Repair Damaged Photos

Scan Correct Color Smooth Texture Reduce Noise Remove Dust Repair Crop

What's left now are rips, creases, stains, missing pieces, and things of that nature.

There's so much to learn about repairing photos, that it would fill a book. Photo repair is way beyond the scope of this website. I can, however, post a few links to useful programs. Keep in mind that I haven't used most of the following programs on this page, so I am unable to give recommendations.

I recommend archiving every restored photo. See the bottom of this page for details.
Colorspace Support: Please keep in mind that most apps do not support colorspace profiles (such as sRGB or Adobe RGB). If you save a file with an app that does not support colorspaces, no colorspace profile will be attached to the file. Please check the manufacturer's specifications for any app you might use to see if they support colorspace profiles.

Software

Adobe Photoshop Products

Photoshop CC and Photoshop Elements are published by Adobe for Windows and macOS.

Photoshop CC (Creative Cloud) is the professional or full version of Photoshop. It is the gold-standard of image editors and is available from Adobe through a monthly subscription. Photoshop CC supports any colorspace and has a plethora of powerful tools for editing images.

Photoshop Elements is the consumer version of Photoshop, with most of the features but with fewer options and some limitations. Photoshop Elements supports RGB colorspaces (such as sRGB and AdobeRGB) and has many of the same tools for editing images that Photoshop CC has. However, many of its tools will not work with 48-bit color images. See the red bullet to find out why.

For more information on the main differences between Photoshop CC and Photoshop Elements, see Switch from Photoshop Elements to Creative Cloud Photography Plan on adobe.com.
Hobbled Elements: While Photoshop Elements 15's filters should work fine at any depth, some tools won't work on 48-bit color images. The Marquee, Lasso, Quick Selection, and most menu commands work. Remove Cast, Magic Wand, Healing Brush Tool, Clone Stamp, and many other tools won't work. Converting your 48-bit image to a 24-bit image to use these tools leaves it open to posterization damage as explained in the Color Depth section of the Info page. Instead of converting your image, consider using another image editor.

Image Editors

According to cnet.download.com and macupdate.com, the following editors are very popular and highly rated. Because clone and healing tools are critically important to fix problems such as blemishes and rips, I have made note of such tools.

Affinity Photo for Windows and macOS:
Affinity Photo is a multi-platform image editor made by Serif. Like other professional image editors, Affinity Photo has a plethora of powerful tools for editing images. According to Serif, Affinity Photo can work in any colorspace and supports 32-bit per channel editing. Includes clone stamp, healing, blur, smudge, and inpainting brushes.
homepage: serif.com  -  review: lifeafterphotoshop.com  -  user reviews: macupdate.com

FastStone for Windows:
Free image browser/converter/editor. Includes clone stamp and healing brush.
homepage: faststone.org  -  review: makeuseof.com  -  user reviews: download.com

Paint.NET for Windows:
Free image editor. Active online community. Includes clone stamp.
homepage: getpaint.net  -  review: makeuseof.com  -  user reviews: download.com

Acorn for macOS:
Powerful and simple. Includes clone, blur, and smudge brushes.
Versions for old macOS systems are available.
homepage: flyingmeat.com  -  review: macworld.com  -  user reviews: macupdate.com

Pixelmator for macOS:
Full-featured, powerful, fast, easy-to-use. Includes clone stamp, healing, and blur.
homepage: pixelmator.com  -  review: macworld.com  -  user reviews: macupdate.com

For even more image editors, theguardian.com has a good article called The 25 best alternatives to Photoshop.


Photo Repair Apps

Instead of full-fledged image editing apps, there are simpler apps made especially for repairing images. Their main purpose is to remove objects and fix rips and blemishes. Here are two such apps.

Snapheal for macOS:
Snapheal is a stand-alone app, Snapheal CK is a stand-alone or plugin. Object removal, clone stamp.
homepage: macphun.com  -  review: photographyblog.com
Snapheal user reviews: itunes.apple.com  -  Snapheal CK user reviews: macupdate.com

Inpaint for Windows and macOS:
Available for both platforms. Object removal app.
homepage: theinpaint.com  -  review: photographyblog.com
windows user reviews: download.com  -  mac user reviews: macupdate.com

Archive Restored Photo

When you are completely finished editing and repairing and restoring your photo, it's critical to archive (make a copy of) your restored photo (restoration) in tiff format before applying shake reduction or cropping or resizing the photo. The archived restoration is usually kept offline. If you ever change your mind about a reduction, crop, or resize, you can simply make a new copy from the archived restoration.