How to Edit Photos & Videos on Mac

How do you add effects to photos on a Mac? The Photos app includes free video editing and picture editing software. Apple makes it easy to adjust light, color, and more in your pictures and videos. If you don’t like edits you’ve made and are wondering, “How do I undo a photo edit on a Mac?” we’ll go over that as well. 

Related: How to Put a Filter on a Photo or Video on Mac

How to Edit Photos & Videos on Mac

If you want to adjust light or color, get rid of red-eye, and more in your photos and videos, it's time to learn how to edit photos and videos on a Mac. It's also important to know how to undo a photo edit on a Mac, in case you don't like how the edits look. Alternately, you can duplicate a photo or video on your Mac and make edits to the copy. Let's get started. For more great photos app tutorials, check out our free Tip of the Day

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  1. Open the photo you’d like to edit, and click Edit

    choose photo to edit and click edit
  2. Click Adjust at the top of the screen. 

    click adjust
  3. You’ll see multiple options on the right. Click the small arrows next to Light, Color, or Black & White to reveal filter options. Tap a filter to choose it.  

    click the arrow next to a tool
  4. Click Auto next to one of these options, and the Photos app will automatically adjust the setting. A checkmark will appear when you’ve tapped Auto or chosen a filter. 

    click auto
  5. Click the arrow next to Retouch, then click the paintbrush icon and drag the slider bar to make the circle slightly larger than the area you want to retouch. Click and drag the cursor from an area you’d like to copy to areas you’d like to remove, such as a blemish. 

    how to retouch in photos app
  6. Click Auto next to Red-Eye to allow the Photos app to automatically reduce or eliminate the red-eye effect in your picture. 
  7. Or, click the arrow next to Red-Eye to reveal a paintbrush and size slider that will allow you to drag over and eliminate the red-eye effect. 

    how to get rid of red eye in photos app
  8. The White Balance editing tool works the same way as Red-Eye and Retouch. You can either choose the Auto option or click the arrow and adjust manually. 
  9. Click the arrow next to Curves, then click Auto, and the Photos app will automatically balance the red, green, and blue in your photo.
  10. Alternately, click Red, Green, or Blue from the drop-down menu, then click and bend the curve with your cursor to adjust each color level. 

    click auto or manually adjust RGB
  11. Here’s an example of using the curves tool manually to adjust Red levels. I’ve dragged the curve upwards with the cursor, resulting in more prominent red tones in the photo. 

    how to manually adjust red, blue, and green levels in the photos app
  12. Click the down arrow next to Levels, then click Auto to have the Photos app balance the brightness levels in your image. 
  13. Click the drop-down menu next to Levels, select an option, then click and drag on a teardrop shape at the bottom of the field to the left or right to adjust the color. 

    change red, blue, green, and luminance levels in photos app
  14. Click the arrow next to Definition, click Auto, and the Photos app will adjust levels for you.
  15. Drag the slider under Definition to make the borders in your photo softer or more crisp. 

    how to adjust definition in photos app
  16. Click the arrow next to Selective Color and drag the bars by Hue, Saturation, Luminance, and Range to adjust these settings. 
  17. Click the dropper icon, then click on a particular color in the photo to adjust it, using the Hue, Saturation, Luminance, and Range sliders. 

    adjust selective color in photos app
  18. If you don’t like any of the manual adjustments you’ve made in any of the above categories, click Reset Adjustments

    click reset adjustments in photos app
  19. To get rid of all edits and changes you’ve made to your picture, click Revert to Original.

    click revert to original to get rid of all photo edits

If you enjoyed this Photos app tutorial, you might also want to learn how to zoom in and out of a photo on a Mac, so you can make detailed edits. You can also learn how to copy and paste photo edits on your Mac. This way, you can use a favorite effect or edit over and over. 

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Author Details

Leanne Hays's picture

Author Details

Leanne Hays

Leanne Hays has over a dozen years of experience writing for online publications. As a Feature Writer for iPhone Life, she has authored hundreds of how-to, Apple news, and gear review articles, as well as a comprehensive Photos App guide. Leanne holds degrees in education and science and loves troubleshooting and repair. This combination makes her a perfect fit as manager of our Ask an Expert service, which helps iPhone Life Insiders with Apple hardware and software issues.
In off-work hours, Leanne is a mother of two, homesteader, audiobook fanatic, musician, and learning enthusiast.