I'm looking for a possible alternative to Lightroom for the Mac platform.

I already know of Photoshop alternatives such as Affinity Photo, but I haven't been able to find a serious offering close to what Lightroom offers as far as library management and quick picture development goes.

The ability to import from a Lightroom/Lightroom Classic catalog would be a big plus!


  • \$\begingroup\$ darktable is the normal answer here. Have you tried it, and if so what was wrong with it? \$\endgroup\$
    – Philip Kendall
    Feb 23, 2019 at 19:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PhilipKendall haven't tried it! I'm new in the game and googling this question gives such seemingly obscure or obsolete results that I wanted to ask SE about it. :) \$\endgroup\$ Feb 23, 2019 at 19:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ Luminar 3 is an option \$\endgroup\$
    – Eric S
    Feb 23, 2019 at 21:44
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks. You should post your suggestions as answers so they can be edited and help others. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 23, 2019 at 23:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ Free, paid, or either? \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Feb 24, 2019 at 0:36

3 Answers 3


May I suggest RawTherapee?

Darktable in my opinion has very poor noise reduction algorithms. The best of them makes the picture very painting-like if taken using a high ISO level.

RawTherapee removes the most annoying chroma noise entirely when the noise reduction is turned on, and the amount of reduced luma noise can be adjusted. No painting-like appearance.

See How to reproduce camera noise reduction using open source software? for some noise reduction results. There you can compare the RawTherapee pictures with darktable pictures. Be sure to click the pictures to get maximum possible size.

The only caveat with RawTherapee is that the GIMP plugin doesn't work on Windows 10, the newest version of GIMP and the newest version of RawTherapee as of the time I'm writing this, so you'll need to remove the plug-in. This problem probably doesn't apply to MacOS.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The trouble with RT and noise reduction, though: No real preview if you want to tune your NR to what it does to the final image at viewing scale .... \$\endgroup\$ Feb 26, 2019 at 22:03

I prefer to use Capture One. I find the catalog feature is better than Lightroom. It is also a bit faster, and you can work with layers in Capture One, which Lightroom. The focus mask tool and loupe tools are awesome for checking out image quality, even in grid view mode. It is more expensive though. But in my opinion, it is worth it.

I have written an in-depth comparison here

  • \$\begingroup\$ If this is a link to your own blog or site, please disclose that. Thanks! \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Dec 8, 2019 at 13:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sorry, for not being clear about it. I have written the complete comparison on my webpage, which is the one I link to above. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dechen
    Dec 9, 2019 at 20:28

Apple Photos which comes with the Mac OS is actually not bad as an image cataloger. It has some photo touch up tools although not as complete as Lightroom and you can access external editing tools from within the program.

However, I dumped Adobe Creative Suite for Luminar. It isn't free, but it is pretty cheap at $70. A license allows installation on up to 5 Macs or PCs. Version 3 includes photo library management and I find the image editing tools way better than Lightroom if not quite up to Photoshop's capability. Also I think the editing tools are easier to use than Photoshop. The vendor Skylum frequently updates the program to fix bugs. There are also plentiful learning resources. It may or may not be professional grade, but I've been happy with Luminar.

  • \$\begingroup\$ One major caveat is that Luminar doesn't support Canon's CR3 format so for Canon users it's a deal-breaker. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tommy
    Aug 18, 2019 at 7:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Tommy I did not know that. Thanks! Evidently they are working on it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Eric S
    Aug 18, 2019 at 14:44

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.