How to make a watermark: A quick and easy way to protect your photos

Here's how to make a watermark on any computer or smartphone

Love them or hate them, applying watermarks to your photographs is a way to prevent people from sharing your photographs online without due credit. Skilled Photoshoppers and Google can erase some watermarks, but watermarks will help prevent lazy image thieves from stealing your work, along with making it easy for viewers to see who took that photo.

Below, you will find a few of the different methods for adding a watermark to an image, ranging from simple to sophisticated, that you can use to make sure your photos are at least somewhat protected from taking on a life of their own without people knowing they’re yours.

The fast and free way

The cheapest way to add some form of copyright to your image is to use the text tool in any photo-editing program (heck, even Microsoft Paint will do the job) and tag your name on it. You can do it discreetly by writing it in a corner, in small font size, or you can plaster it over the entire photo. Draw a box around it, color it, use a funky font — it’s entirely up to you. This method might not be attractive, but it’s easy and you don’t have to buy any fancy software. Photo editors with bulk watermarking will be faster, but if you just want to watermark a shot or two, you probably already have a program that will work. For a cleaner approach, marking multiple images at once, or if you already own a photo editing software, read on.

You can overlay some text over an image to create a watermark using Microsoft Paint, but we didn't say it'd be pretty.
You can overlay some text over an image to create a watermark using Microsoft Paint, but it won’t be pretty.

Online watermark tools

Another easy way to watermark a photo is to use an online tool like PicMarkr. Upload up to five photos, or pull them from Flickr or Facebook, then pick from three watermarking options (text, image, or tiled). Whereas a text watermark is similar to the one previously outlined, an image watermark places another image (such as a logo) on top of the original (you need to resize it beforehand). The issue with using PicMarkr to create an image watermark is that it doesn’t let you choose the opacity of the secondary image, so you can’t blend with the original photo. The third option, a tiled watermark, simply layers a text or image all over the picture.

As for online watermarking tools, Watermark.ws offers a lot of options and flexibility.

This method is fast and easy, but it’s not necessarily pretty. Another online watermarking tool, PicMark (yes, it’s a very similar name), takes a cleaner approach by creating a frame around an image. Sadly, while leaving your photo untouched looks nice, someone can still easily cut your image out of the frame. And, you can’t choose the size of the watermarked image.

Watermark.ws, on the other hand, offers more flexibility in that it lets you drag a text or image watermark anywhere on the photo. The software also lets you adjust the font, color, and image opacity, letting you make it as obvious or as unobtrusive as you like. Of the three mentioned, Watermark.ws can give you the most professional-looking results. Plus, you can edit more than one photo at once.

Watermarkphotos.net is yet another option for watermarking your photos from within your browser. What sets this site apart is that all of the work is done locally, meaning none of your content is transferred to their servers to be watermarked, which adds an extra layer of privacy.

Add a watermark in bulk in Adobe Lightroom

how to make a watermark lightroom

If you use a RAW processor like Adobe Lightroom to edit and organize all your images, you already have a tool that can easily watermark your images in bulk. In Adobe Lightroom Classic CC, you first need to create and save a watermark, but then you can easily add the watermark to any export.

To create a watermark in Lightroom Classic, go to Lightroom > Edit Watermarks on a Mac or Edit > Edit Watermarks on a PC. In the pop-up window, you can choose to have a simple text watermark, or check the option for a graphic watermark. Then, walk through the customization options. For a text watermark, you can adjust the text, font, size, and positioning. For a graphic, you’ll want to upload a PNG file with a transparent background, then choose options like sizing and positioning of the watermark.

Once the watermark is saved, simply select the name of the watermark you created in the dropdown option of the watermark section when you export your files.

Lightroom CC, including the mobile version, also includes watermarks options when you use the share option, though these are text-only watermarks. Several other RAW processors have a watermark tool as well — so when in doubt, check your current photo program before resorting to a new download.

