Photography tools

How to use the built-in image editing tools in Photos on Mac

If you are a Mac user, chances are you use online graphics platforms like Canva or download expensive tools like Adobe Photoshop to edit photos. However, did you know that Mac’s Photos app has built-in photo editing capabilities? It’s quite capable, in fact, and you can use it to render images you’ll be proud to show off.

Here’s how to edit pictures in the Photos app on your Mac.

You can find photo-editing tools buried in Photos, Apple’s built-in app. To get there :

  1. Open at Pictures.
  2. Double-click the image you want to edit, then click Edit in the toolbar. You can also select the thumbnail of the photo, then touch To return to.

Edit button on photos

Photos keeps an original copy of your image and allows you to undo your changes by simply clicking Return to original on the leftmost side of the toolbar. Note that if you’re using iCloud Photos, any edits you make to the image will appear wherever it is.

Related: How to Edit Photos on Mac Using Preview App

If you want to experiment on the photo while keeping the original image, you can duplicate the original photo and make your changes to the duplicated image. To do this, go to Picturesthen Control-click the image, then choose Duplicate 1 picture. You can also use the shortcut Command + D.

Duplicate image in photos

Remove unwanted details with cropping

Crop photos to remove unwanted peripheral objects or simply find the best framing for the shot. Photos can also crop and straighten the image for you; just click Auto.


Manually adjust the frame by clicking and dragging any side of the selection rectangle with free form. If you want a specific measurement, click Aspectchoose a predefined rate or click on Custom and enter your preferred ratio.

Crop feature on photo editing tools on Mac

Click on To return to to flip the image horizontally. Option-click if you want to flip it vertically. If the photo is taken at an uneven angle, straighten it by sliding the tilt wheel on the right side of the image. Click on Reset whether you want to remove the crop or straighten edits.

Enhance photos using filters

Filters on photo editing tools on Mac

Adding filters is an easy way to make your photos more visually appealing. Click on Filters to display the different filters you can use. Choose from nine available filters and drag or click the slider to adjust the amount of filter that will be applied to your photo.

Find the best orientation with rotation

Some devices prefer a specific orientation. For example, photos seen on cell phones are often in portrait mode, while those on desktop computers are often in landscape mode. This makes the Rotate tool very handy.

Just click Turn rotate your image counter-clockwise and Option-click to rotate it clockwise. Keep clicking until you have the orientation you want.

Automatically enhance your images

Even if you are not a retouching professional, you can improve the color and contrast of your photo by clicking on the icon Automatic improvement button, the magic wand icon on the toolbar. If you don’t like the changes, click the icon again or Return to original to undo it.

Use Adjust to refine your photos

Fit to Photo Editing Tools on Mac

Besides the basic tools, Apple has equipped Photos with more than a dozen sophisticated tools to make more advanced adjustments to your images without the need for expensive third-party apps.

Related: Best Photoshop Alternatives for Mac

This feature covers tools for Light adjustments, Touching up for blemishes, White balance remove the color cast, Curves and Levels. Most of these tools have additional options to further refine the photos according to your preferences.

Whether you’re a photo editing beginner or an editing pro, Mac’s built-in photo editing tools offer basic and advanced photo editing capabilities to suit your needs. Plus, the features of Photos are comparable to paid editing tools, so you don’t have to spend a dime on third-party tools anymore.

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