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MacGyver Photo Editor Review

When I first decided to do an exercise using an Android tablet and smartphone for some blog posts in early 2016, the one thing needed was a decent image editor. I looked at a lot of different apps, most of which had been suggested on the web in various places, only to be frustrated by the lack of tools and quality of output. I ended up with MacGyver Photo Editor.
Starting graphic design in 1992, I was introduced to high end imaging software, one was named Adobe Photoshop, which I have used ever since, because 90% of my work was for print jobs (leaflets, stationery etc) and branding. Photoshop has improved a lot since the Version 2, which I had. I'm used to that kind of software and, of course, nothing comes remotely close on tablets, except for MacGyver (it's a bit like PS Version 2, no layers).

If all you do is snapshots of the places you've visited, then I suggest one of the lesser App's, like SnapSeed or whatever. You don't need this one for general work (it's more for serious image artists), though you could use it.

A general overview

Let me say straight off, that MacGyver is not for the faint hearted. The learning curve is very steep and you can do a huge amount, given the restrictions of a tablet (I wouldn't recommend this for a smartphone—there's just not enough real estate). I have used this for pixel level artwork where a re-touch is needed without any problem. If you decide to use this software, there is a lot on it and I am only covering a few items here, just to give you the basic gist of it.

One aspect of the Editor, as it stands now, is that you will have to spend a long time going through all the tools to find out how they work. Some have extra levels, once you are in that tool. A number have a sub-menu with even more levels and settings.

The one thing missing on tablet apps is layers—I use these a lot. My average image is usually finalized after anywhere from 5 to 20 layers in Photoshop.

Home screen

Some of the tools—there are a lot more.

Color: There are 3 screens here for color adjustment.

Effect: There are a lot of these, many have a slider so you can adjust the effect.

Crop: There are standard sizes as well as a custom setting (the little icon with the pencil sticking out of). Custom settings are kept for reuse.


There are a lot more screens with options (such as a Clone tool). Many have a thermometer type slider to adjust the process with. Some screens have options for that screen and some even more settings for the individual options—but you don't know that until you tap an option. Then, look around to see if there are any fine tuning adjustments for it.
The Save screen

Last but not least is the Save screen. For about a year I found this very frustrating, because I had to keep re-entering the name of the file. Within the last month or so the authors have changed that so it retains the name of the image file you are working on. It still needs a bit of work, but is a lot better than it was.

Save all JPG files from your camera as a PNG before doing any work—otherwise you will lose detail. Then save as a JPG for the final image to post on your blog. This App does not handle RAW files.

One very important detail here is when you create a new PNG file. STOP! Go to the main menu at the top right of the screen, and "Restart App"! MacGyver's file handling misses out a few things. If you continue and then Save, the PNG file is not updated, the JPG file is and as a result will be ruined (I've wrecked a couple of JPEG's this way). The Restart flushes the Cache. I also close the program and run CCleaner to make doubly sure. Doing it like this saves a me lot of trouble (until the programmers solve the issue). Since posting this: I found that at the top left, you can go back to the folder where you saved a file, then open the new one. However, all that is added to the current session of the App. A restart, close down and reopen is still the best way to flush the cache.

Scratching the surface

All I've done here is give a quick look at MacGyver Photo Editor. There does not seem to be a manual anywhere, so you have to play around for quite a while to get used to it and then you might even find more stuff. The authors are updating this regularly, often based on input from users.

What I'd like to see in MacGyver

  1. Select a whole image or part of it for copying (Select All and Lasso).
  2. Copy and paste. And the copy would stay on Android, then I could open an existing PNG file and paste on top of it.
  3. A Transparent Background setting for PNG's. This could be a real boon. I could do an effect in a new file, with transparent background. Then copy and paste onto another file.
  4. In order for the above to really work well, MacGyver would need to have multiple files open.
  5. Layers, though how well these would work on a tablet I don't know. I reckon it might be possible, but would entail some major programming.
There may be some of this existing in the software and if it is, I haven't found it yet.

I can do a lot of work using this software and haven't found anything for an Android tablet that even comes close to it's functionality. You'll find it on Google Play Store.

A short series of articles outlining some of the methods I use.
Beginning with: MacGyver Home Screen

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