Whether you’re a professional or amateur photographer, take a thousand snaps on holiday or prefer selfies and shots with your mates, the chances are you’ve had more than your fair share of photobombers.

It doesn’t matter what it is that ruins the photo, it’s always a disappointment to swipe through your gallery and find there’s a seriously great image right there… with a big blur in the bottom left. A dog dashing across the shot. Or your friend hilariously (nor not) giving you bunny ears.

But what if you could salvage the photo? And we’re not talking about learning the ins and outs of Photoshop and hours on a computer here – we’re talking about a minute or so of time to let some smart software do the work for you.

Magic Eraser on Google’s Pixel devices does just that – and it gives you control over what you want to remove too. You can let the software decide for you or pick and choose as you please. Doesn’t that sound nice?

What is Magic Eraser?

Well, it’s not technically magic, but it’s as good as. It’s a nifty little bit of AI software that’s built into Google Photos on all Pixel devices from the Pixel 6 onwards, or available on other devices if you have a Google One subscription.

It also works on photos taken from any device – not just those shot on a Pixel. So, if you’ve previously had an iPhone or Samsung or literally any other phone, and transferred your images across, you can still use Magic Eraser.

What does Magic Eraser do?

It magically erases stuff. No, really – well, sort of. It helps you clean up your images to remove unwanted people or objects from the shot.

There are two ways to do this. You can let your device automatically detect what needs to be removed (which is actually pretty advanced machine learning, AI-based tech.) Or you can manually select the people or objects you want to remove yourself, and let Google do the rest.

It’s worth noting that when we say “remove”, what we really mean is sort of camouflage… Google detects what it thinks should be in that space, based on an analysis of the surrounding area. When it removes the distraction in your photo, it replaces it with what it thinks would be there – but this can vary depending on how complex the background of the image is.

How do I use Magic Eraser on Pixel?

To get started, all you need is a photo.

  • Open the Google Photos app, select the photo you want to edit, and (unsurprising, really) tap the ‘Edit’ button. You should be able to see this at the bottom, with your photo options.
  • Once you’ve done this, you’ll see ‘Suggestions’ appear at the bottom of the screen. If Google detects something it thinks you might want to use Magic Eraser for, it will automatically let you do that from here. If it doesn’t scroll across a little bit to ‘Tools’ and tap Magic Eraser.
  • At this point, Google will start searching your image for suggestions. If it finds something, you can just select it and it will do the work for you. If it doesn’t, you’ll be provided with two options: ‘Erase’ and ‘Camouflage’. Google will default to the ‘Erase’ setting and prompt you to ‘Circle or brush to erase’ – so all you need to do is circle the object or person you want to remove or drag your fingertip across the area and effectively “scribble it out."
  • If you select ‘Camouflage’, Google may again make a suggestion or two, but the principle is the same: circle or scribble out the object or person you want to remove.

And there you have it. Google’s smart AI software does the work for you to remove unwanted photobombers, objects and even your mates from your favourite photos if you fall out with them.