How to Remove Backgrounds from Images (A Super Easy Trick!)

Later this week, I am going to be sharing my (much anticipated!) tutorial for creating virtual design boards. As I was outlining all the steps, I realized it might be useful to share this quick tutorial in a post all of its own. Whether you are a blogger or not, being able to remove the backgrounds of images is a pretty handy skill. Not only does it make assembling those fancy design boards pretty simple, but this trick is also helpful if you are needing to make party invitations, flyers, decor, cut files etc. You might think you need fancy computer software or graphic design skills to give images a transparent background, but I have a super simple way of doing it that I’ve been using for years. Today, I want to show you how to remove backgrounds from images using…PowerPoint!

Giving images a transparent background is easier than you might think using this quick trick and Microsoft PowerPoint!

What does “Transparent Background” Mean?

Before I dive into the tutorial, let’s just quickly review what I mean when I say “transparent background.” If you were to search for and save an image for use on a design board or other project, you will likely come across several different file types. Sometimes you will be able to find images with a transparent background already; and you’ll know it because the area surrounding the image has a pattern of small grey squares around it (below right). Most times though, the image will be a JPEG with a solid white background (shown below left). Giving images a transparent background is easier than you might think using this quick trick and Microsoft PowerPoint!

If the background of an image is solid white (or has any other color/design to it), it doesn’t have a transparent background. Therefor, when you lay it over a colored background or other images, you will still see the white box around it (below left). With a transparent background, you can layer images over any color or any other object and be able to see the background (below right).

Giving images a transparent background is easier than you might think using this quick trick and Microsoft PowerPoint!

I’ve played with lots of different programs to take the background out of images because it’s something I do quite often. By far, the quickest, easiest and cleanest way to do it is using Microsoft PowerPoint. Seriously! PowerPoint has amazing photo capabilities for the everyday user. Not only does it allow you to easily drop in images and move them around without any weird bounding boxes or formatting restrictions, but it also has a tool built into the program to remove backgrounds in just a few clicks.

How to Remove Backgrounds from Images

Start by finding and saving your desired image to your computer. If the image has small white/grey squares all around it, then you don’t need to use this tutorial; your image already has a transparent background. If it has a white or colored background, here is how to get rid of it!

Open a new PowerPoint file:

Giving images a transparent background is easier than you might think using this quick trick and Microsoft PowerPoint!

Remove any default text boxes already on the first slide by just clicking on them and hitting the delete key on your keyboard.

Giving images a transparent background is easier than you might think using this quick trick and Microsoft PowerPoint!

Drag and drop the picture you have saved to your computer (or navigate to Insert –> Image) onto the blank slide.

Giving images a transparent background is easier than you might think using this quick trick and Microsoft PowerPoint!

Once you drop the photo onto the slide, the Format Picture tool bar will automatically appear across the top of the screen. If it doesn’t, double click on the image. In the middle of that toolbar, you should see an option to “Remove Background.” With your image selected, click that button.

Giving images a transparent background is easier than you might think using this quick trick and Microsoft PowerPoint!

Once you do, you’ll see a pink box appear around your image. Your image should be in full color, and the pink box represents everything that will be made transparent (as in clear, not white). Notice below that the automatic boundaries that PowerPoint creates don’t catch my full graphic, so parts of the dresser are being made transparent. Tip: You can use the mini slide in the sidebar to see a preview of how your image will look once you’re done using the Remove Background Tool.

Giving images a transparent background is easier than you might think using this quick trick and Microsoft PowerPoint!

To make sure your entire image is shown in full color, simply adjust the handlebars of the box to fully frame out your image.

Giving images a transparent background is easier than you might think using this quick trick and Microsoft PowerPoint!

Depending on the image, you may notice that the program automatically makes certain parts transparent (notice the little pockets of pink throughout the dresser above). To make them opaque again, simple click on the pink parts with your mouse, and they will change back to the original color. The + symbol means it will be shown in its original color (as in, not transparent).

Giving images a transparent background is easier than you might think using this quick trick and Microsoft PowerPoint!

Once you have your image adjusted to your liking, simply click outside the pink box to de-select the Remove Background tool. Before you save or use your image, make sure it is really transparent by copying and pasting it onto the same slide. If the white box is removed and your two images can lay over each other as shown below, your image now has a transparent background! (You can delete out the extra copy of the image once you determine it has a transparent background.)

