We’ve all been there. You capture a perfect moment with your kids, an unforgettable day with your mates on holiday, or a great selfie only to find that something in the background ruins the whole thing. Surely in these days of technological advancement there must be a way to fix it. Well, good news everyone: there is.
We'll show you how to salvage these photos and remove any unwelcome distractions in the background, right on your phone screen.
Fix photos with the Background Eraser app
If you’re not too bothered about keeping the background of the image, and instead just want to preserve the people or things in the foreground, then Background Eraser is a fun and quick way to edit a spoiled photo. The app is free on Android and there are several very similar alternatives available on iOS that achieve the same aims.
To get started, launch the app (grant the various permissions it requires) then tap the Load a photo option. Select your image from the library then tap and hold the pink arrows to crop as much of the image out as you can, as it will save you having to edit it later. When you’re finished tap the Done option in top right corner.
You’ll now see two red dots on the image. The lower one is where you place your finger, while the other is the area that will be erased. Take a few minutes to experiment with the controls, as you can tap the back arrow just to the right of the Manual Size slider and remove any edits you make.
Before you begin, tap the Magic option on the row of buttons along the bottom of the screen. This automatically analyses the colours and shapes in the image, then cuts around the main images without you having to do it manually. For the most part it’s very good, just take your time, moving the cursor slowly, and you’ll see checkerboards appear where the erasing is taking place.
Once you’ve removed the background entirely, tap the Done option at the top of the screen. You’ll now see a strip along the bottom of the screen called Smooth with the numbers one to five. These determine how soft and rounded the edges of the edit are, so tap each one until you find the grade that suits your needs.
When you’re satisfied with the results, tap the Save icon in the top right corner. This will bring up a few different options on which background you can use for the image. These include WhatsApp stickers, and plain white backing, or the Change Background, Superimpose option. The latter opens up a companion app called Photolayers that you’ll need to install. Don’t worry, it’s free and only takes a few seconds to be up and running.
When this has completed, tap the Load a background image option, then select what you want to place behind your edited photo. The app itself doesn’t come with any backgrounds, but you can use photos from your library or download images from the internet and then use them with Photolayers.
With the background in place, select the Add photo option from the top of the page then select your edited image. Now drag it into position, stretch it or change the angle via the arrows on the edge of the box, and when you’re happy tap the Save icon in the top corner.
That’s it, you should now have a brand-new background for your photo. Rest assured that your original image remains untouched in your photo library, but now it has an alternative that’s much more fun.
Of course, this is only a quick fix, as you can see from some of the rough edges in our example. If you really want to go to town then you’ll want to import the photo to a PC and try using Photoshop, GIMP or other packages in our roundup of the best free or cheap Photo editing software to do a more professional job. This takes a bit more finesse and dedication, but with plenty of tutorials on YouTube you should be able to edit your image like a pro in no time.