How to Unblur a Photo or Image
Everybody does it; you take a great photo of your kid doing something exciting or the perfect product picture for your eBay listing, and then later, when you go through it, it’s all blurry! It’s no big deal if you notice it straight away as you can just take another picture. But what if it took you longer to check and there’s no way to retake the shot?
Sometimes you only have one chance to get that perfect picture. Losing that chance can be a bit frustrating. Read on to learn how to unblur a photo using various methods and software.
To unblur a photo or image, you can use a variety of online tools and software, including Photoshop, GIMP, Paint.net, and more.
Let’s take a look at what your options are and how to use them.
Note: No matter what tool you use, the first thing you should do is make a backup copy of the image file you are going to work with! You don’t want to end up with something worse than the original.
Unblurring a Photo or Image using Photoshop
Photoshop has several tools you can use to unblur images. There are three common ways to achieve a much sharper image from a blurry picture.
Fix blur using Photoshop Elements:
- Open your image in Photoshop Elements.
- Select the Filters menu and then Enhance.
- Select Unsharp Mask.
- Adjust both the Radius and Amount until your image is sharp.
This takes a little adjusting to get right, but it works very well.
Fix blur using just Photoshop:
- Open your image in Photoshop.
- Duplicate the background layer and select it.
- Select Filter, Other, and High Pass and set it to 10%.
- Set the blend mode for the layer to hard light and adjust the opacity until the image is clear.
If you use a newer version of Photoshop, you can also use camera shake reduction to reduce blur in images:
- Open your image in Photoshop.
- Select Filter, Sharpen, and Shake Reduction.
- Allow Photoshop to work its magic and preview the differences.
This final option lets Photoshop do all the work. No user input is required. As long as you have preview enabled, you should see the before and after images side by side.
Unblurring a Photo or Image using GIMP Image Editor
If you don’t have Photoshop, or you don’t want to pay for a program, you could use the free image editor GIMP. It is an excellent program that can do many of the same things as paid services like Photoshop.
There’s a bit of a learning curve, but GIMP is such a powerful image editor, making it worth the effort to learn.
Here’s how to unblur an image using GIMP:
- Open the image in GIMP.
- Select Blur/Sharpen from the Toolbox.
- Select Sharpen and drag your mouse over the image to sharpen it all, or select a portion to sharpen just part of it.
As you select parts of the image to sharpen, GIMP automatically does its work. You should see the image dynamically sharpen as you move your mouse.
Unblurring a Photo or Image using Paint.net
Paint.net is another free image editing tool that can achieve a lot at no cost. Sharpening is not one of its strong suits, so if you’re looking for a free tool, Gimp may be a better option. Still, Paint.net does a credible job of reducing blur in images.
Here’s how to unblur an image using Paint.net:
- Open the image in Paint.net.
- Select Effects, Picture, and Sharpen.
- Move the slider in the Sharpen popup to a level you are happy with.
- Select OK and save.
The Sharpen tool may introduce noise to the image, which you may be able to reduce by using Effects and Noise Reduction.
Unblurring a Photo or Image using Snapseed
Snapseed is an app from Google that works on both Android and iPhones. It is a full image editor that works on most newer devices and has a full feature set. One thing Snapseed does especially well is sharpening images.
This is how you get it done in Snapseed:
- Open your image in Snapseed.
- Select the Details menu option.
- Select Sharpen or Structure, then either unblur or show more detail.
Both Sharpen and Structure combine to make a lot of difference to a blurry image. Usually, it’s best to use Sharpen first to remove as much blur as possible and then use Structure to bring back the detail.
This will take a little trial and error until you get the levels just to your liking, but once you do, your image should be crystal clear and ready to go.
Other Online Tools for Unblurring Photos or Images
There are two other notable online tools that are great for improving image quality.
Fotor is a great photo editing suite that offers a range of free photo editing tools from within the website. There are Pro tools as well for a cost, but for most of us, the free ones do enough. The tool itself is labeled as adding artistic blur to an image, but by using it and then scaling blur down, you can use it as a sharpener.
- Use the Basic tools in the left menu, then Basic in the second left menu. There is a Sharpen slider there to unblur your picture.
Photo Sharpen is much lower-tech and does the work for you. It uses an algorithm to sharpen images. You upload your image and select the Sharpen button; then the website does the rest. It will then show you a sharper image as a result. You cannot tune the results, but the site does a pretty good job of reducing blur.
These are just some of the ways to unblur pictures. With the rise of new technology and many powerful cameras and devices, there are lots more ways to fix photos at the tip of your fingers.
Do you know of any other ways to unblur an image? Tell us about them below in the comments if you do!