Flare: Fun photo editing for the Mac

Photo editing apps on iOS have really taken off. Apps like Instagram, CamerBag, Plastic Bullet and more offer fun filters and easy editing to post quick snapshots on the go.

Most of these apps have limitations. Most of them downsize photos from their original format. Very few ofter fine-grained control, just offering users simple options.

There’s nothing wrong with that if you’re looking for fun, easy ways to spice up photos. But, many of us want something more, and something on the Mac.

Well, the guys and gals at the Iconfactory have answered the call with their new app, called Flare.


As you’d expect from Iconfactory, Flare is simply stunning to look at. Its interface is simple, with lots of gray, so as not to distract from editing.

The first screen allows you to drag the photo you want to edit onto the app, view the user’s guide or view a tutorial:

Flareapp start

Once in the app itself, the photo sits off to the left, with panes on the right for Presets, Edit and Snapshots:

Flareapp interface photo



Flare is fast. Even with a large photo, adding filters and editing things is quick. While I’m on a MacBook Pro with a 2.8GHz Core2Duo processor with 8GB of RAM, I have no doubt this app will be quick on any Mac you put it on.

The app does require 2GB of RAM, but Iconfactory recommends 4GB.

Editing, Presets and More

Flareapp presets

Flare comes with several presets, which do everything from gentle color correction to overlaying borders and more. Most of them are very tasteful, and aren’t too heavy-handed.

Unlike most iOS apps, Flare allows you to edit the preset — removing the borders, editing the parameters and even adding or taking away overlays.

One of my favorite things is that Flare gives you a preview of different blend modes, giving not only fine control, but a great way to see the changes before you commit to them.

Additional presets can be downloaded online. Iconfactory is taking submissions for presets to be featured on that page, so if you come up with something awesome, send it in!


Unlike many iOS apps, Flare has some great exporting options. The app can save your creation as a JPG, PNG or a TIFF, at the same resolution of the original.

In addition to Finder, Flare can send the image to Flickr or compose a new email with the image attached.

What’s Macgasmic

Flare fills a great niche on the Mac. It brings the fun of iOS to the Mac, in an app that is much more lightweight than something like Photoshop or even Pixelmator. With the ability to edit filters and save presets for later, it really is pretty powerful.

What’s Not

There really isn’t much not to like about this app. The one bug I’ve found is that the Snapshots screen doesn’t seem to save the time the snapshot was created correctly. Besides that, I’ve no complaints about this thing.

Go get it!

Flare is available on the Mac App Store for $9.99, an introductory price. Next week, the price will jump to $19.99.

Stephen Hackett, formerly a Lead Mac Genius at Apple, now spends his days running the IT department of a large non-profit in Memphis, TN. He writes about Apple, design and journalism at forkbombr.net. Like all twenty-somethings, you can find him… Full Bio