How to Remove Image Fill or Backgrounds in Microsoft Word

No special graphics software necessary

Concentrated businessman working on a computer.


GaudiLab / Getty Images

Remove the background of an image in Microsoft Word without 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 keep. 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.

The steps below work for Word for Office365 and Word 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, and Word for Mac. You can't currently delete the background of images in Microsoft Word Online.

How to Use the Remove Background Feature in Word

After 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.

  1. Click the image to select it.

  2. Click Remove Background from the Format or the Picture Format menu.

    If you don't see this menu item, the image hasn't been selected or you have more than one image selected at once. You can use the image formatting menu only if one picture is actively selected.

    Remove Background button in Microsoft Word
  3. Microsoft Word immediately marks pink whatever it thinks is the image's background, but since the program isn't always perfect, you can customize it to explain which areas should remain and which can be removed.

    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.

    Word for Mac calls these buttons What to keep and What to remove.

    Mark Areas to Keep or Remove buttons in Word
  4. Click or tap Keep Changes when you're done—the button is in the same menu of the Background Removal menu you used in the previous step. After you click that button, the Ribbon resets and you're left with the modified image on the document canvas.

    Word with edited squirrel
  5. If Word deleted something it shouldn't have, return to Step 2 above. You'll have the opportunity to remark areas you want to remove or keep.

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.