How to blur the background of a photo

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Matthew Wilhelm Kapell
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Getting the perfect shot every time can seem difficult. One of the easiest ways to quickly improve the quality of your images is to blur its background.

This article will tell you how to blur the background of a photo quickly and on many different platforms. If you are a photography enthusiast, you can use these tips to get a better picture quickly.

How to Blur the Background of a Photo on an iPhone

Your iPhone has a built-in mode that effectively blurs the background of your photo. This is called Portrait mode.



When you're in your Camera app, navigate to Portrait mode on the main camera mode selection at the bottom of the screen.

When using Portrait mode, make sure your subject is between two and eight feet away from you and that you have adequate lighting in the scene. Portrait mode may not work in dim light.

When you're composing the shot, your camera is ready to take the perfect shot if you see the words Natural Light or Depth Effect on your screen. It will also display a yellow focus area around your subject's face. The subject's face will be blurred and the background is automatically blurred.

If you want to adjust the blur, click the little f button in the top right corner. The menu at the bottom will allow you to change the focus of the camera. A larger f-number will show more background detail and thus can improve the appearance of your subject's clothing.

After you've taken your photo, newer iPhone models can change that blur even more.


Additionally, you can use an application such as After Focus. This will allow you to edit your photos and add blur quickly, giving your photos a more professional touch.


To edit an image in After Focus, follow these steps:

  1. Open the app and select Select Photo. Alternatively, you can take a photo directly in the app and edit it.
  2. Tap the Focus icon at the bottom of the screen.
  3. Draw a line with your finger inside the area you want to focus on. You don't need to be extremely specific.
  4. Tap the Background icon.
  5. Draw a line on the background. Again, you don't need to be specific about this. Once you are done, the app will select focus area and background area. If these are not to your liking, you will need to redraw the lines to adjust them.
  6. If you are unable to select the area correctly, go to the Manual selection option at the top right. The Pencil icon will display the Manual Selections screen. It will allow you to select areas manually, aided by the previous smart selection process.
  7. When you are done, the red area will be the sharp one and the rest will be a blurred background.
  8. Tap the Right Arrow icon in the top right. This will show you the edited image.
  9. If you need to make adjustments, go back using the unique Left Arrow icon.
  10. Select the Blur option you want to use. A simple Lens Blur will work best if you're a beginner.
  11. If you want to add motion to the scene, use the Motion Blur option. This will blur the background so that the subject appears to be moving.
  12. When you're done adjusting your background blur, save the image by tapping the down arrow on the top menu, then tap Yes.

Another option available is to use vignette blur through an app called Snapseed. To use it, follow these steps:



  1. Open the app and tap the screen. Select Open from Device from the menu or take a photo directly from the app.
  2. Tap Tools.
  3. Select Lens Blur.
  4. Adjust the two white circles on the screen. The indoor screen will look sharp, while everything outside will be blurry. The blur will make the transition between the two circles.
  5. You can use your fingers to drag or resize the circles as desired.
  6. Swipe up or down to display the blur selection menu. This will allow you to adjust the blur effects to your liking.
  7. The strength of the blur affects the magnitude of the blur. The transition changes the speed at which the image changes between sharp and blurred areas. Vignette will modify the edges of the photo making them darker.
  8. When you're done tweaking the effects to your liking, select the checkmark at the bottom right.
  9. Save the image by clicking Export.
  10. Click Save a Copy to keep the original image and create an edited copy that you can edit later.

How to Blur Photo Background on Android

If you're using an Android device, the process is surprisingly similar. Most newer camera apps will have a built-in Portrait mode which you can access by navigating to the scene menu in the top right corner.

Additionally, Android phones also have access to the After Focus and Snapseed apps, as discussed above, so you can use them on your phone to easily edit images after taking them.



An app like Background Defocus can help you by providing a camera app replacement. This application emphasizes the photo wherever you want. If you want to edit the image later, use the editing software mentioned above.

Using apps is the best way to augment the existing capabilities of your phone's camera, and there are a plethora of apps available to do just that for you.

How to Blur Photo Background on Windows PC

If you are using a Windows PC, you can get the default apps to create the blur effect for you.

The Paint application is one of the traditional applications included in every version of Windows. Although it doesn't have a designated blur option, it's still possible to achieve a similar effect by following these steps:

  1. Launch Paint and select the photo you want to edit.
  2. Make a rectangle around the area you want to blur.
  3. Make the rectangle transparent. When choosing the color, select Color 2, then go to File to choose between different color options.
  4. When you are happy with the selection, save the image.

