By Graham K. Rogers
This one just keeps getting better. I was enthusiastic a couple of weeks ago when a desktop version of Polarr, an app I have used for a while on my iOS devices, appeared in the Mac App Store. I downloaded this right away and was quite happy with the combination of filters and tools. These allowed me to accomplish some quite clever edits on the photos I had. There was an advantage in that the workflow of tools and filters could be saved as a customised filter.
Within a day, Polarr had risen even more in my estimation, when an update was released that added an extension for Photos on the Mac. As far as I am able to tell, anything that is available in the desktop version (except customised filters) is also there in the extension. Customised filters are not transferred, but the ability to create these is there (and see below).
This week, Polarr has been updated again (1.3.1), and some significant steps have been made with the application:
- Custom filter issues were fixed (back up filters before installing)
- A black screen issue at start (for some users) was fixed
- Correct language issue has been corrected
- RAW support added to the Photos extension
As I use RAW a lot with the Nikon digital camera I have (NEF files) this last improvement was significant for me.
Before updating, I took note of the comment about backing up filters. I had lost a filter with the last update, so took care about this. After a little hunting around, I found a menu (top left) that had an Export Preset item.
I saved the file to the desktop and updated. I need not have worried as the updated application still had that custom filter, however this was to prove useful later.
After the update, I found it best to restart Photos before the new version of the extension was usable. A couple of times when accessing Polarr there were delays. A restart of Photos improved this and the editing went smoothly.
Unedited RAW image in Photos for the Mac
I tried a couple of RAW images I had in the Photos Library. Polarr was a little slower to start up and filters also loaded less quickly than with iPhone images I also tried. Once editing changes were applied, the image was changed to JPEG, although the information panel in the main Photos organising page still reported that the photo was NEF. No matter, the original is retrievable and I sometimes consider a duplicate image: possible on the Mac, but not in Photos on the iPhone.
RAW image in Photos using Polarr extension
I noted that the filters list in Polarr in Photos did not include the custom filter before or after the update. Using the same menu (top left) in the Photos extension as I had for exporting in the desktop app, I imported the Preset filter. This did not appear in the Custom Filters item, but was available as a separate item at the bottom of the filters list. This Export-Import function is significant as a filter created on one Mac can be made available on other machines.
The updated version of Polarr and its new features mean that it has a greater value for those who like a good set of editing tools but do not require a full, professional suite.
Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. He is now continuing that in the Bangkok Post supplement, Life.