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The 7 Best MacBooks for Photoshop & Photo Editing

The 7 Best MacBooks for Photoshop & Photo Editing

If you are looking for the best MacBook for Photoshop & Photo editing, then we have good news. In recent years, Apple has released many powerful workstation MacBooks that run photo editing applications perfectly; giving photographers, graphic designers, and professionals who retouch images the Macbook they need.

Our goal in this guide is to provide great options for different needs. For example, we have tested the most powerful, but also the most affordable MacBook for Photoshop.

The MacBook Air with a M1 or M2 chip can handle running photoshop very well and it also has a lightweight, thin design, which means you can take it with you no matter where you plan to go. 

“The only downside is that it’s not as powerful as the MacBook Pro model, which can actually be overkill for most photographers or photo editors.. You don’t need that level of power for photo editing”

Andrew Michaels, Professional photographer from New Jersey,

Note: Many professional photo editors use a drawing tablet for Mac; which utilizes a stylus on photoshop and helps fine tune the retouching process & makes photo editing easier.

There are several things you should look for before buying a device for photo editing and digital drawing. The most important aspects are the screen and its color accuracy, the battery and of course the hardware components.

Related: 7 Best Wacom For Photo Editing & Photographers (Mac Compatible)

However, choosing the best MacBook can be overwhelming. That’s why we have tested all the MacBooks that run Photoshop and compiled a top selection. 

Related: How to create amazing sketches in Photoshop (Full Guide)

But before we get to our picks, let us answer the question of whether the latest Macbooks are powerful enough to run Photoshop and what the best Macbook for editing photos proves to be.

At a Glance – Top Picks

TOP picks Macbook for photoshop

“The MacBook Pro (M1 & M2 chip) handles exporting files from Photoshop and Lightroom faster than many other devices; including the MacBook Air… but it’s not essential” Mike Rogers states, a photographer from New York City

Below are our top picks for the best Mac for Photoshop:

  1. MacBook Air 
  2. Macbook Pro 16 inch
  3. iMac
  4. Mac Mini
  5. Mac Studio (Desktop)
  6. Mac Pro (Desktop)
  7. Intel based Macs

Note: You will want to connect your laptop to a Drawing Tablet for Photoshop & Illustrator. Particularly if you plan on using a stylus pen to retouch your work.

Related: Sketchbook Vs Photoshop: Which Software Is Better?

Are MacBooks good for photoshop?

Are MacBooks good for photoshop

The short answer is yes. However, you still need to be careful which MacBook you buy. If you want to run Photoshop on a MacBook, go for a powerful CPU and 16GB or more RAM. (8GB minimum). 

The Macbook Pro accomplishes this with ease, however the MacBook Air works if you aren’t running many other CPU-demanding apps in addition to photoshop – it runs photoshop just fine.

[quote] if you’re a photographer, you may want to go with the MacBook Pro. An Alternative option is to have the MacBook Air with either upgraded storage, cloud storage or an external hard drive.

Related: 7 Best Wacom Tablets For Photo Editing & Photographers

If you need to do a lot of professional photo-editing with Photoshop, you should also look for a MacBook with a high-quality display.

If you are also wondering whether you should choose a MacBook or a Windows laptop for Photoshop, it depends on your OS preferences and experience with creative software. That being said, MacBooks have powerful CPUs, good RAM size, large storage and some of the best displays on the market.

Also check out our guide on the top Tablets for Lightroom & Photo Editing

These are the main aspects that justify why MacBooks can handle small and large Photoshop projects with ease.

Which is the best Macbook for Photoshop & Photo Editing?

Which is the best Macbook for Photoshop Photo Editing

Well, it all depends on your personal needs and preferences. However, if we have to choose the Macbook that works best with Photoshop, it has to be the latest Macbook Pro. This is because the Pro version of Apple laptops is specifically designed for creatives and applications like Photoshop.

With an extremely powerful hardware kit, an amazing 16” display and a great battery, the Macbook Pro is perfect for professional Photoshop users.

Are you video editing in addition to using photoshop? See our article: Is a MacBook Air Good for Video Editing

It’s no coincidence that millions of photographers, graphic designers, and digital artists around the world prefer to work on Photoshop with a Macbook. With its many features and numerous extras (such as Photoshop Elements), Photoshop is one of the best photo editing apps on the market.

For those unfamiliar with Photoshop, it is a top-notch software that offers a wide range of options. The most popular features are: Manipulating colors, removing people or objects, drawing on an image, correcting things like red eyes, drawing and sketching, and more.