A better option for image manipulation is Microsoft Word. Although not known for its image processing capabilities, MS Word 2010 and newer versions have a decent engine for image editing including background blurring. Follow these steps:

  1. Import the image you want to blur into a document.
  2. Please make a copy of the image so you can blur it.
  3. Select the Image Tool's Format tab from the menu of the second image.
  4. Click Artistic Effects and select Blur. Adjust the effect as needed.
  5. Now that your blurred image is ready, you need to remove the background from the original image.
  6. Select the original image, then go to the Format tab of the Image tool.
  7. Select the Remove background function. The tool will automatically try to detect where the background is and remove it. If that doesn't work the way you want, use the manual selection options: Mark Areas to Keep and Mark Areas to Delete.
  8. Click Keep Changes to finish removing the background.
  9. Paste the original image without the background into the blurred image. Adjust its size to fit properly. The cropped image should be superimposed on the blurred foreground, so that only the blurred background of the second image is displayed.
  10. Save the image by right-clicking and then selecting Save as Image.

Windows 10 also comes with the Photos app, which has an inbuilt option for editing images. To blur the image background, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Photos app.
  2. Find the image you want to edit, then open it.
  3. Select the Edit & Create option at the top, then select Edit.
  4. Choose Adjustments at the top.
  5. Apply the Vignette effect as needed. You can also make additional adjustments to the photo from this menu.
  6. Select Save a Copy to keep the original image and create an edited copy.

How to Blur the Background of a Photo on a Mac

If you're using a Mac, you can use its stock Photos app to make edits to your images. This is an effective alternative when you don't want to download editing software, although it will perform slightly worse than professional editing tools.

You must have macOS X or newer installed to use this feature, as older versions do not have this tool available. To use it, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Photos app.
  2. Please select the image you want to edit and open it.
  3. Click the Edit button in the toolbar.
  4. Press R to use the Retouch function.
  5. Zoom in on the area you want to blur.
  6. Drag the cursor over the area you want to blur. Start with the parts of the image that are already blurry.

If you want to use more professional looking software, we suggest looking for a photo editing tool to download. There is a huge range of options available for Windows and macOS.

How to Blur the Background of a Photo on a Chromebook

Unfortunately, Chromebooks can't blur a photo's background by default. However, you can use a simple tool such as Pixlr editing software available on your Chrome browser. This allows you to easily obtain professional quality photos.

How to Blur the Background of a Photo in Photoshop

If you want to learn how to blur an image in Photoshop, here's how:

  1. First, you need to cut the subject from the background. To do this, use the quick selection tool.
  2. Make a selection around the subject. It is better to go a little further by doing this.
  3. Choose Select, then Hide.
  4. Select the hairbrush-like tool (the second from the top).
  5. Draw around the subject's hair to make sure you've selected everything you need.
  6. Use the transparency tool to see if you have selected everything correctly from the background.
  7. Click Show Edge, then increase the radius of the edge so you can see it clearly in the image.
  8. Disable Show Outline to see if this improves subject selection.
  9. Choose the ā€œNew layer with layer maskā€ option, then click OK.
  10. Click the Eyeil icon in the layers menu to hide the image subject.
  11. Select the background layer.
  12. Ctrl + Click (Windows) or Cmd + Click (Mac) on the hidden layer mask to load the selection. We'll use it to smooth the edges between the subject and the background.
  13. Choose Select, then Modify, then Expand. In the pixels option, choose 10 pixels.
  14. And now fill the selected area with a content-aware background, so press Shift+Delete/Shift+Backspace (Windows).
  15. Select Content-Aware, then click OK.
  16. Press Ctrl + D to deselect.
  17. You are now left with a background image, filled with content-aware content where the subject was.
  18. Make the subject layer visible by tapping the Eyeil icon next to it. This will help you see results over time.
  19. With the background layer selected, go to Filter, then Filter Gallery, then Field Blur.
  20. A pin represented by a circle will appear on the image. You can use it to select change blur strength.
  21. If you want to add additional focus points, click on the image. Press the Ctrl/Command key. While holding down the key, double-click to set the focus point blur to zero.
  22. You can adjust the blur using the menu on the right.
  23. Once you are done blurring, click OK to apply.
  24. Shift + click on layer mask to see before and after.

How to blur the background of a photo with an online web service

If you don't want to use Photoshop, there are online services available that will do the job. An online tool such as Fotor will get you professional looking images in no time without the need to download additional software to your device.

Go to the site and upload the image you want to edit, then follow the instructions to get the best results for your photo.

Clear as a day

If you want to blur the background of your photo, we hope you found the solution in this article. Learning how to use effects to edit your images is invaluable if you're looking to get the most out of your images.

What image editing software do you use? What options do you use to blur the background? Let us know in the comment section below.

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