How to Unpixelate an Image in Photoshop


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Pixelation – those unwanted squares taking over your once-pristine photos – is a common issue in digital images. It occurs primarily when images are enlarged beyond their intended size or displayed on low-resolution screens, creating a blocky “staircase effect” where individual pixels become visible.

This can be a problem for anyone who wants high-quality visuals, from personal photos to professional needs. Imagine a news article with blurry pictures or an ad campaign with pixelated graphics – it can significantly detract from the message.

Similarly, a webshop showcasing pixelated product images can lead to customer confusion and a drop in sales. Real estate agents rely on clear, high-resolution photos to showcase properties, and blurry images can make a potential dream home look unattractive. Even social media influencers and bloggers depend on sharp visuals to engage their audience. Unpixelating images ensures your visuals are clear, professional, and effectively convey the intended message, regardless of the platform.

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Here’s the technical breakdown: When you enlarge an image, the number of pixels representing a specific area remains constant; however, each pixel now needs to cover more space, increasing the distance between them. Our eyes can no longer seamlessly blend these enlarged pixels, resulting in a grainy or blurry effect. While sometimes used intentionally for privacy reasons, pixelation can significantly degrade image quality and clarity.

Thankfully, Photoshop offers powerful tools to unpixelate image and restore image clarity. In the following sections, we’ll explore these techniques and help you sharpen up those pixelated images!

Understanding the Causes of Pixelated Images

Several factors can contribute to pixelation, each affecting image quality differently:

  • Low image resolution: Images captured or formatted with low resolutions lack the necessary pixel density. Consequently, fewer pixels represent larger areas, resulting in a blurry, blocky effect.
  • Upsizing beyond limits: Enlarging an image beyond its intended resolution can exacerbate pixelation. With a limited number of pixels covering a larger area, they become more visible, manifesting as a blocky appearance.
  • Improper or excessive compression: Compression, while useful for saving space, can introduce pixelation if done incorrectly. Using low-quality file formats or aggressive compression settings may lead to data loss or inaccuracies during compression, contributing to pixelation.
  • Photo corruption: Mishandling, storage errors, or software glitches can damage images, distorting information and causing pixelation.
  • Scanner issues: Low-quality scanners may fail to capture sufficient detail, resulting in blurry or pixelated scans.
  • Camera and user errors: Mistakes during image capture or processing, such as incorrect settings or focusing issues, can also lead to blurry or pixelated results.

Preparing to Unpixelate Image in Photoshop

Before we explore specific techniques, let’s get your image prepped for the unpixelation process in Photoshop.

  • Use the original image: Whenever possible, start with the original, unedited image file. This ensures the highest quality and minimizes information loss during the unpixelation process.
  • Slight image resize: Navigate to “Image” > “Image Size” to slightly increase the image resolution. Begin with a minor adjustment to both width and height.
  • Resampling for clarity: Choose the appropriate resampling method from the “Resample” drop-down menu. If unsure, opt for “Automatic.” Alternatively, experiment with automatic smoothing settings like “Bicubic Smoother” for a smoother outcome.
  • Apply the changes: Once you’re satisfied with the adjustments, click “OK” to confirm and proceed.

Now that your image is prepped, we’re ready to explore the built-in filters in Photoshop to tackle pixelation head-on!

How to Remove Pixelation in Photoshop

If you’re dealing with pixelated images, fret not! Photoshop offers several tools to help you fix them. Here are some techniques you can use to unpixelate your images and restore their clarity:

Unpixelate Image with Adobe Photoshop’s Built-In Tools

To fix pixelated photos and improve image clarity, Photoshop has several tools in its arsenal. Let’s take a look at two powerful built-in filters: Smart Blur and Gaussian Blur.

Smart Blur: Targeted Smoothing for Pixelated Photos

The Smart Blur filter analyzes your image and applies a targeted blur effect based on your adjustments. This makes it particularly well-suited for smoothing pixelation in photos, illustrations, and digital art. But be careful! Overdoing it can remove important details.

