How to Blur Background in Adobe Lightroom

Apple pioneered the portrait mode on mobile phones with the iPhone 7 Plus launch. It adds a background blur to separate the main subject from the scene. It’s a quick hack to capture professional-looking photographs on the go. However, you may have old photos or random memories where the background distracts the main subjects. If you use Lightroom as your go-to image and video editing tool, use the guide below to apply a background blur.


Adobe’s latest AI tools are smart enough to auto-detect (mask) the background. It speeds up the editing process and makes it much more convenient for beginners. Let’s turn your boring images into mesmerizing ones.

Make Background Blur in Lightroom

Adobe Lightroom doesn’t offer any direct ‘Portrait Blue’ feature. You need to get creative and use the Mask function to adjust the background in a photo.

We will use the Lightroom desktop app bundled with Adobe’s Photography plan. It’s a subscription-based service offers Lightroom and Photoshop for $9.99 per month. Some features may vary if you use the Lightroom Classic. With that out in our way, let’s get started.  

Create New Mask

Masking is an excellent way to make edits to a specific area of your photo. You can use a variety of tools to help define and refine your editing area. Adobe’s AI tools make complex selections quickly.

First, you need to create a new mask in Lightroom to separate the main subject from the background. Adobe used to offer a brush and object tool to do the job. However, with Adobe’s latest advancements, the software can auto-detect the background, sky, and subject. You can select and make edits in no time. Let’s export a photo in Lightroom and blur the background.

Step 1: Find a photo in Finder or the File Explorer and open the same in Adobe Lightroom.

Blur Background in Adobe Lightroom 1

Step 2: Click the Mask tool from the right side.

Step 3: Select Background and check Adobe’s AI magic in action. Check the detected background overlay.

Blur Background in Adobe Lightroom 2

As you can see from the example above, Adobe did a commendable job with the option for several objects, people, shadows, and more. If you want to include it in the background, use the steps below.

Add or Subtract Objects  

Adobe’s auto-detection feature can be a miss at times. Use the steps below if you want to add or subtract objects in a scene. Let’s continue with our example.

Step 1: Select Add from the same Mask tool.

Blur Background in Adobe Lightroom 4 1

Step 2: Click Objects.

Blur Background in Adobe Lightroom 5

Step 3: You can either paint over an object to select it or draw a box around it. If you use a paint tool, you can change the size of it.

Step 4: Pick any option based on the type of object you want to select.

Edit Background Scene in Lightroom

After you are satisfied with the final outcome, edit the background scene to apply a blur effect.

Step 1: Stay in the same Mask menu and expand the Details tab.

Step 2: Decrease the Sharpness slider.

Blur Background in Adobe Lightroom 7

Step 3: Expand Effects and decrease the mask texture and clarity to your preference. Both options soften the background mask.

Step 4: You can even use the Amount slider at the top to apply the same blur effect aggressively. Increase the intensity and check the live preview in action.

Step 5: Press the Control + E keyboard shortcut (Windows) or Command + E keyboard shortcut (macOS) to export the photo. You can change image type, dimensions, and quality, include watermark metadata, and click Export in the top-right corner.

Blur Background in Adobe Lightroom 8

You can check the before and after comparisons and be the judge yourself.

Blur Background in Adobe Lightroom on iPad

The AI-enabled background masking isn’t available on Lightroom for iPad. You need to select the main subject and invert it to apply a background blur effect.

Step 1: Launch Lightroom app on your iPad and import any photo.

Step 2: Tap the mask tool from the right side.

Step 3: Tap + at the bottom and select subject.

Blur Background in Adobe Lightroom 9

Step 4: Select the subject at the bottom and tap ‘Invert Mask 1.’ Lightroom inverts the mask to highlight the background.

Blur Background in Adobe Lightroom 11

Step 5: Under Masking, use the same sliders (Sharpness, Texture, and Clarity) to apply a background blur.

Blur Background in Adobe Lightroom 12

Step 6: Tap Done and hit the Share icon at the top.

Blur Background in Adobe Lightroom 13

Step 7: Select Export, and it opens the default Share menu.

Blur Background in Adobe Lightroom 14

Step 8: Save the edited photo on your iPad.

Create Stunning Photos in Lightroom

You can always use photo editing mobile apps to blur the background. However, the entire experience is better on the desktop, and nothing beats an extensive list of image editing options in Adobe Lightroom. How’s your experience with blurring a background in Lightroom? Show your creativity in the comments below.

Last updated on 29 August, 2023

The above article may contain affiliate links which help support Guiding Tech. However, it does not affect our editorial integrity. The content remains unbiased and authentic.