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Quickly repair old photographs with iPhoto on Mac

Breathe new life into your long-forgotten photos and prints with iPhoto’s simple repair tools


If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to scan your old photos into your Mac. A traditional scanner or a multi-function printer will get the job done, although it’s also possible using a high-end digital camera and a tripod. The process can feel a little laborious, but it’s well worth persevering with because once all of your old prints have been saved as digital images, their existing quality is preserved forever.

There are a whole host of photo-editing apps to help you clean up vintage prints, although most of the time everything you need is available in iPhoto. Simple crops and re-alignments are a breeze to implement using the Quick Fixes feature available in the app, although exposure settings are also available if you want to tweak the contrast or colour cast. Whatever the problem may be, it’s time to bring all of your old photos back to life. Follow the nine steps below to get a feel of how to make instant, on-the-spot repairs.headerbar

step11: Rotate your image

Import the image and hit the Edit button to access iPhoto’s editing options. If the orientation is incorrect, use the Rotate function to fix it.

step22: Straighten it up

Click the Straighten button next and use the slider on the right-hand side to rotate the image. A grid will appear to help you work out when to stop.

step33: Crop it down

If there’s any sort of border surrounding the image, the Crop tool will help remove it. Set the pixel constraints and then drag the corners of the box.

step44: Check the temperature

Switch to the Adjust tab. Begin adjusting any unnatural colours using the Temperature slider at the bottom. Subtlety is key here, so go carefully.

step55: Apply a tint

Continue adjusting the colour of the image using the Tint slider. A negative figure will add more magenta, while a positive figure will add more green.

step66: Add some contrast

Old prints often lose their ability to show harsh blacks and brilliant whites. Restore some of this vibrance using the Exposure and Contrast sliders.

step77: Check the histogram

Look at the histogram. The two markers might not reach either end of the graph – if that’s the case, drag them out for a full tonal range.

step88: Remove any scratches

Prints that have been handled before often pick up the odd blemish. Return to the Quick Fixes tab and use the Retouch button to cover them up.

step99: Final adjustments

Any further problems can be fixed using the Definition and Shadows sliders in the Adjust tab. These can be dramatic edits, so use them sparingly.

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