How to Blur Photos with Online Photo Editing

When you need to blur a photograph quickly, these days you don't even need to purchase software. Online photo editing can be fast and easy and -- my favorite part -- free. This article will provide you with a step-by-step guideline.

Editing Photos Online

There are a few sites where you can work on your images without installing anything. Some require a registration, but my favorite ones are not only free, but require no downloading and installation, no registration, and work instantly with most web browsers.

While there are a few good sites out there, including, here is my personal favorite easy-to-use online editor that works great for photo blurring (and many other photo needs, from cropping to color correction):

"The most popular online photo editor in the world." This site offers three online editing options. Pixlr Editor is a full suite of tools, similar to Adobe Photoshop. Pixlr-o-matic is mostly a series of Instagram-inspired filters, which saturate, intentionally damage, and degrade your photo for a grungy analog feel. For our purposes, we're going to use Pixlr Express, which is like Pixlr-o-matic in its ease of use and ability to add fun filters, but has more control options from the full Pixlr Editor suite.

For our demo today, we're using a graphic I created using Pixlr Express (if you'd like to use it while following along, simply click on the image and save image as to download it):


In Pixlr Express, there are two different ways to add blur. Blur, which softens your entire image. And Focal Blur, which softens only a portion of the image very much like in-camera focus effects.

To Blur an entire photo, go to

pixlr express.jpg


Click Browse, select the photo you wish to blur, then click Open.

amount and apply CU.jpg

After clicking Adjustment, select Blur. Adjust the Amount of Blur by moving the slider back and forth. When satisfied, hit Apply.

[note: to see a full screen version of what it's like editing on screen, click this photo on the right]

Feel free to make more adjustments in Pixlr now or, if you're finished, it's time to save your work. We're almost done!
Blur Save.jpg

Blur Name Quality Save 2.jpg

Name or rename the file as need -- while making sure Quality = 100 -- click Save a second time, select a destination for your finished file (typically Pictures Library in PC; Photos in Mac) and
click Save one last time.

You should now have a photo that looks something like this:
fireworks Blur.jpg

To Focal Blur a portion of photo, go to, click Browse, Open the a photo and, after clicking Adjustment, select Focal Blur. It's worth noting there are two types of Focal Blur (which you select as buttons next to the Focal Blur icon):


Circular, for when you want the blur effect to radiate outwards from a single point


Linear, for when you want a straight line of focus, surrounded by two sections of blur. This is a great way to mimic Tilt-Shift Photography.

Here's an example of the circular Focal Blur interface. Note the three dots on screen. Adjust the location of the center dot as well as the distance between the center, middle, and outer dots to change how much focus and out much blur there is on your picture.

Focal Blur Circle Apply.jpg

When Linear Focal Blurring, a forth dot appears, which allows you to tilt your horizontal focus line 45-degrees right or left.

Focal Blur Diagonal One.jpg
Further adjustments include:
  • Blurring -- how out of focus are the outer edges
  • Color Boost -- saturates brighter colors between the two solid lines
  • Glow Boost -- blows out and softens highlights outside the two solid lines
Focal Blur Diagonal Final Apply.jpg
When satisfied, hit Apply and Save your work as you did above. Here is a look at our two results. First, Circular Focal Blur:
fireworks Circle Blur.jpg
And last, but certainly not least, we have Linear Focal Blur:
fireworks Focal Blur Diagonal.jpg
For those who are not used to working with sophisticated photo editing software, going online to sites like Pixlr are easy to learn, quick, and above all else free. And, as you may have noticed, they're great for much, much more than blurring photos.

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