[Mac OS X] Photo LE is a surprisingly good photo editor that’s free

screen800x500Free Mac apps are something that many people like to download, but the word “free” can have some bad connotations when it comes to the world of apps. All too often, “free” also means “limited” or “slapdash” or “not worth my time.” But for every abysmal free app out there, there is a surprisingly good one. If you’re in the market for a photo editing tool, you might want to check out the free app Photo LE.

What is it and what does it do

Main Functionality

Developed by the Swiss firm of cf/x AG, Photo LE is the sister application of Photo, which costs $19.99. Photo LE claims to have “ALL THE TOOLS YOU’LL EVER NEED” for editing photos, including cropping, filters and presets, effects, transparencies, text overlay, multiple export options, contrast tools and color tweakers, frames, and edge blurs.


  • Nice, user-friendly design
  • One-click exporting to social sites, iPhoto, and Aperture (and supports export in multiple file formats)
  • Play around with 20 different presets to get just the right look for your photos
  • Developers offer a newsletter to alert you to new updates, improvements, and additions to the app
  • Drag and drop interface
  • Grid overlay makes it easy to find the center point of any image, or divide the image
  • One click vertical or horizontal mirroring
  • All photo effects are customizeable


  • Enabling hi-resolution export requires an in-app purchase of $19.99 to upgrade you to the full version of Photo
  • F/X menu goes away after you click your options, so you have to re-open the menu every time you want to play with a new filter
  • Slight delay between applying filter and seeing it applied.


screen800x5002I was skeptical of claims made on the App Store for this app, such as “photo development is fun again” or “the photo app for everyone.” But I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this app is not only jam-packed with features, but thoroughly easy to use.

Between one-click exporting and one-click filters, this app is as easy as you want it to be. And yet, it provides some higher level photo editing options for those who want them. It’s rare to find a photo editor that appeals so much to beginners and advanced editors.

This app is also great if you’re the kind of photographer who adds watermark/copyright text and/or logos to your work. Adding these elements is a snap. I also liked that Photo LE makes it easy to any font, with customizable opacity. Aspect control and composition guides make it easy to crop your photos for maximum artistic balance. Overall, a really solid free app.

Conclusion and download link

Despite some minor quibbles, I actually found Photo LE to be the most simple, intuitive, and enjoyable Mac photo editor I’ve ever used. It’s so easy to find what you need, and this app was clearly designed with a lot of care and forethought. Do note, however, that photographers who need hi-resolution export will need to make an in-app purchase of $19.99 to upgrade you to the full version of Photo. All that being said, Photo LE comes highly recommended, particularly for beginner and intermediate digital photo editors.

Price: Free

Version reviewed: 1.2.0

Supported OS: OS X 10.7 or later

Download size: 19.8 MB

Photo LE on Mac App Store

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