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How to Crop Pictures in PowerPoint (Step-by-Step)


In this tutorial you'll learn a variety of different ways to crop pictures in PowerPoint to meet your needs, using PowerPoint's built in picture cropping tools.

These cropping tools allow you to not only tweak your photos and images on the fly, they also allow you crop to shapes and crop to aspect ratios to quickly create full slide background images.

Comparison of cropping to a shape versus cropping to an aspect ratio

Cropping to a 4:3 or a 16:9 aspect ratio is the fastest way to create full screen images for your slide backgrounds. To learn more about switching between the 4:3 and 16:9 slide sizes, see our guide here.

If your images are too big for your presentation, you can learn to reduce your PowerPoint file size by compressing your images here.

[Watch] Picture Cropping Tutorial

To learn some of my best PowerPoint tips and tricks that could save you 40 hours in PowerPoint this year (including how to Power Crop your photos) check put my free series here.

How to crop a picture (step-by-step)

To crop an image in PowerPoint, from the Picture tools format tab click the Crop command

To crop a picture in PowerPoint, simply:

  1. Select the picture you want to crop.
  2. From the Pictures Tools Format tab select Crop to enter cropping mode.
  3. Resize the Cropping Handles (they are black) on your photo.
  4. 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).

Example of what will be kept and removed after cropping an image in PowerPointbutterfly

Can you crop multiple pictures at the same time in PowerPoint?

Using the default cropping tools, you can only crop one photo at a time.

If you want to crop multiple pictures at the same time, see our guide here.

Adjusting a cropped image

You can adjust what parts of your cropped image shows within the cropped area, To do so, simply:

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

Adjusting your crop settings with the Offset X and Offset X options in the Format Picture dialog box
  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.

Crop to Shape

Instead of just cropping an image down to a normal square or rectangle shape, you can also use PowerPoint’s cropping tool to immediately crop your image to a shape like a triangle, circle or even an 8 point explosion shape.

There are two different ways to do this. I personally prefer the second method described next - Intersect to Shape - but that feature is not available in all versions of PowerPoint.

To crop a picture to a circle, triangle, or other PowerPoint shape, simply:

To crop to a shape in PowerPoint, open the crop drop down, select the crop to shape options and select your shape
  1. Select the picture you want to crop to shape.
  2. Navigate to the Picture Tools Format tab.
  3. Open the Cropping Tool dropdown.
  4. Select Crop to Shape.
  5. Select the shape you want to crop to.
  6. When you are finished, click the Crop tool again or hit Esc on your keyboard.

Cropping a picture to a circle (or oval) will look like this:

Example of a picture cropped to a circle

Although this default method works on all versions of PowerPoint, if you have PowerPoint 2013 or later, you’ll like the next method better.

Intersect to 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 simply:

To insert to a shape, first select your image, then the shape you want to intersect to, then from the Merge shapes tool select Intersect
  1. Insert the PowerPoint shape that you want, on top of your photo (in the picture above I’ve inserted an Explosion: 8 Points).
  2. 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).
  3. With the picture and shape selected, navigate to the Drawing Tools Format tab.
  4. Open the Merge Shapes tool.
  5. Select the Intersect command.

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

Example of the butterfly image intersected to a star explosion shape in PowerPoint

Crop to 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 a 16:9 aspect ratio, simply:

To crop to a 16:9 aspect ratio, from the Crop drop down, select Aspect Ratio and select 16:9
  1. Select the picture you want to crop.
  2. Navigate to the Picture Tools Format tab.
  3. Open the Crop drop down.
  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 your picture.

To learn how to change between the 4:3 and 16:9 slide sizes, see our post here for details.

If you crop to a 16:9 aspect ratio, you can then resize the image to fit across your entire 16:9 slide sizeslide

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).

Examples of negative space in a photo where you can put text

​​​​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.

Instead of cropping your picture, you can also remove your background image instead (see here for details) or make your background image transparent (see here for details).

Cropping out 3D pictures

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 picture using the out of bounds effectpicture in PowerPoint

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.

  1. Find a high quality image (see blog post 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, check out our blog post here.


As you can see, there are a variety of different ways to crop an image in PowerPoint depending on the outcome you are looking for.

To learn more about our PowerPoint training courses and free online tutorials, visit us here.

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Updated on August 5, 2019

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