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How to crop a picture in PowerPoint (Step-by-Step)

In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to crop pictures in PowerPoint using the different tools and features that PowerPoint provides. This gives you more control over the images you use in your presentations and does not require Photoshop.

And there is more to cropping images than just resizing them for your slides. For example, you can:

  1. Crop images into circles (or other shapes)
  2. Crop images into specific aspect ratios to fit your slides better
  3. Reduce your image file size by cropping out the parts you don’t want
Examples of cropping an image to a shape vs. cropping an image to an aspect ratio in PowerPoint

Table of Contents

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If you decide to use the Crop to Aspect Ratio feature, you can quickly and easily make great slide backgrounds for your presentations.

Cropping pictures in PowerPoint (basics)

To crop a picture in PowerPoint, follow these steps:

  1. Select the picture you want to crop.
  2. Select the Picture Format tab
  3. Click the Crop command to enter cropping mode.
  4. Resize the Cropping Handles (they are black) on your photo.
  5. 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 are what is removed from your image. Only the colorful parts of your picture remain after you close the Crop command as you can see in the picture below.

When you use the crop command in PowerPoint, the greyed out area is what will be removed from your image, the colored area is what will remain

If you have a lot of pictures in your presentation, you can reduce your file size by compressing your images after you crop them. To learn how to compress your images in PowerPoint, read our guide here.

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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 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 into a shape.

Use the Crop to Shape command in the Picture Format tab to crop an picture into a circle or other shape

To crop a picture into a circle in PowerPoint:

  1. Select the picture you want to crop.
  2. Navigate to the Picture Format tab.
  3. Open the Crop dropdown.
  4. Select Crop to Shape.
  5. Choose the Circle shape (or other shape)
  6. Click the Crop tool again or hit Esc on your keyboard.

When you crop a rectangular image into a circle, it looks like the oval below.

Example using the edit shape, change shape command in PowerPoint to turn a rectangle image into a circle

Notice how the ladybug is not centered perfectly inside of the oval? If this happens to you, you will want to adjust the image. You can do that manually or use the Offset X and Offset Y commands in the Format Picture dialog box as discussed below.

Note: If you’d rather have your image be a circle instead of an oval, you need to start with a square picture (rather than a rectangle). Squares and circles have same height and width.

How to crop multiple pictures at once (‘Power Cropping’)

Instead of cropping your images one by one, you can also save yourself a lot of time by using SmartArt. This method allows you to quickly crop and resize all your pictures at once (detailed below).

Warning: This Power Cropping trick only works on PC versions of PowerPoint 2013 and later. If you have an earlier version of PowerPoint, this is one of many good reasons to consider upgrading soon.

Select your pictures and choose the Picture Layout dropdown to push all your images into SmartArt to quickly crop them all in PowerPoint

To crop and resize multiple pictures at the same time using SmartArt, simply:

  1. Select your images
  2. Navigate to the Picture Format tab
  3. Open the Picture Layout dropdown
  4. Select a SmartArt layout to crop your images

As you hover over the different SmartArt layouts, you get a live preview of how your pictures will be cropped and resized. Your goal at this stage is to find the shape that gets you closest to the shape you are looking for. You can adjust the shape later.

Below is an example of cropping pictures using the Bending Picture Semi-Transparent Text layout.

Example selecting the bending picture semi-transparent text SmartArt graphic to crop your pictures

After you choose a layout, you can then break the SmartArt graphic apart so that you can freely work with the cropped pictures.

Use the Convert to shapes command in the Picture Format tab to convert your SmartArt graphic to cropped pictures

To break your SmartArt graphic apart, simply hit Ctrl+Shift+G twice on your keyboard to Ungroup the object.

Alternatively, you can use the Convert to Shapes command:

  1. Select your SmartArt graphic
  2. Navigate to the SmartArt Design tab
  3. Open the Convert dropdown
  4. Select Convert to Shapes

That turns your SmartArt graphic into a group of cropped pictures that you can then ungroup and use any way you like within your presentation. If any of the pictures aren’t cropped the way you like them, you can adjust the cropping as discussed below.

How to adjust a cropped image in PowerPoint

Select your photo and click the Crop command to adjust your image inside the cropped area

You can adjust what parts of your cropped image show within the cropped area in PowerPoint. To do that, simply:

  1. Select the cropped picture
  2. Navigate to the Picture Format tab
  3. Select the Crop tool
  4. Move the picture around within the frame (you can just click and drag, or readjust the black handlebars on the photo)
  5. 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.

Use the Offset X and Offset Y values to adjust your image within the cropped frame in PowerPoint

To adjust a cropped picture using the Offset X and Offset Y values, simply:

  1. Right-click your picture
  2. Select Format Picture
  3. Click on the Picture icon
  4. Under the Crop area, adjust the Offset X and Offset Y fields

Adjusting the Offset X value moves your picture horizontally within your cropped area. Adjusting the Offset Y value moves your picture vertically within your cropped picture area.

How to intersect a picture to a shape

The fastest and easiest way to crop to shape is to use 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. This saves you from having to do all the manual adjusting.

Open the merge shapes dropdown and select Intersect to intersect a shape with a picture in PowerPoint

To crop a picture to a shape using the Intersect command in PowerPoint simply:

  1. Insert the PowerPoint shape that you want and place it on top of your photo (in the picture above I’ve inserted an Explosion: 8 Points shape).
  2. Select the picture.
  3. While holding the Shift key, now select the shape (if you do it in the reverse order it won’t work).
  4. With the picture and shape selected, navigate to the Shape Format tab.
  5. Open the Merge Shapes tool.
  6. Select the Intersect command.

Selecting Intersect, the intersection points between the shape and picture are combined, as pictured below.

Example intersecting a shape with a picture in PowerPoint

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 Ratio crop tool.

This allows you to crop a photo down to either the 16:9 aspect ratio for widescreen monitors or the 4:3 aspect ratio for printed slides.

Use the Crop to Aspect ratio to automatically crop your image to your slide size

To crop a picture to the 16:9 aspect ratio, simply:

  1. Select the picture you want to crop.
  2. Navigate to the Picture Format tab.
  3. Open the Crop dropdown.
  4. Open the Aspect Ratio options.
  5. 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).
  6. Adjust your photo within the frame.
  7. 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 it.

Example of an image cropped to the 16:9 aspect ratio and resized to fit the entire PowerPoint slide

The Crop to Aspect Ratio command works best on photos that have a lot of negative space (like sky and sand, as pictured below). That’s because there is enough room in your photo to be cropped out and still look like a complete picture.

The negative space also works well for placing your content.

Example of negative space in an image that you can use in PowerPoint to display your content

When you don’t have a lot of negative space in your photo, cropping to aspect ratio 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).

Example of an image cropped into a 3D photo in PowerPoint

The trick is to overlay two photos and then use the cropping tools to create the 3D effect.

The 3-part process for creating a 3D image in PowerPoint is as follows:

  1. Find a high-quality image (see the blog post linked below for image requirements).
  2. Properly frame your picture in PowerPoint.
  3. 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, read our guide 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 many ways to do the same thing. Which one you use depends on your desired outcome.

Because adding visual elements like photos is critical to your success in designing your slides, I consider cropping photos a must-know in PowerPoint.

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