February 17, 2021

Pro Tips: How to Make an Image Transparent in PowerPoint

Have you ever wanted to make images transparent in PowerPoint, but you’re worried it’s way too complicated? Then keep reading – this article may surprise you!

PowerPoint makes it easy to make images transparent without needing special software or expertise.


Transparent Pictures in PowerPoint

Using transparent background pictures on slides is a great way to set the scene for written content. Facts, figures, diagrams and icons can be also enhanced with transparent images. And the best thing is, you only need one presentation program: Microsoft PowerPoint!

If you’re working with a pre-2016 Microsoft Office package, transparency is achieved by filling a basic shape (circle, square, etc.) with your picture. After that, the transparency level can be adjusted. Post 2016 and with the release of Microsoft Office 365, transparency has become even easier via the new option, Picture Format. You can choose the right transparency level in the practical preview view.


Why transparent images?

PowerPoint has so much more to offer than just white backgrounds. In this article, you’ll learn more about transparency and the effect is has on text and data. You’ll learn how to quickly turn an image into a subtle watermark for a slide background. You’ll also learn how to make only select colors in images transparent. With all these tips, you’ll be able to focus your audience on the key content on your slides. Give it a try!


What is transparency in PowerPoint?

Transparency is a term used in computer-generated imagery. It refers to image elements that allow you to see what’s underneath. Opacity, or non-transparency, is its counterpart. The opacity and transparency of an image always add up to 100%.

When you make parts of images transparent, these areas take on the color of the paper in print media and the color of the page background in software and web applications. When saving image files with transparent image areas, be sure to save them in a special format, such as a PNG file.


How do I make an image transparent in PowerPoint?

It’s easy! And this tutorial will show you how. Just a quick note before we get started: You can’t edit an imported image with fixed transparent properties in PowerPoint. You can only customize the transparency of an image within the presentation software if the transparency was created in the program itself. Making images transparent in earlier (pre-2016) PowerPoint versions requires a small, extra step which we’ll explain below.

Before we start, it’s important to understand the process. Pure image files cannot be made transparent using pre-2016 PowerPoint software. Only filled shapes can be made transparent. You can use basic shapes, such as arrows, stars, squares and rectangles and then fill them with images. Since most graphics have a rectangular, standard format, we like to use a similar base shape as well.

Step 1:

Open a new presentation or one that has already been saved. Shapes is found in the Insert tab. Under Basic Shapes, you’ll find arrows, circles, rectangles, squares, etc. Select one that matches the shape of your image as closely as possible.


Step 2:

Click on the slide to insert your basic shape (a rectangle in our example). To size the shape, hold the left mouse button while dragging it. Its dimensions should match those of your image. Once you’ve created your shape, you can further modify its size and position it by right clicking the shape and selecting Format shape….

Tip: By holding down the Shift key, you can create perfectly even circles and squares when dragging objects.


Step 3:

The Format Shape menu will open on the right side of your screen. In the Shape Options tab, go to Fill & Line > Fill > Picture or texture fill. Under Picture source, click Insert and select From a File. Now you can browse your computer for the image you’d like to insert. Click Open to import the image.


Step 4:

Your image will now be a rectangular shape in Microsoft PowerPoint. Go to the Format Picture menu (the name changes when you insert an image) and under Texture, use the slider to adjust the transparency level. You can even type in a value. Sliding to the right increases the transparency. A value of 100 makes the graphic completely transparent.


Quick guide: How to make images transparent

  1. Go to the slide where you want to create your transparent PowerPoint image.
  2. Select Shapes in the Insert tab.
  3. Select a shape and drag it into position on the slide. To do this, hold down the left mouse button.
  4. Right-click your shape to open the Format Shape… menu.
  5. A new menu will open on the right-hand side of your screen. Select Fill, then Picture or texture fill.
  6. Go to Picture source > Insert > From a File to select your image from your computer. Click Open to add it to the shape on your slide.
  7. In the same menu under Texture, you’ll find the transparency slider. Use it to adjust the transparency level.


