How to Restore Old Photos in Photoshop: Step-by-Step Guide

Looking for the simple steps to restore old photos in Photoshop? Here is the step-by-step guide along with an AI alternative - 4DDiG Photo Enhancer to restore old photos automatically.

5 mins read

Updated on 2024-06-07 19:53:52 to Photo Tips


“Hello! I know next to nothing about Photoshop, but I’m willing to learn. Almost all of my old family photos are fading out with the faces starting to become unrecognizable. Is Photoshop the best program for restoration? Or is there a better one for a novice?”

— From Reddit

Old photos hold timeless memories, but they often deteriorate over time. Fortunately, in today's digital age, there’s hope for rejuvenation and breathing new life into these cherished images. Adobe Photoshop stands out as the premier tool for photo restoration, capable of effectively repairing various types of damage, including blurriness, fading, scratches, and discoloration.

However, mastering Photoshop can be daunting due to its steep learning curve and complexity, which may deter newcomers. But fear not! In this guide, we'll break down the process of how to restore old photos in Photoshop to make it more accessible, even for beginners. Additionally, for those who prefer an easier approach, we'll introduce an alternative solution.

how to restore old photos in photoshop

Part 1. Old Photo Restoration: What Is It?

Old photo restoration is the process of recovering and enhancing the appearance of digital copies of old photos that have been damaged by natural causes or man-made mistakes. The process involves scanning the old photos to convert them to digital format. You need to choose a photo editor that can restore the old photos to their original form as well as enhance them for a better appearance

Photoshop photo restoration involves removing noises and blemishes, fixing wear and tear, and even colorizing black and white photos. There are some dedicated AI filters available that can magically restore old photos for a satisfactory result. You can also manually perform operations to enhance the beauty of the old photos and make them perfect and attractive.

Part 2. How to Restore Old Photos in Photoshop?

Photoshop AI photo restoration is useful when your old photos need improvement. It will enhance the photos for better visibility through sharpening, brightening, and adjusting colors. And when you need to fix old photos that have many deep scratches and cracks, there are also healing brush tool and healing spot tool available to repair old photos.

Here are the steps on how to restore old photos using Photoshop.

1. Scan and Digitalize Your Old Photo

The first step is to scan your old photo with a scanner so that you can get the digital form of the physical photo. Before you scan, wipe the photo with a soft cloth to remove dust, and scan at the highest possible resolution for the best quality.

2. Open and Prepare The Photo in Photoshop

Open Photoshop on your computer and go to File> Open to import the digitized old photo. Navigate to the Layers section, right-click on the Background layer and select the Duplicate Layer option from the menu. You will make all the edits on the duplicate layer, and the original layer will stay intact.

restore old photos in photoshop-step 1

3. Apply Restore Photo Filter

Select the Background Copy layer and go to Filter> Neural Filters. Navigate to the Restoration section. And turn on the Photo Restoration filter for AI to restore your old photo automatically. You can adjust the sliders for photo and face enhancement as per requirements. Click the OK button to apply the changes.

restore old photos in photoshop-step 2

4. Colorize The Old Photo

Select the Background Copy layer and go to Filter>Neural Filters. Navigate to the Colorize option and turn it on. Photoshop will automatically colorize your black and white or faded old photo beautifully. Click the OK button.

restore old photos in photoshop-step 3

5. Export and Save Restored Photo

Once you're satisfied with the restoration, you can now save the restored photo from File> Export> Export As. Save the file in a format that preserves quality, such as PSD or PNG. You can also save a copy in a more widely supported format like JPEG for sharing or printing.

restore old photos in photoshop-step 4

Part 3. How to Restore Old Photos without Photoshop?

Most users find Adobe Photoshop complicated as they are not familiar with such professional photo editors. And that is why they always look for easier alternatives that are perfect for novices, where they can perform a few simple steps to get the job done. Keeping that in mind, we have the perfect Photoshop alternative, and we have handpicked an online photo restoration tool as well. Let us illustrate how to restore old photos without Photoshop now.

Way 1. Restore Old Photos Using 4DDiG AI Photo Enhancer

4DDiG AI Photo Enhancer is the best alternative to Photoshop when it comes to restore old photos instantly and easily. You can repair damaged and scratched old photos and restore their quality, sharpness, and color in a few seconds. This AI old photo restoration tool comes with different AI models tailored for more specific and accurate photo restoration and enhancement.

