A powerful image editing application, Acorn for Mac can serve as an inexpensive but decent replacement for Adobe Photoshop, if you don't need highly advanced tools and features.
Has the basics of Photoshop: While at $50 you can't expect Acorn to rival Photoshop, it does support layers, masks, and gradients. It also features vector, text, drawing, erasing, and shape tools, level and curve adjustments, midtone or gamma tweaking, and custom brushes, as well as a built-in brush designer.
Versatile user interface: Similar to Photoshop and Paint.net, the UI can be rearranged and resized to suit your needs and preferences. By default, you will find the Tools, Document Window (for the image being edited), and Options panels.
Non-destructive filters: The layers to which a filter is applied are not altered; the filter is treated just like another layer that you can always change or remove later on. This feature is something every photo or image editing application should have.
PSD importing and exporting: If you have a project that you think you can improve further with the help of Photoshop, Acorn's PSD exporting option makes things easier. Likewise, if you have Photoshop files that you want to tweak, and you don't have Photoshop installed, you can just use Acorn.
Inconsistent PSD and PDF rendering: Acorn doesn't consistently preserve the image quality of imported PSD and PDF documents. Sometimes the images appear pixelated.
Requires Mac OS X 10.8 or 10.9: The older version of the app can work with older Macs, but it lacks the significant improvements of the latest iteration.
An excellent image editing application for casual users, Acorn for Mac costs less than Photoshop while offering you essential image manipulation and editing features and supporting a wide range of image formats including GIF, JPEG 2000, JPG, PNG, and Google's WebP format. If you are looking for a powerful but relatively cheap image editor, this application is a good option.
Editors' note: This is a review of the trial version of Acorn for Mac 4.4.
Built on a foundation of simplicity, Acorn eschews the outmoded "many palettes" design from yesterday's editors. Acorn presents a fluid new interface that will be familiar to users of Apple's iLife applications. Designed for simple editing, Acorn features flood fill, gradients, vector shapes, drawing and erasing tools, and more. It also brings a few new tricks to the table, including chaining filters and easy image and canvas resizing. From quickly adding text to an image to creating a new graphic with pixel-precise control to just sketching out ideas, Acorn is great for all kinds of image editing.
What's new in this version:
- Live font updates to text boxes as you move look through the font list in the text palette.
- Acorn will now give live updates to the blending mode for layers when using the arrow keys on the Blending popup button.
- New preference for a "Super Scrollable Canvas", which basically means you can scroll your canvas around beyond the bounds of your image. This is ... See all new features »