Mac Photoshop alternative Pixelmator Pro picks up color adjustments, effects layers, scrubby zoom and other new features

The Mac image-editing software Pixelmator Pro has picked up major new features such as effects layers, color adjustments, scrubby zoom and other improvements.

Featured image showing Photoshop alternative Pixelmator Pro running on Apple MacBook Pro
  • Pixelmator Pro 2.4 “Odesa” is now available with powerful new features such as effects layers and color adjustments, making it easy to apply effects or color adjustments to all the layers below them in a composition.
  • This lets you apply selective edits very easily: Simply use color adjustments and effects layers in combination with image masks.
  • To add a new effects layer to your composition, press Shift(⇧)-Command(⌘)-F on the keyboard. To add a new colors adjustments layer, press the Shift(⇧)-Command(⌘)-A shortcut.

What’s new in Pixelmator Pro 2.4

Scrubby zoom, another new feature, let you zoom images when using a graphics tablet or mouse by dragging your image horizontally. Also, a new keyboard shortcut is available to temporarily activate the zoom tool when using another tool: Press the Space key, then the Option(⌥) key on your keyboard.

The layers sidebar has been revamped to display tidbits such as sizes for image layers, text formatting for text layers, path info for shape layers and so on. Your blending controls are now at the top of the sidebar, but you can customize the sidebar layout to suit your liking. There’s also a new Add Empty Layer button that does just that. Layer masks now appear as separate layers in the sidebar and can be easily unlinked from the parent layer by double-clicking the line connecting a layer mask to its layer. Read: Free ways to view Photoshop files on your Mac

This update to Pixelmator Pro also adds 200+ new vector shapes designed by real artists across several new collections. The changelog notes that all of the newly-added shapes are pixel-perfect, meaning their vector points “perfectly align with pixel boundaries, ensuring any icons you create won’t have any unwanted blurring.”

Lastly, the app has been optimized to make the most of Apple’s U1 Ultra chip that powers some of the new Mac Studio models. According to developers, tasks such as automatic background removal, super resolution and photo enhancements are up to 1.7x faster on the M1 Ultra chip versus the M1 Max one.

Pixelmator Pro 2.4 changelog

Pixelmator Pro 2.4 Odesa brings a completely redesigned Layers sidebar, color adjustments and effects layers, over 200 beautiful new vector shapes, support for M1 Ultra and more. Check out the official release notes included right ahead for details about all the changes in Pixelmator Pro 2.4:

Redesigned layers sidebar

  • The Layers sidebar has been redesigned to make it much easier to work with layers.
  • Informative layer subtitles now show useful info about layers, depending on their type: sizes for image layers, text formatting for text layers, path info for shape layers and more.
  • The design of the blending controls has been updated and they’ll now appear at the top of the Layers sidebar by default.
  • Layers sidebar viewing options can now be customized, so you can change the size of thumbnails, the visibility of layer subtitles and the position of the blending controls.
  • You can now quickly add an empty layer using the new Add Empty Layer button.
  • Layer masks will now appear as separate layers in the Layers sidebar.
  • Layer masks can now be unlinked from their parent layer – double-click the line connecting a layer mask to its layer to link or unlink it.

Color adjustments and effects layers

  • Color adjustments and effects layers let you apply color adjustments or effects to all the layers below them in a composition.
  • These new layer types work just like other layers — they can be masked, hidden, rearranged, and more.
  • You can now easily apply selective edits by using colors adjustments and effects layers with masks.
  • Use the Shift-Command-A keyboard shortcut to add a colors adjustments layer and Shift-Command-F to add an effects layer.

200+ new shapes

  • Over 200 new artist-designed shapes have been added to Pixelmator Pro.
  • Several new shape collections have been added and others have been rearranged, so there are now 10 collections: Basic, Activities, Food, Objects, Arches, Science, Animals, Plants, Organic and Symbols.
  • All shapes are pixel-perfect – this means their vector points perfectly align with pixel boundaries, ensuring any icons you create won’t have any unwanted blurring.

Apple M1 Ultra support

  • Thanks to support for the M1 Ultra chip, Pixelmator Pro flies when performing machine learning-based tasks on the latest Mac Studio devices.
  • Tasks like automatic background removal, super-resolution, and photo enhancement are up to 1.7 times faster on M1 Ultra compared to M1 Max.

Scrubby zoom

  • The Scrubby Zoom mode makes it easier to zoom images when using a graphics tablet or mouse.
  • When using the Zoom tool, you can simply drag your image horizontally – like scrubbing video controls – to zoom in and out.
  • When using other tools, first press the Space key, then the Option key to temporarily activate the Zoom tool.
  • If you’d like to, you can change the scrubby zoom scroll direction from horizontal to vertical using the following Terminal command: defaults write com.pixelmatorteam.pixelmator.x enableVerticalScrubbyZoom -bool true

Other improvements

  • You can now create masks by Command-dragging layers onto other layers.
  • You can also copy and paste masks between different Pixelmator Pro documents.
  • Use the new Shift-Command-T keyboard shortcut to insert text layers and Option-Shift-Command-T to insert circular text layers.
  • Preserve Transparency, Replace Image and Choose Mask options are now available in the Layers sidebar shortcut menu.

For further information, visit the Pixelmator blog.

How to download Pixelmator Pro on your Mac

Built in Lithuania by brothers Saulius and Aidas Dailide, Pixelmator Pro is the go-to Photoshop alternative on the Mac and Apple’s app of the year 2018. Sporting a one-window interface and powerful pro-level features, Pixelmator Pro is built for everyone and not just image-editing experts. It’s one of the finest macOS citizens, always implementing the latest platform features mere weeks after Apple releases them to the public.

The latest update to the Pixelmator Pro is available free of charge to existing users. You can download Pixelmator Pro for macOS for $40. [App Store link]