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How to crop a photo with a PC or Mac

There’s nothing worse than taking a photo of a precious moment, only to realize there’s a creepy someone photobombing the image in the background. While you could forget you ever captured the image — and thus risk losing the memory forever — you could also simply attempt to crop the stranger out of the frame. Despite what you might think, it’s not an overly time-consuming or difficult process, you don’t need premium software such as Photoshop, and you don’t need to take an advanced editing class to get the job done. There’s a slew of photo-editing software available for desktop and mobile platforms, most of which is readily accessible on the Web or comes pre-installed on your computer. The software won’t necessarily allow you perform the most advanced tasks available, but then again, cropping photos isn’t the most technique out there. Plus, the process is nearly the same across all platforms: open an image, select the portion of the image you wish to crop, and hit enter.

Here’s our comprehensive guide on how to crop a photo, whether you prefer Windows, Mac OS X, or mobile platforms. While you’re it, take a look at our favorite free photo editors and the abundance of complex effects you can achieve using free utilities, along with our in-depth guide to removing a background image.

Choose a utility:

Using Paint (Windows)

With the lone exception of artist Hal Lasko and a few others, Microsoft Paint is a pretty useless program for most. Still, the software has come pre-installed on all Windows machines since the company released Windows 1.0 in 1985. It’s not laden with advanced tools or capabilities, but it does provide a proficient cropping tool for making simple edits.

Step 1: To launch Paint, begin by clicking the Start button and selecting All Programs from the resulting menu. Afterward, click the Accessories folder and select the Paint utility.

Step 2: Click the main menu icon in the upper-left corner once opened. Afterward, click the Open option in the resulting menu and select the photo you wish to crop from its designated save location before clicking the Open button at the bottom.

Elephants in Paint

Step 3: While viewing the image within the Home tab, click the Select button and drag the tool to encompass the portion of the image you wish to crop.

Select part of image you wish to crop

Step 4: Click the Crop button directly right of Select once you’re satisfied with your selection and save the image.


[Image courtesy of Pressmaster/Shutterstock]

Using iPhoto (Mac OS X)

In a nutshell, iPhoto is basically the Apple equivalent of MS Paint. The software has come standard on every Mac computer since 2002, and like MS Paint, it’s mediocre as far as image editing goes. Nonetheless, the program excels when it comes to simple functions and provides a quick method for cropping images. Unfortunately, iPhoto is currently only available for Mac, but you can still access the software on your computer, iPad, or iPhone, should you need to edit on the go.

Step 1: To launch iPhoto, click the main Finder icon in the Mac OS X taskbar and select Applications from within the left-hand column. Afterward, browse the resulting list of programs and double-click iPhoto.

Step 2: Locate and click on the photo you wish to crop once opened. A yellow outline will automatically surround your selected image.

Fish in iPhoto

Step 3: Click the Edit button and its accompanying pencil icon at the bottom of application window.

Screen shot 2014-07-01 at 12.35.45 PM

Step 4: Once the edit utility comes up, select Crop from the list of available tools in the bottom-left corner.

Screen shot 2014-07-01 at 12.36.24 PM

Step 5: If desired, choose a constraint from the resulting drop-down menu, otherwise adjust the rectangle to fit the portion of the image you wish to crop.

Screen shot 2014-07-01 at 12.36.42 PM

Step 6: Click the Apply button at the bottom of the image once you’re satisfied with your selection. 

Using Photoshop (Windows/Mac OS X)

Though Photoshop isn’t necessary if you merely need to crop an image, it remains one of the premiere software programs for professional photo editing. Moreover, though the premium software is expensive, you can always opt for the free trial if you’d like to test out it’s remarkable capabilities. For instance, you use the crop tool to change perspective on a photo, straighten a photo, or change the scale. And simply cropping an image takes a mere three steps.

Step 1: Launch Photoshop as you would normally, click Open in the top-left corner, and select the photo you wish to crop from its designated save location.

Photoshop Crop, save file as

Step 2: Next, select the crop tool from the left-hand toolbar — the one resembling a square with a diagonal cross through it — and adjust the resulting box so it encapsulates the portion of the image you wish to keep.

Cropping in Photoshop

Step 3: Once you’re satisfied with your selection, click the green check mark at the bottom-right of the photo.

Fully cropped photo

[Image courtesy of farbled/Shutterstock

Using Fotor (Web-based/iOS/Android)

These days, not all photo editing takes place on a desktop platform. Image editor Fotor is available on iOS and Android platforms, as well as on the Web using your favorite browser. The process for cropping photos is the same across all versions of the software, requiring you to simply adjust a box and hit the correct button, making the image editor one of the most straightforward utilities on our entire list.

Step 1: Download Fotor using the links above, or navigate to the main Fotor website to begin using the software. If using the Web-based version, click the pink Edit a Photo and select the image you wish to crop from its designated save location before clicking the grey Open button in the bottom-right of the pop-up window.

Fotor Cropping

Step 2: Once open, click on the Edit tab in the upper-left corner, followed by the CROP button.

Fotor CROP button

Step 3: Adjust the resulting rectangle to encapsulate the portion of the image you wish to keep. Afterward, click Apply to save the changes.

Finalized cropped picture from Fotor

Using Pixlr (Web-based/iOS/Android)

Much like the aforementioned Fotor, Pixlr is a capable mobile and Web-based editor perfectly suited for cropping images within your browser window or on your smartphone. The freemium software requires you to do little more than to upload an image or plug in a URL for a photo before cropping the image, and like Fotor, the process for doing so is nearly the same across platforms.

Step 1: If using the Web-based software, navigate to the main Pixlr website and click the Pixlr Editor option on the left-hand side. Afterward, select Open image from computer button near the top of the resulting window and choose the photo you wish to crop from its designated save location.

Pixlr List of Steps

Step 2: Click the crop icon located in the upper-left corner of the toolbar, represented by a square with a diagonal line cutting through the middle. Next, click and drag the resulting square to specify the area of the image you wish to keep. You can also use the drop-down menu directly right of Constraints in the upper-left corner to set specified proportions in regards to output size and aspect ratio.

Finished cropped picture from Pixlr

Step 3: Double-click the inside of the rectangle once your’re satisfied with your selection to apply the changes.

Applied changes to cropped image in Pixlr

[Image courtesy of MSPhotographic/ Shutterstock]

Using Croppola (Web-based/iOS)

As the name implies, Croppola is a Web-based photo editor intended for one sole purpose: cropping images. The website is perfect if you need is a crop on the fly, and moreover, you can specify the crop dimensions to a certain aspect ratio or simply drag the selection box to encompass your own specifications. There’s even an accompanying iOS app for iPhone and iPads.

Step 1: Navigate to the main Croppola website, click the upload square in the center of the page, and select the image you wish to crop from its respective save location.

Drag and drop photo to Croppola

Step 2: Next, adjust the resulting rectangle to encapsulate the portion of the image you wish to keep. As previously mentioned, you can also choose from a variety of preset aspect ratios — 1:1, 4:3, 16:9, etc. — using the toolbox on the right-hand side of the image.

Selecting cropped area in Croppola

Step 3: Once satisfied with your selection, click the yellow Download this crop button in the upper-right corner and choose your desired save location for the resulting image.

[Image courtesy of Joshua Resnick/ Shutterstock]