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Apple’s latest version of macOS, High Sierra, has brought some changes to the Mac’s optimization and interface, along with a host of new features. It’s also brought some important upgrades to the free apps shipped on the Mac, including the Photos 3 app.

We often refer to Photos as Apple’s digital shoebox for all your photos and videos. You can (and we recommend that you do) link Photos to your iCloud account to organize, edit, and view all your photos and videos.

Photos received a number of improvements with macOS High Sierra, and here’s a quick breakdown of a few of the most significant changes.

Live Photo Effects
Apple announced that iOS 11 would bring a few new effects you could add to your Live Photos, and Photos in macOS High Sierra can add those same effects.

The three new effects are called Loop, Bounce, and Long Exposure and you can change them whenever you want with just a couple of clicks. Here’s a quick rundown of what each effect does:

  • Loop: Much like the name implies, this effect will put your Live Photo into an endless loop, so you’ll be able to re-watch that moment in time over and over again.
  • Bounce: If you’re familiar with Instagram’s app Boomerang, you’ll understand how the Bounce effect works. Essentially, the Live Photo will play forwards and then backward, “bouncing” back and forth between start and the end.
  • Long Exposure: This effect will add an artificial long exposure to your Live Photo causing the images to bleed together. Long Exposure will look particularly cool with pictures that feature running water or other moving objects that have continuous movement.

Some social networks support sharing these new Live Photos formats, but note that they’re shared as videos. Depending on the length of the video when it’s saved, the apps available to use for sharing could be limited. The best way to see which apps support Live Photos is to open a Live Photo that you want to share, hit the Share icon (box with arrow pointing up), and review the services shown. For example, Facebook will allow you to easily share Live Photos with Loops, Bounces, and Long Exposures. From within Photos, select the image and click on the Share button and choose the “Facebook” option.

In addition to the new Live Photo effects, macOS High Sierra also allows you to edit Live Photos in a few new ways, giving you better control over how your Live Photos look. Among the tweaks you can make is trimming your Live Photos to a shorter length, selecting a different key photo, and even muting your Live Photos. All these new features are available in the Photos app’s editing menu.

Advanced Editing Tools
Probably the feature we’re most excited about in Photos 3 is the new architecture that allows for advanced photo editing tools like Photoshop, Lightroom, or two apps I’m really partial to from MacPhun, the exciting and affordable new Luminar 2018 or Aurora 2018 (winner of the Best New App of 2017 from Apple). This external editing capability lets you apply filters and adjust all your favorite shots from Photos 3 without having to specifically import them into other programs. Although Photos own editing tools are much improved, they still don’t stack up to the pro editing tools. To edit an image with an external editor app, you can use the Image > Edit With menu (also available by Ctrl + Clicking the image menu). Changes made externally should be saved back to your Photos Library. Photos can later be reverted by going into Photos editing mode and clicking Revert to Original.

Native Editing Tools Much Improved
In Photos 3, when you click the Edit button in the top right corner of the screen, you’ll be greeted with a several new editing tools that will let you modify your pictures. You can adjust the white balance, levels, curves, and definition to provide that little extra touch which can turn a good photo into a really great photo. You can also adjust other aspects like sharpness, noise reduction, and selective color, and you can even add vignettes.

If you’re used to using professional photo editing software like Photoshop, Photo’s new tools may not be a showstopper, but for many users, Photo’s new tools will be a big upgrade from what was previously available.

The Sidebar is Back
In macOS Sierra, you navigate the Photos app by use of the top toolbar and the optional sidebar, but now the sidebar’s back in High Sierra.

The sidebar is now permanent, meaning you can’t hide it or make it go away except in full screen mode. Plus, much of the functionality of the previous top toolbar is now incorporated into the new sidebar. You now use the sidebar to access your shared library, various photo albums, and projects, and where you create new albums and folders.