Here’s how to utilize Smart Blur for unpixelation:

  • Open your image in Photoshop.
  • Navigate to Filter > Blur > Smart Blur.
  • Adjust the Radius and Threshold sliders to achieve the desired smoothing effect. Preview the changes by clicking and dragging the image.
    • Radius: This determines the blur area’s size. Higher values create a more intense effect.
    • Threshold: This controls how sensitive the filter is to edges and details. A lower threshold blurs more aggressively, while a higher threshold preserves sharper details.
  • Once satisfied, click “OK” to apply the filter.

Gaussian Blur: Effective Pixel Reduction with a Simple Approach

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Gaussian Blur employs a different strategy for unpixelation. It applies a mathematically calculated blur effect, focusing on areas that need softening. This helps with two things:

  • Reduced pixel visibility: By subtly blurring these areas, the harsh edges of individual pixels become less noticeable, creating a smoother overall appearance.
  • Color blending: The blur also helps blend colors within the image more seamlessly. This reduces the blocky effect often associated with pixelation and enhances the image’s visual quality.

The beauty of Gaussian Blur lies in its simplicity. You control the entire blurring process with a single setting:

  • Radius: This slider determines the size of the blur area. Higher values create a more intense blur, effectively softening pixelation but potentially sacrificing some detail.

Here’s how to use Gaussian Blur for unpixelation:

  • Open your image in Photoshop.
  • Navigate to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur.
  • Adjust the Radius slider to achieve the desired smoothing effect. Preview the changes by clicking and dragging the image to see the blur in action.
  • Once satisfied, click “OK” to apply the filter.

Remember: A light touch is key! While Gaussian blur is effective against pixelation, overusing it can obscure important details.

Sharpening After Blurring: Bringing Back the Details

While blurring filters like Smart Blur and Gaussian Blur can help reduce pixelation, they might also soften desired details. This is where the Unsharp Mask filter comes in. Unlike true edge detection, Unsharp Mask identifies pixels with significant contrast differences from their neighbors. It then amplifies this contrast, making light areas lighter and dark areas darker. The result? The illusion of sharper details.

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Applying Unsharp Mask for enhanced clarity

  1. Prepare your image: Open your photo in Photoshop and convert the image layer to a Smart Object. This non-destructive approach allows you to adjust the Unsharp Mask later if needed.
  2. Sharpen with Unsharp Mask: Navigate to Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask. Here’s how the settings help you achieve optimal sharpening without introducing artifacts:
    • Amount: Controls the strength of sharpening. A light touch is crucial – too little leaves the image blurry, while too much introduces pixelation. Experiment to find the sweet spot for a clear image free of blocky artifacts.
    • Radius: Defines the width of the area affected by sharpening around an edge. For fine details, use a smaller radius to focus sharpening precisely. Conversely, larger details benefit from a bigger radius to encompass the entire feature. Choosing the right radius prevents unnecessary sharpening that could lead to pixelation.
    • Threshold: Targets specific areas for sharpening based on contrast differences. A higher threshold excludes areas with low contrast, like smooth backgrounds, from sharpening. This helps avoid unwanted artifacts in those areas.
  3. Maintain color accuracy: The Unsharp Mask can affect pixel color as well as brightness. To prevent unwanted color shifts, change the blend mode of the Unsharp Mask layer to “Luminosity.” This preserves the original image colors.

Beyond the basics: fine-tuning for professional results

For a finishing touch, consider these additional techniques:

  • Opacity: Adjust the sharpening layer’s opacity for a more subtle effect.
  • Blend modes: Modes like “Overlay,” “Soft Light,” and “Hard Light” can further refine sharpening while minimizing artifacts. Experimenting with these options helps achieve professional-looking results that are free of distracting artifacts.

By mastering these techniques, you can effectively sharpen your images after blurring to combat pixelation while retaining crisp detail.

Advanced Photoshop Techniques to Make Images Less Pixelated

Beyond the fundamental blurring and sharpening techniques, Photoshop offers advanced tools for tackling specific pixelation issues and enhancing overall image quality. Here are two powerful options to consider:

JPEG Artifacts Removal: Neural Network Magic for Flawless Images

Modern digital cameras and software often compress images to save storage space. While convenient, this compression can introduce artifacts and pixelation. Photoshop’s JPEG Artifacts Remover tool uses the power of neural networks to effectively address this problem.

