How to Blur the Background in a Photo

Getting the perfect photo every time might seem difficult. One of the easiest ways to quickly improve the quality of your images is to blur its background.

How to Blur the Background in a Photo

This article will tell you how to blur the background in a photo quickly and across many different platforms. If you’re a photography hobbyist, you can use these as quick tips to get a better picture quickly.

How to Blur the Background in a Photo on an iPhone

Your iPhone has a built-in mode that blurs your photo’s background efficiently. It’s called Portrait mode.

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

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

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

If you want to adjust the blur, click on the small f button on the upper right corner. The menu on the bottom will allow you to change the focus of the camera. A larger f-number will show more background details and may improve the look of your subject’s clothes as a result.

Once you’ve taken your photo, newer models of iPhones can edit this blur further.

Additionally, you can use an app such as After Focus. This will allow you to edit your photos and add blur quickly, giving your pictures 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 on the bottom of the screen.
  3. Draw a line with your finger inside the area you want to keep in focus. You don’t have to be extremely precise.
  4. Then, tap the Background icon.
  5. Draw a line across the background. Again, you don’t need to be precise about this. After you’ve done, the app will select the area in focus and the background area. If these are not to your liking, you will need to redraw the lines to adjust them.
  6. If you can’t achieve the correct area selection, go to the Manual Selection option in the top right. The Pencil icon will bring up the Manual Selections screen. It will allow you to select the areas manually, aided by the previous smart selection process.
  7. When you’re done, the red area will be the one in focus, and the rest will be a blurred background.
  8. Tap the Right Arrow icon on the top right. This will show you the edited picture.
  9. If you need to make adjustments, go back by using the Single 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 move.
  12. Once you’re done adjusting the blur of your background, save the image by pressing the Down Arrow on the upper menu, then press Yes.

Another option available is using a vignette blur via an app called Snapseed. To use it, follow these steps:

  1. Open the app and tap the screen. Select Open from Device in the menu or take a picture directly from the app.
  2. Tap Tools.
  3. Now, select Lens Blur.
  4. Adjust the two white circles on the screen. The inner screen will be in focus, while anything outside will be blurred. The blur will transition between the two circles.
  5. You can use your fingers to drag or resize the circles as you wish.
  6. Swipe up or down to bring up the blur selection menu. This will allow you to adjust the blur effects to your liking.
  7. Blur Strength affects the magnitude of the blur. Transition changes how fast the image changes between sharp and blurry areas. Vignette Strength will alter the edges of the photo by making them darker.
  8. When you’re done changing the effects to your liking, select the checkmark on the bottom right.
  9. Save the image by clicking Export.
  10. Click Copy to preserve the original image and create an edited copy you can change later.

How to Blur the Background in a Photo on an Android

If you’re using an Android device, the process is strikingly similar. Most newer camera apps will have a built-in Portrait mode you can access by navigating the scene menu on 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 alter images after you’ve taken them.

An app such as Background Defocus can help you by providing you with a camera app replacement. This app puts focus on the photo where you want it. If you want to edit the image afterward, use the editing software mentioned above.

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

How to Blur the Background in a Photo on a Windows PC

If you’re using a Windows PC, you can get the default apps to do the blurring effect for you.

The Paint app is one of the traditional apps included in every version of Windows. While it doesn’t have a designated blur option, it’s still possible to achieve a similar effect following these steps:

  1. Launch Paint and select the photo you want to edit.
  2. Make a rectangle around the area that you want to blur.
  3. Make the rectangle transparent. When choosing color, select Color 2, then go to File to select between different color options.
  4. When you’re satisfied 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 has a decent engine for image editing, including blurring the background. Follow these steps:

  1. Import the image that you want to blur into a document by clicking on Insert > Pictures > Insert Picture From and then selecting the location.
  2. Please make a copy of the image so you can blur it.
  3. Now, select the Picture Format tab in the menu for the second picture.
  4. Then, click on 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 picture, then go to the Picture Tool Format tab.
  7. Select the Remove Background feature. The tool will automatically try to detect where the background is and remove it. If it doesn’t work the way you like it, use manual selection options: Mark Areas to Keep and Mark Areas to Remove.
  8. Click on 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 overlaid on top of the blurred foreground, so only the second image’s blurred background shows.
  10. Save the image by right-clicking, then select Save As Picture.

