Make a Picture Semi-Transparent in PowerPoint

by Avantix Learning Team | Updated May 16, 2022

Applies to: Microsoft® PowerPoint® 2013, 2016, 2019, 2021 and 365 (Windows)

You can make a picture transparent or semi-transparent in PowerPoint in 3 ways. If you want to change the opacity of an image in newer versions of PowerPoint, you can use the Transparency command in the Ribbon or the Format Picture task pane to apply transparency. In older versions, you'll need to fill a shape with a picture and then make the shape transparent.

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 Change Picture Brightness or Contrast in PowerPoint

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Make a picture semi-transparent using the Ribbon

In PowerPoint 2019, 2021 or 365, a Transparency command appears on the Picture Tools Format or Picture Format tab in the Ribbon when a picture is selected.

To  make a picture transparent or semi-transparent in PowerPoint 2019, 2021 or 365:

  1. Select a picture on a slide in Normal View (you can also adjust a picture in Slide Master View).
  2. Click the Picture Tools Format or Picture Format tab in the Ribbon.
  3. In the Adjust group, click Transparency. A drop-down menu appears.
  4. Hover over the thumbnails to preview the effect and when you find the setting you want, click the thumbnail.

The Transparency drop-down menu appears as follows in the Ribbon:

Transparency command on the Picture Format tab in PowerPoint.

Making a picture semi-transparent using the Format Picture task pane

You can use the Format Picture task pane for more control over transparency settings.

To make a picture transparent or semi-transparent using the Format Picture task pane in PowerPoint 2019, 2021 or 365:

  1. Select the picture you want to adjust.
  2. Click the Picture Tools Format or Picture Format tab in the Ribbon.
  3. In the Adjust group, click Transparency. A drop-down menu appears.
  4. Click More Picture Transparency Options. The Format Picture task pane appears. At the top of the task pane, the Picture icon should be selected.
  5. Click the arrow beside Picture Transparency to expand the area (if necessary).
  6. Drag the slider beside Transparency to change the settings. You can also enter a number in the box next to the slider.

The Format Picture task pane appears as follows:

Transparency options in the Format Picture task Pane in PowerPoint.

Make a picture semi-transparent by filling a shape with a picture

To make a picture transparent or semi-transparent in PowerPoint 2013 or 2016, you will need to create a shape, fill it with an image and then change its transparency settings. You will typically encounter an issue if you resize the shape as you may distort the picture. The following method will help prevent distorting or skewing the picture in the shape.

To make a picture transparent or semi-transparent in PowerPoint 2013 or 2016:

  1. Select a picture on a slide in Normal View (you can also adjust a picture in Slide Master View).
  2. Click the Insert tab in the Ribbon and then click Shapes. A drop-down menu appears.
  3. Select a shape (such as a rectangle) and drag on the slide to create the shape. Make sure the shape is the exact size of the picture.
  4. Click the rectangle or shape and click the Drawing Tools Format, Drawing Format or Shape Format tab.
  5. Click the picture and press Ctrl + X to cut it. It will be placed in the Clipboard.
  6. Right-click the rectangle or shape and choose Format Shape. The Format Shape task pane appears.
  7. Click Fill & Line at the top of the task pane.
  8. Click the arrow beside Fill to expand it.
  9. Select Picture or texture fill.
  10. Click Clipboard. The image you cut will be placed in the shape.
  11. In the task pane, drag the Transparency slider to change the transparency settings. You can also click the up or down arrows to the right of the Transparency slider to increase or decrease the transparency or you can type directly in the Transparency value box.
  12. You may want to click Line in the task pane and select No Line.
  13. Click Size & Properties at the top of the task pane.
  14. Click the arrow beside Size to expand the area.
  15. Select Lock Aspect Ratio to lock the aspect ratio of the image to prevent distortion. The aspect ratio will be maintained if you drag a corner handle of the shape. This does not prevent users from dragging a side handle and distorting the picture. It's usually a good idea to get into the habit of holding down Shift and dragging a corner handle in case this setting has not been applied.

Below is the Format Picture task pane in PowerPoint 2013 and 2016 with Fill & Line selected:

Make picture transparent in PowerPoint using Format Picture task pane.

This article was first published on May 19, 2018 and has been updated for clarity and content.

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Summary
How to Make a Picture Transparent in PowerPoint (3 Ways to Change Image Opacity)
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How to Make a Picture Transparent in PowerPoint (3 Ways to Change Image Opacity)
Description
You can make a picture transparent or semi-transparent in PowerPoint in 3 ways. If you want to change the opacity of an image in newer versions of PowerPoint, you can use the Transparency command in the Ribbon or the Format Picture task pane to apply transparency. In older versions, you'll need to fill a shape with a picture and then make the shape transparent.
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