Remove the Background of a Picture in a PowerPoint Deck without Cropping
by Avantix Learning Team | Updated April 19, 2020
Applies to: Microsoft® PowerPoint® 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019 and 365 (Windows)
You can remove the background of an image you have inserted into a PowerPoint presentation and keep a specific part or parts of the image. The background you remove can be a solid color or it can include different colors and other images. There are two common strategies for removing the backgrounds of pictures in PowerPoint decks – use the Remove Background tool or set the background color of the picture to a transparent color.
Note: Buttons and Ribbon tabs may display in a different way (with or without text) depending on your version of PowerPoint, the size of your screen and your Control Panel settings. For PowerPoint 365 users, Ribbon tabs may appear with different names. For example, the Picture Tools Format tab may appear as Picture Format.
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Using Remove Background
In PowerPoint, the Remove Background tool can remove the background from an image that has multiple colors and details. You may need to spend some time to remove backgrounds for more detailed images but PowerPoint will try to detect the primary part of the image to get you started. This tool works best with images that have a lot of contrast.
You can not use the Remove Background tool for vector graphic files such as Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG), Adobe Illustrator Graphics (AI), Windows Metafile Format (WMF) and Vector Drawing File (DRW). It also can not be used for shapes you draw or other objects you create in PowerPoint (such as SmartArt or charts).
Remove Background appears on the Picture Tools Format or Picture Format tab in the Ribbon:
To remove the background of an image:
- Select an image with the background with you want to remove.
- Click the Picture Tools Format or Picture Format tab in the Ribbon.
- In the Adjust group, click Remove Background. The image changes color and a Background Removal tab appears in the Ribbon. In PowerPoint 2010 and 2013, marquee lines appear around part of the image. In 2016 and later versions, PowerPoint will try to detect the primary part of the image automatically.
- If marquee lines appear around the image, click one of the handles on the marquee lines and then drag the line so that it contains the portion of the picture you want to keep and excludes most of the areas you want to remove. The area that will be removed will appear in pink.
- Click Keep Changes in the Background Removal tab.
The following tools appear on the Background Removal tab in PowerPoint 365 (which is similar in all versions):
Delete Mark is available in PowerPoint 2010 and 2013 but has been removed in newer versions.
In the image sample below, we’ve clicked an image and then clicked Remove Background (the areas in pink will be removed):
If you are not satisfied with the final image after you click Keep Changes, you will need to mark areas you want to keep or remove:
- Select the image.
- Click the Picture Tools Format or Picture Format tab.
- In the Adjust group, click Remove Background.
- Click Mark Areas to Keep in the Background Removal tab. Drag over the areas you wish to keep. You can also click on smaller areas.
- Click Mark Areas to Remove in the Background Removal tab. Drag over the areas you wish to remove. You can also click on smaller areas.
- If you change your mind about an area you have marked, either to keep or to remove it, click Delete Mark (2010 or 2013) and then click the line to change it.
- If you want to remove all changes, click Discard All Changes.
- Click Keep Changes.
If the image has very fine details (like hair or whiskers), you may need to use a dedicated photo editing program like Photoshop.
In the following example, the image appears with its original background:
Below is the image with the background removed:
When you use Remove Background, PowerPoint retains two copies of the image – the original and the modified version so you can reset the picture or fine-tune it. If you are satisfied with the final image, you can right-click it, save it as a picture, delete the image in PowerPoint and then insert the modified version.
Setting a transparent color background
A common problem in PowerPoint is a picture that appears in a shape with a solid color. If the shape that appears around the image is a single color, you can set the color to transparent to remove the background. Note that you can only make one color transparent.
To set a picture background to a transparent color:
- Select the picture with background color you want to remove.
- Click the Picture Tools Format or Picture Format tab in the Ribbon.
- In the Adjust group, click Color. A drop-down menu appears.
- Click Set Transparent Color. The pointer changes to a pencil.
- Click the colored area (normally the area around the image) that you want to set to transparent.
Set Transparent Color appears at the bottom in the Color drop-down menu as follows:
In the following example, we’d like to remove the white box around the image:
Here is the image after we have made the color white transparent:
When you use Set Transparent Color, you may still see a “glow” around the image. If you are not satisfied with the result, press Ctrl + Z to undo and use Remove Background as an alternative.
The Remove Background tool is the more advanced tool but sometimes, setting a color as transparent will do the trick.
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