Flying meat acorn 6For years Adobe Photoshop was my image editor. I used it on a Windows PC. Then switched to the Mac version. Now my first choice image editor is Flying Meat’s Acorn 6.

Acorn only runs on a Mac. Last week the software updated from version 5 to 6. The upgrade brings a raft of new features, improvements and bug fixes.

Photoshop is a heavyweight image editor in every sense of the word. It has a vast array of features.

Designers and other professionals love its power. So do hardware makers. Photoshop chews through computing resources. You need a powerful processor and lots of ram to make it work. Even then it can be slow.

Acorn 6 compared to Photoshop

Acorn is the polar opposite. It has fewer features. Relative to Photoshop, it sips resources.

I found Acorn when I moved to a MacBook Air . Photoshop runs on the Air, but it isn’t pretty. After asking around I found and purchased Acorn 5. I wish I had found Acorn earlier.

While there is power in Photoshop, I only ever scratched the surface of the software.

As a journalist, my image processing is cropping and tweaking to make pictures clearer. Often that’s simple. It means applying filters or adjusting colours and contrast.

On the rare occasion I want to do more, Photoshop’s steep learning curve is, well, steep.

It means struggling for a few minutes. Then giving up by reverting to a less ambitious plan B. If the job has enough budget, then a professional can do the job.

Which meant I wasn’t getting value out of Photoshop.

The cheapest way to buy Photoshop is to pay a little over NZ$30 a month for a subscription.

At the time of writing you can buy Acorn 6 outright for about three weeks’ Photoshop. There is a limited-time US$15 promotion. When the price returns to US$30, Acorn 6 will still cost less than two months of Photoshop.

Everyday image editing

I use Acorn 6 every day. While I still only scratch the surface of the software, going deeper is less time consuming. It’s less daunting. Flying Meat software provides all the online help and tutorials you might need to solve problems.

The software never pushes against the resource limits of my MacBook Air. Acorn is snappy all the time, no matter what you throw at it. OK, that might not be the case if you try something heroic. That’s not somewhere I go.

I’ve yet to find any image editing task that I want to do, but can’t. If there’s something tricky and there’s a budget, I’ll still hire a pro to do the work with Photoshop.

Knowing when to walk away from time-wasting is a useful life skill for a freelance. So is knowing when to buy a low-joule image editing application.

Also on:

7 thoughts on “Acorn 6: MacOS image editing for the rest of us

  1. Interesting article Bill and mirrors my experience. Like you I realised I needed to step away from Photoshop because of its cost and the complexity. Mind you, with the so-called Photographer subscription option I am paying about NZD14 a month, not $30. But it is still a goodly amount of money. I think Adobe is really aimed at the pro market and since I am never going to create the cover of a fashion magazine, I don’t need all the power of Photoshop. Likewise I stopped my Acrobat subscription after 1 year because its annual subscription fee was over $200! There are plenty of good alternatives around at a way, way cheaper price.

    For photo editing I settled on Affinity Photo because, like you, I really liked the vendor’s support/help/tutorials, etc. At $45 it is more than Acorn but still way, way cheaper than Photoshop. It is excellent and I am more than happy with it. If I can get Acorn for around NZD20, I’ll give that a go too.

    I don’t mind the subscription model if it is reasonably priced and you get good value for money, but I have realised that Adobe’s pricing means that is not the case for me any more.

  2. Like you, I’m OK with the subscription model, although I find I sometimes end up paying a monthly fee for something that doesn’t get used much. Even $14 a month is a lot for something that doesn’t get used much. Compare it, for example, with a Netflix subscription.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: