You’ve got hundreds of photos and other graphic images on your Mac, and you want to do various things with them—for example, convert some of them to different formats, applying graphic filters to others, adding text to some, creating a desktop icon out of others, cataloging them, and more. You don’t need a professional-level tool like Adobe Photoshop, and the built-in tools in iPhoto and Preview aren’t powerful enough to get the job done. The app you need is GraphicConverter, a low-priced graphic toolkit that does almost anything you can imagine to almost any image format, no matter how arcane or ancient.
The latest version of GraphicConverter adds a “non-destructive editing” feature that goes beyond the usual Undo button by letting you reverse changes you made days or weeks ago, and choose which specific kinds of changes—color balance, edge-sharpening, and others—that you want to reverse and which you want to keep.
A Bit of Background
GraphicConverter has been on the market since 1992, always adding features and conveniences. Apple used to bundle a copy with OS X when you bought a new Mac, but that was before Apple released iPhoto, which has some of the same features as GraphicConverter, but not enough for anyone who works with non-standard formats or wants to do more than iPhoto’s editing features can manage.
You can find almost all of GraphicConverter’s features scattered among other apps, but you won’t find all of them anywhere else in one convenient package—and you may not find them in up-to-date form. For example, plenty of utilities can create custom icons for OS X, but most of them create only old-style low-resolution icons, while GraphicConverter can export icons in Apple’s latest high-resolution formats for iOS or OS X. And if you need to work with old or Windows-only image formats, GraphicConverter may be the only OS X app that gets the job done.
The editing interface looks a lot like other graphic-editing apps, with a floating toolbar with two dozen buttons controlling pencil and brush tools, text boxes, a lasso, eyedropper, rubber stamp, and more. An “Adjust” button on the toolbar at the top of the editing window leads to basic controls such as brightness, contrast, sharpness, and a few others. For the full range of adjustments the app makes possible, you’ll need to go to the over-crowded top-line, with about twenty items each on the Picture and Effects menus, including three different red-eye correction tools. The latest OS X technology is built-in, including an Auto Save option for saving multiple versions of a file, and a Share button that sends images to Twitter, Facebook, e-mail, and more.
You can open files from the Finder or, preferably, from the app’s built-in browser that displays previews and image information, and makes it easy to construct slide shows (with an option to export a slide show as a movie file) or build image catalogs for printing or for web pages. The menu for creating a web-based catalogue has six well-packed tabs for setting options, but the defaults should be good enough for most purposes. Other multiple-image features include synchronization across devices via Dropbox’s Camera Uploads as an alternative to iCloud, and automatic display of your Flickr, Locr, or Google Plus photostream, but not SnapFish, ShutterFly, or other sites.
The non-destructive editing feature in the latest version uses a special editing window called the Cocooner. Any changes that you make in the Cocooner—cropping, straightening, color and balance adjustments, and more—aren’t made to the original image but to a data file stored in the same directory with the original. When you reopen the image in the Cocooner, the program automatically applies your changes so you see the changed version on screen, even though the original image on disk hasn’t changed at all. At any stage in the editing process, you can click on an “Export…” button in the Cocooner window and save the results of your changes to an ordinary image file that you can edit or reuse like any other file.
Useful as it is, the Cocooner feature still needs some work. As the app’s enormous manual says, some editing features are “not yet available in the Cocooner,” such as text boxes, drawing tools, and image filters, so you may need to export a version of your image, then apply filters or add text boxes in the app’s normal editing screen, and then go back to the Cocooner. Meanwhile, you can expect more features to be added to the Cocooner as the app gets updated. A minor annoyance is that you can’t open an image in the Cocooner from the main menu; instead, you need to use the app’s Browse feature, select your image there, and then click on a Cocooner button.
You can choose between two similar versions of GraphicConverter, one on Apple’s App Store, the other available as shareware from the vendor. Both cost the same price, but you should choose the version from the vendor because it doesn’t have the sandboxing restrictions that Apple imposes on App Store apps. That means that the App Store version can’t upload to Flickr or other online sites, and the file browser gets access only to folders that you drag into it. The only advantage of the App Store version is automatic updating under Mavericks.
One major plus for GraphicConverter is the support you get from its author. A few versions back, I found an obscure bug in the feature that exports to multi-resolution icon files. A day later, the developer sent me a link to a test build that fixed the problem. I also found an equally obscure bug in the app’s support for the WordPerfect Graphic format. Again, a fix arrived in a few days. This kind of support is one reason I bought GraphicConverter and use it more often than any other graphics app.
For basic graphic manipulations (and some quite sophisticated ones, too) that don’t require Photoshop, but that are beyond Apple’s intro-level apps, there’s really nothing that beats GraphicConverter. It may not sound cheap at $40, but if you work with a lot of images, it’s well worth the price, and clear Editors’ Choice for Mac graphics and utility apps.
|OS Compatibility||Mac OS|
|Type||Business, Personal, Professional|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc