In this tutorial you'll learn a variety of different ways to crop pictures in PowerPoint. This gives you more control over the images you use in your presentations.
And besides just resizing your images, cropping a picture also allow you to:
- Crop pictures into circles (or other shapes)
- Crop pictures to specific aspect ratios to fit your slides better
- Reduce your image file size by cropping out the parts of the photo you don't want (you'll just need to compress the images afterwards).
Note: If you are looking for royalty images, icons and templates you can use in your presentations, you can check out the Business Essentials Bundle from our friends at Presentation Pro using our affiliate link here.
[Watch] How to crop a picture
If you decide to use the Crop to Aspect Ratio feature, you can quickly and easily make great slide backgrounds for your presentations.
To learn all about creating your own PowerPoint backgrounds, read our backgrounds guide here.
How to crop a picture (step-by-step)
To crop a picture in PowerPoint, simply:
- Select the picture you want to crop.
- From the Pictures Tools Format tab select Crop to enter cropping mode.
- Resize the Cropping Handles (they are black) on your photo.
- Select Crop again (or hit the Esc key) to exit cropping mode.
After you adjust the black handlebars on your picture, the grey or faded parts will be removed from your picture. Only the colorful parts of your picture will remain (as you can see in the picture below).
If you add a lot of pictures to your presentation, you can reduce your PowerPoint file size by compressing your images after you crop them. To learn how to compress your images in PowerPoint, read our guide here.
Note: If you are using a picture or image that you found online, make sure you know how to properly cite it in your presentation. To learn all about how to cite sources in PowerPoint (including websites, pictures and books), read our citing guide here.
How to crop a picture into a circle (Crop to Shape)
Instead of just cropping an image down to a normal square or rectangle, you can also use PowerPoint’s cropping tool to immediately crop your image into a circle, triangle or other PowerPoint shape.
There are two different ways to do this. I personally prefer the second method - Intersect to Shape - but that feature is not available in all versions of PowerPoint, so let's first look at the most basic way to crop a picture to a shape.
To crop a picture to a circle, triangle, or other shape in PowerPoint, simply:
- Select the picture you want to crop to shape.
- Navigate to the Picture Tools Format tab.
- Open the Cropping Tool drop down.
- Select Crop to Shape.
- Select the Circle shape (or other shape)
- Click the Crop tool again or hit Esc on your keyboard.
If you cropped your picture to a circle (what's called a circle crop), it will now look like the picture below.
Now, notice in the picture above how the butterfly is not centered perfectly inside of the circle or oval?
If this happens to you, you will want to adjust the image using the Offset X and Offset Y commands in the Format Picture dialog box as discussed below.
How to crop multiple pictures at once (Power Cropping)
Instead of cropping your images one-by-one, you can also save yourself a BUNCH of time by using SmartArt to quickly crop and resize all your pictures at once.
To see how to do this, either click play below to see this trick in action, or scroll below for the step-by-step (this is pretty cool).
To see more PowerPoint tricks like this that will save you 40 hours a year in PowerPoint once you start using them, check out our free speed training course here.
Note: This Power Cropping trick only works in the PC versions of PowerPoint
To crop and resize multiple pictures at the same time using SmartArt, simply:
- Select your images
- Navigate to the Picture Format tab
- Open the Picture Layout drop down
- Select a SmartArt layout
As you hover over the different SmartArt layouts, you get a live preview of how your pictures will be cropped and resized.
Below is an example of cropping pictures using the Bending Picture Semi-Transparent Text layout.
After you choose a layout, you can then break the SmartArt graphic apart so that you can freely work with the cropped pictures.
To break your SmartArt graphic apart you can either hit Ctrl + Shift + G to Ungroup twice on your keyboard, or use the Convert to Shapes command.
- Select your SmartArt graphic
- Navigate to the SmartArt Design tab
- Open the Convert drop down
- Select Convert to Shapes
That turns your SmartArt graphic into a group of cropped pictures that you can then ungroup and use anyway you like within your presentation.