Desktop watermark software

There is watermarking software you can download, which essentially does the same things as the aforementioned online tools. However, because you don’t need an internet connection, you will find the process faster and you keep your photos on your local drive. There is plenty of software, both free and paid, that does the same thing, although each comes with a different set of extras. On MacOS, PhotoBulk is a great option that lets you easily add custom watermarks in bulk, as well as edit EXIF data and resize images. It costs $10 to download, but it’s one of the better-looking options out there and it’s half-off if you’ve purchased a previous version. Alternatives include TSR Watermark and uMark, the latter of which is a premium app that lets you apply graphics and perform batch watermarking. Thankfully, uMark also has a free version with limited functionality.

PhotoBulk is a quick, clean way to add watermark and otherwise adjust images on MacOS.

Before you download new software, however, you may already have something installed on your computer that can create watermarks. IrfanView, a popular image viewer for Windows, has a built-in watermarking feature. Photoshop Elements offers an easy way to create watermarks, too. Regardless, quickly check the image-editing software you are currently using to see if a watermarking feature is available.

Using a photo editor

If your photo-editing software doesn’t offer a watermarking feature, you don’t want to download new software, or the online tools are too bare-bones or inflexible for your creative needs, you can always make your own using image-editing software such as Photoshop, GIMP, or Pixelmator. How fancy your watermark looks will depend on your is comfort level as a graphic designer but, for most people, here is the most basic way to get started.

Using Pixelmator to create watermarks.
Using Pixelmator to create watermarks.

As we mentioned, you can simply overlay some text on top of an image with your copyright info, and decrease the opacity of the text to blend it in with the image (we found that between 40 and 60 percent works well). The watermark should be viewable, yes, but it shouldn’t overwhelm the image (lower the opacity even further if you want it to look nearly invisible). The opacity can be adjusted in the Layers section of Photoshop but may be found elsewhere in other programs.

The position, size, and color of the text is up to you. If you have a premade logo — for your business, for example — you can also do the same thing here as you would with text. Simply import or paste the image, and adjust the opacity. You can always experiment with other design features and carry out more complex actions, however, we don’t think you need to complicate things. If you use a program like Photoshop that lets you record an action, we suggest using it as you’re creating your watermark, so you can automate the process for batch images.

Opting for mobile apps

When you’re on the go and want to safely share your photo on the web, your best bet is to add watermarks using a smartphone or tablet app. Luckily, there’s no shortage of apps to work with, regardless of whether you’re an Android or iOS user.

One of the most versatile mobile watermarking solutions is an app called iWatermark. Available for both Android and iOS, the app lets you choose any photo from your library and add a watermark with just a few taps. You can go with something as simple as your name and the copyright logo or overlay a custom logo of your own creation. The iWatermark app isn’t the most intuitive, but it gets the job done and offers batch options for those times when you need to watermark multiple photos at once.

If you’re already invested in Adobe’s Creative Cloud platform, you can use Lightroom CC or Adobe Photoshop Mix (Android, iOS). Mix offers many customization options, as you get to tweak the watermark layer as you see fit. But when it comes to adding watermarks to multiple images, you’re out of luck, as there is no batch option. The good news is that means you can tailor-fit each image with a watermark in a custom location, as to not completely distract from the photo.

Adobe Photoshop Mix seen on an iPad with a layer added for the Digital Trends watermark.

While we’re on iOS-specific solutions, one of the most intriguing options available is Shortcuts, previously known as Workflow. Shortcuts is an app that helps you automate an incredible amount of functions across the entire iOS ecosystem.

This might not be the best solution if you’re only wanting to watermark one or two photos, but if you are dealing with an entire album, you could create (or download) a shortcut that automatically watermarks an entire collection of photos. What sets this app apart from others is that you can further automate the process so that all photos are automatically resized or even uploaded to Flickr, Dropbox, Facebook, or a slew of other social networks. This cuts yet another step from the post-production process.

Wrapping up

If you’re going to add a watermark, our advice is to keep it as clean and unobtrusive as possible. We also recommend trying out the various free options before investing in imaging software like Adobe Photoshop (unless, of course, you already use it). A watermark is not a guarantee that your images won’t be used without your permission, but it does at least add a layer of security and brands your content as your own.

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