How to Remove Image Fill or Backgrounds in Microsoft Word

No Special Graphics Software Necessary

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You can remove the background of an image in Microsoft Word without needing any other graphics editing programs. Just insert the image into the Word document and use the built-in Remove Background feature to delete the background.

Erasing an image's background in Word lets you delete objects or other people behind a portrait photo, or remove solid colors that don't work well with the other colors in your document. Removing the fill increases flexibility and creativity when designing documents, can make certain objects pop out of an image, and expands text-wrapping options.

Much like a regular image editing application, Word lets you pick which parts of the image should be deleted and which parts you want to remain. The initial background removal process usually doesn't catch exactly what you want to delete or keep, so using the additional "keep" and "remove" tools are helpful to customize the picture.

How to Use the Remove Background Feature in Word

Once you've inserted the image into Microsoft Word, which you can do from the Insert > Pictures menu (or Insert > Picture in Word 2010), open the formatting menu to delete the background image.

The steps below work for Word 2016, 2013, 2010, and Word for Mac. You can't currently delete the background of images in Microsoft Word Online.

  1. Click the image to select it.
  2. Click Remove Background from the Format menu, or the Picture Format menu in Word for Mac.
    1. If you don't see this menu item, it's because the image hasn't been selected or because you have more than one image selected at once. You can use the image formatting menu only if one picture is actively selected.
  3. Microsoft Word will immediately mark pink whatever it thinks is the background of the image, but since it isn't always perfect, you can customize it to explain which areas should remain and which can be removed.
    1. In Word for Windows, click Mark Areas to Keep or Mark Areas to Remove, and then click parts of the image that should or should not be deleted based on the button you've chosen. You can switch back and forth between either button to pick each area you want to remove or keep.
    2. Word for Mac calls these buttons What to keep and What to remove.
  4. Click outside the image area to keep the changes.
    1. If Word deleted something it shouldn't have, return to Step 2 above and you'll have the opportunity to re-mark areas you want to remove or keep.

    Tips

    • Not all images are set up in a way that makes removing the background easy. If there are lots of complex colors and shapes, it's hard to choose which parts to delete and which parts to keep.
    • If you have trouble removing image fills or backgrounds, try another image to see if the picture itself is the problem.
    • Really old versions of Word, like Word 2003, do not include an image background remover tool.