If any of the pictures aren't cropped the way you like them, you can adjust the cropped image as discussed below.
How to adjust a cropped image
You can adjust what parts of your cropped image show within the cropped area in PowerPoint. To do that, simply:
- Select the cropped picture
- From the Picture Tools Format tab select the Crop tool
- Move the picture around within the frame (you can just click and drag, or readjust the black handlebars on the photo)
- Select the Crop command again (or hit Esc) to exit cropping mode
You can also adjust your photo within the cropped area using the Offset X and Offset Y values in the Format Picture dialog box.
This is what I would recommend if you are stuck with an off centered picture inside your circle crop.
To adjust a cropped picture using the Offset X and Offset Y values, simply:
- Right-Click your picture.
- Select Format Picture.
- Click on the Picture Icon.
- Under the Crop area, adjust the Offset X and Offset Y fields.
Adjusting the Offset X value, moves your picture horizontally within the cropped picture area you selected.
Adjusting the Offset Y value, moves your picture vertically within the cropped picture area you selected.
How to Intersect to a shape
The fastest and easiest way to crop to shape, is using the Intersect command in PowerPoint 2013 and later.
The reason it’s faster and easier is that you can draw the shape directly over the part of the photo that you want inside the shape, without having to do all the manual adjusting.
To crop a picture to a shape using the Intersect command in PowerPoint simply:
- Insert the PowerPoint shape that you want, on top of your photo (in the picture above I’ve inserted an Explosion: 8 Points).
- First select the picture, then while holding the Shift key, select the shape that you want to intersect with the photo (if you do it in the reverse order it won’t work).
- With the picture and shape selected, navigate to the Drawing Tools Format tab.
- Open the Merge Shapes tool.
- Select the Intersect command.
Selecting Intersect, the intersection points between the shape and picture are combined, as pictured below.
How to crop a picture to an aspect ratio
The fastest way to turn a photo into a full screen visual image for your slide background is to use the Aspect Ration crop tool.
That allows you to crop a photo down to either the 16:9 aspect ratio for widescreen monitors, or the 4:3 aspect ratio, which is perfect for printed slides.
To crop a picture to the 16:9 aspect ratio, simply:
- Select the picture you want to crop.
- Navigate to the Picture Tools Format tab.
- Open the Crop drop down.
- Open the Aspect Ratio options.
- Choose your aspect ratio. In the picture above I chose 16:9 for widescreen photos (another common aspect ratio is 4:3 for printed slides).
- Adjust your photo within the frame.
- Hit the Crop command again or hit Esc on your keyboard.
Once you have cropped it to the 16:9 aspect ratio, your photo should fit PERFECTLY on your 16:9 slide. Just make sure you hold the Shift key while you enlarge your image so you don’t accidentally warp your picture.
To learn how to change between the 4:3 and 16:9 slide sizes, see our post here for details.
The crop to aspect ratio command works best on photos that have a lot of negative space (sky, sand or other aspect, as pictured below).
When you don’t have a lot of negative space in your photo, cropping to aspect ratio greatly increases the size of the main people or objects in your photo.
3D picture cropping trick
Another clever cropping trick in PowerPoint allows you to create 3D pictures in PowerPoint, as you can see with the apple below (what is known as an out of bounds effect).
The trick is to overlay two photos and then use your cropping tools to create the 3D effect (also known as an out of bounds picture).
The 3 part process for cropping out 3D pictures is to.
- Find a high quality image (see blog post for image requirements).
- Properly frame your picture in PowerPoint.
- Overlay and crop your images down to create the 3D picture effect.
To see the step-by-step process for creating 3D pictures like this, check out our blog post here.
So that's how to crop a picture in PowerPoint, and a variety of the formatting options you have available to you.
Like many things in PowerPoint, there are a variety of different ways to do the same thing, depending on your desired outcome.
Because adding visual elements like photos is critical to your success designing PowerPoint slides, I consider cropping photos a must know in PowerPoint.
If you enjoyed the depth of this tutorial and want to learn more about our online training courses and other free resources, visit us here.