• Microsoft's Photos app introduces a Background Blur feature, similar to Portrait mode on smartphones, that highlights the subject by blurring the background.
  • The tool automatically identifies and blurs the background, but users can manually adjust the blurred areas with a selection brush tool.
  • The new feature is available in Photos app version 2023.11090.13001.0 or newer, which can be updated via the Microsoft Store app.
  • Microsoft also plans to add a background removal feature to Paint, which will completely remove the background, contrasting the Photos app's blur effect.

Microsoft introduced a background Blur feature to the Photo app, which highlights the subject and blurs out the background. This is similar to the Portrait mode that is popular on iPhone and Android devices.

The Photos app automatically finds the background in the photo and blurs it out, instantly making the subject of your photo stand out. Even if the app misses some backgrounds, you can easily adjust the blurred area to effortlessly improve your photos.

How to Get the Background Blur Feature on the Photos app

Microsoft started rolling out an update for Windows Photos that will add Blackground Blur along with the Search function, Motion photo support, and other enhancements to the app.

To enjoy these cool new features you need to have Photos app version 2023.11090.13001.0 or a newer version installed. Usually, the app will be updated through Windows Update. But if you want to ensure your Photos app is updated to the latest version, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Microsoft Store app and go to 'Library'.
  1. Then, click 'Get updates'.
  1. Let the Microsoft Store check for updates for all Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps. Then, click 'Update all' to download and install the updates.
  2. Once updated, open the Photos app and look for the 'Background Blur' tool next to the Retouch tool in the Photos app.

How to Blur Background in Photos App on Windows 11

Use the Background Blur tool in Microsoft's Photos App to enhance your photos by isolating the subject from the background. To blur the background of your picture, just follow the steps above:

  1. To apply a blur effect to a photo's background, first, you need to open the image in the Photos app. To accomplish this, right-click on the desired photo from the File Explorer, select the 'Open with' option, and then choose 'Photos' from the context menu.

    Or, you could just launch the Photos app and open a picture you wish to edit from within the app.
  1. Once an image is open in the Photos app, click the 'Edit image' icon located at the top of the screen or press the Ctrl + E keyboard shortcut to get into the image editing mode.
  1. Now, click on the Background Blur icon available on the toolbar.
  1. The app will automatically analyze the photo, find the background, and blur it out, highlighting the subject.
  1. While some photos, like the one below, don't need any extra touches, the app does most of the work for you. It automatically finds and selects all unnecessary backgrounds.
  2. All that's left for you to do is adjust the 'Blur intensity' level using the slider on the right, click 'Apply', and save the photo. The default intensity is 50%.

Manually Blurring Background in Photos. In some photos, the tool may not effectively find and filter out all the backgrounds you want. In that case, you may need to use the Brush Tool to manually refine the blurred areas.

  1. If you want to be more specific about which areas are blurred, you can turn on the 'Selection brush tool' toggle on the right-hand panel. This will let you use a brush to manually select the areas you want to blur.
  1. Once the Selection brush tool is enabled, you will have a few more options to tailor the image to your needs.
  2. With the Select area options, you can select the background area you want to blur. With the Deselect area options, you can deselect the areas you want to unblur and highlight.
  3. Use the sliders to adjust the brush size and softness. A larger brush will cover more area, and a softer brush will create a smoother transition between the subject and the background.
  1. Then, use the circle brush tool to select or deselect the area you want on the photo.
  1. You can also use the 'Blur intensity' slider to control the intensity of the blur effect.
  1. Once you are happy with your edits and background blur, click the 'Apply' button.
  1. If you wish to add another blur effect, click the 'Add new background blur' button.
  1. After applying the effects, click 'Save as copy' to save the modified image as a new image.
  1. Then, choose where you want to save the file, give it a different name, and click 'Save'.

This will process your changes and give your photo a beautiful background blur effect, similar to portrait mode photography on smartphones.

Microsoft is also adding a background removal feature to Paint. Unlike the Photos app, which blurs the background behind the subject, the Paint background removal feature removes the background completely, leaving just a white background.

Both features appear to use the same basic principle but for different purposes. Blurring the background may be better for quick photo touch-ups, while removing the background may be better for more complex image edits.