Windows 10 also comes with the Photos app, which has a built-in option for image editing. To blur the background of the image there, 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 on the top, then select Edit.
  4. Choose Adjustments on 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 preserve the original image and create an edited copy.

How to Blur the Background in a Photo on a Mac

If you’re using a Mac, you can use its stock Photos app to make changes to your images. This is an efficient alternative when you don’t want to download an editing software, although it will have slightly inferior results than professional editing tools.

You must have macOS X or newer installed to use this feature since older versions don’t 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 on the Edit button in the toolbar.
  4. Press R to use the Retouch feature.
  5. Zoom in to the area you want to blur.
  6. Drag the cursor over the area you want to blur. Start with the parts of the picture that are already blurred.

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

How to Blur the Background in a Photo on a Chromebook

Unfortunately, Chromebooks can’t blur the background of a photo by default. However, you can use a simple tool such as Pixlr editing software that is available to use on your Chrome browser. This allows you to get professional-looking photos easily.

How to Blur the Background in a Photo with Photoshop

If you want to learn how to blur an image in Photoshop, here is how to do it:

  1. First, you need to cut the subject out of the background. To do so, use the Quick Selection Tool.
  2. Make a selection around the subject. It’s better to go a bit over when doing this.
  3. Choose Select, then Mask.
  4. Select the hairbrush-looking tool (second from the top).
  5. Draw around the hair of the subject to make sure you have adequately selected everything you need.
  6. Use the transparency tool to see if you have selected everything from the background properly.
  7. Click Show Edge, then increase the edge’s radius so you can clearly see it on the image.
  8. Turn Show Edge off to see if this improved the subject selection.
  9. Choose the New Layer with Layer Mask option, then click OK.
  10. Click the Eye icon in the layers menu to hide the subject from the picture.
  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 this to smoothen 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. Now you’re left with a background image, filled with content-aware content where the subject used to be.
  18. Make the subject layer visible by pressing the Eye icon next to it. It will help you see the results as you go.
  19. With the background layer selected, go to Filter, then Filter Gallery, then Field Blur.
  20. A pin represented with a circle will show on the image. You can use this to select change the blurring strength.
  21. If you want to add additional points of focus, click on the image. Press the Ctrl/Command key. While holding the key, double click to set the blur of the focus point to zero.
  22. You can adjust the blur by using the menu on the right.
  23. Once you’re done blurring, click Ok to apply.
  24. Shift + Click the layer mask to see the before and after.

How to Blur the Background in a Photo using GIMP

If you’re familiar with GIMP, an open-source image manipulation program, then follow along to learn how to blur your photo’s background using it.

  1. Open up GIMP and select File from the menu.
  2. Then, click on Open, choose the image you want to edit, and click on Open to confirm.
  3. Next, under Layers, right-click the image name and select Duplicate Layers.
  4. Rename the layer Background.
  5. Now, use the Paths, Fuzzy Select, or Free Select tool to specify the foreground of the image.
  6. Copy the image, select Layers > New Layer from the menu, and then name it Foreground.
  7. Choose the Move tool from the Toolbox and click outside of the foreground.
  8. Then, click on the Background Layer and choose Filters.
  9. From here, you can choose Simple Blur, Motion Blur, or Gaussian Blur for your background.

How to Blur the Background in 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 allow you to get professional-looking images in no time without the need to download additional software on your device.

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

Clear as a Day

If you want to blur your photo’s background, we hope you’ve found just the solution in this article. Learning how to use effects to edit your pictures 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 for blurring the background? Let us know in the comment section below.

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