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What is the best free color grading software for mac?

Color grading is an important part of the video production process. It involves adjusting and enhancing the colors in video to create a specific mood or look. For Mac users, there are several free color grading software options to consider. In this article, we will compare some of the top free color grading software for Mac to help you determine which is the best option for your needs and budget.

Introduction to Color Grading

Color grading gives you more control over the colors in your video. It allows you to correct issues with color balance or inconsistencies in lighting. Color grading also enables you to stylize the colors in your video to fit the mood and tone you want for your film. For example, you may add a warm, orange tone for a nostalgic feel or cool, blue tones for a sleek modern style.

The color grading process normally takes place in post-production after editing is complete. Color grading software enables you to make precise adjustments to colors, contrast, brightness and saturation levels. Most color graders use specialized panels and monitors calibrated for accurate color for the grading process.

For independent filmmakers and videographers on a budget, free color grading software provides an affordable alternative for Mac users. While not as robust as paid professional software like DaVinci Resolve Studio, free Mac software can still offer a good range of color correction and grading tools.

Factors to Consider

When choosing free color grading software for Mac, here are some key factors to keep in mind:

– Ease of use – The interface should be intuitive enough for beginners to learn quickly. You don’t want complex tools with a steep learning curve.

– Color correction tools – The software should include tools like hue/saturation adjustment, color wheels, curves and levels to adjust colors, contrast and brightness.

– Color look presets – Presets make the grading process faster. Useful for creating popular film looks like black and white, vintage, cinematic styles.

– Video format support – Software should support common formats like MOV, MP4, MXF, ProRes. The more formats supported, the better.

– Additional features – Look for other useful tools like LUT support, masking, keyframes,scopes and video preview/split screen.

– Hardware requirements – Consider if your Mac and graphics card meet minimum system requirements for smooth performance.

Keeping these factors in mind, below we compare some top free options for color grading on Mac.

Best Free Color Grading Software for Mac

Software Key Features Pros Cons
DaVinci Resolve – Powerful color correction tools
– Facial recognition and tracking
– Hundreds of presets
– Advanced editing and audio tools
– Industry-leading tools
– Great for beginners
– Additional pro features available
– Requires heavy system resources
Color Finale – Intuitive interface
– 3-way color corrector
– Custom LUT support
– Scopes for accuracy
– Easy to learn and use
– Great for precision color work
– Limited format support
– Fewer grading tools than DaVinci
Apple Color – Smooth playback and rendering
– Build custom looks
– Supports common formats
– Optimized for Mac
– Good LUT support
– No longer supported by Apple
– Limited compared to newer software
Lightworks – Responsive interface
– Waveform and vectorscope
– Customizable layout
– Intuitive design
– Easy to get started
– Limited grading capabilities
– Maximum 720p export

Based on the criteria we looked at, **DaVinci Resolve** stands out as the best free color grading software for Mac. The free version of Resolve offers professional-level color correction tools that rival paid options. The facial recognition and hundreds of presets make the grading process incredibly intuitive. While the software requires powerful Mac hardware for best performance, it’s hard to beat what you get in the free version.

For beginners looking for something easier to learn, **Color Finale** is a great choice. The interface is simpler with just the right balance of color correction tools. Scopes and support for LUTs offer room to grow your skills. The software performs smoothly even on modest Mac systems. While format support and advanced tools are more limited, Color Finale is a superb free option for precision color work.

Overall for Mac users, DaVinci Resolve and Color Finale offer the best free color grading software options. Resolve gives you high-end tools at no cost, while Color Finale provides an easier learning curve for beginners. Both strike an excellent balance between power and ease of use.

Getting Started with Free Color Grading Software

Here are some tips to help you get started with free color grading software on your Mac:

**Learn with presets first** – Most free grading software includes many built-in presets that recreate popular movie looks. Apply these to your footage to see the powerful effects possible with color grading. Understanding how the presets work will build your skills.

**Use a calibrated monitor** – An uncalibrated screen can skew how colors appear in your video. Use a color calibration tool like the Datacolor Spyder5ELITE to ensure colors are displayed accurately.

**Create a neutral baseline** – Reset all adjustments to create a neutral starting point before you begin grading. This gives you a reference to compare your changes.

**Adjust contrast first** – The contrast level strongly impacts the intensity of colors. Get contrast looking right before you adjust hues and saturation.

**Make incremental changes** – Avoid drastic adjustments at once. Make small incremental changes to hues, saturation and curves to sneak up on the right look.

**Use LUTs** – Import creative Look Up Tables (LUTs) into your grading software to quickly try different cinematic styles.

**Check scopes** – Use the waveform and vectorscope tools to objectively gauge and calibrate color values.

**Fine tune with masks** – Use masks to isolate specific parts of the image for targeted color adjustments.

**Add a creative look** – Now it’s time to have fun! Add a stylized, color graded look using the tools and presets in the software.

With practice and an understanding of color theory fundamentals, you can achieve impressive results with free color grading software on Mac.


Here are answers to some common questions about free color grading software for Mac:

**Do I need special hardware for color grading?**

You can perform color grading on any Mac, but a faster GPU and calibrated monitor will provide the best results. Look for a Mac with an AMD Radeon Pro or NVIDIA GeForce GPU with at least 4GB VRAM. An external monitor like the BenQ SW271 is a smart buy for color accuracy.

**How big of a project can I work on?**

Free software like DaVinci Resolve supports editing and grading long form projects and feature films. However, larger project files will require more powerful Mac hardware for smooth playback and rendering. Optimize media in Resolve to improve performance.

**Can I use LUTs in free grading software?**

Yes, popular free options like DaVinci Resolve and Color Finale support using creative Look Up Tables (LUTs). You can import .cube and .3dl LUTs to quickly try different stylized looks.

**Is there a big learning curve?**

Basic color correction tools like hue/saturation adjustments or RGB curves have a gentle learning curve. Mastering advanced grading techniques takes time for any software. Taking online courses can help shorten the learning process.

**Should I upgrade to paid software?**

The free version of DaVinci Resolve includes professional grading tools used on Hollywood films, so paid software may not be necessary. If you require features like HDR grading or lens distortion correction, upgrading to Resolve Studio would be beneficial.


Boosting the cinematic appeal of your videos is possible even on a budget with the help of free color grading software for Mac. Both DaVinci Resolve and Color Finale provide robust tools for powerful color correction and stylized grading without spending a dime.

Whichever free Mac software you choose, learning the fundamentals of color theory and grading will take your videos to the next level. With the right techniques, free tools can help give your video projects a truly polished, professional-grade look.