Magic Photo Editor creates photo collages, we hear

Skip this expensive but primitive photo collage maker for a better (and cheaper) performer.

Magic Photo Editor is a shareware digital image editor optimized for creating photo collages, frames, and portraits using a variety of template masks, objects, and borders. It's free to try with a 30-use limit. But it has some serious issues, starting with a clunky, unattractive interface that lacks common features. More serious is a lack of basic functionality, though.

Magic Photo Editor's user interface was the first hurdle: it's colorful but too simple by half, with nothing but a sidebar listing basic controls and features. Amazingly, we could not resize the interface -- not by clicking and dragging the corner, like nearly every modern Windows-compatible app, nor by clicking the full window control because there isn't one, just Minimize and Exit buttons. Magic Photo Editor's title bar doesn't even have a program title, but it does have confusing decorative elements at either end that are clearly meant to resemble controls yet perform no function and open no menus or options, either by clicking them directly or right-clicking them. Following the Help file's instructions, we clicked New to start a new project. A pop-up asked us if we wanted to save our changes to our current image. That's the background image that comes with the program, so we clicked No. Nothing happened. We went through this process four or five times before we realized Magic Photo Editor wasn't going to remove the background image and let us proceed that way, so we clicked Yes and saved the picture to our system. We clicked New again but were stymied by the same runaround.

With so many capable image editors available, Magic Photo Editor faced a high hurdle to begin with in justifying a purchase price just under $40. But given its pitiful performance, unattractive and primitive interface, and lack of basic amenities, we don't see how it can compete. Vastly superior tools that actually work (and do much more) are freely available. This program is free to try, so you can certainly see for yourself if it's worth its hefty price tag. But we can tell you right now it's not.

Editors' note: This is a review of the trial version of Magic Photo Editor 6.1.

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