A while ago

Pixelmator 1.6.4 Is All about the Details

With the Mac App Store launch and the Pixelmator transition to it running at full throttle, we worked tirelessly for the last few days to finally bring Pixelmator 1.6.4 to everyone – not just the Mac App Store.

The update is clearly one of the most significant refinements we’ve ever made to Pixelmator, even though it is all about the details. In fact, you can think of it as massive enhancements and modernization of things in the app that are not visible at a first glance, but that are definitely felt once the app is brought into play.

Gradient Tool

The Gradient Tool has been revamped completely. For a combination of major performance improvements and high-quality smoothness (or dithering, which basically means no banding between colors), we had to do a complete rewrite of gradient kernels (the most low-level, foundational stuff of the gradient engine). We think we’ve got the world’s best Gradient Tool – very high quality, very fast, and alive, since you see the results instantly when drawing a gradient with the Gradient Tool.

In addition to all of the Gradient Tool improvements, Pixelmator has introduced a new collection of gradient presets in the gradients palette and gradient sharing.

Gradient Sharing

This one is very cool. Sharing gradients in Pixelmator is as simple as dragging and dropping them from the gradients palette onto your desktop, and vice versa. Even more, the exported gradients icon shows a preview of the exported gradient. We created a special Quick Look plug-in (built into Pixelmator) for this purpose – a detail that is a lot of fun.

Selection Tools

We also did a complete revamp of all the selection tools in Pixelmator: Magic Wand, Lasso, Polygonal Lasso, Rectangular Marquee, and Elliptical Marquee.

In addition to major (I mean it) performance improvements for the selection tools, a great deal of attention was paid to the details… lots of details. A few examples:

  • When you start moving the selection around, the selection border dissolves until you release your mouse. It helps you to clearly see where you are about to place the selection.
  • The selection border also dissolves when you add an adjustment or filter onto it for a better preview of the final result.
  • By pressing the Space key on your keyboard you can now temporarily switch to the Hand Tool whenever you like when drawing a selection with the Polygonal Lasso Tool.
  • Shift-click with the Polygonal Lasso Tool to draw a selection border every 45?.
  • Command-press when drawing a selection with Polygonal Lasso will show you a preview of a closed selection and, with the Command key still pressed, you can close it (the selection) with a single mouse-click.
  • All the selection tools now have the intersect mode, which basically does what it says: allows intersecting selections with each other.

Oh, and the click-and-drag-technology-based Magic Wand Tool is very, very fast now.

Although I am not saying that we already have a complete package of selection tools, I am very confident that those that we have now are the very best selection tools in the world. We will continue to add more of them in the future.

JPEG Turbo

Pixelmator 1.6.4 is first in the world to add a new JPEG compression/decompression engine, called the libjpeg-turbo. JPEG Turbo, as we named it, brings 2x faster JPEG compression via Pixelmator’s Export for Web feature. Remember, Pixelmator has a real-time preview for optimizing images or slices for the Web, so JPEG Turbo makes that preview even more instant.

Refine Selection

Three months’ worth of scientific-caliber research and development went into the new Refine Selection tool. Refine Selection delivers quality results when enhancing your selection borders, whether that be smoothing, feathering or resizing. A noteworthy ease-of-use of the Refine Selection tool in Pixelmator remains exactly the same as before.


In addition to a wonderful update, we’ve got some supplements for you to play with – new and inspiring Pixelmator tutorials covering Lasso, Polygonal Lasso, Magic Wand, Marquee Selection Tools, and a Gradient Tool.

Users who purchased Pixelmator through the Mac App Store are already using Pixelmator version 1.6.4, while non-Mac App Store Pixelmator users can get version 1.6.4 from our website or through Pixelmator’s built-in software update.

Those of you who haven’t yet picked up your copy of Pixelmator can download a trial on our website or, if desired, purchase the complete app from the Mac App Store.

Thank you so much for using Pixelmator. We really hope you will enjoy using version 1.6.4 as much as we enjoyed creating it.


  • David B.

    How about the Quartz Composer issue for mac app store users? Will we get an update on that soon?

  • David B.

    Awesome! Can’t wait 🙂

  • randall

    What about the type tool? Any fixes here?

  • Sheryl

    I am not a huge user of gradients, but I still have to say, “Wow.” I compared the new tool to the gradient tool in PS CS4 and I think that I’ll be switching any gradient work over to Pixelmator. I’m also looking forward to playing with the JPEG Turbo.

    Much as I like Pixelmator (and the Mac App Store), I was not sure about switching over to the Mac App Store and upgrading to the eventual Pixelmator 2.0; I still need PS for things that Pixelmator does not do yet. However, I think that this update alone has changed my mind, since I now suspect newer versions will include those functions that I need!

  • Ton

    still no “remember dialog settings” ?
    still no “remember save as” file type?
    still no “copy merged” ?
    still no “drop shadow” ?

