Old photos are important witnesses of the past. Whenever we review the photo albums, memories of those important moments come back like birthdays, weddings, anniversaries or friends and relatives that we haven’t met for a long time. However, paper photos are easy to deteriorate as time passes. Damaged old photos would fail to carry time stories passing on from generation to generation. It’s time to rescue them before it’s too late.

Crimped corners, scratches, water stains, tears and faded colors are common flaws. Blurring and color fading are usually the most severe ones. Software with powerful image processing abilities makes it possible to restore old photos at home without turning to a skilled artist.

In this passage, we are going to explore the photo restorer by considering factors like AI processing, user-friendliness and editing functions, ranging from old photo repair online to comprehensive editors. Both beginners and professionals would find a suitable one.

What is Good Old Photo Restoration?

First of all, we would like to reveal some main steps that help to judge whether the photo restorer is good enough.

  • Recover defects

Defects like creases, stains and spots are the most common and severe damages on retro photos due to poor preservation or poor photography equipment. The successful restoration should guarantee to recover all these imperfections.

  • Improve clarity

Photos taken in the past are usually in low resolution which makes it hard to recognize on today’s HD devices. To fix old photos means bringing back the clarity of faces and scenes in the past. A well-developed photo restorer should be able to highlight the defined contour and fix noises, jagged edges or unclear faces.

  • Colorization

Color fading is an inevitable problem of wash-out photos. Thanks to modern technology, we could refresh them by recovering the faded colors. However, colorizing is not always available in restoration tools. Hand coloring could be boring and difficult while automatic colorizing is sometimes far away from the original color. All these depend on how developed the built-in algorithms are.

Top Photo Restorer Reviews

In the past, we have to turn to photography studios to fix old photos, which requires a high expense and long-time waiting. Luckily, days are gone when we have to hire photo restoration technicians. Now, old photo repair online is available and some of photo restorer programs are free.

Before using an old photo restoration tool, it is required to digitalize the photos. It is suggested to scan them into your computer instead of re-photographing because re-photography might lead to further distortion due to devices and skills while scanning guarantees the original clarity, prevents glare and flattens curled edges.

Next, we are going to explore some best photo restoration tools for either professionals or novice and make an overall comparison among them so as to help you decide which is the most suitable one.

Best Open-source: GIMP Photo Editor

GIMP is an open-source free image manipulation program developed by volunteers around the world more than two decades ago and still keeps upgrading currently. That is to say, anyone can access the platform for any purpose.

Considered an alternative to Photoshop and compatible with Windows, Mac, or Linux, it allows users to fix old photos, retouch photo, adjust composition, etc, but the problem is that users should have basic editing knowledge or have to learn about tutorials beforehand in order to better operate on it.

l Free of charge
l Well-equipped tool box
l Open-source & customizable
l Manual operation
l Not suitable for beginners
l Downloading required

Best Simple to Use: Softorbits Photo Retoucher

Softorbits Photo Retoucher is specifically designed to restore old photos. Compared with Photoshop, experience in photo editing is not necessary because developers have preset proper specifications for the restoration steps. Users can customize the fixing areas, which means you could choose to maintain what you don’t want to retouch. The software would automatically start working after users click to choose specific operations, such as recolorizing, removing noise and scratches or unblur the old photos. Additionally, with tools like Clone Stamp, Smudge, Concealer, Image Brighter, more detailed restoration is possible. For example, you could manually paint one image over another to erase objects, mix certain areas to achieve natural color transitions or conceal blemishes that the auto mode fails to eliminate.

Note: Softorbits allows for a 30-day free trial and require purchase for long-term use.

l Automatically find the scratches
l Automatically remove noise
l Automatically remove the blur
l One-click colorization
l Manually remove spots
l Manually conceal spots
l Manually remove defects
l Downloading required

Best Professional: Photoshop

Photoshop, as one of the most popular photo editing tools, is capable to do everything in photo beautifying. It includes a series of editing features, such as brightness and contrast, color balance, spot healing and any other details adjustment. To restore old photos in layers makes sure that each step is separated so users can modify specific changes or undo wrong operations.

With wide compatibility with both Windows and Mac, Photoshop is so universal that tutorials are easily accessible, but you have to pay for the membership before using it. The major problem is that Photoshop is not designed for beginners who would be confused about the terms and customized features.

l Full-featured toolkit
l Fine-tuned operation allowed
l Non-destructive & non-interfering adjustments in different layers
l Expensive subscription to use
l Software image editing knowledge required
l Not suitable for beginners
l Downloading required

Best Comprehensive: Photoglory

PhotoGlory is a comprehensive photo restorer for both novices and professionals. If you are unfamiliar with software photo editing, you could use the fully-automatic restoration service. The software supports clarity enhancement, B&W photos colorization, warping edge cropping and so on without inputting any parameter. If you are not satisfied with the auto recovery, you could also use the manual tools to further adjust details.

There are Standard, Deluxe, and Pro paid versions available. Basic adjustments like scratch repairing and colorizing are offered in all versions while advanced features like manual colorizing, missing parts recreation and filter effects are found in higher versions. You can choose the most suitable according to your needs.

l Two modes available: automatic & manual recovery
l Suitable for both beginners & skilled ones
l Bring vintage effect to old photos
l AI-supported
l Compatible with Windows only

Best Online: AiPassportPhotos

AiPassortPhotos is a web-based program supporting old photo restoration online.  Therefore, if you are reluctant to spare space for a bulky software package, it would be a better choice.

The built-in AI program would automatically scan, detect and fix the photo once it is uploaded. This AI restoration tool works the best on portrait photos. Old photo recovery is so simple that you no longer need to manually remove flaws bit by bit and guess what the original color of the fading area is. The deep-learning algorithm is able to classify skin and non-skin regions accurately, thus bringing out clear faces and natural contours. The one-click restoration and free photo service make it efficient and effective if you have bunches of old photos to improve.

Moreover, it is more than a photo restorer. Services like photo enhancing, retouching, background removing & blurring, colorizing and color correction are also available and cost-free.

No download needed
AI-supported & all-automatic running
Easy-to-use & beginner-friendly advanced face recognition
Automatic photo enhancing
Free of charge
Customized editing unavailable
Processing features for photos other than portrait ones remain to be developed

Overall Comparison

Now that we have gone through the top 5 best photo restoration tools, you might have decided which is most appropriate for you. If not, you can review the overall comparison below and think about your real needs.

If you are professional at manual restoration and tolerant of the price, go to Photoshop. If you want a substitute for Photoshop, just try Softorbits or GIMP.

If you’re under budget and limited skills but still want a pro-level effect, think about AI-powered or automatic restorer, like Photoglory or AiPassportPhotos.

If you want to restore old photos online, AiPassportPhotos would be better.

Free of charge?×××
Online use?××××
App download?×
Automatic restoration?×partial×


That’s all about what we have review about the top 6 best photo restorer tools and we hope this passage solves your problems of what to choose. We have to emphasize that perfecting an old photo is a thing of time and effort. Although automatic restoration could do most of the recovery, it does not guarantee to restore badly damaged photos to what a camera shoots today. Severe damages require patience and careful manual editing. If you’re not confident in your manual fixing ability, an AI-based program would be more favorable.