How to Make an Image Background Transparent in PowerPoint

Use PowerPoint's Built-In Background Remover

A rose against a white background.

Michelle Grewe/Flickr.com/CC0 1.0

Deleting the background of an image in PowerPoint makes that portion of the picture transparent, allowing whatever is behind the picture, such as text or another color or picture, to show. This is handy if you want to blend your photos into the slide's background seamlessly.

You can also use the background remover in PowerPoint to delete objects you don't want in the picture, without even using a graphics editing program. Just select the picture and use the Remove Background button to select which parts of the image you want to be transparent. You can click each part of the picture that you want to delete and click which parts you want to keep, so you have full control over which areas are transparent.

The same tool is available in other programs of the Microsoft Office suite, too, but not in versions older than 2010.

How to Use PowerPoint's Background Remover

From the Insert menu, insert a picture into PowerPoint and then select it to see the option to remove the background.

The steps below work for PowerPoint 2016, 2013, 2010, and PowerPoint for Mac. Older versions and Microsoft PowerPoint Online do not offer the ability to remove backgrounds.

  1. Select the image by clicking it.

    Be sure to click only one image at a time, or the rest of these steps will not work.

  2. Click Remove Background from the Format menu.

    Look for the Picture Format tab in the Mac version

    Screenshot from macOS version of Powerpoint showing the Picture Format tab and the Remove Background button

    If the background remover button is missing, it's because you haven't selected the picture; click once to select it. If you can't click the correct image because you have multiples, right-click any pictures that are on top of the others and click Send to Back to temporarily move them out of the way.

  3. PowerPoint colors the image pink to indicate the parts that it thinks is the background.

    You can customize which areas of the picture are kept and which are removed and made transparent. Use the Mark Areas to Keep and Mark Areas to Remove buttons to click parts of the photo that should remain or be deleted.

    PowerPoint for Mac has the same options but calls the buttons What to keep and What to remove.

    Screenshot of macOS Powerpoint window with backround removed from a picture of a little girl
  4. Click somewhere outside of the picture to save the changes.

Sometimes, the image ends up with more or less transparency than you'd like it to have. If so, just repeat the steps above. PowerPoint saves all your changes and even lets you revert back to the original, non-transparent version.

Tips

  • To quickly make just a single color in the image transparent, use the Format > Color > Set Transparent Color instead, and click any color in the image.
  • Removing objects from a picture or deleting a solid color works best on images that are made up of simple colors, like clip art or cartoon-like photos. Photos and other complex images with multiple objects and similar color shades are difficult to edit in this way.