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5 Best Bokeh Effect Makers in 2022 [Windows & Mac]

Last Updated on Feb. 17, 2022 – by David Morgan
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In photography, bokeh is one of the best ways to highlight a specific photo area and get a soft out-of-focus background. Typically, bokeh is achieved by using a fast lens and adjusting the camera’s aperture settings. Still, even novice photographers can add a great bokeh effect to their images by using software on both Windows and Mac. 

With so many photo editing programs to choose from, it can be hard to know which ones are best for creating quality bokeh effects without trying them all–which isn’t always an option! In this article, we’ll review the top five Bokeh Effect Makers that will increase the aesthetic quality of your images, setting them apart from the rest. 


Top 3 Bokeh Effect Makers Snapshot

PhotoDirector Logo

1. PhotoDirector - Best Overall Choice

Enables you to produce high-quality photos like the pros. Features an intuitive interface designed for anyone wanting to create amazing images—ideal for all skill levels. Amazing bokeh effects.
More Info >

Paintshop Logo

2. Paintshop Pro - Best for Advanced Level Photo Editors

Offering a wide range of editing tools, access to built-in templates, and a unique split-screen before-and-after feature that allows you to view the effect of your edits. More Info >

Lightroom Logo

3. Adobe Lightroom - Best For Professional Photo Editors

Lightroom is perfect for keeping your edited photos organized on the Adobe Creative Cloud. Ideal for users who have experience with Photoshop. More Info >

Best Bokeh Effect Software on Windows & Mac

1. PhotoDirector - Best Overall

PhotoDirector Interface

Compatibility:
Windows 10 version 14393.0 or higher; macOS 10.14.0 or later

Key Features:

  • Large selection of editing tools that are updated monthly
  • AI-powered editing tools and photo animation 
  • Users can import, organize, edit, and export photos

Bokeh Effect: 10 / 10

User Friendliness: 9 / 10

Advanced Features: 10 / 10

PhotoDirector is a comprehensive photo editor that is easy to learn, free to download, and great for all skill levels.The program allows you to open the editor in Express Mode, which is ideal for making quick edits, or Full Mode, which includes preset and manual photo adjustment options as well as artistic effects, overlays, and beautify options. 

Best of all, there is a dedicated bokeh feature that allows you to blur a selected area of an image and add bokeh lights with just one click. Unlike other software programs, PhotoDirector uses an image’s natural light sources to create the bokeh effects. With that said, you can choose from 25 different shapes and even enable live animation.

PhotoDirector is an attractive option for both beginner and advanced photographers alike. If you are looking for robust post-processing software with a wide range of functionality, PhotoDirector is definitely at the top of the list. 

Pros
  • User-friendly interface
  • Free version offers a robust variety of editing features
  • Photo animation effects for bokeh
Cons
  • Large file size (4 GB)

2. Paintshop Pro - Best For Advanced Level Photo Editors

Paintshop Interface

Compatibility:
Windows 10 version 14393.0 or higher

Key Features:

  • Includes a wide range of editing tools, including AI technology
  • Access to built-in templates to create collages, greeting cards, social media images, etc.
  • HDR tools and content-aware fill technology

Bokeh Effect: 6 / 10

User Friendliness: 6 / 10

Advanced Features: 8 / 10

Paintshop Pro allows you to edit, retouch, and correct your photos with a comprehensive toolset designed for various skill levels. The program recently added a touch-friendly photography mode that includes a unique split-screen before-and-after feature. If you’re looking for an affordable photo editor that allows you to select additional paid features as you go, Paintshop Pro is a solid choice. 

The software offers three distinct workspaces to select from, depending on your experience level. In the Photography Workspace, designed for beginners or doing quick edits, there are essential editing tools and advanced features such as AI Upsampling and AI Style Transfer. 

The Essentials Workspace includes all the main editing and retouching tools but displays a core set of tools and pallets and allows you to customize the available options to show or hide the controls you want. Lastly, the Complete Workspace displays every tool and feature Paintshop Pro offers. 

