How to Place a Picture Inside a PowerPoint Shape


PowerPoint is all about visual presentation of information. You can place a variety of pictures – from actual images to clipboard shapes – into any presentation to drive home a point to your audience. 

Enhance the Appeal of a PowerPoint Shape With a Picture

Select one of the many PowerPoint shapes

Wendy Russell

Enhance your slide with a PowerPoint shape. Better yet, why not place a picture of your product inside that same shape? Here is how to do it.

  1. Open a new PowerPoint presentation or one that is in the works.
  2. Select the slide for the picture shape.
  3. Click on the Insert tab of the ribbon.
  4. In the Illustrations section, click on the Shapes button. This will reveal a drop down list of shape selections.
  5. Click on the shape that suits your needs.

Draw the Shape on the PowerPoint Slide

Draw a Shape on a PowerPoint Slide

Wendy Russell

  1. After you have selected the desired shape, click and drag your mouse over the section of the slide where it should be placed.
  2. Release the mouse when you are happy with the shape.
  3. Resize or move the shape if necessary.

If you are unhappy with your choice of shape, simply select the shape and click on the Delete key on the keyboard to remove it from the slide. Then simply repeat the previous steps with a new choice of shape.

Fill Options

Choose the option to fill the PowerPoint shape with a picture

Wendy Russell

  1. Click on the shape on the slide to select it, if you have not already done so.
  2. Towards the right side, notice that Drawing Tools is above the ribbon.
    • This Drawing Tools button is a contextual tab, which when clicked, activates a separate ribbon with options pertaining specifically to the drawing objects.
  3. Click on the Drawing Tools button.
  4. Click on the Shape Fill button to reveal a drop down list of options.
  5. In the list shown, click on Picture. The Insert Picture dialog box opens.

Embed or Link Picture Inside the Shape

Select one of the 'Insert' options for the picture in the shape

Wendy Russell

It is just good housekeeping to keep all objects (whether they be pictures, sounds or videos) in the same folder containing your presentation.

This habit will allow you to simply copy/move the whole folder to a new location on your computer, or even another computer and know that all elements of your presentation are intact. This is especially important when you choose to link files rather than embed them into your presentation.

How to Insert the Picture Into the PowerPoint Shape

  1. From the Insert Picture dialog box, locate the desired picture on your computer.
    • Click on the picture file to insert (and embed) it into the shape.
    • OR
    • For other options:
      1. Click in a blank area of the Insert Picture dialog box. (This will allow you to do the following step).
      2. Hover your mouse over the desired picture file (do not click the file). This will select the picture file, but not insert it yet.
      3. Click the drop-down arrow beside the Insert button.
      4. Choose to Insert the picture or one of the Link options as discussed below.
  2. The shape is now filled with your picture.

Should You Link to or Embed the Picture in the PowerPoint Shape?

Once the Insert Picture dialog box opens you have three options to choose from when you place a picture inside a PowerPoint shape. All three of these choices will look the same to the viewer, but they have very different properties.

  1. Insert – This option is self-explanatory. You simply insert the picture inside the shape. The picture will become embedded in the PowerPoint presentation and will always remain in the slide show. However, depending on the resolution of the picture you have chosen, this method can greatly increase the file size of your presentation.
  2. Link to File – This option does not actually place the picture in the shape. When you locate the picture on your computer and choose on the Link to File option, the image appears inside the shape. However, in the event that the picture file is moved to a new location, the image will not appear in your slide show and will be replaced by a small, red X.
    There are two pieces of good news when using this method:
    • The resultant file size is significantly smaller.
    • If the original picture file is enhanced, resized or otherwise altered in any manner, the updated image will replace the one in your file, so that your presentation is always current.
  3. Insert and Link – This third option does both jobs as indicated above. It embeds the picture in the presentation while also updating the picture should there be any changes to the original. However:
    • be aware that the file size will be increased dramatically if a high-resolution picture is used.
    • if the original picture is moved to a newer location, the last version of the image will show in your presentation.

Sample Picture

The picture inside the shape on a PowerPoint slide

Wendy Russell

This image shows an example of a picture in a PowerPoint shape.