Pixelmator, I've added Blender myself to this list, as Emma didn't include this app to her top 15 list. Blender is a great open source app for 3d content.

Blender is the free open source 3D content creation suite, available for all major operating systems under the GNU General Public License.

Are there more Mac Apps that you, as a graphic designer, love to use that is missing from the list above? Please share!

This guest article was provided to you by Emma Best from Laptopical.

Tags: guest articlemacappsgraphic designtoolsfree

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