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How to make a watermark: A quick and easy way to protect your photos

By Gannon Burgett

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Love them or hate them, applying watermarks to your photographs is one of the best methods to prevent people from sharing your photographs online without due credit. A watermark may not be the ideal solution, and some people— including us — might argue they’re not beneficial as a whole, but personal preferences aside, they are here to stay.

As such, we’re here to show you how to make a watermark and apply it to your images. Below are a few of the different methods, ranging from simple to sophisticated, to make sure your photos are at least somewhat protected from taking on a life of their own without people knowing they’re yours.

The fast and easy way

The easiest way to add some form of copyright to your image is to use the text tool in any photo-editing program (heck, even Microsoft Paint will do the job) and tag your name on it. You can do it discreetly by writing it in a corner, in small font size, or you canplaster it over the entire photo. Draw a box around it, color it, use a funky font — it’s entirely up to you. This method might not be attractive, but it’s the fastest and easiest way to add a watermark. If you’re sending out a set ofproofs for a client to select which images they want printed, something like this might be sufficient. For a cleaner approach, read on.

You can overlay some text over an image to create a watermark using Microsoft Paint, but we didn't say it'd be pretty.
You can overlay some text over an image to create a watermark using Microsoft Paint, but it won’t be pretty.

Using online tools

Another easy way to watermark a photo is to use an online tool like PicMarkr. Upload up to five photos, or pull them from Flickr or Facebook, then pick from three watermarking options (text, image, or tiled). Whereas a text watermark is similar to the one previously outlined, animage watermark places another image (such as a logo) on topof the original (you need to resize it beforehand). The issue with using PicMarkr to create an image watermark is that it doesn’t let you choose the opacity of the secondary image, so you can’t blend with the original photo. The third option, a tiled watermark, simply layers a text or image all over the picture.

As for online watermarking tools, offers a lot of options and flexibility.

This method is fast and easy, but it’s not necessarily pretty. Another online watermarking tool, PicMark(yes, it’s a very similar name), takes a cleaner approach by creating a frame around an image. Sadly, while leaving your photo untouched looks nice, someone can still easily cut your image out of the frame. And, you can’t choose the size of the watermarked image., on the other hand, offers more flexibility in that it letsyou drag a text or image watermark anywhere on the photo. The software also lets you adjust the font, color, and image opacity, letting you make it as obvious or as unobtrusive as you like. Of the three mentioned, can give you the most professional-looking results. is yet another option for watermarking your photos from within your browser. What sets this site apart is that all of the work is done locally, meaning none of your content is transferred to their servers to be watermarked, which adds an extra layer of privacy.

Going with desktop software

There is watermarking software you can download, which essentially does the same things as the aforementioned online tools. However, because you don’t need an internet connection, you will find the process faster and you keep your photos on your local drive. There is plenty of software, both free and paid, that does the same thing, although each comes with a different set of extras. On MacOS, PhotoBulk is a great option that lets you easily add custom watermarks in bulk, as well as edit EXIF data and resize images. It costs $10 to download, but it’s one of the better-looking options out there and it’s half-off if you’ve purchased a previous version. AlternativesincludeTSR WatermarkanduMark, the latter of which is a premium app that lets you apply graphics and perform batch watermarking. Thankfully, uMark also has a free version with limited functionality.

how to make a watermark photobulk
PhotoBulk is a quick, clean way to add watermark and otherwise adjust images on MacOS.

Before you download new software, however, you may already have something installed on your computer that can create watermarks. IrfanView, a popular image viewer for Windows, has a built-in watermarking feature.Photoshop Elements offers an easy way to create watermarks, too. Regardless, quickly check the image-editing software you are currently using to see if a watermarking feature is available.

Using a photo editor

If your photo-editing software doesn’t offer a watermarking feature, you don’t want to download new software, or the online tools are too bare-bones or inflexible for your creative needs, you can always make your own using an image-editing software such asPhotoshop, GIMP, or Pixelmator. How fancy your watermark looks will depend on your is comfort level as a graphic designer but, for most people, here is the most basic way to get started.

Using Pixelmator to create watermarks.
Using Pixelmator to create watermarks.

As we mentioned, you can simply overlay some text on top of an image with your copyright info, and decrease the opacity of the text to blend it in with the image (we found that between 40 and 60 percent works well). The watermarkshould be viewable, yes, but it shouldn’t overwhelm the image (lower the opacity even further if you want it to look nearly invisible). The opacity can be adjusted in the Layers section of Photoshop, but may be found elsewhere in other programs.

The position, size, and color of the text is up to you. If you have a pre-made logo — for your business, for example — you can also do the same thing here as you would with text. Simply import or paste the image, and adjust the opacity. You can always experiment with other design features and carry out more complex actions, however, we don’t think you need to complicate things. If you use a program like Photoshop that lets you record an action, we suggest using it as you’re creating your watermark, so you can automate the process for batch images.

Opting for mobile apps

When you’re on the go and want to safely share your photo on the web, your best bet is to add watermarks using a smartphone or tablet app. Luckily, there’s no shortage of apps to work with, regardless of whether you’re an Android or iOS user.

One of the most versatile mobile watermarking solutions is an app called iWatermark. Available for both Android and iOS, the app lets you choose any photo from your library and add a watermark with just a few taps. You can go with something as simple as your name and the copyright logo or overlay a custom logo of your own creation. The iWatermark app isn’t the most intuitive, but it gets the job done and offers batch options for those times when you need to watermark multiple photos at once.

If you’re already invested in Adobe’s Creative Cloud platform, one of the best options for watermarking on a mobile device is to use one of Adobe’s mobile apps. Adobe Photoshop Mix(Android, iOS) offers many customization options, as you get to tweak the watermark layer as you see fit. But when it comes to adding watermarks to multiple images, you’re out of luck, as there is no batch option. The good news is that means you can tailor-fit each image with a watermark in a custom location, as to not completely distract from the photo.

Adobe Photoshop Mix seen on an iPad with a layer added for the Digital Trends watermark.

While we’re on iOS-specific solutions, one of the most intriguing options available is a productivity app called Workflow. Designed for only the most dedicated of power users, Workflow is an app that helps you automate an incredible amount of functions across the entire iOS ecosystem. Apple recently purchased the development team behind Workflow, but it’s still up to date with the latest versions of iOS and includes the same watermark functionality as before.

This might not be the best solution if you’re only wanting to watermark one or two photos, but if you are dealing with an entire album, you could create (or download) a workflow that automatically watermarks an entire collection of photos. What sets this app apart from others is that you can further automate the process so that all photos are automatically resized or even uploaded to Flickr, Dropbox, Facebook, or a slew of other social networks. This cuts yet another step from thepost-production process.

Wrapping up

If you’re going to add a watermark, our advice is to keep it as clean and unobtrusive as possible. We also recommend trying out the various free options before investing in imaging software like Adobe Photoshop (unless, of course, you already use it).A watermark is not a guarantee that your images won’t be used without your permission, but it does at least add a layer of security.

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