1. MacBook Air: A Redefined MacBook for Photoshop (premium pick)

1. MacBook Air A Slim MacBook for Photoshop balanced pick

The all-new MacBook Air M2 has undergone a significant transformation, making it a top contender for photo editing tasks. With its completely revamped design, it’s no longer the wedge-shaped MacBook we’ve known for over a decade. Instead, it boasts a uniform thickness from front to back, giving it a sleek and modern look.

Powering this MacBook is Apple’s latest in-house M2 processor, ensuring that Photoshop tasks are executed seamlessly. This chip promises up to 18% better multi-core performance compared to its predecessor, the M1, and up to 35% faster graphics. Such capabilities make it a powerhouse for photo editing, even when compared to some Pro versions.

The MacBook Air M2 features a 13.6-inch display, slightly larger than the previous 13.3-inch screen. This new display is not only brighter, boasting up to 500 nits, but also offers improved color accuracy, covering 100% of the sRGB spectrum, 84% of AdobeRGB, and 95% of P3. Such a screen is crucial for photo editing, ensuring that colors are represented accurately.

For those who use stylus pens for detailed work in Photoshop & Illustrator, pairing an iPad with the MacBook Air M2 can create a comprehensive photo editing setup. This is especially beneficial given the MacBook Air M2’s display quality and color accuracy.

If you’re using a stylus pen, see the best stylus for photoshop & illustrator, which you can connect to your iPad along with your Macbook Air for a full photoshop setup.

Storage and RAM options are flexible, starting with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. However, for those who multitask heavily, it might be worth considering an upgrade to 16GB of RAM. The MacBook Air M2 can even be configured with up to 24GB of RAM and 2TB of storage, catering to professionals with intensive workloads.

One of the standout features of this new MacBook Air is its MagSafe charging, a beloved feature that Apple has reintroduced. This means you can charge your laptop without the fear of it being yanked off a table if someone trips over the cable. Additionally, with MagSafe, you effectively gain an extra USB-C port, as you no longer need to use one for charging.

See our research on how long a Macbook Air lasts

Despite its many upgrades, the MacBook Air M2 does come at a higher price point. However, considering its enhanced capabilities, especially in the realm of photo editing, it’s a worthy investment for those who prioritize performance and design.

In conclusion, if you’re seeking a top-tier MacBook for Photoshop without venturing into the Pro lineup, the MacBook Air M2 is an excellent choice. Its combination of power, display quality, and modern design makes it a compelling option for photo editing enthusiasts and professionals alike..

2. MacBook Pro 16: Most powerful Macbook for Adobe Photoshop & Photo Editing’

2. MacBook Pro 16 Most powerful Macbook for Adobe Photoshop Photo Editing

The king of MacBooks is none other than the MacBook Pro 16 inch. With the powerful M1 Pro or M1 Max, this Mac easily handles any graphic design program like Photoshop.

This high-end CPU is accompanied by 16 GB RAM, a 512 GB SSD and a large battery with a runtime of up to 21 hours. With such hardware equipment, the latest Pro has everything a professional needs and more.

See our post on How Long A MacBook Pro Lasts

As for the display, the MacBook Pro 16 features the Liquid Retina XDR display, which offers a premium native resolution of 3456 x 2334 pixels (254 pixels per inch). With 1000 nits of brightness and 1 billion colors, this is by far the best display for Photoshop we have ever seen on a MacBook.

In summary, the latest MacBook Pro for Photoshop is by far the best and most powerful choice for professional Adobe Photoshop users.

3. MacBook Pro 13: Best 13 inch MacBook for photo editing

3. MacBook Pro 13 Best 13 inch MacBook for photo editing

Another powerful MacBook for Photoshop is the latest MacBook Pro 13″. It has the same M1 chip as the Air version, but is also equipped with other high-end features.

Although the Pro 13 is a powerful device, there are some noticeable differences from the Pro 16. The first (and most obvious) difference concerns the display size, as this version has a 13″ display instead of a 16″.

Also, the MacBook Pro 13″ has a Retina display with 500 nits of brightness (instead of 1000). On the other hand, Apple has integrated the same color palette with P3 color gamut technology.

If you’re using a laptop for drawing, the MacBook pro is one of the best when paired with a wireless drawing tablet

Finally, the Pro 13″ is equipped with 8 GB RAM and a 256 GB SSD. Even if this model is not as powerful as the 16″ Pro, you can still run Photoshop on it without any problems.

You can consider the Pro 13″ a mid-range solution that is more powerful than the Air and less powerful than the Pro 16.

In conclusion, the MacBook Pro 13″ is a powerful yet affordable choice for those who want to use Photoshop without any hassle.