Giving images a transparent background is easier than you might think using this quick trick and Microsoft PowerPoint!

Now that the background is removed, you’ll need to save it so you can work with it in various ways. To do that, right click on the image, and select Save Picture As.

 

Giving images a transparent background is easier than you might think using this quick trick and Microsoft PowerPoint!

A new window will open, and you’ll notice the image file type is automatically now set as a PNG file (that is typically the file type for images with a transparent background). Type in a file name and click save.

Giving images a transparent background is easier than you might think using this quick trick and Microsoft PowerPoint!

Removing the Background in Complex Images

For images with white solid backgrounds (like shown above), removing the background is super easy. PowerPoint almost always automatically gets which parts of the graphic should be in color versus transparent. For images that are layered into a complex photo (like the chair in a room shot below), it is still possible to isolate out the chair, but it takes some playing around with the same Remove Background tool. Just as above, drop a photo onto an empty slide in PowerPoint.

Giving images a transparent background is easier than you might think using this quick trick and Microsoft PowerPoint!

Again, double click on the image and then select the Remove Background tool from the Format Picture toolbar. Below, you can see that PowerPoint automatically selected which elements of the picture should be shown in color and which should be transparent, but didn’t get it quite right. Like before, start with moving the bounding box to fully surround the image you want to isolate out.

Giving images a transparent background is easier than you might think using this quick trick and Microsoft PowerPoint!

Then, use your mouse to continue to select pink areas to bring them back to full color. Sometimes just clicking on an area will switch them (like the stripe on the left side of the chair), yet other times you will need to draw a straight line for the program to acknowledge a certain part of the graphic. Giving images a transparent background is easier than you might think using this quick trick and Microsoft PowerPoint!

Continue clicking around the photo and turning various areas from + to – or vise versa. Notice in the photo above that I had to draw and click on several different areas to finally get the chair shown in full color with a transparent background throughout the rest of the photo. It may take some trial and error, just keep clicking around until you have what you want. Once you’re done, click off the pink box and save the image as I showed you above!

Giving images a transparent background is easier than you might think using this quick trick and Microsoft PowerPoint!

And that’s it! I told you it was quick and simple!

In just a few clicks, using a program most of us have (I even keep PowerPoint for Mac on my computer for this exact reason), you can easily remove the backgrounds of images so they can be layered and used in any number of ways. I mostly remove backgrounds from images when I am creating themed party decor (e.g. Ninja Turtles images), preparing cut files for my Cricut Explore, and creating design boards for room makeovers. Keep in mind, however, if you’re using this tutorial to remove images of pictures you find on the web, it should be for personal use only!

Speaking of creating design boards, I’m going to pick up there on Friday and show you exactly how I create virtual design boards for room makeovers using this exact trick! See you then!

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14 Responses to How to Remove Backgrounds from Images (A Super Easy Trick!)

  1. Oh my gosh. It’s really that easy!?! I followed your tutorial and did both pictures in under 5 minutes. Who know you could do this in PowerPoint. My mind is seriously blown! I may not get anything accomplished the rest of the day as I’m going to be playing around with pictures I’ve saved on my computer! Seriously, thank you so much for this tutorial!!!

    • Hey Jenna!!!

      I know it! That’s why I had to share the tutorial – I had a hunch most people didn’t realize that capability existed and is SO easy! Thrilled to hear you found this tutorial helpful – have fun!!!!

      Megan

  2. Omigosh – how did I not know this for all these years?! I always used to use PowerPoint for editing photos and saving them in whatever format I desired, but I somehow never knew this trick. Thanks so much for sharing!!

  3. What version of PowerPoint are you using? I have 2007 and it doesn’t have a “remove background” button. :o(

    • Hi Victoria,

      I am using PowerPoint for Mac 2008. But I’ve been using this trick for years, it’s just gotten easier in recent versions. Old versions of PowerPoint use to have a “Set Transparent Color” tool. It looked like a little eye dropper and used to be near the Crop image tool. You could use that tool to select out the background on images. It was as clean or perfect as this enhanced tool is, but still gets the job done in a pinch!

      Hope that helps a bit!
      Megan

  4. So helpful! I had access to photoshop & illustrator at my last job, so I wondered how to do it without those expensive programs. Thanks!

  5. OMG! This has changed my life! Thank you! I use Power Point a lot to edit things since my Mac does not have publisher, but I never knew about this and it was right there in front of my face the whole time!

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