How to Remove the Background of a Photo in Photoshop or PowerPoint

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Written by Pamela Vaughan

You know what one of my biggest design pet peeves is? When I’m trying to design something, but there’s an unwanted background on the image I’m using. Either I want to remove the photo background altogether, or I prefer a transparent background so the image assumes the look of any other background I put behind it.

Take the image on the left above, which is from our free, downloadable collection of holiday stock photos.  That image would be so much more useful to my call-to-action, SlideShare presentation, blog post, or ebook if I could just remove that pesky background so it looked like the image on the right. Or maybe you’ve downloaded another one of our collections of free stock photos that could also use a transparent background.

Luckily, there is something you can do about it. Using either Photoshop or PowerPoint, you can easily remove the background of your photo or image in no time. And I’m going to show you exactly how to do it. First, grab an image to practice with …

Download our newest collection of royalty-free stock photos, and choose an image.

Got an image whose background you want to remove? Great — let’s get started!

Because some of you may not have Photoshop at your disposal, let’s start with instructions for PowerPoint. You can also jump down to the instructions for Photoshop here.

How to Remove a Photo Background in PowerPoint

Keep in mind that you’ll need to be using Office 2010 or later, and because PowerPoint isn’t as sophisticated as Photoshop, it may not work for some of the more difficult images. But if you don’t have access to Photoshop, this could be just what you need.

1) Insert the image into PowerPoint.
Images with white/solid backgrounds or those that have high contrast with the foreground are the easiest to manipulate in PowerPoint.

2) First, click on your image. Then, under ‘File’ (on a PC) or ‘Adjust’ (on a Mac) in your toolbar, choose ‘Remove Background.’

3) PowerPoint will automatically try to remove the background … but it probably won’t get it right.

4) Using the options in the toolbar, click to mark areas you want to keep or remove from the final cropped image.

See how it’s cutting off part of shark boy’s torso above? First, drag the box around the image so it includes the entire area of the image you want to keep.

Keep in mind that the areas highlighted in purple will ultimately be removed. Using the Mark Areas to Remove option in the toolbar, click on any additional areas you would like to remove — they will feature a minus sign. And if there are purple areas you actually want to keep, use the Mark Areas to Keep option in the toolbar and click to mark areas you want to keep — they will feature a plus sign.

To be more precise with the areas you’re clicking on, zoom in on your image.

If you happen to mistakenly include or exclude something, just click on the plus or minus sign that covers the area, and it will disappear.

5) Click somewhere outside of the image when you’re finished … and voila!

6) Last but not least, save the image as a PNG file to preserve its transparent background.

[Click here to read how to remove a background in Photoshop]

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