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31 Jan 2022

Windows Photos tips and tricks: 5 easy ways to improve your snaps

Use the pre-installed image editing app to remove red eye, add stylish filters and make colours even more impactful

If you enjoy taking photos, being able to easily edit and store them on your computer will help you to make the most of your shots and share the best with friends and family. Yes, you could spend money on image-editing software, but all most of us really need is an easy-to-use tool for managing our photos and carrying out the occasional simple improvement. And there's already a free one on your PC.

Photos is a basic image-editing tool that comes pre-installed with Windows. The Photos app first appeared in Windows 8 and has evolved into a intuitive tool that can be found in Windows 10 and 11.

Below, we run through five simple ways you can use Windows Photos to make your prized pictures pop. Whether you're using Windows 10 or 11, we've got you covered with easy-to-follow instructions for both.

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Starting with Windows Photos

Before you can start experimenting with filters and colour settings, you'll need to get your pictures from your phone, tablet or digital camera onto your computer and into the Pictures folder on your PC. Any images contained in here are automatically added to the Windows Photos app.

If you're not sure how to do this, keep reading to the end of this article where we'll take you through it.

1. Crop, straighten or rotate your photos

The Photos app provides an easy fix for photos that are landscape but should be portrait (or vice versa). Click the offending photo. If you're using Windows 11, you'll then need to click again to display the top toolbar.

Select Rotate to spin your image clockwise by 90 degrees and repeat until your photo is the right way up.

If you need to trim something out of a shot, open the photo you want to crop:

  • In Windows 10, click the Crop icon from the top toolbar.
  • Windows 11 users need to click on the image to make the top toolbar appear, then Edit and Crop.

From the same Crop menu, you can also try straightening your picture if you're dealing with a wonky shot. Click the Straightening slider in the top-right corner of your screen to adjust.

Windows Photo lets you crop to meet specific aspect ratios

You can even crop to a specific aspect ratio. This is handy if you have a lovely holiday snap that you want to set as your wallpaper on your widescreen monitor.

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2. Experiment with colour

If you have a dull-looking image that's crying out for a makeover, Windows Photos can lend a helping hand.

Open the image you want to adjust.

  • In Windows 10, click Edit & Create > Edit
  • In Windows 11, click the photo again to make the top toolbar appear, then click the Edit icon.

In both cases, click the Adjustments icon - it's the icon of a sun right above the main image.

Experimenting with the colour sliders can bring your photo to life

Select theColour sliders on the right and drag the white line left or right to alter the saturation of your image - you'll see the effect your changes have in the main image.

You can also experiment with the Clarity and Vignette sliders.

  • Clarity can add some sharpness to your image if it's looking a bit soft, but be wary of overusing this. It can introduce artefacts and it can't, for example, fix a shot that's out of focus.
  • Vignette adds a slight black (slide right) or white (slide left) shadow around the edges of your shot - this can be used as an artistic way of drawing the eye to something in the centre.

Thinking about printing out some of your treasured pictures? Our expert printer reviews uncover the best models for print quality. Alternatively, discover the best online photo printing services.

3. Remove red eye and blemishes

Also in the Adjustments screen, you'll see Red eye and Spot fix, which can help remove different types of flaws in your photos. For example, you might have a snap where the flash has given your subject demonic-looking red eyes.

To make it easier for you to see, you can zoom into your photo by moving the blue circular mouse cursor over a red eye and scrolling on your mouse wheel or touchpad. Click the affected area of the eye to remove the red hue. You can click Undo or Reset if you make a mistake.

Touch up your photos using the Red eye and Spot fix tools - the result will be a more professional-looking image

The Spot fix tool works in a similar way. It's particularly useful for removing scratches and blemishes from old photos you've scanned in.

Open the photo in the Adjustments screen, then click the Spot fix button and zoom into the affected area. Carefully click the blemish to cover it up - you might need to click several times to remove it entirely.

4. Get an instant look with a filter

The Photos app comes with a couple of built-in filters, which can be used as a quick way to add some artistic flair to your pictures.

Open a photo:

  • In Windows 10, click Edit & Create > Edit
  • in Windows 11, click the photo again to make the top toolbar appear, then click the Edit icon.

In both cases, click Filtersin the top toolbar.

Select from a list of pre-installed filters using Windows Photo

At the top of the right-hand panel is an Enhance your photo option - this is a one-button tool that intelligently attempts to bring out the best in your photo. Try clicking it, then click the white bar that appears to increase or decrease the effect's intensity.

Below this are the preset colour and black-and-white filters. Click on each one to see how it looks when applied to your photo. Use the Filter intensity slider to adjust the filter's effect.

You can improve the quality of your pictures using a smartphone that deals well with varying levels of light. Check in with our expert pick of the best mobile phones.

5. Brighten images taken in the evening

If you've taken a shot in the evening that needs brightening up a little, you can do this from within the Windows Photos app.

To play around with your brightness settings, click the photo you'd like to work on and selectAdjustments. You'll see aLightoption appear on the right-hand side above a slider. Drag the slider to the left or right to change your brightness levels - but remember that adding too much brightness can lower the colour accuracy of the image.

The Adjustments menu can improve the quality of shots taken in low light

How to import your images into Windows Photo

Windows Photo app automatically has access to any images contained within the Pictures folder on your PC. So if you have photos stored in any other folders or in emails, move them to here - open File Explorer, click Quick access > Pictures.

Smartphone or tablet

If you want to import photos from your smartphone or tablet, you'll need to run through the following steps:

To transfer photos from Android to Windows:

  1. Connect your smartphone to your PC using the appropriate charging cable
  2. Wait for a message to appear in the bottom-right corner of your PC that says 'Device is ready'
  3. Your phone will display a message saying 'Charging this device via USB.' Tap that notification and select 'Use USB for file transfer'
  4. Click Start > Windows Photos on your PC
  5. With Windows Photos open, select Import > From a connected device

To transfer photos from iPhone to Windows:

  1. Make sure you have iTunes installed on your PC
  2. Connect your smartphone to your PC using the appropriate charging cable
  3. On your iPhone, select 'Trust this device'
  4. Click Start > Windows Photos on your PC
  5. With Windows Photos open, select Import > From a connected device

Digital camera

You can also use the Import > From connected a device option to move images from a digital camera to your PC.

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Additional reporting by Tom Morgan