Spotlight: Snapheal - Magic Photo Editing on your Mac

Snapheal icon

There's a new magical photo editing app on the block, and it's taking names and kicking butt. Snapheal is a one stop app for doing what they call 'Magic'. What type of Magic? How about quickly erasing one individual leave from a pond full of them. Perhaps you want to remove a watermark from someones photo. Maybe you need to clean up those unsightly skin blemishes on your holiday photos. Snapheal offers all of these features, and more. For this quick look, I'll focus on elimination of items, but Snapheal promises it can do the following:

  • Erase unwanted objects, delete skin imperfections and text
  • Fix images with clone&stamp tool
  • Adjust saturation, gamma, exposure, color temperature, etc
  • Reduce noise and sharpen images
  • Control shadows and highlights
  • Import pictures from Aperture and iPhoto
  • Export to iPhoto
  • Handle up to 32 megapixels
  • Work with Tiff, Raw, etc
  • And much more


It's easy to get up and running with Snapheal, but to really get the best results you should reference the documentation.  Documentation is mostly inside the interface within the app. Each interface change shows a different set of directions, appropriately placed so that the user can quickly get a feel for how to use the tool. They are simple and to the point, and if you want an example, you can click on the video screen icon to get some sample tutorials for that specific tool. This is great if you have a high speed Internet connection, and not so great if you don't. I think some more formal documentation should be included for those that may not have the ability to go online. In some respects, the lack of intense 300 page documentation shows that this app really is made for the novice to the pro.


Snapheal interface x400 jpg



Snapheal contains most of the basic features you will find in most photo apps, including iPhoto. You can crop, resize, rotate, adjust saturation, brightness, sharpness, etc. Everything you would expect in a basic photo editing app. Snapheal handles all of these features with great ease, all while featuring a beautiful, intuitive, and easy to use interface. Where the magic happens is when you move over to where it really specializes -- erasing things from photos.

Erasing is a breeze with Snapheal.  Snapheal offers three different eraser modes - Wormhole (skin imperfections, and small objects), ShapeShift (erase large objects), and Twister (sky, clouds, small objects, etc). If done properly, you can really turn out some good looking photos. When I tried it the first time, I picked a busy photo and tried to wipe out several people with a  few quick swipes of the brush. My result was not what I had hoped -- it didn't remove what I expected it to, and it had tearing artifacts all over the section it attempted to remove. Instead of dismissing it immediately, I went to the Help menu which offers several video tutorials. Watching these I quickly learned that you need to remove pieces of the photo in smaller sections. If you aren't happy with the results of the specific eraser mode, you can click the undo mode and try again. Thankfully you don't have to highlight the section you want erased again, since it stays persistent you can simply choose a different mode and see if it works better. Most of the time you will have to go over some of the sections again, but usually the first pass will get your started and provide a good idea of if it's going to work or not.

Eraser modes


I tested several photos, and had mixed results. For example I tried the floating leaves photo that comes with Mac OS X. I was able to erase individual leaves with excellent results - albeit fairly slow ones. I did notice the higher the resolution of the photo and the size of the edit, the process can take a bit of time. I think MacPhun knows it too.. That's why during the magical processing session they flash 'Fun Facts' during the process.

Doing magicx250

To do the Leaf removal shown below, it processed it in about 3 minutes, which seemed painfully slow on my Core i5 Macbook Air. I think that is one other reason to do the edits in smaller sections, as the editing time will at least appear not as long.

Leaves - Before and After

Falling leaves before after x400


As you can see, even the novice can turn out some great looking photos. That's what I really like about this software, it opens up some very difficult editing that previously would only be possible in a Photoshop or variant of that style of application, which also requires the know how to do do these complex edits.

Not all results came out perfect. I took a photo and tried to remove the remnants of a person and a trash can, and that was not as successful. I tried different brush sizes, smaller strokes, different eraser modes, etc.  I was able to mostly get my wife out of the left side of the picture, but the trash can in the background was more problematic and I could only remove part of it without terrible artifacts. To work around that, I finally gave up and used the blur tool on the trash can, which wasn't what I was going for, but in the end I was still pleased.

Julianne before after x400


Final Thoughts

I am extremely impressed with Snapheal and it lived up to the hype it was promoting. Sometimes a little slow on the processing of the erasing function, the results were generally very good with little additional touch-up needed, depending on the complexity and nature of the photos. While it won't replace iPhoto for managing my photo library (it's not designed to), it certainly is a perfect companion for doing some edits that I wouldn't have previously attempted with other editors. It has all of the basic features of a general editor, but really shines when you use the eraser, clone & stamp brushes, and retouching tools. The whole overall experience is grand and is absolutely the easiest editing tool to accompany iPhoto that I have used for making complex edits.  If you take your time, it can really live up to the 'Magic' it says it can do. Highly recommended.


Product: Snapheal

Developer: MacPhun

Price:  $19.99  - but the Launch and Christmas price is $9.99

Available in the Mac App Store

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