New Microsoft Office 365 feature: Create transparent images with PowerPoint

Until now, the only way to make images transparent in Microsoft PowerPoint was the extra step detailed above. With PowerPoint 2016, this step became obsolete. In this section, we’ll show you how to use this Microsoft Office 365 feature.

  1. Go to the Picture Format tab. Select Transparency in the Adjust group.
  2. Use the preset options to choose your desired level of transparency or select Picture Transparency Options… to customize the transparency level.

Note: The previous method also works in the newest PowerPoint versions.

For advanced PowerPoint users:

Did you know that you can also export a transparent PowerPoint image? To do this, simply group the desired image with the text. Right-click the image, select Save As Picture and save it as a PNG (Portable Network Graphics) file. The transparent image area will remain whenever you embed it in other Microsoft Office documents. Since this is a PNG file, transparent image areas are saved with an alpha channel.


How to set a transparent PowerPoint image as a background

Is the default white presentation background too bland? Do you want to showcase your text more? Are you looking for an eye-catching title slide? Then a transparent picture background may just be what you’re looking for. An image used as a background is referred to as a watermark. A watermark can consist of text and/or images. In this section you’ll learn how to watermark an image in just a few easy steps.

  1. Open your PowerPoint document and go to the slide you want to add a transparent watermark to.
  2. Right-click the slide and select Format background… from the menu.
  3. Select Picture or texture fill and browse your computer for the image you want to insert. To do this go to Picture source > Insert… > From a File.
  4. Click Insert to confirm your selection.
  5. Still in the Format Background menu, select the desired transparency level under Transparency.

Tip: You can apply the same effect to all your slides by selecting Apply to All in the Format Background menu. This menu also allows you to make Picture Corrections and adjust Offset, Scale and Alignment.


Other ways to make images transparent

Sometimes you only want certain parts or colors of a picture to be transparent. This is when the Set Transparent Color option comes in handy. FYI: This option isn’t available if you’ve inserted your image to a shape as a shape fill.


How to make a color transparent in PowerPoint

Set Transparent Color allows you to make just one color transparent in an image. Pictures usually consist of a large range of color variations and nuances so this feature may not produce the desired effect.  The best results come from using simple, solid-color images or clip art.

  1. Open PowerPoint and insert the image you want. Double-click it.
  2. Picture Tools will open at the top. From there, select Picture Tools Format.
  3. Click on Color and select Set Transparent Color from the drop-down menu. Or select Transparency in the Adjust group.


4. When your mouse pointer changes, go to your image and click the color you want to make transparent.

Note: You can always undo the partial transparency if you aren’t happy with it. Simply go to the Adjust group and select Reset Picture.


Removing backgrounds in PowerPoint: another kind of transparency

Remove Background can be used to remove parts of an image that distract from the area you want to highlight. Maybe the background of an image is too dramatic and distracting. Or maybe you want to add a stamp next to a signature and need to remove other elements to avoid clutter. Microsoft Office helps you choose between areas to keep and areas to remove with its Background Removal options.

The Background Removal option is available in Microsoft PowerPoint from 2016 on. This tab allows you to select the areas you want to keep and the areas you want to remove.

Remove Background can be found in the Adjust group after clicking on Picture Format on the ribbon.


Creating Transparent Images in PowerPoint Is Fun and Easy

Making images transparent in Microsoft is easy and needs no extra expertise or image editing software. You can edit directly in PowerPoint right from the start. Earlier Microsoft Office versions require a small, simple step which even absolute beginners can easily learn. With versions 2016 and later, formatting image transparency is even easier.

Set Transparent Color allows you to make selected colors of simple images transparent. This works exceptionally well with clip arts.

Transparent images are great for elevating your slides and giving them even more visual appeal. It allows you to draw your audience’s attention to your key messages and creates the right mood for your presentation.

Try it out in your next PowerPoint presentation. Your audience will be thrilled.

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Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. Or… put the image that you want transparent on your slide. Then insert a rectangle shape over the top of the image.
    Format the shape to remove the outline, and then go to Fill, add a Solid fill of White and set the Transparency as you wish


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