Also see: Best Mousepads for Apple’s Magic Mouse

4. iMac: Desktop alternative for using photoshop on a Macbook

4. iMac Desktop alternative for using photoshop on a Macbook

If you are looking for a powerful desktop PC that can easily handle Photoshop, the brand new iMac is the best choice. Note that the iMac is not a portable device like the Macbook Pro or Air.

However, the iMac is powerful enough to handle any small or large project with Photoshop. Moreover, you can choose from 3 different versions that differ in internal components and, of course, in price.

But the most important thing is that all versions are equipped with the M1 chip and 8 GB RAM which are powerful enough to run Photoshop.

Another important feature of the new iMac is the large and comfortable display. Namely, the iMac comes with a 24″ or 27″ Retina display that offers 500 nits of brightness and, of course, the P3 color gamut.

See our post on the Best laptop for Cricut design space & Cricut Makers

In a few words, the latest iMac is a powerful choice for those who prefer to edit and draw on a large desktop display.

5. Mac Mini: best cheap Macbook alternative for using Adobe Cloud & Photoshop

5. Mac Mini best cheap Macbook alternative for using Adobe Cloud Photoshop

Our final choice is a bit different from the others. The Mac Mini is actually a desktop without a monitor, keyboard, and mouse. This option is by far the cheapest on the list.

The latest Mac Mini is also equipped with Apple’s M1 chip. With a storage capacity of 256GB RAM and 8GB RAM, this Mac Mini is the perfect choice for those looking to save some money.

However, as we mentioned earlier, the Mac Mini does not come with a monitor. So if you want to run design applications like Photoshop, you’ll need to pair your Mac Mini with a powerful monitor with high color accuracy.

Also see: How to Download and import GoPro Videos to Mac

In conclusion, a Mac Mini is by far the most affordable Apple device that can handle Photoshop. We can safely say that this is a prime solution for those who already have a great monitor and need a powerful (and ultimately compact) desktop PC.

6. MacBook Pro 14: Best Compact Powerhouse for Photo Editing

The MacBook Pro 14″ is a testament to Apple’s commitment to professionals in the creative industry. This model, while compact, is a beast in performance, making it an ideal choice for photo editing.

At first glance, the MacBook Pro 14″ might seem like a slight step up from the 13″ model. However, the differences are profound. The Liquid Retina XDR display, based on mini-LED technology, is a game-changer. With a peak brightness of 1600 nits and a high contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1, images are displayed with unparalleled clarity and vibrancy. This is especially beneficial for photographers and photo editors who work with HDR content. The ProMotion technology, which adjusts the refresh rate up to 120 Hz, ensures that every movement on the screen, from video playback to simple scrolling, is buttery smooth.

Beyond the display, the MacBook Pro 14″ is powered by the new M2 chip. This ensures that photo editing software, like Photoshop, runs seamlessly, even with multiple high-resolution images open. The inclusion of an SD card slot and an HDMI port, alongside the MagSafe charging, means professionals no longer need to juggle multiple dongles and adapters. This is a significant relief for photographers who often transfer large files from cameras to their laptops.

For those who frequently use graphic tablets or styluses for detailed photo editing, the MacBook Pro 14″ offers a responsive and smooth experience, ensuring that every brushstroke or adjustment is precise.

While the MacBook Pro 14″ comes with a heftier price tag, it’s a worthy investment for professionals. The combination of performance, display quality, and port availability makes it a top choice for those serious about their photo editing tasks.

In summary, the MacBook Pro 14″ is not just a compact version of its larger counterpart. It’s a powerhouse in its own right, perfectly balancing portability with performance. For photo editors and photographers looking for a laptop that doesn’t compromise on any front, the MacBook Pro 14″ is the way to go.

7. MacBook Pro 13 M2: Best Value for Photo and Video Editing

The MacBook Pro 13″ with the M2 chip is a testament to Apple’s dedication to offering powerful tools at a more accessible price point. This model is a perfect blend of affordability and performance, making it a top choice for both photo and video editors.

The transition from the M1 to the M2 chip has brought about significant improvements. Not only does the MacBook Pro 13″ M2 offer enhanced performance, but it also boasts an extended battery life. This combination ensures that editors can work on intensive projects without any hitches and for longer durations. Whether you’re editing high-resolution photos or processing 4K videos, this laptop handles tasks with ease, ensuring smooth and efficient workflows.

One of the standout features of the MacBook Pro 13″ M2 is its silent operation. Even when handling demanding tasks, the laptop remains cool, and the fans are rarely activated. This ensures a distraction-free environment, especially crucial for editors who require utmost concentration.

