Xara Photo & Graphic Designer 6 is a graphic design alternative to Photoshop that specialises in doing one thing really well: desktop publishing. Updated, 9 June 2011

Xara Photo & Graphic Designer is much more than a photo editor. It also provides comprehensive tools for the graphic designer and includes sophisticated page-layout options. It’s a complete solution for creating, editing and manipulating all sorts of graphical material.

A library of templates makes creating artwork and presentations easy for beginners. For example, Xara offers templates for calendars, business cards, Flash animations and interactive presentations.

Buying advice: How to choose photo-editing software

If you simply want to quickly enhance a photo and post it online, there are easier and cheaper ways of doing so; if you’re interested in creating finished projects that include photos, Xara is ideal. 

(You might also want to take a look at Corel PaintShop Photo Pro X3 Ultimate, which addresses the same needs but with some very different functions.)

The organisation and management of your photo collection is taken care of by the bundled Magix Photo Manager 9.0 software. Don’t use this. Download version 10.0 for free, which contains many new features. Although it isn’t as immediately easy to use as Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 or Google Picasa 3.8, Xara includes plenty of useful features. However, its face-recognition had a tendency to ‘recognise’ features that weren’t faces at all. You also get direct uploads to Facebook and Flickr, export to DVD and online albums.

Group test: what's the best photo-editing software?

Despite its all-encompassing approach, the photo-editing options are sophisticated and incorporate some of the very latest features. There’s non-destructive editing and the ability to rescale images without stretching or distorting key elements, for example. Xara also includes tools to remove unwanted objects or people from your photos, and correct the perspective on wide-angle shots.

But what really sets it apart from the competition is Xara Photo & Graphic Designer 6.0’s ability to create vector-based designs with 3D effects, work with full-page layouts and create presentations. You can even create and export a website within the package, and there’s a massive library of templates and clipart included. 

Next page: Our original review of Xara Photo & Graphic Designer 6, by PC World's Steve Horton, from August 2010 >>

Xara Photo & Graphic Designer 6 is a graphic design alternative to Adobe Photoshop that specialises in doing one thing really well: desktop publishing. What follows is our original review of Xara Photo & Graphic Designer 6, by PC World's Steve Horton, from August 2010

Simply by clicking the Designs Gallery icon, you gain access to dozens of templates for things like newsletters, websites, photo albums, CD covers, and so on. Anyone with a small business will drool over the stuff that Xara Photo & Graphic Designer 6 includes.

After importing a template or design, it's really intuitive to move things around, change the text, change the color, and so on. XXara Photo & Graphic Designer 6's icons are bright and clear, and all have tooltips; colour swatches reside along the bottom.

One nice feature is the Fill Tool. After clicking on the tool and a region, simply select one colour after another to change that region's colour over and over again. How handy is that?

We're also in love with the Extrude Tool. Take any two-dimensional object and instantly turn it 3D. We took a block of white text and gave it depth like a comic book logo, simply by dragging the mouse. Though Xara Photo & Graphic Designer 6 has its own proprietary image format (*.xar), you can easily import and export in all the popular image formats, such as JPG, TIF and PNG. If you like, use Xara Photo & Graphic Designer in tandem with other graphics apps like Photoshop to get the most out of your experience.

NEXT: our expert verdict >>

Xara Photo & Graphic Designer 6: Specs

  • Windows 7 (32 bit), Windows 7 (64 bit), Windows Vista (32 bit), Windows Vista (64 bit), Windows XP
  • 90MB hard disk space
  • Windows 7 (32 bit), Windows 7 (64 bit), Windows Vista (32 bit), Windows Vista (64 bit), Windows XP
  • 90MB hard disk space

OUR VERDICT

Xara Photo & Graphic Designer 6 is a fully fledged creative suite for the price of an image editor. Xara doesn’t compromise on features in any area.

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