Make a picture's background transparent or opaque

Important: September 22, 2016: When creating PDF files via the Publisher 2016 feature Export to Create PDF/XPS Document, documents containing images that have been reformatted such as recolored or adjusted transparency do not show the changes on the PDF file.

This issue is now fixed in the latest Office version 16.0.7341.2032 released on 9/22. The notification to update to the latest version is getting rolled out incrementally to our customers, but you can update immediate by opening any Office 2016 application and choosing File > Account >Update Options > Update Now.

If a picture has transparent areas, you can change them to opaque (white fill) or from opaque back to transparent again so that the background color or image shows through. You cannot use the opacity level to make the background semi-opaque.

Add a transparent area to a picture

If the picture does not have a transparent area, you can make one. You can create a transparent area in most pictures.

  1. Select the picture that you want to create transparent areas in.

  2. Click Picture Tools > Recolor > Set Transparent Color.

  3. In the picture, click the color you want to make transparent.

    Tip: Using Publisher 2007? Look for the Picture toolbar that appears when you click on your picture, then click Set Transparent Color.


  • The Set Transparent Color option is available for bitmap pictures that don't already have transparency information. It's also available for some, but not all, clip art.

  • To create a transparent area in an animated GIF, use an animated GIF editing program, and then insert the file again.

Change from transparent to opaque

  1. Select the picture.

  2. Press CTRL+T.

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