Watermark photos

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If you have a Portfolio or Pro account, you can protect your photos with custom watermarks. 

Watermarks won’t appear on prints ordered through SmugMug. And we don't watermark your originals since they’re what we use to create your gorgeous prints.

FYI: The default system watermark will only apply to the Large display size and photos larger than 801 pixels on the longest side. Custom watermarks can be set to apply to any display size down to the Thumb display size, but they do default to Large.

Having trouble watermarking existing photos? Check out the "Apply a watermark" section below.

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Create a watermark.

You can create text-based watermarks directly in SmugMug’s watermark tool. Use the Selling Tools tab in the navigation bar: Selling Tools > Watermarks > Manage.

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Select Create A New Watermark. The Type of watermark will default to Text.

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Type in whatever you want your watermark to say, then tweak it until it’s perfect. Settings you can tweak include the following:

  • Font type, size, and color.
  • The smallest-size image you want your watermark applied to (the default is Large).
  • Where you want the watermark to appear on your photos.
  • How transparent or “faded” you want your watermark to be.

Custom image.
Want something a bit fancier and more branded than text? You can create a custom image to use as a watermark, but you'll need an external design program like Photoshop or Illustrator to create your watermark and save it as a JPEG, GIF, or PNG. (Check out the step-by-step tutorial below for creating a custom-image watermark in Photoshop.)

After you've created your custom image in editing software and exported it to your computer, log in to your SmugMug site and navigate to the Selling Tools tab in the navigation bar: Selling Tools >  Watermarks > Manage to open the watermark options menu.

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Select Create A New Watermark and then change the Type to Image in the drop down. Select the image icon and Upload New Photo to find and upload the watermark image you created in your external design program, or select Choose from SmugMug to choose an image you’ve already uploaded to your SmugMug site.

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Once you select your image, you can tweak the watermark settings and watch it update in real time on the sample preview image.

Settings you can tweak include the following:

  • The smallest size is not the size of the watermark itself, but the smallest image you want your watermark applied to (the default is Large)
  • Where you want the watermark to appear on your photos.
  • How transparent or “faded” you want your watermark to be.

Save a watermark.

Once you’re happy with how your text-based or custom-image watermark looks, name it and click Create. Make sure you give your watermark a descriptive name as this will help you identify and choose it later when you're applying watermarks to your photos.

Click Done to save your changes.

Important: Double-check that the maximum display size setting for your galleries matches your watermark-size setting, otherwise your watermark may not appear on your photos. For example, if your watermark is set to apply to Large images and up but your gallery is set to display images at a maximum size of Medium, your watermark won't appear. Also, we use your watermark image every time you apply it to your photos, so don't delete or hide it. This will break things you don’t want broken.

To see how your watermark appears on landscape versus portrait photos, select the Change Sample button.

Tip: You can also access the watermark menu from your gallery by selecting Settings on the section bar. Once the gallery settings window opens, select the Photo Protection tab and switch Watermark Photos to the option you want. 

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From within the Organizer, select the gallery you want to apply watermarks to and then select the Settings button to open the gallery settings. Then follow the steps above to apply or create a watermark.

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Apply a watermark.

Want to watermark photos you've already uploaded? Or do you want watermarks to be applied automatically while you're uploading photos? You can do this through your gallery settings. You can open your gallery settings while viewing a gallery on your Site or while in the Organizer. 

If you're in a gallery, click Settings in the section bar and then select the Photo Protection tab and select the Watermark Photos drop-down menu. Choose the watermark to be applied. 

If you prefer to go the Organizer route, click on Organize in the navigation menu and then select the gallery (or galleries and folders if you want to apply some bulk settings) you want to watermark. Click the Settings button to open your gallery settings, and you'll find the watermarking option in the same Photo Protection tab.

From now on, photos you upload to that gallery—or galleries!—will automatically get watermarked.

To apply watermarks to a single photo only, you'll need to go back into the Organizer and select the image you want to watermark, then click the wrench icon. Select Watermarks > Apply > Select > Choose a watermark > Save. The watermark will apply to only that image.