Pros
  • Offers three distinct workspaces to cater to different levels of editing
  • Extensive help and tutorials
Cons
  • Billing information is required to download
  • After the free trial, the program costs $7.99/month or $79.99/year
  • Bokeh Picture Tubes are an additional $9.99 and includes 18 different colors, from soft to vibrant
  • Large file size (4 GB)
  • Not available for Mac

3. Adobe Lightroom - Best For Professional Photographers

Lightroom Interface

Compatibility: 
Windows 10 version 18362.0 or higher; macOS 10.15 or later

Key Features:

  • Users can organize images based on folders, color labels, flags, rating, keywords, and GPS location
  • Cloud storage allows you to sync photos across all devices automatically
  • Edit sliders have tooltips that appear when you hover over the name of the slider 

Bokeh Effect: 6 / 10

User Friendliness: 3 / 10

Advanced Features: 7 / 10

Adobe Lightroom offers a wide range of photo editing features on both Mac and Windows. Lightroom's editing functions include lens corrections, calibration manipulation, spot removal, red-eye correction, filters, and adjustment brushing.

The software’s masking tool allows you to hand-select your focus area, or you can use the auto-detect feature. Selecting the subject of your photo is easy with just one click. You can also quickly select the sky and edit the selection only. 

Along with saving your edited photos to your device, Lightroom allows you to batch process images and includes an option to create a link of an image to share with collaborators or clients, which is a big perk for professional photographers.  

Pros
  • Plans start with 20GB of cloud storage space
  • Offers interactive tutorials and inspirational content from professional photographers
  • Translated into 13 different languages
  • Works well with Adobe Photoshop
Cons
  • After 7-day free trial, plans start at $9.99/month
  • No pre-installed bokeh light effects or bokeh overlays
  • Not ideal for beginners

4. Blur n Bokeh - Best Mac-only Bokeh Editor

Blur n Bokeh Interface

Compatibility: 
macOS 10.10 or later

Key Features: 

  • Full control to select the focus area of the image 
  • Different adjustment options for the foreground and background
  • Supports almost 50+ RAW image formats

Bokeh Effect: 5 / 10

User Friendliness: 8 / 10

Advanced Features: 5 / 10

Blur n Bokeh for Mac focuses on blurring the background and foreground of an image. It includes masking with edge detection and the ability to increase the saturation, brightness, and warmth of the highlighted areas. 

One of the software's best features is the smart edge-preserving algorithm.It provides great results to make image output look realistic. There are several filters to edit your images' foreground and background area.

Blur n Bokeh does a great job creating bokeh photography, but it’s not the best option if you’re looking for software that offers a range of other photo editing tools. 

Pros
  • Simplistic interface
  • Small file size (11.4 MB)
  • Free to download
Cons
  • Unable to zoom in and out
  • No pre-installed bokeh light effects or bokeh overlays
  • No option to undo the last edit
  • Ads are still visible in the paid version

5. Bokeh Effects Photo Editor - Best Windows-Only Bokeh Editor

Bokeh Effect Interface

Compatibility: 
Windows 10 version 14393.0 or higher

Key Features: 

  • 25 bokeh light effects and 40 bokeh sparkle effects
  • Includes stickers, frames, and filters
  • Ability to add text and change the thickness, color, and font 

Bokeh Effect: 5/10

User Friendliness: 10/10

Advanced Features: 2/10

Bokeh Effects Photo Editor for Windows is free to download and offers basic photo editing tools to adjust your photos' brightness, sharpness, contrast, and saturation. 

The free version includes 25 bokeh light effects (50 with the paid version) and has over 40 bokeh sparkle effects (80+ with the paid version). There are also dozens of unique overlay options to create a bokeh effect, such as hearts, rings, swirls, and clouds; however, the overlays are not customizable. 

The software also comes with stickers, filters, and the ability to add text to any image. Bokeh Effects Photo Editor has some good editing features but is more of a supplement software than a solid all-in-one photo editing software.

