Change Black and White Pictures to Color in PowerPoint 2010 Slide Show

Example of PowerPoint animation of black and white picture turning to color

Wendy Russell

Let's start with first things first. This is an awesome animation to include to highlight something in your presentation but you begin, it's important to understand some fundamental properties about how pictures will be effected in PowerPoint.

  • Optimizing your photos prior to inserting them into PowerPoint is always a "best practice". As a result, both the visual size and the final file size of the picture will ultimately create a smaller file size of your complete presentation.
  • If you want your photo to cover the entire slide, optimize your photo to be 7.5 inches high by 10 inches wide (for a standard sized slide, not widescreen). PowerPoint 2010 will resize a larger photo automatically to fit the slide, but this is only a visual effect. The original file size will still remain intact.
  • Also be aware that if your pictures are small, enlarging them (manually) to fit the slide will produce poor quality results. For the best image possible, always take your pictures using the highest resolution your camera will take.
  • PowerPoint 2010 compresses all pictures by default. In the event that you did not first optimize your photos, this will be helpful in reducing the file size. Still, as mentioned earlier, optimization is the best choice.
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Choose Picture for the Black and White to Color Animation

Change the slide layout to a blank PowerPoint slide

Screenshot/Wendy Russell

In this example, we are going to use a picture that covers the whole slide. You may choose to do otherwise, but the process will be the same.

  1. Open a new presentation or work in progress.
  2. Navigate to the slide where you wish to add this feature.
  3. Click on the Home tab of the ribbon, if it is not already selected.
  4. Click the Layout button and choose the Blank slide layout from the options shown.
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Insert the Desired Color Picture onto the Blank Slide

Insert a picture onto a PowerPoint slide

Screenshot/Wendy Russell

First, we'll need to add your color photo, which will ultimately be the final image we want to see in the slide.

  1. Click on the Insert tab of the ribbon.
  2. Click on the Picture button.
  3. Navigate to the folder on your computer that contains the color picture and insert it.
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Convert Color Picture to Grayscale in PowerPoint

Convert a picture on the PowerPoint slide to "grayscale"

Screenshot/Wendy Russell

The words "black and white picture", in most cases, is actually a misnomer. This term is a carry-over from a time when we did not have color pictures and what we saw we called "black and white". In reality, a "black and white" picture is made up of a multitude of gray tones as well as the black and the white. If the picture was truly black and white, you would see no subtleties at all.

In this exercise, we will be changing a color photo to grayscale.

  1. Click on the photo to select it.
  2. If the Picture Tools are not immediately shown, click on the Picture Tools button just above the ribbon.
  3. Click the Color button to reveal a variety of color options.
  4. In the Recolor section, click on the Grayscale thumbnail image.
  5. Insert a second copy of the photo following the same process as outlined above. PowerPoint will insert this new copy of the photo exactly on top of the grayscale photo, which is mandatory for this process to work. This new photo will remain as a color photo.
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Using the Fade Animation on the PowerPoint Color Picture

Use the "Fade" animation on the picture on the PowerPoint slide

Screenshot/Wendy Russell

You may choose to use a different animation to the color picture, but you'll probably find that for this process, the Fade animation works best.

  1. The color photo should be resting exactly on top of the grayscale photo. Click on the color photo to select it.
  2. Click on the Animations tab of the ribbon.
  3. Click on Fade to apply that animation.


If the Fade animation does not appear on the ribbon, click on the More button to reveal more options. Fade should be found in this extended list.

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Add Timings to the PowerPoint Color Photo

Open Timing settings for PowerPoint picture animation

Screenshot/Wendy Russell

In order to make your photo transform from greyscale to color properly, PowerPoint allows you to customize the timing of your animation.

  1. In the Advanced Animation section of the ribbon, click the Animation Pane button. The Animation Pane will appear on the right side of your screen.
  2. In the Animation Pane click on the drop-down arrow to the right of the picture listed.
  3. Click on Timing... in the list of options shown.
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Using Time Delays to Convert Black and White Photo to Color

Set the animation timings for the black and white picture to fade to color on a PowerPoint slide

Screenshot/Wendy Russell

Timing is everything when it comes to making your slide pop, so take care to adjust the timing accurately and carefully.

  1. The Timing dialog box opens.
    1. Note: In the heading of this dialog box, you will see Fade as this was the animation we chose to apply. If you chose a different animation your screen will reflect that choice.
  2. Click on the Timing tab if it is not already selected.
  3. Set the Start: option to With Previous
  4. Set the Delay: option to 1.5 or 2 seconds.
  5. Set the Duration: option to 2 seconds.
  6. Click the OK button to apply these changes.


Once you have finished this tutorial, you may wish to play around with these settings to modify as needed.

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Viewing the PowerPoint Picture Effects

Example of PowerPoint animation of black and white picture turning to color

Wendy Russell

Press the shortcut key F5 to start the slideshow from the first slide. (If your photo is on a different slide than the first, then once on that slide, use the keyboard shortcut keys Shift + F5 instead.)

Now, sit back and enjoy!


The image shown above is an animated GIF type of image file. It shows the effect you can create in PowerPoint using animations to make a picture appear to change from black and white to color as you watch. Your image in PowerPoint should be smoother than this representation of our slide.