Can You Make a New House Key From a Photograph? 

Losing your house keys can be incredibly stressful and inconvenient. However, with the advancement of technology, some people wonder if it’s possible to have a new key made using only a photograph of the original. While intriguing in theory, making a new house key from a photo alone poses some significant challenges in practice. In this article, we will explore the difficulties involved and provide some reasonable solutions for safeguarding against lost keys.

The Difficulty of Taking Perfectly Sized Photographs of Your Keys

The Difficulty of Taking Perfectly Sized Photographs of Your Keys

One of the biggest obstacles to creating a new key from a photograph is ensuring the image is high-quality enough to extract accurate details. Keys are small, intricate objects, so any flaws or distortions in the photograph could prevent a locksmith from properly duplicating it. Here are some of the issues that arise:

Focus and lighting – Keys are difficult to photograph clearly due to their size. It’s easy for the image to be blurry or for shadows to obscure fins and cuts. Ambient lighting may not provide enough illumination to see fine details.

Scale and perspective – Without a reference object in the shot, it’s hard to determine the actual size of the key. Skewed angles can make the proportions look off. Even a slight distortion could cause duplication errors. 

Worn edges – Years of use often smooth out defining edges on keys, making the cuts less distinct in photos. Any rounding or shaving down would confuse replication efforts. 

Complex patterns – More advanced keys with many positioned fins and wards are even harder to fully capture. It may not be obvious which bump is where without precise side views.

Image quality – Low resolution or heavy compression can degrade subtle differences between cuts and textures. An 8MP smartphone photo might not have enough pixel data for accurate replication.

Unless you have a high-quality digital SLR camera and the skills of a product photographer, it’s quite challenging to take close-up photos of small keys that show clear, undistorted details suitable for duplication purposes. Even professional locksmithes would struggle to recreate keys based on average mobile photos alone.

The Difficulty of Finding a Locksmith That Will Take Your Key-Photo-Challenge Seriously 

The Difficulty of Finding a Locksmith That Will Take Your Key-Photo-Challenge Seriously 

Assuming you manage to capture detailed, high-quality photographs of your keys, the next hurdle is persuading a locksmith to attempt making new keys using only those images as a reference. Most reputable professionals would be hesitant or outright refuse such a request for several valid reasons:

Legal liability – If a key-from-photo duplication fails and you’re unable to access your property, the locksmith could face negligence claims. Without physically examining the original key, they have no proof they tried their best.

Skill requirement – Replicating locks purely from images requires an extremely high level of skill, experience and precision that very few possess. One small error could ruin the fit. 

Authentication needed – Locksmiths need to verify the photographed key is actually for the lock you say before assistance. Otherwise, copied keys could enable criminal activity like burglary or identity theft.

Professional standards – Most trades have guidelines against providing services without directly examining the subject. Photography introduces uncertainties that compromise safety and performance.

Precedent concerns – Taking this challenge sets an expectation that all lock issues can be solved remotely, which isn’t practical or responsible for this sensitive work. 

Image quality issues (as discussed above) – Poor or unclear photos dramatically increase the risk of duplication failure due to obscure or distorted key details.

While some lesser locksmiths may take your money for an attempt if desperate, most respected professionals will politely decline the photo key replication request. Your best option is convincing them to make an exception if you bring in the original.

Three Reasonable Ways to Safeguard Against Losing Your Keys

Three Reasonable Ways to Safeguard Against Losing Your Keys

Given the challenges involved, focusing on prevention is smarter than reaction when it comes to lost house keys. Here are some practical steps anyone can take:

1. Attach Them Securely

  • Use a sturdy key ring and carabiner instead of a simple split ring 
  • Attach to a sturdy lanyard, pocket clip or carabiner for extra security
  • Consider an innovative product like a Tile tracker attached to your keychain
  • Employ a reinforced keychain for added strength and durability

2. Have a Designated Spot  

  • Always return keys to the same hook or tray by the door after entering
  • Avoid tossing loose keys in bags where they can fall out
  • Designate a consistent pocket or purse section just for key storage
  • Use a lockbox if concerned about theft while away from home

3. Carry a Spare

  • Get an extra set of house keys made for safekeeping elsewhere  
  • Give a trusted friend or relative a spare you both know the location of
  • Leave a security copy with your real estate agent or landlord
  • Consider keeping a hidden spare outside like in your utility meter box

With a little prevention mindset, you can help ensure your house keys are always accounted for without relying on risky workarounds. Replacing locks should really only become necessary if all spare key locations have been compromised.


In summary, while the idea of recreating lost house keys solely from photos seems like a convenient modern solution, the practical challenges often make it an unreasonable expectation. Keys are small, intricately-cut objects that are very difficult to photograph with the precision required. Even if high-quality images could be obtained, most reputable locksmiths have valid reasons for declining such a request without examining the original key. 

Instead of banking on long shot workarounds, the smarter approach is focusing on prevention. Simple but effective habits like attaching keys securely, designating a storage spot, and keeping a spare set safely stored helps ensures access is never unexpectedly denied due to lost keys. With a bit of responsibility and forethought, homeowners can help stay prepared for life’s little irritations without relying on complex photo key remakes that introduce far more risks than benefits. Reasonable safeguards trump unreasonable hopes every time.

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