Pros
  • Easy to use
  • Paid version offers over 100 bokeh light and overlay effects
  • Free to download
Cons
  • Unable to blur the background or foreground of an image
  • Cannot adjust the size or placement of most bokeh effects and overlays
  • Unable to change the color of the bokeh light effects

Comparison Chart

PhotoDirector vs

OS

Windows, Mac

-

Bokeh Effects

3 Blur Types, 25 Shapes, Color Controls, Unlimited Combinations

-

Animation Effects

Numerous including Bokeh, Sparkle, Light Rays, Disperison

-

Beginner Friendly

Yes

-

Photo Organization

Yes

-

Layer Editing

Yes

-

Software

PhotoDirector

Paintshop Pro
Lightroom
Blur n Bokeh
Bokeh Effects Photo Editor
OS Windows, Mac Windows Windows, Mac Mac Windows
Bokeh Effects 3 Blur Types, 25 Shapes, Color Controls, Unlimited Combinations Yes Yes Yes 25 Bokeh Light Effects, 40 Bokeh Sparkle Effects
Animation Effects Numerous including Bokeh, Sparkle, Light Rays, Disperison No No No No
Beginner Friendly Yes No No Yes Yes
Photo Organization Yes No Yes No No
Layer Editing Yes Yes No No No

Best Bokeh Effect Maker Free Download

Many popular photo editing programs require intermediate-level photo editing knowledge and can be a bit on the expensive side, but there are a few programs out there that cater to all skill levels and have free versions that don’t cut corners on quality. 

While each photo editor comes with various pros and cons, only one strikes a balance between offering a wide range of editing tools and being easy to navigate, and that’s PhotoDirector.

Download the best free photo editor to add both still and animated bokeh effects to your photos.

Bokeh Effect FAQs

1. What Is Bokeh?

Bokeh is a photography technique that produces an intentional blur in the background of an image. In photos with a light source in the background, a bokeh effect can change the shapes of the points of lights that appear behind the subject. Adding bokeh to a photo tends to create a dreamy illusion, which can be perfect for portraits and macro photography.

2. How Do I Pronounce Bokeh?

Bokeh is a relatively new term used in photography, and it originates from the Japanese word boke, which roughly translates to, “blurred.” The most common pronunciation is BOW-kayh.

3. What Images Are Best to Add a Bokeh Effect To?

Portraits and still-life photos are best for adding a bokeh effect since these types of images typically focus on a singular subject.

4. What Are the Best Techniques for Enhancing a Bokeh Photo?

Several photography techniques will further enhance a bokeh-style photo.

Most beginner photographers know to avoid having the main light source behind the subject, but for bokeh specifically, having a light source in the background will help highlight the subject once the background is blurred.

Additionally, photos with small light sources behind the subject, like street lights, candles, or Christmas lights, will look even better. Another technique is to have the subject stand in front of a reflective backdrop; adding sequins or tinsel to the background will further intensify the bokeh effect and allow your photo to stand out even more.

5. What Are Bokeh Lights?

Adding a bokeh effect to an existing photo will sometimes give the illusion that the points of light behind a subject are actually objects that are displayed as shapes, such as hearts or stars.

7. What Are the Best Apps on iOS and Android for Creating a Bokeh Effect?

  1. PhotoDirector
  2. Real Bokeh
  3. Tadaa SLR
  4. Bokeh Photo Editor
  5. AfterFocus

Learn more about each app in 5 Best Bokeh Effect Apps in 2022

8. How Do I Create a Bokeh Effect on iOS and Android?

Step 1: Open PhotoDirector, tap on Edit and select a photo. 

Step 2: Tap on Live on the bottom right-hand corner, then click on the icon labeled Bokeh.

Step 3: Tap on your preferred bokeh effect from the available options on the bottom of the screen and customize the focus area. 

Step 4: Click on the checkmark icon on the top right-hand corner of the screen to save it as a Video or a Still Image.

To learn how to customize your bokeh effects check out our article How to Create Bokeh Effect.

9. What Is the Best Photo Editing App for iOS and Android?

  1. PhotoDirector
  2. Pixlr
  3. PicsArt
  4. Snapseed
  5. Adobe Photoshop Camera
  6. Werble
  7. Canva

Learn more about the 7 Best Free Photo Editing Apps for iPhone & Android in 2022.

What is the Best Photo Editing Software for Windows and Mac?

Here are The 5 Best Photo Editing Software for 2022.

  1. PhotoDirector
  2. Photoshop
  3. Lightroom
  4. Paintshop Pro
  5. DxO PhotoLab
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