Despite receiving a seemingly minor numerical tick to version 2.2.1 (from the previous 2.2), Pixelmator introduces a new file format to its popular and attractively priced image editing and manipulation app, claiming significant performance improvements. (If you’re unfamiliar with Pixelmator, be sure to read Michael Cohen’s review, “Can You Replace Photoshop with Pixelmator?,” 17 May 2013.) In addition to greatly speeding up the opening and saving of image files, the new Pixelmator file format saves edits in the background while you manipulate images, and it now saves individual edits to iCloud (rather than saving the whole image file each time). The new file format also introduces a progress bar for a better idea of where you’re at while opening and saving, and it offers enhanced Quick Look support. Additionally, Pixelmator adds a checkbox option that enables you to choose to open and save images in the new file format or in their original format.
Beyond the new file format, Pixelmator improves the Effects Browser with the capability to open highlighted effects by pressing Return as well as adding more keywords for quickly finding the right effect. Third-party effects are better organized and gain a tooltip so you can view full titles. Other changes include the addition of a Command-Option keyboard shortcut to compare how an image looks with and without an effect, improved accuracy while previewing the Sharpen effect, a more precise eyedropper for the Replace Color and Select Color tools, and more flexibility in previewing images while applying an effect or using the Select Color and Refine Selection features. ($14.99 new from the Mac App Store, free update, 41.6 MB, release notes)