How to Add a Background Image to a Message in Outlook

Put a photo behind your Outlook email messages

Add a background image to Outlook to spice up your emails and make them look different than those with a white background. Not only can you make the background of your emails a solid color, gradient, texture, or pattern, but you can choose a custom picture so that recipients see a large image behind the email text.

Illustration of a person inserting Online Pictures into an email
Lifewire / Derek Abella

Instructions in this article apply to Outlook 2019, Outlook 2016, Outlook 2013, Outlook 2010, and Outlook for Microsoft 365.

How to Add a Background Image to a Message in Outlook

Before you can add an image to the background of email messages, enable HTML formatting. A background image can only be added to individual email messages. Reapply these settings for each email you want to have a background picture.

One way to get around having to recreate this message every time you want to send it is to create an Outlook template that you can use as a starting point each time you want to send an email that has an image in the background.

  1. Open the Microsoft Outlook desktop app.

  2. Go to the Home tab and select New Email. Or, press Ctrl+N.

  3. In the new message window, place the cursor in the message body.

    Screenshot of cursor in new email message
  4. Go to the Options tab.

    Screenshot of Options tab in email message window
  5. In the Themes group, select the Page Color dropdown arrow.

  6. Choose Fill Effects.

    Screenshot of Page Color drop-down
  7. In the Fill Effects dialog box, go to the Picture tab.

  8. Choose Select Picture.

    Screenshot of Picture tab on Fill Effects
  9. Choose where to find an image to use as the background for the Outlook message:

    • Select From a File to insert an image from your computer.
    • Select Bing Image Search and enter a word or phrase to find an online image.
    • Select OneDrive to insert an image from your OneDrive account.
    Screenshot of Insert Pictures
  10. Choose the picture, then select Insert.

    Screenshot of Insert button on Online Pictures
  11. In the Fill Effects dialog box, select OK.

If you don't like the background image, remove the image from the new message. Go to the Options tab, select the Page Color dropdown arrow, and choose No Color. Or, prevent the background image from scrolling.

How to Insert an Outlook Background Image in macOS

  1. Click in the body of the email.

  2. Choose Options > Background Picture.

  3. Select the image you want to use as the background picture, then click Open.