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

by Avantix Learning Team | Updated March 12, 2021

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 into a circle. You can use Intersect in Merge Shapes 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 crop a picture into a circle by cutting a circle out of the image, you’ll need to:

  1. Insert a picture onto a slide (in Normal View).
  2. Draw a circle on top of the picture and move it to the area you want to cut out of the picture.
  3. Select the picture and then the circle by Shift-clicking.
  4. Use Merge Shapes to intersect.

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

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 and the Drawing Tools Format tab may appear as Drawing Format or Shape Format.

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

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Merge Shapes appears on the Drawing Tools Format, Drawing Format or Shape 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 from a drive onto a slide in PowerPoint 2013, 2016 or 2019:

  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 want to insert.
  4. Double-click the picture. The picture will be placed on the slide.
  5. Drag the picture to the desired location.
  6. Drag a corner handle of the picture to resize it.

To insert a picture from a drive onto a slide in PowerPoint 365:

  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 drop-down menu appears.
  3. Select This Device.
  4. Navigate to the folder with the picture you want to insert.
  5. Double-click the picture. The picture will be placed on the slide.
  6. Drag the picture to the desired location.
  7. Drag a corner handle of the picture to resize it.

For other ways to insert a picture in PowerPoint 365, check out How to Insert a Picture in PowerPoint 365 from a Drive, Stock Images or Online Pictures.

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, Drawing Format or Shape 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 want to cut out. You can also use your arrow keys to move the circle.

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

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

  1. Click the picture.
  2. Shift-click the edge of the circle.
  3. Click the Drawing Tools Format, Drawing Format or Shape 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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More resources

How to Crop a Picture in PowerPoint (4 Ways)

10 Ways to Compress PowerPoint Presentations to Reduce File Size

How to Quickly Remove All Speaker Notes in a PowerPoint Presentation

How to Fade Text in and Out in a PowerPoint Presentation Using Animations

How to Compress Images in PowerPoint to Reduce File Size (10 Strategies)

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Summary
How to Crop an Image into a Circle in PowerPoint Using Merge Shapes
Article Name
How to Crop an Image into a Circle in PowerPoint Using Merge Shapes
Description
Starting in Microsoft PowerPoint 2013, you can use the Merge Shapes tool to crop an image into a circle. You can use Intersect in Merge Shapes 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.
Author
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Avantix Learning Inc.

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