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How to Blur a Photo for Free [Windows, Mac]

Last Updated on Apr. 1, 2022 – by David Morgan
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How to Blur a Photo

There are many reasons you might want to add blur to a photo.

You can blur the background of a photo to make the subject stand out. Blur a license plate or face for privacy. Or add blur to an action shot to imply motion.

Adding blur will not only help clean up your photographs but can give them a professional feel.

In this article, you will learn how easy it is to add blur to your photos using the best image editing software PhotoDirector.

Download PhotoDirector for free and follow along with our simple step-by-step guide to add blur to any image.


3 Best Photo Editing Software to Blur an Image

PhotoDirector Logo

1. PhotoDirector - Best Overall Software

All-in-one photo editor and organizer with an incredible selection of blur tools including soft focus, bokeh, and motion blur. Includes AI-powered tools like deblur, photo effects, advanced color controls, and intuitive layer editing.

GIMP Logo

2. GIMP Photo Editor - Best Open-Source Editor

A cross-platform, open-source image editor for GNU/Linux, macOS, and Windows. Includes blur tools and advanced layer editing. Learn More >

Pixlr Logo

3. Pixlr - Best Online Editor

Web-based photo editing and design tools with a desktop version. Offers blur tools in both its quick, easy editor and advanced editor. Learn More >

How to Blur a Picture on Windows and Mac

Let’s now look at how easy it is to blur an image with PhotoDirector.


After you download PhotoDirector on your Windows or Mac desktop and follow these steps:

  1. Import your photo to PhotoDirector.
  2. Open Guided from the bar across the top with your image selected.
  3. Under Photo Effects, choose Blur Tools.
  4. PhotoDirector - Blur Tools

    There are three options: Circular, Linear, or Brush.

  5. Set the focus area and gradient range.
  6. PhotoDirector - Blur Options
  7. Choose Blur Type
  8. Blur Type options are Soft Focus, Bokeh, Radial, or Motion Blur.

  9. Use the slider to change the intensity of the blur.
  10. PhotoDirector - Blur Types

    You can also use the Compare Mode to see the unedited photo vs. the blurred photo.

    PhotoDirector - Brush Blur
  11. Save the blur effect and continue editing or export your blurred photo.

Image Blur Tools

Now let’s take a closer look at the blur tools.

There are three options for setting the focal zone: Circular, Linear, and Brush.

Circular

A radial will appear in the center of your image with the Circular blur tool. The inner-circle will be in focus. The outer circle shows the gradient range from clear to blurry. Everything outside the circle will be blurred.

Adjust the radial location and size, then choose a blur type from Soft Focus, Bokeh, Radial, or Motion Blur.

Linear

With Linear blur, there are a set of lines down the middle of the image, with the middle section in focus. The two outer lines indicated a gradient range. Everything outside the lines will be blurred. You can adjust the intensity of the blur using the slider.

You can move the lines up or down or tilt them at an angle. You can also widen the focal range to allow more of the image to be in focus.

When you are satisfied with the focal area and gradient range, unclick the box that says Show Mask to remove the lines so you can preview the photo. You can also use the Compare mode to see the photo before and after adding a blur.

Blur types for Linear blur are Soft Focus or Bokeh.

Brush

The Brush tool gives you complete control over where to blur your photo. For example, you can blur something small, like a license plate in the background, or blur everything but one face in the crowd.

With Brush, the entire image starts out blurred. Use the brush tool to paint things into focus. Set the size, feather, and intensity of the brush, or use the eraser to add back the blur.

Use the Object Detection tool that looks like a tree cutout to blur everything but the main subject or subjects in the photo.

The Brush tool comes with blur types of Soft Focus, Bokeh, and Motion Blur.

Different Types of Blur

PhotoDirector - Blur Examples

Soft Focus

Soft Focus adds a light blur to your photo and implies a shallow depth of field. It focuses on just the part you want to emphasize, leaving the rest of the photo blurred.

PhotoDirector - Blur Examples, Soft Focus

Bokeh

Bokeh (from the Japanese word “boke” meaning “blur”) is an out-of-focus blur effect that comes in different shapes: Round, X-shaped, Heart, and Star. Each shape works best for different types of photos. For example, the star shape is good for a glistening effect during lowlighting or nighttime shots.

PhotoDirector - Blur Examples, Bokeh

Check out How to Create a Bokeh Effect to learn how to add an animated blur effect to your photos.

Radial

Radial blur adds a circular motion effect to photos. The blur swirls around the image, implying movement.

PhotoDirector - Blur Examples, Radial Blur

Motion Blur

Motion Blur draws focus from the image, giving the perception of speed and motion. This blur effect is excellent for action shots of people, animals, or vehicles.

PhotoDirector - Blur Examples, Motion Blur

Best Software to Blur a Photo Free Download

There are many reasons to add blur effects to your photos. For example, you can fade out a distracting background, blur private information, add implied motion or make the subject pop.

It couldn’t be easier to add professional-looking blur effects with PhotoDirector. Play around with multiple blur tools for a custom look, or use the Object Segmentation tool to adjust your blur effect automatically.

With so many features available, PhotoDirector is surprisingly easy to learn and use. You can download the software for free on Mac and Windows.

How to Blur an Image FAQs

1. How Do I Blur the Background of a Photo?

  1. Import your photo into PhotoDirector.
  2. Open Guided from the bar across the top.
  3. Under Photo Effects, choose Blur Tools.
  4. Open the Brush tool.
  5. Use the Object Detection tool that looks like a tree cutout to blur everything but the main subject or subjects in the photo. This will make the background blurry.
  6. Choose Blur Type and use the slider to change the intensity of the blur.
  7. Save the blur effect and continue editing or export your blurred photo.

2. How Do I Blur Something in a Photo?

  1. Import your photo to PhotoDirector.
  2. Open Guided from the bar across the top.
  3. Under Photo Effects, choose Blur Tools.
  4. Choose Brush.
    The entire photo will appear blurred.
  5. Choose Blur Type.
  6. Choose Brush.
  7. Use your mouse to erase the blur from everything in the photo except what you wish to remain blurred.
  8. Use the slider to change the intensity of the blur.
  9. Save the blur effect and continue editing or export the photo.

3. How Do I Blur Part of a Picture?

  1. Import your photo to PhotoDirector.
  2. Open Guided from the bar across the top.
  3. Under Photo Effects, choose Blur Tools.
  4. Choose the blur tool that reflects the part of the photo you want to blur.
  5. Set the focus area and gradient range.
  6. Choose Blur Type.
  7. Use the slider to change the intensity of the blur.
  8. Save the blur effect and continue editing or export the photo.

4. How Do I Add Motion Blur to a Photo?

  1. Import your photo to PhotoDirector.
  2. Click Guided from the bar across the top.
  3. Under Photo Effects, choose Blur Tools.
  4. Select Brush.
  5. Under Blur Type, choose Motion Blur.
    The Motion Blur effect will be added to the entire photo.
  6. Use your mouse to deblur the main focal point.
    Change the size, feather, and strength of the brush tool, or use the Object Segmentation tool to deblur a person or vehicle.
  7. Use the Direction Dial to change the direction of the motion blur.
  8. Save the blur effect and continue editing or export the photo.

5. How Do I Deblur a Photo?

  1. Import your photo to PhotoDirector.
  2. Click Guided from the bar across the top.
  3. Choose Deblur under the Improve or Remove tab.
  4. Click Apply.
  5. Use the slider to adjust the intensity or enter a numerical value.
  6. Save your sharp and in-focus Image.
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