Secrets to Restoring Family Photos with iPhoto

How many faded, discolored, family photos do you have? Would you like to breath life back into them? Your Macintosh is built to excel at this kind of work. Let me show you how to quickly go from this:


to this:


The photograph I use in this example is from Drew Smith’s blog, You may recognize Drew as one of the Genealogy Guys. It’s the last photo made of his maternal grandparents and all of their seven children together. A treasured photo like this deserves restoration!

Two basic problems exist in nearly all old photographs

  1. Color Shift
  2. Fading

Two simple adjustments will make your scanned photos look like new again

  1. White Balance
  2. Saturation

Here’s How

Open iPhoto and browse to a photo you would like to restore, then start the video below. Follow along with this video from the MacGenealogist Archives, pausing as necessary. In less than ten minutes you’ll learn how to rejuvenate your genealogy photos.


  1. davidsloan says

    What version of iphoto were you using – latest?

    I have iphoto 6 and while I can certainly improve my old photos I do not appear to have the white balance eye dropper. Also help talks about grey balance.

  2. says

    David, I'm using iPhoto '08 in the screencast. You're right, the white balance eye dropper wasn't a feature of iPhoto '06.

    For our (genealogist) purposes, white balance is almost always used over grey balance. Grey balance is useful for color balance on modern photographs where a special tool called a grey card is included in the photographed scene.

  3. davidsloan says

    Many thanks Ben.

    Yet another reason for an upgrade I think!

    David Sloan

  4. says

    Thank you for this. Fixing old photos is easy and you don't need Photoshop. In my work as a personal history documentarian I always start with a quick fix checklist – the two you cover plus crooked horizons, low contrast, and unnecessary space or objects. Possibly you will cover these in a future article.

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