OS X El Capitan Lets Users Install Third-Party Extensions in Photos


os x el capitan

With today’s release of OS X El Capitan, users can now install third-party photo editing extensions on their Mac and use them alongside the built-in tools in Apple’s Photos app.

These third-party extensions expand your editing options in Photos. You can edit a photo using multiple extensions, in addition to all the built-in editing features of Apple’s Photos app. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to set up extensions in Photos:

1. Find and install third-party extensions for Photos in the Mac App Store.

2. Launch System Preferences on your Mac, then click Extensions.


3. In the sidebar on the left, click Photos.

4. Click the checkboxes for all the extensions you want to enable.

After you set up your extensions, follow the guide below to use an extension when editing a photo:

1. Double-click a photo in your library to open it in single view, then click Edit.

2. Click Extensions, which can be found at the bottom of the Photos editing tools on the right-hand side of the window.


3. Choose an extension from the menu.

4. Edit the photo with the extension’s tools that appear to the right.


5. When you’re satisfied with your edits, click Save Changes. You can choose another extension to apply further edits to the photo, or use any of the editing tools that are built into Photos.

6. Once you are finished editing, click Done to exit the edit mode.

Even if you edit a photo using a third-party extension, the Photos app will still allow you to revert image back to its original state.


  • poopchute

    That would be awesome if DxO Optics were actually in the App Store. Maybe it’s coming soon? There’s nothing about it on their website.

  • Corey Beazer

    Are the extensions automatically downloaded once turned on? Are they Paid? Also, can’t wait for Pixelmator to add one

  • poopchute

    I downloaded BeFunky(free). It showed up automatically in extensions.

  • iPedro1000

    I argue that it’s possible to use Photos as a professional tool. In just its second iteration, Apple has already covered the biggest shortfall of Photos vs Aperture: extensions. Once we start seeing extensions for apps like Pixelmator, we’ll have covered many use cases. I see Photos as more of a platform on which third parties (and possibly even Apple) can build on rather than a fixed app on which we do all of our work.

    I resisted switching to Lightroom because each time I’ve tried, I didn’t like what I saw. So I’ve kept using Aperture but have moved one of my regular clients to Photos. This client in particular is an ideal candidate because I have to edit photos live for social media in the field. I shoot, send selects to my iPhone 6 Plus via WiFi, edit (including with VSCO and many of the iOS Photos extensions) and upload to their social media. When I get home, my selects are already waiting, edited on my iMac. I clean them up further and publish a gallery from there. The workflow is awesome.

    I’m more convinced than ever that I’ll be able to use Photos professionally as Apple improves the platform. In the meantime, Aperture works just as well as it always has.

  • TV53

    I like the idea of the extension framework as well, but I’m not sure it’s working as I’d hoped. In Aperture, you can always see what edits were made, selectively undo, even after he photo has been saved and is sitting in the library. It’s also easy to copy a series of edits and apply them to other pictures. In Photos, it’s possible to do all that with the in-app editing tools. I thought the extensions would work that way as well, but they don’t–at least yet. The macphun extensions and affinity that are available now all save a finished version of a photo back into the photo library, but they don’t seem to save the edit history at all. If you open up a previously edited picture and send it back to the extension, it’s as if the extension never saw it before. You can always revert to original, so it’s technically non-destructive, but without edit history, you’ll have to start all over if you want to revise you edits, and then the original edit chain is lost so you won’t really know what you did to the picture. Not a deal killer in most cases, but sometimes I really like to see what edits I’ve applied in the past that got me a particular look. These extensions are still very useful, and dramatically increase the utility of Photos, but it would be a much, much better system if the extensions saved the full edit history back along with the photo. I believe the technology with the .aae file sidecar is built into the photos framework, so I’m puzzled why it wasn’t used.