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How to Make an Image Transparent in PowerPoint

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PowerPoint 2019 (Office 365) New Feature

It's now easier than ever to make an image transparent in PowerPoint!

If you have PowerPoint 2019 with an Office 365 subscription, there is a NEW transparency tool built right into your Picture Tools Format tab.

To make an image background transparent using the Transparency Tool in Office 365, simply:

  1. Select your image or picture you want to make transparent
  2. Navigate to the Picture Tools Format Tab
  3. Open the Transparency Tool options
  4. Choose from one of the preset transparency options, or click on Picture Transparency Options to choose a custom setting.
In Office 365, you can make a picture transparent directly from the Picture Tool format tab and select the Transparency drop down

At the moment, this transparency tool is only available for Office 365 users.

Hopefully it will be added to the standalone version of PowerPoint 2019 soon (but I wouldn't hold my breath).

Instead of making your image background transparent, you can also remove your image background, see our step-by-step guide here.

If you want to compress your images to reduce your overall file size, see our image compression guide here.

If you don't have an Office 365 subscription, you are still in luck!

While creating transparent images is one of those zany things that is technically impossible in PowerPoint, you can use the below work around to accomplish the same thing as pictured below.

Example of two transparent images on top of each other to create a cool effect

How does it work (pre-2019)?

The trick to making an image transparent without the Office 365 subscription, is to first fill an rectangle or square with your image.

For whatever reason, PowerPoint allows you to add a transparent to a shape, but not to a picture.

So by first filling a shape with your picture, you are then allowed to make your image transparent. The basic steps are:

  1. Insert a Rectangle onto your slide
  2. Copy your picture (CTRL + C)
  3. Open the Format Shape dialog box and go to Fill
  4. Select Picture or texture fill and then click ​from Clipboard
  5. Add your Transparency

See the step-by-step tutorial below for additional details and tips.

Note: if you are applying a transparency to an artistic effect, you can do that directly from within the Artistic Effects dialog box. You can see an example of this in our photo to sketch blog post here.

[Watch] Make an Image Transparent (Pre-2019)

Step #1: Insert a rectangle onto your slide

From the Insert tab, find the Shapes gallery, select a rectangle and draw it onto your slide so that it’s the same height and width as your picture.

Once that’s done, move the rectangle a bit to the side.

Note: If your picture isn’t on your slide yet, make sure to do that as the first step.

Pro PowerPoint Tip

If your rectangle isn’t the same height and width as your picture, your picture will likely become distorted. To avoid any distortion, double-check that your shape is the same height and width of your image.

Insert a rectangle the same size as the picture

Step #2: Copy your picture

Select your picture and hit CTRL + C to copy it.

For other cool things you can do with the Copy, Clipboard Copy and Paste special shortcuts, check out the video below.

To see our 80 favorite PowerPoint shortcuts, check out our guide here.

Step #3: Open the ‘Format Shape’ dialog box

Right-click your shape, select the ‘Format Shape’ dialog box and navigate to the Shape Fill section.

Right-click your rectangle and select Format Shape to open the Format Shape dialog box

Step #4: Select ‘Picture or texture fill’

Here you have quite a number of options to work with. Since your picture is already on your slide and you have already copied it, just click the ‘Clipboard’ button. Doing so, your rectangle will fill itself with the picture.

Pro Tip: Lock Your Aspect Ratio

Whether you are making a transparent image or not, I highly recommend locking the aspect ratio of your rectangle.

That way your image won't accidentally get stretched and warped when you (or someone else) resizes the shape.

To lock the aspect ratio of your rectangle.

  1. Right-click your rectangle and select Size and Position
  2. Tick the box next to Lock aspect ratio
Pro Tip - lock the aspect ratio of your picture in the format picture dialog box

Option: Fill from File

Another option – the slower method – is to fill the shape with a picture from a file on your computer by choosing ‘File,’ and then selecting a picture.

 This method can be used when the picture is not already on your slide, but you risk warping it if the dimensions aren’t right (see warning in step #1).
For your rectangle, choose the Picture or texture fill and select from clipboard to paste your picture into the rectangle

Step #5: Adjust your image transparency settings

Now to make your picture transparent, simply use the transparency slider or input the % of transparency you would like. In this case I’m using 50%.

Adjust the picture transparency slider to add transparency to your picture

Troubleshooting warped pictures

If your picture appears warped or stretched, here are two things to double-check:

  1. Check that your rectangle has the same height and width dimensions of your picture. If your rectangle is larger or smaller, your photo will be stretched.
  2. Check that your offset values at the bottom of the dialog box are all set to 0%.
Double check your offsets if your picture is warped or doesn't look right

Transparent Background Examples

You might be wondering when you’d ever want to make an image or picture transparent?

The primary reason is that it opens up cool image overlays, allowing you to combine two different images together in one.

Below are some examples of transparent images that I've stack on top of each other to create cool effect. And as you an see, the sky is the limit!

Example of an image of the world and of a city, overlaid with a transparency to create a double layered photo effect
Example of two transparent images overlapped

Another example is if you are really excited about football like we are, you could take the members from your favorite team and superimpose them over your home stadium to create the blow cool effect!

Example of two transparent images overlapped

[Watch] Adv. Transparent Background Technique

If you are working with lots of images in PowerPoint and you want to make them all transparent, you can use my my Power Cropping technique.

Basically, you feel all of your pictures backwards through SmartArt, which automatically pushes all of your images into shapes so that you can then just adjust their transparency.

To see this advanced transparent background technique in action, watch the short video below.

You can see a step-by-step blog post of this video here.

Conclusion

As you can see, regardless of which version of PowerPoint you have, you can quickly make your photos transparent.

The easiest way is with the new transparency slide in the Microsoft Office 365 subscription. This allows you to quickly make your image backgrounds transparent.

If you enjoyed tutorial and want to take your PowerPoint skills to the next level, you can check out our PowerPoint training courses and resources here.

What's next?

Updated on July 23, 2019

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