7 Tools to Detect Photoshopped & Fake Images (+ Tutorials)

Manipulating photographs has been a feature of photography ever since it was first invented 200 years ago.

Unfortunately, it is practically impossible to detect a fake or photoshopped image with 100% accuracy.

The software editing tools and techniques currently available are simply too sophisticated and powerful, and prevent image forensics tools from achieving such a high level of certainty.

However, there are a number of tools and techniques you can use to reach a 60-80% certainty that an image was modified.

The most common way to detect photoshopped or modified images is to use specialized photo forensics tools that detect and highlight tiny differences between pixels, often caused by photo editing. Other methods are analyzing EXIF data or training yourself to find evidence of photo manipulation.

7 Tools to detect photoshopped images

1.      Forensically Beta | Browser | Free

Forensically Beta is perhaps the best photo Forensics tool available right now, and best of all it’s completely free.

Forensically scans a photo to detect modifications using a number of techniques such as:

  • ELA: Error Level Analysis.
  • Clone Detection.
  • Noise Analysis
  • Meta Data.
  • Etc.

Most of the techniques above are basically “X-rays” that scan an image’s pixels to see which ones are legit, and which ones are fake.

For example, below is an unmodified photo alongside the Error Level Analysis.

While here is the same photo quickly modified in Paint, alongside it’s Error Level Analysis.

As you can see, Forensically immediately picked up and highlighted the box with the big “MODIFICATION” text that I added in Paint.

Forensically is fairly simple to use, but it has a ton of features and settings you can play around with to properly figure out if an image is modified or not. So take your time.

2.      Foto Forensics | Browser | Free

Foto Forensics is similar to Forensically, but its only fake image detection algorithm is Error Level Analysis, while Forensically has five.

Still, it’s a completely free tool and it works great if you want to cross reference with Forensically.

3.      FakeImageDetector.Com | Browser | Free

This site is an AI powered tool that tries to detect fake, modified or AI generated images.

In my experience, the accuracy is so-so:

That being said, the site can help in detecting photos that are made by AI image generators or other computer generated images.

4.      Online EXIF Viewer | Browser | Free

Every single image on the Internet has a set of information parameters attached to it called EXIF data.

Certain EXIF data parameters can help you figure out if an image is genuine, modified or completely fake, such as:

  • When the photo was taken.
  • When the photo was modified.
  • What device took the photo.

For example, the EXIF data below tells you an image was modified because the DateTime and DateTimeOriginal are different, meaning the photo was at some point modified.

  • Software: the specific photo editing program that modified the photo.
  • DateTime: the time when the final version of the photo was made.
  • DateTimeOriginal / DateTimeDigitized: the time when the original non-modified photo was created.

Unfortunately, some images don’t have useful EXIF data attached.

This is because there are a number of ways you can remove an image’s EXIF data such as:

  • On PC, you can simply remove the EXIF data by right click image -> Properties -> Details -> Remove Properties and Personal Information.
  • Screenshotting the photo.
  • Uploading it to various sites.
  • Etc.

In this case, the best approach is to just assume that if a photo doesn’t have EXIF data, then it was probably modified or altered in some way.

5.      Use Google Reverse Image Search | Browser | Free

Reverse image search engines such as Google or TinEye can help you see if an image has previously appeared on the Internet.

By using reverse image search you can figure out the context of the image, and whether other people say it is real or not.

A good example of this is the famous AI generated image of Pope Francis in a puffy jacket:

The downside to reverse image search is that not all images are indexed in search engines.

For example, images on Facebook, Whatsapp, Telegram, Discord etc., don’t appear on search engines.

In this case, you’ll have to rely on other methods, such as pixel peeping, EXIF data, image forensics software etc.

6.      JPEGSnoop | Desktop | Free

JPEGSnoop is a free Windows program designed to perform image forensics, which makes it similar to Forensically and Foto Forensics.

Besides image forensics, JPEGSnoop can also be used to assess the quality of images, locate errors, determine what editing program was used to alter the photo, etc.

What makes JPEGSnoop more useful than either Forensically Beta and Foto Forensics is that JPEGSnoop divides images into four classes, where Class 1 means a photo was 100% modified, while Class 4 means a photo is “probably” original.

Overall, if you’re a technical person and know how to read detailed photo information, then JPEGSnoop is probably the best free forensics tool.

7.      Hone your fake photo detection skills

Even without sophisticated photo forensic tools, there are several things you can look at to determine if an image has been modified or not:

  1. Be aware of human anatomy: Sometimes, a photo doesn’t even need to be photoshopped. Instead, the person just needs to know how to use human anatomy and angles to dramatically change their appearance.
  1. Inconsistent Lighting and Shadows: The direction, length, and color of the shadows in an image should be consistent with the light source(s). If they are not, it’s possible that the image was manipulated.
  1. Edges and Borders: Edges of objects in the image should appear smooth and natural. If they are overly sharp or blurry, it might be a sign that the image has been manipulated.
  2. Texture and Noise: In an unedited image, the texture and “noise” (graininess) should be consistent throughout the image. If certain areas look different in texture or noise, they may have been added or altered.
  3. Perspective: The perspective of objects in the image should be consistent. If an object appears to be at an odd angle or seems out of place, it could be a sign of manipulation.
  4. Repeated Patterns: Many editing tools use a cloning technique to cover up manipulations. If there are repeated patterns in the image, it could be a sign of cloning.
  1. Image Quality: If parts of the image have different resolutions or levels of clarity, it could indicate that those parts were added from another image.
  2. Unnatural Colors or Lighting: If the colors or lighting in a part of the image seem unnatural or don’t match the rest of the scene, it could be a sign that the image has been manipulated.
  3. Too Perfect: If a photo looks too perfect, it might have been edited. For instance, in a group photo, it’s unusual for everyone to have their eyes open and be smiling perfectly.

That being said, while these signs can suggest an image might have been manipulated, they are not definitive proof.

This is because highly skilled photo manipulators know how to avoid these issues, so their photos may not exhibit these signs at all.

However, these checks can still be helpful when you’re analysing an image’s authenticity.

Paul Bonea
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