While the MacBook Pro 13″ M2 is primarily designed for professional tasks, its capabilities don’t end there. The powerful M2 chip also allows users to indulge in some recent gaming titles, making it a versatile choice for both work and leisure.

In conclusion, the MacBook Pro 13″ M2 is not just an upgrade; it’s a revolution in the 13-inch category. Offering top-notch performance, extended battery life, and silent operation, it’s the ideal choice for photo and video editors looking for value without compromising on quality.

Which Photo Editing Softwares for Mac are Popular and Why?

The realm of photo editing on Mac has seen a surge in powerful tools and applications tailored to both professionals and enthusiasts. The popularity of these tools can be attributed to their robust features, intuitive interfaces, and the ability to cater to a wide range of editing needs.

Adobe has been a frontrunner in this domain, with tools like Adobe Lightroom Classic and Adobe Photoshop being the go-to for many professionals. Lightroom Classic, for instance, is revered for its exceptional photo management and organization capabilities, while Photoshop is renowned for its unmatched image manipulation tools.

Apple Photos, on the other hand, offers a free and easy-to-use platform, making it a favorite among Mac users. Its integration with the Apple ecosystem and the ability to handle raw camera files from popular SLR models adds to its appeal.

For those seeking unique features, DxO PhotoLab stands out with its best-in-class noise reduction and lens-profile-based corrections. Its ability to transform unusable photos into high-quality images is a testament to its prowess.

Popular Photo Editing Apps for Mac:

  • Adobe Lightroom Classic
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Apple Photos (free)
  • DxO PhotoLab
  • Adobe Photoshop Elements
  • CyberLink PhotoDirector
  • Capture One Pro
  • Skylum Luminar Neo

In conclusion, the choice of photo editing software largely depends on individual needs, but with the plethora of options available for Mac users, finding the perfect fit has never been easier. Whether you’re a professional photographer, a design enthusiast, or someone just looking to enhance their photos, there’s a tool out there for you.

Can you use Photoshop on a MacBook Air

Can you use Photoshop on a MacBook Air

With most professionals opting for the Macbook Pro, it’s fair to ask whether the MacBook Air is good enough for graphic and web design? To answer that question briefly: absolutely, the MacBook Air runs photoshop very smoothly and without lag.

The latest MacBook Air can handle high-resolution photos and effortlessly manage multiple apps and tabs. In fact, the MacBook Air is lightweight, which gives it a slight advance for photographers using a laptop during the shoot or for photo editors and designers who retouch images in a local cafe or coffee shop.

Related: How to fix Photoshop Pen Pressure not working

With its top-notch hardware components, MacBook Air gives you a flawless and fast experience when working with Photoshop. Plus, the latest generation of MacBook Air battery can give you many hours of independence when you are on the go.

Can a Macbook Air run Adobe Illustrator & Lightroom?

Can a Macbook Air run Adobe Illustrator Lightroom

The short answer to this question is yes. Graphic design programs like Adobe Illustrator & Lightroom need a powerful device to run smoothly. Fortunately, the latest MacBook Air has the right hardware to run these apps smoothly.

During our test, we had no problems working with Illustrator or Lightroom, no matter the size of the project. For this reason, we think the MacBook Air is the best budget MacBook for creatives.

If you’re 3d modeling (going beyond photoshop), see the ideal Laptops for AutoCAD.

How we analyzed and chose our top picks

How we analyzed and chose our top picks

The specs of your Mac should be taken into consideration when choosing it for Photoshop. I haven’t tested a Macbook that wasn’t strong enough to run photoshop besides the older models. If you are getting a used MacBook model before 2018, then you will want to make sure it has the right graphics card and processor that handles adobe and photo editing software with ease.

One of the Benefits of choosing a Macbook for photo editing is that there is a level of confidence when buying Apple products since they are focused and tailored for creatives. This means that even the base models MacBooks will run photoshop with these as well as many other Adobe products.

The reason for this is because they have a powerful graphics card, processor, RAM, and optional storage that is upgradeable only upon purchase. MacBooks also have a variety of different ports on the side of the laptop which means you connect a large micro SD card, an external hard drive, or use cloud storage if you need more space for media.

During our tests, we made sure that adobe photoshop was able to be downloaded, launched and run on Mac without any lag or delay. 

We even tested out how the app was able to handle photo editing softwares while simultaneously running other cpu-intensive tasks. All of the MacBooks we picked in this post were able to do so and passed our tests.

