How to Remove Image Fill or Backgrounds in Microsoft Word

No special graphics software necessary

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.

Instructions in this article apply to Word for Office365, Word 2019, Word 2016, Word 2013, Word 2010, and Word for Mac.

How the Remove Background Tool Works in Word

When you erase an image background in Word, you can delete objects or people in a photo, or remove solid colors that don't work well with the other colors in the 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, you choose which parts of the image to delete and which parts to keep. The initial background removal process usually doesn't catch exactly what you want to delete or keep, so use the additional keep and remove tools to customize the picture.

How to Use the Remove Background Feature in Word

After you insert an 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. Select the image.

  2. Go to the Picture Format tab and select Remove Background. In Word 2016 and older, go to the Format tab.

    If you don't see the Picture Format or Format tab, the image isn't selected or multiple images are selected. This tab is only available when one picture is selected.

    Remove Background button in Microsoft Word
  3. Decide if the area marked in pink is the area that you want to delete.

  4. To remove the pink highlight from a section of the image that you want to keep, select Mark Areas to Keep, then select the parts of the pink area that should not be removed. In Word for Mac, click What to keep.

  5. To highlight a section of the image that should be deleted, select Mark Areas to Remove, then select the parts of the image that should be removed. In Word for Mac, click What to remove.

    You may need to switch back and forth between the keep and remove tools to highlight the background area that will be removed.

    Mark Areas to Keep or Remove buttons in Word
  6. When the parts of the image that you want to delete are highlighted in pink, select Keep Changes.

  7. The modified image appears on the document canvas.

    Word with edited squirrel
  8. If you're not satisfied with the final image, go to the Picture Format tab, select Remove Background, then keep or remove parts of the image.

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 may take several attempts to choose which parts to delete and which parts to keep.