Power Downloader hides his traces

The digital camera is one of Power Downloader's most important crime-fighting tools, but sometimes he captures sensitive information in his photos. Learn how he quickly removes people and objects from digital images in this week's edition.

Power Downloader at CNET Download.com

In his years battling spammers, hackers, and other ne'er-do-wells, Power Downloader has always been quick to capture important information on his digital camera. His pal Francois Foto has been invaluable in analyzing details from Power's snapshots to break big leads and gain an edge on criminals. Power and Francois usually exchange images and other files over a secure FTP connection, and pass notes via encrypted e-mail.

However, sometimes Power has to alter digital images in order to protect individuals or conceal confidential information. In the case of a digital photo that exposes a secret operative, releases personal information, or compromises anyone's safety, Power often needs to remove parts of images before he shares them with anyone else.

One quick and easy way for erasing objects, people, or other items from digital images is with a small utility from Hanov Solutions called PhotoWipe. PhotoWipe lets you "paint" over any area of any image, or select variably sized areas using rectangle and polygon tools.

All you need to do is select the size of your wiping brush, paint over the object, and hit preview to see what your altered image will look like. After the preview loads, you can save your adjusted image as a new file, copy it to your clipboard, or go back to edit another image.

Example of PhotoWipe
First you see me, then you don\'t, but a Predator-style ghost still remains. (Credit: CNET Networks)

In all honesty, Hanov Solutions is one guy named Steve Hanov, and PhotoWipe is a poor man's alternative to the Spot Healing Brush Tool in Adobe Photoshop, but hey, not every superhero can afford every commercial software program, and when you're fighting baddies around the world, you often have to work with any computer you can find. PhotoWipe weighs in at a measly 830.68K, making it ideal for sticking on a portable device.

The results of PhotoWipe depend mostly on what you're trying to remove from your photos. If you're blacking out half the screen, expect a blurry blob of colors. However, if you only need to hide a spot of bird poo on a black jacket, PhotoWipe can fix it in seconds. Also, obscuring information like e-mail or home addresses from screenshots is as easy as a quick swipe of the largest brush.

About Peter Butler

Peter has been working at Download.com since 2003, when trialware was shareware and toolbars were those large metal rods for smashing car windows. Currently, he wrangles the reviews, videos, newsletter, blog, and special collections for Download.com, as well as managing the program data throughout the software directory.