Here are the key features of 4DDiG AI Photo Enhancer that make it the best Photoshop alternative.

  • Restores damaged, pixelated, and faded old photos.
  • Enhances photo quality, sharpness, and detail.
  • Removes noise, scratches, and cracks.
  • Auto-colorizes old black and white photos in seconds.
  • Offers different AI models for accurate restoration and clarity.
  • Supports batch processing of old photos.
  • Supports a wide range of image file formats.

Here are the steps to enhance old photo quality and colorize old photos via 4DDiG AI Photo Enhancer.

  • Download 4DDiG AI Photo Enhancer (aka 4DDiG File Repair) on your computer as per your operating system. Launch the application and head over to the Photo Repair option on the left side. Then click the Enhance Photo Quality section.


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    restore old photo using 4ddig ai photo enhancer-step 1
  • Upload your old photo from your storage device. Then choose the Denoise Model to remove unwanted elements from your old photos like noise, grain, and haziness. Next, click the Preview button to get the result. If you want to uplift the facial quality, choose the Face Model and click the Re-Preview button to get the result.

    restore old photo using 4ddig ai photo enhancer-step 2
  • Compare the restored photo with the original. If everything looks good, click the Export All button to save the restored old photo.

    restore old photo using 4ddig ai photo enhancer-step 3
  • If you want to colorize old photos, go back to the home screen and opt for Colorize Photos. Add your restored old photos, and 4DDiG AI Photo Enhancer will colorize your old photos magically.

    restore old photo using 4ddig ai photo enhancer-step 4

Video Guide on How to Restore Old Photos

Way 2. Restore Old Photo with AI Online

If you have only a handful of old photos and you want to restore them on the go, you can use an AI online photo restoration tool to get the job done instantly. Picsart is a popular online photo editor with a wide range of tools, and their AI Image Enhancer can restore old photos magically. The AI tool analyzes the pixels of the photo and fixes details, starting from reducing blue to adding new pixels to improve resolution.

Here are the steps to restore old photos online via Picsart’s AI photo restore tool.

  • Visit Picart AI Image Enhancer website. Click the Browse Files button to import your old photo.
  • Once uploading is over, click on the Edit button to proceed.

    picsart browse files
  • Click the AI Enhance option at the top to proceed.

    picsart AI enhance
  • Wait for some time for AI Enhancer to analyze and restore the old photo. If you are satisfied with the result, click the Apply button.

    picsart AI enhance restored
  • You can download the restored photo by clicking on the Export button.

Please note that the quality of photo restoration in online tools is limited and not as good as in dedicated photo restoration software like Photoshop.

Part 4. Photoshop Photo Restoration FAQs

Q1: Can Photoshop AI restore old photos?

Yes, Photoshop AI filters can restore old photos effectively by enhancing photo quality and facial regions. It also reduces scratches on the photos for better clarity and visibility.

Q2: Is Photoshop the best program for restoration?

Photoshop is considered the best program for old photo restoration, though there are better AI-based old photo restoration programs available. 4DDiG AI Photo Enhancer is an easier alternative to Photoshop with advanced AI models for better old photo restoration.

Q3: Can old damaged photos be restored?

If your old photos have noises, grains, and scratches, you can restore them close to their original version via Photoshop. If they are tool blurry or the faces are not clearly visible, you can use 4DDiG AI Photo Enhancer to bring facial clarity and recover them with advanced AI models.

The Bottom Line

You can bring your damaged and faded old photos back to life again with Adobe Photoshop. We have explained how to leverage AI filters to restore old photos in Photoshop. If you find Photoshop complicated to get started, we recommend 4DDiG AI Photo Enhancer where you can restore and colorize old photos effectively with a few simple steps thanks to the advanced AI models. Don't let time fade your precious moments away. Give 4DDiG a try and witness your old photos spring back to life in all their former glory!


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William Bollson (senior editor)

William Bollson, the editor-in-chief of 4DDiG, devotes to providing the best solutions for Windows and Mac related issues, including data recovery, repair, error fixes.

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