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How to remove a background from an image in PowerPoint (Step-by-Step)

In this post you’ll learn how to remove the background from images in PowerPoint (as pictured below) using two different tools. Knowing how to use these tools is important because they give you more ways to use pictures in your presentations.

Example removing a background from an image in PowerPoint

Tool #1: The Set Transparent Color tool

This technique works best for pictures with 100% solid backgrounds (like the white backgrounds you find in stock photos). If your background is not 100% solid, you’ll have to use the Remove Background Tool instead.

Tool #2: The Remove Background tool

This tool works best for removing complicated backgrounds from photos and images. Also, this technique gives you the most flexibility when deciding what parts of the background to remove.

After removing your image background, you can then compress your images in PowerPoint to reduce your file size.

NOTE: If you are using a picture or image you found online, make sure you properly cite the creator or website you downloaded it from. To learn how to properly cite pictures and websites in your presentations, read our guide here.

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NOTE: These background removal techniques DO NOT work with vector graphic files such as SVGs, WMs and DRWs. If you have one of these files, you’ll first need to convert it to the JPEG or PNG file format to follow along.

You can alternatively make your image background transparent (instead of removing it) using the Set Transparent Color tool. See below for more details.

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Removing a white background from an image

The fastest way to remove an image background is to use the Set Transparent Color tool. The only catch is that it only works for removing solid colors, like white backgrounds.

To remove a white background, select your picture, picture format tab, open the color drop down and select set transparent color and select that color in your image

To remove a white background from an image in PowerPoint, simply:

  1. Insert and select a picture on your slide
  2. Navigate to the Picture Tools Format Tab
  3. Open the Color dropdown menu
  4. Select the Set Transparent Color tool (your cursor becomes a little pen with an arrow)
  5. Click on the color you want to remove from your background

PowerPoint turns that solid color transparent throughout your entire picture. In this case, the white background is removed.

Example of a picture with the white background removed

This technique works best when you have a fairly simple background as pictured above. If your background is more complicated, you’ll need to use the Remove Background Tool instead. We cover this option further down in this article.

When Set Transparent Color doesn’t work

The Set Transparent Color tool works very well if you have photos with solid backgrounds. You will find these types of backgrounds on a lot of the stock photos you find online, such as on Pexels.

Just keep in mind that the Set Transparent Color tool does have limitations.

Example #1: This technique does not work well if the content of the image and its background are too similar in color. Because the entire image below is white, the woman’s face is removed with the background.

Example of a problem when setting a transparent background when the whole image is basically the same color

Example #2: This technique does not well with backgrounds that have shadows or gradients. Because the Set Transparent Color tool only removes a single color, gradients and shadows will be left in.

Example problem of setting a transparent background color when the background is not entirely white, but is instead a gradient

Example #3: This technique does not work well because of the detailing (like strands of hair, clothing, and skin).

Example of setting a transparent background color when there are lots of details like hair and fingers in the image

For any of these types of scenarios, you’ll want to use the Remove Background tool instead.

Removing a complicated image background

To remove a complicated image background select your photo, Picture format and select remove background

To remove a background from an image, simply:

  1. Select the image on your slide
  2. Navigate to the Picture Format tab
  3. Select the Remove Background command
  4. Adjust your removal settings (described below)
  5. Select Keep Changes

The magenta background portion of your image is then removed from your photo, as pictured below.

Example of a complicated picture background remove from an image, letting the background color of your slide stand out

NOTE: Instead of removing the background from an image, you can instead add transparency to your picture. See how to do this, read our guide here.

Adjusting shat gets removed from your image

When you first select the Remove Background command, PowerPoint takes a guess at what you want to remove. In the picture below, that is shown in a pinkish (magenta) color.

The pink area in the photo is what PowerPoint is guessing you want to remove from the background (it doesn't always get this right).

While PowerPoint normally does a fairly decent job at guessing, it doesn’t always get it right.

Notice in the picture above that the woman’s arms are magenta, as is the bottom part of the man’s body. PowerPoint is guessing that those should be removed.

To fix it, all you need to do is specify what you want to keep and remove in your picture using the designated tools.

1. Mark areas to keep in your image

Select Mark Areas to Keep and color in the areas of the photo that you don't want removed from your image

If PowerPoint doesn’t guess correctly and removes too many parts of your image, you can simply mark the areas you want to keep. To do that, simply:

  1. Select Mark Areas to Keep
  2. Click and draw over the parts of your photo you want to keep (creates green marks)
  3. Select Keep Changes

PowerPoint readjusts the parts of your image background that are removed. You might need to repeat this a few times to get it right.

2. Mark areas to remove in your image

Select Mark Areas to remove and color in the areas of your photo that you do in fact want PowerPoint to remove from your image

If PowerPoint guesses incorrectly and leaves too much background, you can mark areas to remove. To do that, simply:

  1. Select Mark Areas to Remove
  2. Click and draw over the parts of your photo you want to keep in Red
  3. Select Keep Changes

PowerPoint readjusts what parts of your background are removed. Keep in mind that depending on the complexity of your image, you might need to do this a few times to get it right.

3. When remove background doesn’t work

While the Remove Background tool will work for most backgrounds you want to remove, there are some limitations.

Limitation #1: If your picture is too homogenous, even the marking areas to keep and remove may not work. Sharp crisp photos work best.

Example of a difficult photo to remove the background because the image is one solid color

Limitation #2: It can be hard to remove the background around small details (like the background around strands of hair, binder rings, etc.).

When removing a white background from an image, PowerPoint is not very good at removing the white background around small details

Limitation #3: If the background is a gradient, is too complex or has shadowing, removing the background can also be very challenging.

When using the remove background tool in PowerPoint, check your image to make sure that all of the aspect you want to keep are within the image

Undoing your background removal

By default, when PowerPoint removes the background from your image, it merely hides it from you.

That means that at anytime you can revert back to your original image or change your mind about what parts you want to remove.

To undo your background removal, select your photo, select Remove background and select discard all changes

To undo your background removal (or start over) simply:

  1. Select your photo with the removed background
  2. Navigate to the Picture Format tab
  3. Click Remove Background

Your image background reappears and you can make more edits (or select Discard All Changes to revert back fully).

The only time that you are not be able to revert to your original image is if you compress it. To learn more about your image compression options to save on file size, read our guide here.


In summary, while the Set Transparent Color tool is the fastest way to remove your image background, it only works some of the time.

That’s why I recommend that you familiarize yourself with the Remove Background tool. If you work with lots of images, this will become your go-to tool for removing backgrounds in PowerPoint.

If either of these methods doesn’t work, you can move over to Photoshop for more precision.

While PowerPoint’s picture editing features are GREAT… it’s hard to beat a dedicated picture editing program like Photoshop.

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