You can also do this by selecting a single photo while viewing a gallery. Click the photo you want to watermark to enter Lightbox mode, then click the wrench icon from the photo tools and select Open in Editor. 

Choose Watermark > Apply > Select > Choose a watermark > Save. Voila! Your photo is now watermarked.

As you browse your gallery or click refresh while viewing it, your newly watermarked photos will gradually replace those that are currently there. (Don't worry, your originals are never replaced and will stay safe for print!)

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Remove a watermark.

Change your mind? You can remove watermarks from many or all photos in a gallery. This is also done through your gallery settings.

If you want to remove watermarks from an entire gallery at once, navigate to the gallery on your site and click the Settings button in the section bar. In the Photo Protection tab, select the Watermark Photos drop-down menu and choose No Watermarks, then Save.

You can also do this through the Organizer by clicking Organize in the navigation bar and selecting the gallery you want to remove a watermark from. Click the Settings button and then follow the same steps above.

If you need to remove watermarks from only a few photos instead of an entire gallery, stay in the Organizer and select the gallery that contains the watermarked images. Select the photos you no longer want to have watermarked, then click the wrench icon and choose Watermarks from the drop-down menu. Choose Remove and then Save.

If you have a large gallery or lots of photos watermarked, it might take us a while to remove the watermarks. You can keep using your site and we'll quietly keep working in the background until all the watermarks are gone.

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Edit or delete a watermark.

After you create a custom watermark, you'll find you can tweak or delete watermarks in your Selling Tools > Watermark > Manage. Then click the wrench icon to edit or the trashcan icon to delete watermarks.

Changes you make to a watermark will affect any photo and gallery where the watermark is currently applied.

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Create a transparent watermark image in Photoshop.

You've come to the right place to make your own custom watermark.

Note: These screenshots are from Photoshop CC. If you have Photoshop Elements, the steps are identical, though the screens look a bit different. The instructions are also the same for PC or Mac users.

Open Photoshop, go to the top menu bar and select File New, and choose your dimensions. Any size is OK, so feel free to experiment. Here we chose 1600 pixels wide by 200 pixels high. We want it to be good for the largest size display copy that SmugMug uses. It'll also scale well for the smaller display sizes.

Be sure the Background Contents is set to Transparent.

Select OK.

On your screen you should now have a blank canvas.

Create your text.

Choose the Type tool from your tools menu.

Open your type tool’s menu so you can select the font, font size, font color, and other properties. Here’s where you get to make it personal!

Again, you’ll want to experiment with different typefaces, sizes, and colors. Avoid dark colors, and try for fonts that are very readable.

 PS Elements users: Your type and style choices are across the top of your screen.

Take your cursor, which is now the type tool, and click in your canvas on the left-hand side. Begin typing the text of your watermark. Again, experiment, it can be anything you like! This example is just the business name, but it could easily be

© Aaron Macarov Photography


© Aaron Macarov - Reproduction Prohibited

To edit your text layer, use the type tool (be sure it’s active by clicking on it in your tools palette). Click the beginning or end of your text, and drag left or right to highlight the area. You can also use Photoshop’s history state to simply “go back a step” and begin again.

Choose opacity.

How prominent do you want your watermark to be? In the layers palette, you can experiment with the opacity of your watermark. 

Note: Opacity can also be changed on the watermark once it’s uploaded and added as a watermark in your Selling Tools.

Try reducing it to 50%. It'll look very light on screen because we're working in a transparent document. Below you’ll see examples at 100% and 50%. Make a few versions of your watermark, with different opacities, and see which one best suits you.


You’re done creating your watermark! Now save it on your computer by using the menu File Export Save for Web.

Next you'll see the save-for-web screen. Select PNG-24 and Transparency, then click Save and give your file a name. Select where to save it on your computer.

Use your new watermark.

Now you get to upload and create your watermark on your SmugMug account. Find all those details in the Create My Watermark section above.

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