How to Remove the Background from a Picture in PowerPoint

So, you’re making your PowerPoint presentation and realise that some parts of an image are too distracting? Or you’re being creative and want to be able to cut out an element from the photo and put it on a different slide to create a completely different setting. Thankfully, PowerPoint is packed with picture-editing tools and you don’t need to resort to a third-party app to remove the background from a picture.

Today, with the help of a cactus (how Millennial of us!) we’ll show you how to remove the background from a picture in PowerPoint. Of course, there are online tools you can consider, too, but PowerPoint does a pretty good job. Let’s see how it works.

Removing picture background in PowerPoint

1. Open your presentation (or start a new one, whatever suits you) and go to the slide and the image you want to edit.

2. Click on the image. This will bring up the Picture Format tool and on its far-left side you’ll see the Remove Background option.

Removing background from a picture first step

3. Click on Remove Background to discard the background of the selected picture. PowerPoint is normally good at identifying what’s background and what’s not.

Remove picture background PPT

4. Now you want to mark the areas you want to keep and those you want to remove. We see that PowerPoint coloured in magenta all the areas it considers background. We want to keep the cactus intact, so we’ll start working with the Mark Areas to Keep tool. The cursor turns into a green pencil when you start selecting (see the gif below).

5. The software identifies similar-looking areas and does the rest of the marking for you, you don’t even need to be super precise with the pen. Here’s the result.

Picture background removed PPT

If there’s any remaining background on your picture, remove it with the Mark Areas to Remove tool. It will paint the selection red.

6. Now that you’re finished editing, click Keep changes.

Did we forget to mention that you can see how the pros do it? Watch this short clip of PowerPoint MVP Julie Terberg where she removes picture background in a couple of easy steps. Julie took part in the Design panel in the biggest presentation skills event in the world, Present to Succeed, and you can now grab your ticket for this year’s edition!

YouTube video

Set transparent background

There’s another option to remove the background of an image, but it works only for solid-colour backgrounds (no shades, no highlights, just solid monochrome). Here’s what you need to do:

1. Select the image you want to edit and click on the Picture Format tool.

2. This time click the Color option.

3. From the Color dropdown select Set transparent color and click on the background area of the picture.

Set transparent background PPT

And there you are. Remember to save your presentation to avoid losing changes.

Now you know how to remove the background from a picture in PowerPoint. We promise no cacti were harmed during the making of this article. If you like what you read, why don’t you check out our PowerPoint Tips and Tricks e-book. It’s free and it’s awesome.