How to Unblur a Photo or Image

No matter how on point your photography skills may be, you’ve taken some blurry pictures in your time. Everybody does it – you take a great photo of our 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.

But is there a way to unblur a photo?

Fortunately, the answer is yes. Read on to learn how to unblur a photo using various methods and software.

How to Unblur a Photo or Image

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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 accidentally mess up the photo and be stuck with it.

Photoshop

Photoshop has several tools you can use to unblur images. There are three common ways to achieve a much sharper image from an initially blurry image.

Photoshop

Each does things in a slightly different way and works better or worse in different situations. You just need a little trial and error to figure out which is the best option for you.

Fix blur using Photoshop Elements:

  1. Open your image in Photoshop Elements.
  2. Select the Filters menu and then Enhance.
  3. Select Unsharp Mask.
  4. 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:

  1. Open your image in Photoshop.
  2. Duplicate the background layer and select it.
  3. Select Filter, Other, and High Pass and set it to 10%.
  4. 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:

  1. Open your image in Photoshop.
  2. Select Filter, Sharpen, and Shake Reduction.
  3. Allow Photoshop to work its magic and preview the differences.

This final option has Photoshop do all the work. No user input as to settings and levels is required. As long as you have preview enabled, you should see the before and after image side by side.

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 a lot. There’s a bit of learning curve (like with Photoshop), but GIMP is such a powerful image editor which makes it worth the effort to learn.

Here’s how to unblur an image using GIMP:

  1. Open the image in GIMP.
  2. Select Blur/Sharpen from the Toolbox.
  3. 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.

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, but it does a credible job of reducing blur in images.

Here’s how to unblur an image using Paint.net:

  1. Open the image in Paint.net.
  2. Select Effects, Picture, and Sharpen.
  3. Move the slider in the Sharpen popup to a level you are happy with.
  4. Select OK and save.

The Sharpen tool can then introduce noise to the image. You may be able to reduce that by using Effects and Noise Reduction. Again, adjust until you are happy.

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 very full feature set. One thing Snapseed does especially well is sharpening images.

Snapseed

This is how you get it done in Snapseed:

  1. Open your image in Snapseed.
  2. Select the Details menu option.
  3. 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. I tend 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

There are two online tools I know of to unblur a picture. One is Fotor, which is a suite of powerful online tools that can do many things. The other is Photo Sharpen, which does just that.

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. 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.

Final Thoughts

These are just some of the ways to unblur pictures. With the rise of new technology and many powerful cameras and devices, there sure are 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!

Are you a shutterbug? We’ve got the resources you need to take and create the best possible pictures!

If you use an Android phone for your shots, you’ll want to review our piece on the best photography apps for Android.

Do you need to add some text to those photos? See our tutorial on adding text to photos on Android.

Do you WANT a blurry background for artistic effect in your photos? Check out our guide to adding blur to the background.

One thought on “How to Unblur a Photo or Image”

Avatar Ryan Daba says:
It is an amazing software, you can used it to unblur photos via photoviewerpro

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