Au­todesk takes a break from be­ing a CAD to make an im­age ed­i­tor

Mac Format - - RATED - Free (£9.25 a year for Pro) De­vel­oper Au­todesk OS OS X 10.9 Re­quires 2GHz Core 2 Duo or bet­ter, 2GB RAM Free Opens raw files and JPEGs Fun dou­ble ex­po­sures Oc­ca­sion­ally slug­gish

Pixlr has ex­isted as a browser-based im­age ed­i­tor for a while, but Au­todesk (of Au­toCAD fame) has now made it free – ini­tially – as a desk­top app.

The Starter edi­tion is free to down­load, and con­tains use­ful tools such as crop, straighten, red-eye re­moval and a handy heal­ing brush to re­move spots and blem­ishes from your pho­tos. Sign up for a free ac­count, and the app morphs into its Es­sen­tials edi­tion, which adds a few more op­tions and a clever dou­ble ex­po­sure mode that blends two images. Give Au­todesk some money in a yearly sub­scrip­tion, how­ever, and you re­ceive the Pro edi­tion, which brings the abil­ity to ap­ply ef­fects within selections rather than to the whole im­age.

Any ver­sion will give you the Styl­ize and Over­lay menus, which you can use to cre­ate some strik­ing art. Their ar­ray of one-shot fil­ters and images that blend with your orig­i­nal need to be down­loaded be­fore they’re avail­able, which helps keep the app size down and doesn’t af­fect your work­flow too much pro­vided you’re con­nected to the in­ter­net, and can be pre­viewed be­fore they’re ap­plied. There’s no Save op­tion, only Save As, so your cre­ations will al­ways be ex­ported as a new file.

It feels churl­ish to crit­i­cise free soft­ware for a lack of fea­tures, but such a crit­i­cism isn’t ap­pro­pri­ate here. While not com­pa­ra­ble to the fea­ture­set of say, GIMP, the abil­ity to crop and straighten, then ap­ply fil­ters or oth­er­wise jazz up images, is popular and, although Pixlr doesn’t have di­rect con­nec­tions with so­cial me­dia, shar­ing on Face­book is just a few clicks away.

Pixlr won’t re­place Pho­to­shop El­e­ments, but it’s pow­er­ful enough, has some in­ter­est­ing fea­tures and, im­por­tantly, is free. Ian Even­den

This is a com­pe­tent desk­top im­age ed­i­tor. Pixlr is well worth a try in its ba­sic form – and let’s not for­get the fact that it’s free.

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