Create a PowerPoint Picture Background

Personalize your next PowerPoint presentation with one of your photos

Microsoft Powerpoint logo
Microsoft Corporation

If you want to use one of your own images as a background for a PowerPoint slide, you can do it. 

Begin by bringing the photo into the PowerPoint program:

  1. Go to the slide where you want to insert a background picture. 
  2. On the Design tab of the ribbon, select Format Background in PowerPoint 2016, PowerPoint 2013, Powerpoint for Office 365, or PowerPoint for Mac. (For earlier versions, right-click on the background of the slide, being sure to avoid clicking on any text boxes, and choose Format Background from the shortcut menu.)

Note: You can use Design > Format Background to place a background image on a slide in PowerPoint Online, but transparency and other options that are available in the desktop versions of the Format Background dialog are not available in the online version of PowerPoint.

PowerPoint Background Picture Overview

Pictures as PowerPoint slide backgrounds

Wendy Russell

The overview of using a background image in PowerPoint is as follows:

  1. In the Format Background dialog box, make sure that Fill is selected.
  2. Click on Picture or texture fill as the type of fill.
  3. Click on the​ File button to place your picture on the PowerPoint slide. 
  4. Set the transparency level for the picture. 
  5. Choose one of the last options:
    • Reset Background removes the photo so you can start over.
    • Close applies the picture as the background to one slide. 
    • Apply to All applies the picture as the background for all the slides in the presentation.

Choose the Background Picture Carefully

A picture as a PowerPoint background

Wendy Russell

By default, the picture you choose to be the background of your slide is stretched to fit the slide. To avoid distortion, choose a horizontal format picture and one with high resolution.

A picture with high resolution appears crisp and clear, while a picture with low resolution appears blurry when it is enlarged and stretched to fit the slide. Stretching the picture can result in a distorted image.

Adding Transparency to the Background Image

Transparent picture as a background for PowerPoint slides

Wendy Russell

Unless this presentation is designed as a photo album, the picture is distracting to the audience when other information is present on the slide.

Use the format background feature to add transparency to the slide.

  1. In the Format Background dialog box, move the Transparency slider to the desired transparency percentage. As you move the slider, you see the transparency preview of the photograph.
  2. When you have made the transparency choice, click the Close button to apply the change.

Using Tiled Pictures as a PowerPoint Background

A picture tiled as a background for PowerPoint slides

Wendy Russell

Tiling a picture is a process where the computer program takes a single picture and repeats that picture multiple times until it covers the whole background. This process is often used on web pages when a texture is desired for a background. The texture is a small picture file, and when repeated many times, appears to seamlessly cover the background as if it was one large image.

It is also possible to tile any picture across a PowerPoint slide to use as a background. However, this may prove distracting to the audience. If you decide to use a tiled background for your PowerPoint slide, then be sure to make it a transparent background as well.

Tile the PowerPoint Picture Background

  1. In the Format Background dialog box, select the picture to be applied as the slide background.
  2. Check the box beside Tile picture as texture.
  3. Drag the slider beside Transparency until you are happy with the results.
  4. Click the Close button to apply the change.