How to Crop Photos

How to create custom photos on a PC, Mac or smartphone

Photo Editing

Hill Street Studios / Getty Images

Cropping photos – cutting them down to a size you prefer – can easily be done in as little as a few seconds with a basic photo editing tool. Whether you need to cut out unnecessary visual aspects or change the shape or aspect ratio of the photo, cropping is the way to go for quick results.

Below, you'll learn how to crop photos on a PC or Mac using your computer's respective built-in photo editing program. You'll also learn how to crop photos on a mobile device using a free photo editing app.

It's easy, fast and actually pretty fun once you get the hang of it.

Crop a Photo As a Rectangle on Your PC

If you're a PC user running on Microsoft Windows, you can use a built-in program called Microsoft Paint to do your cropping.

You can also adjust image sizes while in Microsoft Office.

  1. Select Search at the bottom left and enter Paint. Select Open under the App.

    Searching for Paint in Windows 10.
  2. To edit your photo, select File > Open.

    Opening a photo in Paint.
  3. Select your photo, then select Open.

    Finding a file to open in Paint.
  4. In the Image section, select the dropdown Select, the select Rectangular selection.

    Selecting the rectangular selection tool in Paint.
  5. Now when you move your cursor over your photo, you can select, hold and drag out the rectangular crop outline over your photo. When you let go of your mouse, the crop outline will still be there and you'll be able to click on any corners or mid-points (marked by the white dots) to reposition it.

    If you want to start over, simply click anywhere on the photo and the crop outline will disappear. When you're happy with your crop outline, select Crop in the top menu to finish the cropping.

    A rectangular selection is about to be cropped in Paint.
  6. Once you select Crop, you'll see your newly trimmed image in the workspace.

    The photo has been cropped in Paint.

Crop a Photo As a Free Form Selection on Your PC

As an alternative to rectangular cropping, Paint also has an option for free-form crop selections. So if you wanted to crop out the entire background of the photo in the example above, you could slowly trace around the flower using the free-form crop selection to do it. 

To use the free-form crop selection, do the following:

  1. Select Search at the bottom left and enter Paint. Select Open under the App.

    Searching for Paint in Windows 10.
  2. To edit your photo, select File > Open.

    Opening a photo in Paint.
  3. Select your photo, then select Open.

    Finding a file to open in Paint.
  4. In the Image section, select the dropdown Select, the select Free-form selection.

    Selecting a free-form selection in Paint.
  5. Press your left mouse button anywhere on the photo where you want to start your free-form selection and hold it as you trace around the area you want to keep. Once you've made it back to your starting point (or simply let go), the crop outline will appear.

    The outline will look like a rectangle but will crop as the shape you've just drawn.

    A selection has been made in Paint.
  6. Select Crop.

    A free-form crop has been made in Paint.

If you'd rather crop around the area of the photo that you want to get rid of, which can be much easier to do in some instances, you can select Invert selection from the dropdown menu when you select Free-form selection and draw your crop outline.

To get rid of the white space around the cropped area of the photo, select Transparent selection from the dropdown menu when you select Free-form selection and draw your crop outline.

Crop a Photo As a Rectangle on Your Mac

If you're a Mac user, you'll have a program called Photos installed on your machine that allows you to do your cropping. To access it, do the following:

  1. Select Go > Applications.

    Selecting Applications in macOS.
  2. Open Photos.

    Selecting Photos in macOS.
  3. In Photos, go to File > Import.

    Selecting Import in Photos in macOS.
  4. Find the photo you want to edit and double-click it.

    Viewing imported photos in Photos in macOS.
  5. Select Edit on the top right side of the panel.

    Choosing edit in Photos in macOS.
  6. Select Crop.

    Selecting crop in Photos in macOS.
  7. Select any of the corner handles to resize the area to be cropped.

    Crop handles are ready to shape the crop field.
  8. Once you're satisfied with the crop, select Done.

    A completed rectangular crop in Photos in macOS.

Crop a Photo into a Circle on Your Mac

Using Preview, you can crop a photo in a circle, rectangle, and even free-form. Here's how to use Preview to crop a photo in a circle:

  1. Go to the folder where the photo you want to crop is located.

    Looking for photos in macOS.
  2. Double-click on the photo to open in Preview.

    A photo opened in Preview in macOS.
  3. At the top left, select the Selection Tools dropdown and select Elliptical Selection.

    If you don't see the Selection Tools dropdown, on the right side select Show Markup Toolbar.

    Selecting the Elliptical Selection tool in Preview in macOS.
  4. Select and drag the area you wish to crop.

    Using the elliptical tool in Preview in macOS.
  5. Select Crop to complete the action.

If you are editing formats other than PNG, you may be prompted to Convert image.

A completed circle crop in Preview in macOS.

Crop a Photo on Your iOS or Android Device

To crop photos on your mobile device, you can take advantage of countless free photo editing apps out there, but for the sake of keeping things simple we'll use Adobe's Photoshop Express app. It's free to download and use on iOS, Android and Windows devices, and no — you don't need to have an Adobe ID to use it.

Once you've downloaded the app and opened it, you'll be asked to give it permission to access your photos. After you do, the app will show you all your most recent photos stored on your device.

  1. Tap anywhere on the photo to see editing tools.

  2. Select Crop.

    Steps to cropping in Photoshop Express in Android.
  3. Drag the crop handles until you trim out the parts you don't want. Alternatively, you can select from different crop frames for specific aspect ratios that fit certain social media posts. These include ones that fit Facebook profile cover photos, Instagram photos, Twitter post photos and more.

  4. When you're done, you can save the crop by simply navigating to the next step using the other menu options at the bottom and top of the screen. If cropping is all you needed to do, just tap Share > Save to Gallery in the top right corner of the screen to save it to your device or open/share it within another app.

    Steps to complete a crop on Android.