Recommend a "Light" Photoshop Type App

I never got into learning photoshop. Seems interesting but a few things have gotten in the way:

  1. Overfeatured and complex with a high learning curve

  2. Fear that Adobe, like most software companies, will change the layout of tools for no reason, just to justify charging more money. Each time Microsoft puts out a new version of Office, I can never find where anything is anymore. So I might put in a bunch of effort into learning it, and then the effort was wasted.

  3. Dislike of subscription models and I think Adobe switched to one

I was using Acorn a while ago, but that seems to no longer be “good”. Seems like I bought version 4 a while ago on the app store and now version 6 is out. Maybe I should just buy 6? Not even sure if 4 will run on Mojave.

Here’s what I need to use it for:

Adding text onto image files. Need to be able to pick the right font/size and put the text in an exact position.

Annotating image files with rectangles or pointers for the purpose of showing people where to click in a piece of software to do something. Training material type stuff using screenshots from the actual software.

That’s basically it. Microsoft Paint was nearly perfect for me on the Windows side. I am not opposed to learning a piece of software like Photoshop but I won’t be using it often, so if they change the toolset locations every version, then it would frustrate me. Also, I’d need a standalone license to whatever I buy. Ideologically opposed to subscription models. I’d rather pay triple for something over the same time period and actually own it, than pay less for a subscription of something I don’t own.

Have you tried Preview?
It has markup capabilities.


As suggested above you should try Preview. If that doesn’t do “enough” you could try Pixelmator which is affordable and powerful.


While not a “light” application, I use GIMP instead of photoshop for the few things I need to do, being FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) it can look and feel a bit janky but it has every tool under the sun.

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I agree with the suggestion of trying out Pixelmator, or even an upgrade of Acorn if you are happy with it. For the use cases you mention, Photoshop is way overkill.

+1 vote for Gimp, really powerful bit of software and free! Used to use it all the time on Windows & Linux boxes but I’d already switched to LR/Photoshop by the time I moved to Mac.

For just annotation, Preview is the easiest to use and you already have it. All the others mentioned are way too powerful to use if you just want to annotate.

What about keynote? That would give you all the ability to add a screen shot, any text, pointers, shapes etc will stay as separate objects in case you need to re-use or amend them later. If you need an actual image file to upload to a webpage or something then you can export the slide(s) as jpg.


Another vote for using the markup tools in Preview. I use them all the time for what you describe. If I need to something complex, I use Pixelmator.

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Evernote annotations capabilities are good, there is also Skitch which works on iPad as well. The benefit of Evernote is that you can share directly from within Evernote. You don’t need another cloud service.

What does this mean?

GraphicConverter does everything you want, and much more. Gets updated very frequently and is lightweight compared to Photoshop and even Pixelmator. Highly recommended.