  • Anthony Schiavino

    First time user outside of the demo I downloaded way way back. Bought the new Pixelmator through the Mac App Store because I was looking for something to color my comic book with. The program is better than my expectations of it and was well worth spending the money on.

    Sure there are things I wish it had. But it has what I need and I know updates are coming. What’s missing isn’t anything I can’t live without for at least the foreseable future.

  • Robert B.

    1 vote for drop shadow 😀

  • hamsta

    Drop shadow works for me. And copy merge? I do this:
    1. Command j to duplicate layers
    2. Select the layers you want to merge and right click, select Merge Layers.

  • roadster

    Will you provide more options in the option panels for the Selection Tools?

    For example:

    + A numerical tolerance value for Magic Wand.
    + Fixed ratio / size for the Marquee tools.

    In addition, if it was possible to apply effects / adjustments to multiple layers at once that would be great.

  • Wilson Davalos

    I’m a photographer and work with some high profile publications and I truly love Pixelmator. I use it daily, I’ve actually have been a user for some years now. The developers have done an amazing job and I want to thank them for pumping out such a great app. Looking forward to seeing what you will have in the future.

  • Klaus

    I see no change in my gradients palette (Update via MAS)! Where are those new gradient presents?

  • Sixing

    My only mac image editor!!

  • Kyle

    Still no foreground/background gradient option? Presets are useless.

  • pandronic

    “Best selection tools in the world” – that is really lame. Maybe if Pixelmator were the only photo editor in the world. How hard can it be to add precise selections? For the milionth time – add fixed selection, fixed ratio and a freaking info window. Until then Pixelmator is useless for anyone who requires pixel precision.

  • mic.b

    Great to see that Pixelmator value and quality constantly rises 🙂

    @Pandronic I agree.

    I would also like to be able to type in values in all other tools. Currently its often impossible to choose value between i.e. 2 and 0 (tools, filters, etc.). Few moths ago you showed us some screenshots of tools that were scraped during internal tests. Among them were arrows/buttons for precise adjusting values. Why you want to make it so ‘flashy’? Just let us type in values by hand- it’s simple and as precise as it can be. 


  • Klaus

    Type in values by hand would be a need for anything (Gradiants, Filters and so on…). And a info-window is an absolutly must!!!

  • Klaus

    And a gradiant using the foreground/background colour would also be a must have!

  • Alan / Falcon

    As long as we’re voting for features, count me as a vote for Copy Merged.

    I’ve been experiencing some issues trying to merge multiple layers when they use different blending modes. In Photoshop I’d use a Copy Merged command to full replicate a visual look, but in Pixelmator I need to actually save the file as a flattened lossless image and then copy and paste from that image in some cases – not a fun workaround! Note that merging layers will sometimes work, but even Photoshop has some issues merging layers (which is why Copy Merged is needed.)

  • Klaus

    Yes, Copy Merged is also a must!

  • ps

    i was a “lurker” for a year or so, but when this version hit the mac store – and, i was in a bind with photoshop failing to open png files in 24bit mode (even thought, it saved them that way!) – i went for it. wow, nice.

    as a professional, i am looking forward to some more precise ways of working. but, as you guys clearly know what you are doing, i am sure you have already a huge list of future features. as a designer who is also creating iphone apps – i understand, you can’t do everything at once. so, looking forward to future versions, and when pixelmator fits the bill for my task at hand, i very much enjoy it! cheers!

    and, amazed that you did so many refinements in just a +0.0.1 release! fantastic.

  • Duffman

    “We think we’ve got the world’s best Gradient Tool”
    Funny to be so arrogant, I would say that you have the world’s buggier painting tool.

    There is so much bug that it can’t be possible that somebody use your tool to do something with it.

    The stroke tool is SO bugged (to name one …) , making pixelmator crash and lose my work.

    “we have now are the very best selection tools in the world”
    Yeah I saw that to, it’s not even possible to select a given size box or see easily how much pixels has been selected.

    STFU and start to CORRECT your bugs before adding new features and telling you are the best. All basic stuff doesn’t even work correctly.

    ” amazed that you did so many refinements in just a +0.0.1 release! fantastic.”
    I am not. I lose so much time with those bugs that Photoshop is starting to be a bargain …

    PS: Oh and yeah, your forum just suck too, can’t get your password when you only remember your mail address …
    By the way I don’t even want to help you resolving those bugs, I am NOT paid like you. I did pay for this crap.

  • Mathias

    How about adding the ability to center layers/objects?

  • immanuel

    Very fast? On my MacBook (Core2Duo 2.4ghz 4GB RAM), the new gradient tool is slow as hell. Its so juddery thats its nearly impossible to precisely place a gradient.

  • tomgraphics

    Congratulations for the gradient tool.
    This is the best thing I’ve ever seen.
    Thanks and keep up.

  • Mark

    The gradient tool it nice, but it is so awful without a foreground/background swatch. I agree with the above – presets are fairly useless, you need a foreground/background option. I don’t like having to make a preset for every gradient that I want.