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How to sharpen low-resolution images in Photoshop?

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  • 4 min read

More often than not, enlarging regular images leads to pixelation and loss in quality. There can be many reasons why this happens, lower resolution or online compression being the top contenders.

While there’s no magical way of enlarging an image while avoiding loss of quality, Photoshop does have a few tricks up its sleeves to help you along. If you’re working on something and just want to make an image work, you can use this trick to get the job done.

Do keep in mind that we do not recommend using this technique if you’re going to be printing out the image, especially in larger sizes. This is more of a workaround to make the images digitally presentable rather than enlarge them.

Remember, an image only has so many pixels, and you can only remove them, not fill them. Here is how you can enlarge and sharpen a low-res image in Photoshop.

Also read: How to blur something in Photoshop?

How to enlarge low res images in Photoshop?

For this example, I’m going to use this screenshot I took in RaceRoom, a free to play driving sim on Steam. For some reason, the screenshot was saved in a very small size that renders it practically useless for anything other than thumbnails.

Just casually tearing up the track in the sim.

Step 1: Fire up Photoshop and load the image up.

Step 2: Go to Image > Image Size. You can also use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Alt+I

Step 3: Once in the Image Size panel, you can see all the information regarding the image size and resolution.

Step 4: First up, we’re going to enter our new dimensions for the image. Keep in mind that these need to be inline with the image aspect ratio. Just type in either the height or width and Photoshop will take care of the rest,

I’ll go with a 720p image. So just type in 1280 in the width box or 720 in the height box.

Step 5: Next, we’re going to change the resample mode. Click on the resample dropdown where it says Automatic and select Preserve Details (Enlargement). If that doesn’t work out, you can also choose Preserve Details 2.0.

Step 6: Now play with the Reduce Noise slider until the image appears a little smoother. Hit OK when you’re done.

You’ll see that the image is enlarged to said resolution. Now it won’t be the sharpest thing in the world but you should be able to get away with it on smaller screens.

Also read: How to wrap text around images in Photoshop?

Yadullah Abidi

Yadullah is a Computer Science graduate who writes/edits/shoots/codes all things cybersecurity, gaming, and tech hardware. When he's not, he streams himself racing virtual cars. He's been writing and reporting on tech and cybersecurity with websites like Candid.Technology and MakeUseOf since 2018. You can contact him here:

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