PSA: the Google Pixel 6's best feature actually works on any photo

Google Pixel 6 event
(Image credit: Google)

One of the Google Pixel 6's big selling points is its camera software, and a great example of it is the Magic Eraser feature, which was a big selling point for the Pixel upon its release.

Magic Eraser lets you digitally select background elements in your photos to remove them - AI fills in the gaps to scrub out things like people, stray branches, or animals that you don't want cluttering up your shot.

However, not many people know something important about Magic Eraser. While you do need a Pixel 6 series phone to get it to work, you can actually use the effect on any image.

Google Photos to the rescue

You'd be right for thinking you'd need a Pixel 6 to use Google's Magic Eraser tool, but logically, you'd also think that you'd only be able to use the trick with pictures taken on the phone.

That's not the case though. To edit a photo with it, you need to open up the Google Photos app, and as I discovered recently when booting up this program and seeing older snaps, you can also edit your older pictures stored in Photos.

Google Pixel 6 Pro review

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Plus, you can even import pictures into Google Photos from your PC or an alternative smartphone, and still edit them. You just need to be sure to do the editing on your Pixel.

This could be great if you've taken a good-looking picture in the past that was ruined by something in the background, or if you own multiple devices and want to ensure there's a way for you to edit out unwanted elements on snaps taken on other devices.

So it's not about the camera

It seems that none of the information captured by the Pixel's camera is actually used in the AI cropping. Instead, Photos just analyzes the picture and works out what should fill in the gap.

For example, if you're trying to remove an item in a grassy field, the feature will see the grass around it and copy the same textures over. The same happens for objects in the sea or the sky, for example.

Issues arise when you try to remove an object that sits over a border though, as the phone sometimes can't work out what should be in the background.

Magic Eraser is basically a slightly-less efficient version of Adobe Photoshop's Content-Aware Fill. However, if you own a Pixel, Magic Eraser is free, while Photoshop certainly isn't.

The Google Pixel phones are still fantastic devices, and since you can use Magic Eraser on non-Pixel images, they're also useful to complement other camera phones.

Tom Bedford

Tom Bedford was deputy phones editor on TechRadar until late 2022, having worked his way up from staff writer. Though he specialized in phones and tablets, he also took on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK and now works for the entertainment site What To Watch.

He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working on TechRadar, he freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist.