Editing Photos In External Editors

With High Sierra there is now native functionality for editing your photos in external editors. You can edit them in apps like Acorn and Photoshop without needing to export the photo and bring it back in when done. And edits you make can be removed by reverting back to the original photo.

Video Transcript
If I just draw a bunch of circles in the background here, you'll see, after I hit Command S, that it saves and the image is updated here in Photos. So it's live. You actually see the changes here. So if you actually had these in split screen or a different desktop or something you would see it happening as you made changes here.

So let's undo that and let's do something much more useful like create a filter. So let's do something like Stylize and let's create the crystalize effect. Adjust it a little bit. Hit flatten. So this is something, a pretty advanced filter that you won't find, of course, in Photos. But now when I Save you'll see that it saves and without having to do anything else it's here inside of Photos.

So let's quit Acorn and I'm back in Photos and you can see the changes. Just like with any other change you're going to make to Photos you can Undo it. You can always revert back to the original. Nondestructive editing is what it's called.

Now when I hit Edit on a photo that I've edited externally, at least if I do it immediately, I'm going to get a message here saying the photo is in use by an external editor. It seems like Photos isn't able to figure out whether or not I'm done working with it in an external app. Like I may still have it open. So it wants me to confirm that I am, in fact, done working with it. Which makes sense because if I make changes here then it confuses the external editor. So I'll hit Yes. Now I can continue to work with it here or just hit Revert to Original to go back to the original. So you don't have to worry about making changes. You can always go back just like you can with any other edit.

Now let's look at using another app. With the same image I'm going to go to Image, Edit With. Notice Pixelmator is there. But Pixelmator doesn't yet work with this. According to the website there's a version that's about to come out that will be compatible with High Sierra. So Pixelmator won't work with it. Other apps I've tried, most of them do even if they say they're not compatible.

But one app you may want to use is PhotoShop. I have Photoshop installed but it doesn't show up here. I'm going to choose Other. In my Applications folder I can see there's Photoshop. Probably because it's in a subfolder is why it doesn't see it. But I can easily select it manually, open it up, and edit in Photoshop. So here I am in Photoshop and I can do the same kind of thing. So I can draw with a brush and hit Command S to save. It's going to give me JPEG options when I save because it's saving out of JPEG. You'll see that it will actually reflect the change there. I can undo that in Photoshop, or it's called Step Backwards. I can do something else. I can apply a filter. So let's do something like Pointilize and hit okay. There's my change there. I'll hit Command S for save and now I can see that change there. I can close that Photoshop, Quit Photoshop, and go into Photos, Edit, get that same message, and Revert to Original.

So now you have this easy way to Edit your photos directly from the Photos app in apps like Photoshop, Acorn, and so on.

Comments: 24 Responses to “Editing Photos In External Editors”

    Jim Rietz
    10/5/17 @ 2:42 pm

    While in the Edit mode, the Extensions are still available using the circled ellipsis in the right side of the tool bar. You make it sound as if Extensions are replaced with “Edit with” menu. While many of the Extensions are full applications, they do not show up in the Edit with menu. An example would be the Creative Kit 2016 (Focus CK, FX Photo Studio CK, Intensify CK, Noiseless CK, Snapheal CK, & Tonality CK) and many others.

    10/5/17 @ 3:48 pm

    Jim: Sorry for the confusion. No, the extensions are still there. For extensions. But for editing in an external app, you use this new function. Two separate things: extensions and external editing.

    Judy Barnett
    10/5/17 @ 6:18 pm

    I have a friend who is still using iPhoto. Would it be possible to use Photos to edit from iPhoto. He could just drag a photo from iPhoto into photos to edit. Does that make sense? Will iPhoto still work in High Sierra? Thanks

    David Wright
    10/5/17 @ 6:47 pm

    Great option. Are you recommending upgrading to High Sierra as I heard that there were a few bugs in it.

    10/5/17 @ 6:51 pm

    David: All of my Macs are High Sierra and have been for some time. There are bugs in Sierra too. And every version of macOS and other operating systems too.

    10/5/17 @ 6:52 pm

    Judy: No, I don’t see any reasonable way to edit in Photos when you are storing the Photo in iPhoto. If she wants the editing features of Photos, then why not migrate to Photos? I can’t think of any reason anyone would still be using iPhoto.

