Pixelmator for OS X is a powerful image editor for the rest of us

Some folks really need Adobe Photoshop with all its bells and whistles. However, Pixelmator has long been my graphics editing program of choice. The app has only gotten better with the recently released version 3.4, which changes the name to Pixelmator Twist and adds a plethora of new features.

Launch the application and you’re presented with an iMovie-style set of choices: Create New Image, Open Existing Image or Open Recent Image (the latter replaces the former Start Using Pixelmator option). Pixelmator supports over 100 different file formats, including — thank you, Pixelmator Team — PSD files.

The Pixelmator toolbar is very Mac-like. It’s streamlined, clean and easy to use after a short learning curve.

The software is user friendly, working with Photos and the late, lamented iPhoto and Aperture. For example, the Photo Browser palette in Pixelmator lets you access your Photo Library, albums, Smart Albums, as well as pictures in your Pictures folder. You can drag and the images as layers in a Pixelmator composition.

Pixelmator actions in Automator allow you to enhance, resize, or transform images, add special effects, and export images. Pixelmator also utilizes Core Images, ColorSync and Spotlight. Core Image and OpenGL technologies use your Mac’s video card for image processing; this frees up your Mac’s CPU for other tasks.

Pixelmator supports Photoshop images with layers, and it comes with more than 16 color correction tools, more than 40 editing tools, 50 Core Image-powered filters, transform tools, a QuickMask mode, ColorSync support, and Spotlight support. The brush and gradient tool is precise and fun to use. I also love the magic wand, which visually shows the selection as you drag across targeted areas.

Pixelmator Twist 3.4 offers full support for OS X El Capitan (such as the new Split View feature) and brings a new Photos Extension. The new Pixelmator Photos Extension brings Metal-based Distort tools to the Photos app. Now you can reshape areas of your image to retouch photos, create artistic effects, and more without leaving Photos. Plus, it offers enhanced support for Force Touch trackpads.

Pixelmator 3.4 Twist is available exclusively from the Mac App Store for US$29.99. It's a free upgrade to all existing customer. A 30-day trial can be found at the Pixelmator website.