Effortless artifact reduction:

  • Located within the Discover Panel (search icon, Cmd/Ctrl + F, or Help menu), the JPEG Artifacts Removal filter is readily accessible.
  • With a single click, the tool analyzes your image and automatically removes compression artifacts, leading to noticeably sharper, cleaner visuals with reduced pixelation.

Fine-tuning for perfection:

For those seeking more control, the tool allows adjustments on different layers. You can experiment with the results and revert to previous states using the dedicated buttons. This flexibility empowers you to achieve the optimal balance of artifact reduction for your image.

Clone Stamp Tool: Strategic Duplication for Seamless Fixes

Adobe’s Clone Stamp Tool is a flexible retouching tool that excels at removing distractions, duplicating elements, and restoring pixelated areas. It lets you copy a selected area from your image and seamlessly paste it elsewhere, either within the same image or even in a different image.

Using the Clone Stamp Tool:

  1. Open your image in Photoshop.
  2. Locate the Clone Stamp Tool in the left-hand side toolbar (stamp icon).
  3. Adjust the stamp size and settings to match the area you want to clone. Click the circled icon and drag the size arrow to resize.
  4. Hold Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac) and click on the area you want to copy (source point).
  5. Release the Alt/Option key and click or drag where you want to place the copied pixels.

Beyond repairing pixelation:

The Clone Stamp Tool’s capabilities extend beyond basic pixelation removal. Here are some additional creative applications:

  • Image retouching: Flawlessly cover blemishes, dust spots, or unwanted objects.
  • Duplicating details: Effortlessly copy and place small details like flowers or stars throughout the image.
  • Texture & pattern filling: Use the tool like a brush to fill larger areas with a specific texture or pattern.
  • Cloning for editability: Clone image parts onto a new layer, creating a separate, editable copy.

Unpixelate Image Using Neural Filters

Neural Filters are a new set of filters that use artificial intelligence to improve pixelated images. They offer a range of creative ideas and options for editing photos, including coloring, changing facial expressions, blurring backgrounds, and enhancing portraits. Neural Filters offer a wide range of creative possibilities:

  • Smart Portrait: This filter simplifies portrait editing with AI-powered adjustments like adding smiles, changing facial expressions, or altering hair thickness.
  • Skin Smoothing: Effortlessly remove blemishes and imperfections for a flawless complexion in portraits.
  • Super Zoom: Enlarge and crop your image while maintaining detail, reducing the appearance of pixelation caused by zooming. (Note: While not specifically designed for unpixelation, it can be helpful in specific scenarios)
  • Colorize: Breathe new life into black and white photos by adding natural-looking color with a single click.
  • Style Transfer: Apply artistic styles to your images, sparking creative inspiration.
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How to access and use Neural Filters:

  1. Navigate to the Filter menu in Photoshop.
  2. Select “Neural Filters” to explore the available options.
  3. Choose the desired filter (e.g., JPEG Artifacts Removal).
  4. If required, download the filter by clicking the “Download” button.
  5. Once downloaded, activate and adjust the filter settings to achieve your desired results.

How to Fix Pixelated Pictures without Photoshop

While both Photoshop and online tools can help you unpixelate images, they cater to different needs. Here’s a breakdown to guide your decision:

When to choose Photoshop:

  • Extensive editing needs: Photoshop offers a vast toolbox for precise image manipulation, ideal for complex edits and intricate detailing.
  • Unparalleled control: Work directly with individual pixels for unmatched control over the unpixelation process.
  • Offline editing: Edit seamlessly without relying on an internet connection.


  • Steep learning curve: Mastering Photoshop’s extensive features requires dedication and practice.
  • Cost: A paid subscription is required.
  • Resource-intensive: May require powerful hardware for smooth performance.

When online tools shine:

  • Convenience and accessibility: Edit from any device with an internet connection, ideal for on-the-go edits.
  • User-friendly interface: Often simple workflows make them easy to use for beginners.
  • Free or low-cost options: Many online tools offer free basic functionalities or affordable subscriptions.


  • Limited features: Functionality may be restricted compared to dedicated software like Photoshop.
  • Internet reliance: Editing is hindered without a stable internet connection.
  • Privacy concerns: Uploading images to external servers might raise privacy considerations.

