Cutting a Circle Out of a Picture on a PowerPoint Slide Using Merge Shapes

by Avantix Learning Team | Updated September 22, 2019

Applies to: Microsoft® PowerPoint® 2013, 2016, 2019 and 365 (Windows)

Starting in Microsoft PowerPoint 2013, you can use the Merge Shapes tool to crop an image to a circle. You can use either Intersect or Subtract to cut out a circle (or other shape) from a picture. If you have a version of PowerPoint prior to 2013, you’ll need to use a different method (such as crop to shape) to cut a circle out of a picture.

To cut a circle out of a picture, you’ll need to:

  1. Insert a picture onto a slide.
  2. Draw a circle on top of the picture and move it to the area you wish to cut out of the picture.
  3. Select the picture and the circle by Shift-clicking and then use Merge Shapes to intersect or subtract.

When you are drawing or moving an object, use your left mouse button.

Note: Some Ribbon tabs may appear with slightly different names if you are working on Office 365 and have a smaller screen or different display settings.

Recommended article: How to Crop an Image to a Circle in PowerPoint (Crop to Shape Method)

Merge Shapes appears on the Drawing Tools Format tab when multiple objects are selected:

Microsoft PowerPoint Merge Shapes on the Drawing Tools Format tab.

Merge Shapes includes the following options  (hover over the options to view the effect on the selected objects):

  • Union – converts the selected objects into one object.
  • Combine – converts the selected objects into one object and removes the overlapping areas.
  • Fragment – converts larger objects into many smaller objects based on their overlapping areas.
  • Intersect – removes areas of the larger objects and leaves only the areas that overlap each object.
  • Subtract – removes areas of the last selected object that does not overlap.

Step 1: Insert a picture onto a slide

To insert a picture onto a slide:

  1. In Normal View, display the slide where you want to insert the picture.
  2. Click the Insert tab in the Ribbon and select Pictures. A dialog box appears.
  3. Navigate to the folder with the picture you wish to insert.
  4. Double-click the picture.
  5. Drag the picture to the desired location.
  6. Drag a corner handle of the picture to resize it.

Step 2: Draw a circle on top of the picture

To draw a circle on top of the picture:

  1. Click the Insert tab in the Ribbon and from the Shapes drop-down menu, select the oval. The pointer changes to a plus sign.
  2. Position the pointer on the slide, hold down Shift and drag to draw a circle.
  3. Release the mouse button first and then release Shift. This should create a perfect circle.
  4. Select the circle, click the Drawing Tools Format tab in the Ribbon and select Shape Fill. A drop-down menu appears.
  5. From the menu, select No Fill. Because the circle has no fill, you’ll need to select it by clicking its edge.
  6. Drag the circle (by its edge) over the area of the picture that you wish to cut out. You can also use your arrow keys to move the circle.

Step 3: Select the picture and the circle and merge shapes

To select the picture and the circle and then merge shapes:

  1. Click the picture.
  2. Shift-click the edge of the circle.
  3. Click the Drawing Tools Format tab in the Ribbon.
  4. In the Insert Shapes group, click Merge Shapes and then select Intersect from the drop-down menu.

In the following example, we selected a picture and then selected a circle on a PowerPoint slide (the order in which you select the objects is important):

Picture and circle selected on a PowerPoint slide.

Below is the final result with the circle cut out of the picture using Merge Shapes and Intersect:

Picture cut out to a circle using merge shapes.

When you use Merge Shapes with a picture and a shape, PowerPoint creates a new shape so you will not be able to uncrop the picture at a later date. You can undo Merge Shapes immediately by pressing Ctrl + Z but that will only undo your last action.

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Summary
How to Crop an Image to a Circle in PowerPoint (Cut Out Method)
Article Name
How to Crop an Image to a Circle in PowerPoint (Cut Out Method)
Description
Starting in Microsoft PowerPoint 2013, you can use the Merge Shapes tool to crop an image to a circle. You can use either Intersect or Subtract to cut out a circle (or other shape) from a picture. If you have an older version of PowerPoint (prior to 2013), you’ll need to use a different method (such as crop to shape) to cut a circle out of a picture.
Author
Publisher Name
Avantix Learning Inc.

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