Mac vs Windows for Photoshop

Mac vs Windows for Photoshop

Below, I will compare mac vs windows for running photoshop. I’ll also discuss the benefits and drawbacks of each operating system running this photo editing software.

Benefits of using a Mac for photoshop

The most important advantage a Mac has over a Windows device is the display. Apple’s latest Retina displays offer brightness of at least 500 nits (depending on the Mac device), premium color accuracy, and exceptional blacks.

Also, the latest macOS 12 (Monterey) is extremely fast and allows Macbooks to run Photoshop without a hitch. Finally, Apple has improved its hardware kits over the past few years.

The M1 chipset is very powerful and all 2021 Macbooks come with at least 8GB RAM. We found that whether you chose a mouse or a stylus pen with a drawing tablet on mac, that photoshop was fully capable of completing high level, professional photo editing.

Benefits of using windows for photoshop

The most important advantage when it comes to using Windows for Photoshop is price. Building or buying a Windows PC is cheaper than buying a Mac device.

That being said, with Windows PCs, you have the ability to upgrade the hardware whenever you want. Finally, Windows devices are by far the best option for gamers. One disadvantage is that it’s difficult to get alternative digital art focused apps, such as Procreate on Windows.

So, you should go for a Windows device if you need an affordable PC that can support demanding games and apps like Photoshop at the same time.

Macbook M1 & M2 vs intel processors for Photoshop

The latest version of Photoshop was specifically designed for M1-based Macs. This is obvious as the M1 runs Photoshop up to 50% faster than the older, intel-powered Macbooks. The M2 is even more powerful and runs softwares very quickly.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that the previous Macbook models can’t run Photoshop. On the contrary, most modern Macbooks with intel chips can easily cope with photo-editing and digital drawing tasks.

Side note:The majority of macbooks will run adobe products as well as Photoshop smoothly when your device is maintained. I personally use cleanmymac X for this. It’s a software that helps speed up and optimize your Macbook. It’s not essential and is a third party app. See our post on is CleanMyMac safe for more on its legitimacy.

How to use Photoshop for Mac

All the Mac devices we tested for the purposes of this article support the latest Mac version of Photoshop. If you want to download the latest version of Adobe Photoshop, you should know that it is a pretty simple task.

See our full guide on how to create amazing sketches in Photoshop, which applies to those using Windows & Mac.

All you need to do is visit the Adobe Photoshop official website and download the Mac version. Choose the plan that suits your needs and you are good to go.

Once you have successfully downloaded Photoshop and installed it on your Mac, it is time to start drawing or editing your photos.

How to use Photoshop with the Apple Macbook pro touchbar

A great advantage of the latest MacBook 13 is the so-called touchbar. If you have the latest Photoshop version, you can manage pretty much every toolbar through the Mac touchbar.

You will come across a lot of options like, the brush size, opacity, flow, layer properties, etc. You could think of this touchbar as an amazing selection of Photoshop shortcut keys that is pre-installed into your latest MacBook Pro.

Is Photoshop free on Mac

To briefly answer this question, no. The Adobe Photoshop software is a pay-to-use application that comes with a monthly or yearly subscription. 

If you are looking for a free Photoshop alternative, we have good news, there are some professional photo editing and digital drawing apps that come for free:

  1. Krita
  2. CorelDRAW
  3. GIMP
  4. Canva
  5. Medibang Paint
  6. FireAlpaca

We also have comparisons on similar drawing apps, such as krita vs Firealpaca, Sketchbook Vs Photoshop, and Autodesk Sketchbook Vs Procreate.

What is Photoshop elements for mac

You can think of Adobe Photoshop elements as an innovative way to elevate your editing experience with new, user-friendly editing tools. Photoshop elements can help you automate the editing process and create flawless images in minutes.

During our review, we instantly understood that the new Adobe Photoshop elements 2022 work perfectly with any of the latest MacBooks.

Where to download Photoshop for Mac

Downloading the latest version of Photoshop is actually very easy. All you need to do is visit the official Adobe website. From that point on, the process is pretty simple. If you already have an Adobe account, you can sign in and download the correct version of Photoshop depending on the OS you are using.

On the flip side, if this is the first time you are using Photoshop you can download and test the software yourself at adobe.

About the author:

Photo of Paul Michael, Founder of MediaPeanut

Paul Michael

Paul Michael is a media and technology expert whose research reveals how technology and media are being used in the world today. He has expertise on computers, the internet, streaming, Roku, electronics, and education. He also enjoys graphic design & digital art. Paul has his Bachelors of Arts and Science(s) from Rutgers University-New Brunswick, NJ