Ultimately, the best choice depends on your needs:

  • For precise, in-depth editing with no budget constraints, Photoshop reigns supreme.
  • For quick, convenient unpixelation with user-friendliness in mind, online tools offer a compelling solution.
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Online Tools to Unpixelate Image

If you don’t have access to Photoshop or prefer a simpler approach to fix pixelated images, there are several free and easy-to-use alternatives that can help you unpixelate a picture. These online tools offer a convenient and often inexpensive way to achieve impressive results:

Face26: AI-Powered Solution to Unpixelate a Photo Online

  • Effortless unpixelation: Face26 excels at automated image enhancement with just a single click. It revitalizes blurry, pixelated, or low-quality photos by sharpening, colorizing, and upscaling them, resulting in high-resolution images.
  • Ideal for beginners: No editing expertise required. Face26’s user-friendly interface and advanced AI technology make it accessible to all skill levels.
  • Privacy and security: Secure image encryption protects your privacy. Easily download enhanced images directly to your device.
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Lunapic: Online Editor with Basic Unpixelation Tools

  • Wide range of editing options: Lunapic offers a versatile toolbox for basic image editing tasks. While not specifically designed for unpixelation, it includes pixelate and sharpen filters that can be used to address pixelation to a certain extent.
  • User-friendly interface: Lunapic boasts a straightforward interface, making it easy for beginners to navigate and apply basic unpixelation edits.
  • Online accessibility: Edit your images from any device with an internet connection, offering flexibility and convenience.

TouchRetouch: Mobile App for Quick Unpixelation

  • Simple and precise editing: TouchRetouch prioritizes a streamlined editing experience. Its edge-aware algorithms are effective for removing unwanted elements, including some pixelation, with precise control.
  • Mobile convenience: Available on both iOS and Android platforms, TouchRetouch allows you to unpixelate images on the go, directly from your smartphone or tablet.
  • Limited artistic features: While effective for basic unpixelation, TouchRetouch offers a more limited range of artistic editing features compared to advanced software.

GIMP: Powerful Free Alternative with Learning Curve

  • Advanced editing capabilities: Similar to Photoshop, GIMP provides a comprehensive set of features for professional-grade image editing. You can utilize Gaussian Blur and Unsharp Mask filters for unpixelation, offering a high degree of control.
  • Free and open-source: GIMP is a free, open-source software, eliminating subscription costs and allowing for customization through plugins.
  • Steeper learning curve: GIMP’s extensive feature set can be overwhelming for beginners. Mastering its tools and functionalities requires dedication and practice.

How to Prevent Pixelation of Images

Pixelation can be a frustrating issue when it comes to image quality. Fortunately, there are a few tips you can follow to prevent pixelation and improve the quality of your images.

  1. Use high-resolution images

The foundation of a high-quality image is its resolution. The more pixels an image has (think megapixels for photos), the more detail it can retain when resized or manipulated. Always aim to use images with the highest resolution available.

  1. Avoid over-squeezing

Image compression reduces file size, but too much squeezing can lead to pixelation. Find the right balance between file size and image quality when saving or exporting images. Many editing tools offer compression level adjustments.

  1. Choose the right file type

Different image formats handle compression differently. JPEG is a good choice for photos with a lot of color variation, while PNG excels for graphics and images with transparency. Using the appropriate format for your image type helps maintain quality.

  1. Don’t stretch images too far

Resizing an image beyond its intended dimensions can cause pixelation. When resizing, consider the final destination of the image (e.g., website banner, social media post) and adjust the size accordingly. Some editing software offers resampling options that can help minimize pixelation during resizing.

By following these simple tips, you can significantly reduce the chances of encountering pixelation in your images. Remember, high-quality images not only look better, but they can also contribute to a more professional and polished online presence.

Conclusion: Taking Control of Image Quality

Now armed with the knowledge of how to prevent pixelation and the tools to fix existing problems, you’re well equipped to maintain and improve the quality of your images. Whether you choose an easy-to-use online tool like Face26 or delve into the advanced editing options of Photoshop, there’s a solution for your needs and skill level.

The best approach depends on your specific needs and the severity of the pixelation. We encourage you to experiment with these techniques to determine what works best for your workflow and desired result. Remember, there are limits to significantly improving highly pixelated images, but with the right tools and know-how, you can breathe new life into your visual content!


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