    David Wright
    10/5/17 @ 7:09 pm

    Thanks Gary thats good enough for me

    Judy Barnett
    10/5/17 @ 7:55 pm

    Thanks Gary.. I am taking your Photos 3 to learn enough to be able to advise him to change to Photos, but it is hard for some folks to change what they have done for years. Seems Photos is very similar to iPhoto.

    John Bedrossian
    10/5/17 @ 9:47 pm

    Gary, I selected Pixelmator to edit the photo, but when I try and save it it gives me choices on where to save it. the problem is it won’t let me save it back in photos. I have to save it to desktop and then move it to photos. Any ideas on how I can save back to photos directly? Thank you.

    10/5/17 @ 10:11 pm

    John: Pixelmator doesn’t work with this for some reason. On their site they say they have a new update coming for High Sierra compatibility, so hopefully this will be fixed.

    Bob Douglass
    10/5/17 @ 11:00 pm

    Thank you Gary! Your tutorials are short, sweet, and to-the-point. I learn more about a topic in a ‘couple of minutes watching your videos, than a hour of research on the web.

    10/6/17 @ 6:45 am

    Bob: Thanks!

    Frankie Suman
    10/6/17 @ 8:53 am

    I can’t seem to get to work with Photoshop Elements 15 (get a message cannot open document). Will I have to continue to use Extensions or am I missing something. I really enjoy your newsletter. Thanks

    10/6/17 @ 8:57 am

    Frankie: Sounds like that one may not be compatible either. Hopefully they will update it. Report to Adobe if you like.

    James Shrouds
    10/6/17 @ 9:07 am

    Can this feature also be used with Lightroom CC?

    10/6/17 @ 9:16 am

    James: I don’t think so. Lightroom is a photo management app just like Photos. It allows you to store your photos, organize them, and edit them. Just like Photos. So it wouldn’t;t make sense to store and manage your photos in one app, and edit them in a similar app. I doubt Lightroom has a “just open an image and edit it” function. In fact, doesn’t it use Photoshop for that? So why not just go from Photos to Photoshop instead of trying to go through Lightroom? Or, if you like Lightroom, why not used Lightroom instead of Photos?

    Tony Biegler
    10/6/17 @ 11:25 am

    I use Macphun LUMINAR with PHOTOS. PHOTOS treats LUMINAR as an extension. I select LUMINAR from the PHOTOS EXTENSION menu, edit the photo in LUMINAR and click SAVE in LUMINAR. Always get error message “Unable to edit with Luminar – An unexpected Error occured”. But the LUMINAR edited photo is saved back to PHOTOS. The process works, but the error message is annoying. Is there a fix for it?

    10/6/17 @ 11:27 am

    Tony: You should contact Luminar about that. Let them know. Keep in mind that extensions and external editors are often two different things. Usually extensions give you a small set of features, like filters and such. But external editing actually takes you to the real app, so you can use all of the features of the app to edit the photo.

    Tony Biegler
    10/7/17 @ 6:09 pm

    Turns out Macphun just came out with an updated version of Luminar (ver 1.2.2) that I downloaded and installed, and the problem went away.

    Dave Hall
    10/8/17 @ 2:18 pm

    You can also “right click” ( double finger click) on the image in Photos and it will bring up the option “Edit with”.
    I am having a problem in that when I try to export an image from new Photos the drop-down window that appears, to allow one to designate the place to download to, is partly concealed by the top frame of the Photos window. I can’t drag it down to allow me to select another destination other than “Documents”. Apple doesn’t seem to make it easy to report such a problem..

    10/8/17 @ 2:35 pm

    Dave: Not sure why that would happen, sorry. Have you tried switching your screen resolution to see if that makes a difference?

    Dave Hall
    10/10/17 @ 3:09 am

    I discovered that if I dragged the bottom of the window down to expand it, it popped out from behind the top frame.

    Sebastian Tiplea
    10/10/17 @ 3:41 am

    Hi Gary I’ve purchased the Acorn app a few months back as I’ve seen it in one of your videos, however I find it difficult to use for a non technical person, would you like to make basic introduction tutorial on Acorn?

    10/10/17 @ 6:34 am

    Sebastian: See https://macmost.com/cutting-out-part-of-an-image-with-acorn.html I’m not sure I’m the best person to do an intro to an app like that. I’m not a graphic artist. Plus, the app does so much that an intro to the features you want to use may be completely different than an intro to the features someone else wants to use.

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