Microsoft is finally, thankfully, reinstating the Spot Fix feature in Windows 11’s Photos app.
I’m mildly obsessed with the Photos app. I’ve been enraged that you can’t use Paint3D’s Magic Select tool to edit out backgrounds. I’ve fumed at Photos’ instability, mildly praised Microsoft for fixing it, then wondered why there are two Photos apps in Windows — and that the old one is better.
But the one feature that I’ve come to rely on (and that Microsoft removed!) was the Spot Fix tool. And it’s finally coming back.
I don’t care that Microsoft is just adding this back to the Microsoft Insider Dev and Canary channels — the channels that Microsoft says don’t necessarily guarantee that the code will end up in every users’ hands. I’m just happy that Microsoft is at least bringing it back.
What is Spot Fix? It’s nothing that you can’t find in Photoshop, with its Heal tool and the ability to “stamp” backgrounds onto a portion of the image. All Spot Fix does is take a small circular region (the size is adjustable), use AI to look for anomalies, and then erase them. It’s quick, simple, and oh so necesaary to my workflow.
Why? Because any review of a laptop or a Thunderbolt dock includes photos, and any photo taken with a smartphone camera exposes dust and dirt. Simply using the product as one is supposed to generally adds a tiny amount of dust, which is revealed by a smartphone camera if not my weary eyes. While touching up a photo isn’t always necessary or desirable — sometimes it’s good to show how easily a laptop can attract fingerprints, for example — there are many cases where it just tidies up the image.
Photos’ Spot Fix helped me do that, just as easily as I can highlight a word or phrase and delete it in Microsoft Word. And who wants to pay a subscription fee to Adobe just to do a quick touchup that Microsoft can do? That’s Spot Fix in a nutshell.
(My second favorite feature in Photos is Auto Enhance, which simply uses AI to improve your photo. It can be a little heavy-handed, and less important as smartphone cameras have improved, but it’s still a great one-click touchup feature.)
The imminent Photos update also includes some interesting new features: a new slideshow experience, and an improved timeline view.
The new Slideshow assumes that you’ll want to view your photos in Photos, making it a presentation as well as an editing app. Slideshow does something that Google Photos has done for years — if you’d like, you can create a small montage of photos, complete with styles, animations, and even audio. It looks sharp.
Microsoft is also re-introducing the timeline scrollbar to the All Photos, OneDrive, and iCloud Photos gallery views which groups photos by year and month, Microsoft said. (You would think this would be a basic part of Photos already, but, again, this is Photos.) “With the scrollbar, you can now easily jump to any point in time and find the photos you want,” the company said in a blog post.
Either way, I’m just happy that my Photos app is back to something to what it can and should be.