Make a picture transparent

Sometimes you want a picture in your document to be lighter so it doesn’t interfere with text. You can do that by adjusting the transparency of the picture inside of a shape. You can also make certain colors in a picture transparent.

Picture of flowers with 70% transparency
Picture with a transparency of 70%

You will have to take a few extra steps to make your whole picture transparent. You'll need to put your photo inside a shape first, and then change the transparency.

Tip:  If you have an image editing app, you can use it to make your picture transparent. Then save the picture in a format that preserves transparency information (such as a Portable Network Graphics (.png) file), and insert the file into your Office document.

In Office 2013 and Office 2016, you can make a picture transparent by drawing a shape, filling the shape with your picture, and then setting the transparency level of the picture.

Make the whole picture transparent by using a shape picture fill

  1. On the Insert tab of the toolbar ribbon, select Pictures and locate the picture file that you want to insert. Select the picture and then select the Insert button.

  2. Move the picture exactly where you want it to be placed, and resize it as necessary by using the corner sizing handles. (You won't keep this instance of the picture; we're just using it as a placement guide.)

  3. On the Insert tab of the ribbon, select Shapes, and then choose a shape, such as a rectangle, from the gallery that appears. Draw the shape over the picture you inserted in step 1.

  4. Remove the outline of the shape: right-click the shape and then click the Outline button that pops up. In the gallery that opens, select No Outline.

  5. Hide the picture from step 1 like so:

    1. On the Picture Tools Format tab on the ribbon, click Selection Pane near the right end.

      The Selection Pane button is near the right end of the Picture Toosl Format tab on the Ribbon
    2. In the Selection pane that opens, select the item named Picture  # and click the eye symbol The Visible symbol for items listed in the Selection pane to its right. The eye symbol becomes a horizontal line to indicate that the picture is now hidden instead of visible.

      The symbol for Visible items looks like an eye. The symbol for hidden items is a horizontal line, representing a closed eye

      We're hiding the picture because we used it simply to get an accurate size for the shape that we needed to draw. We'll reestablish the picture momentarily.)

  6. Right-click the shape again, and then click Format Shape.

    The Format Shape pane opens.

  7. In the Format Shape pane, under Fill, click Picture or texture fill.

    Picture or texture fill button on Format Picture pane

  8. Click the File button. Again locate the picture file that you want to insert. Select the picture and then select the Insert button.

  9. With the picture now showing inside the shape, move the Transparency slider in the Format Shape pane the to adjust the picture as you see fit.

    Transparency slide on Format Picture pane

Tip: If you change the original size ratio of your shape by dragging it, the picture you insert into the shape may be skewed. Also, some pictures may not fit perfectly into certain shapes. You can make adjustments to the appearance of your picture by resizing your shape or by using the Offset settings below the transparency slider.

Note:  If you're using PowerPoint, you can make a picture transparent and use it as a slide background.

Make part of a picture transparent

You can make one color in a picture transparent by using the built-in transparency feature.

Unlike making an entire picture transparent, making only one color transparent is possible only in an object that's inserted as a picture, not inside a shape. If your picture is inserted in a shape as fill, as described above, the Set Transparent Color option is not available.

Important: Areas that seem to be a single color (for example, green leaves) might actually be made up of a range of subtle color variations, and you might not get the effect you want. Setting a transparent color works best with simple, solid-color pictures, such as clip art.

  1. Double-click the picture, and when Picture Tools appears, click Picture Tools Format > Color.

    Color button menu opened from Picture Tools Format tab

  2. Click Set Transparent Color, and when the pointer changes, click the color you want to make transparent.

    Picture with pointer that appears after clicking Set Transparent Color

In the picture below, the leaves are composed of several colors of green, so only part of the leaves are made transparent, which makes it difficult to see the transparent effect. Repeating the process with a different color will remove the transparency from the first color. To undo color changes, click Reset Picture in the Adjust group.

Picture with part of the leaves made transparent

Note:  When you print pictures with transparent areas, the transparent areas are the same color as the paper. On your screen or a website, the transparent areas are the same color as the background.

In Office 2010, you can make a picture transparent by using a shape picture fill, or you can make one color in a picture transparent.

Make the whole picture transparent using a shape picture fill

  1. Add a shape, such as a rectangle.

  2. Right-click it, and then click Format Shape.

    Under Fill, click Picture or texture fill, and insert the picture from a location on your computer.

  3. Move the transparency slider until the picture is as light as you want.

  4. If you want, remove the shape outline.

Tip: If you change the original size ratio of your shape by dragging it, the picture you insert into the shape may be skewed. Also, some pictures may not fit perfectly into certain shapes. You can make adjustments to the appearance of your picture by resizing your shape or by using the Offset settings above the transparency slider.

Make part of a picture transparent

You can make one color in a picture transparent by using the built-in transparency feature.

Unlike making an entire picture transparent, making only one color transparent is possible only in an object that's inserted as a picture, not inside a shape. If your picture is inserted in a shape as fill, as described above, the Set Transparent Color option is not available.

Important: Areas that seem to be a single color (for example, green leaves) might actually be made up of a range of subtle color variations, and you might not get the effect you want. Setting a transparent color works best with simple, solid-color pictures, such as clip art.

  1. Double-click the picture, and when Picture Tools appears, click Picture Tools Format > Color.

    Color button menu opened from Picture Tools Format tab

  2. Click Set Transparent Color, and when the pointer changes, click the color you want to make transparent.

    Picture with pointer that appears after clicking Set Transparent Color

In the picture below, the leaves are composed of several colors of green, so only part of the leaves are made transparent, which makes it difficult to see the transparent effect. Repeating the process with a different color will remove the transparency from the first color. To undo color changes, click Reset Picture in the Adjust group.

Picture with part of the leaves made transparent

Note:  When you print pictures with transparent areas, the transparent areas are the same color as the paper. On your screen or a website, the transparent areas are the same color as the background.

In Office 2007, you can make a picture transparent by using a shape picture fill, or you can make one color in a picture transparent.

Make the whole picture transparent using a shape picture fill

  1. Insert a shape, such as a rectangle.

  2. Right-click it, and then click Format AutoShape.

  3. On the Colors and Lines tab, click Fill Effects, and in the Fill Effects dialog box, click Picture > Select Picture.

  4. In the Format AutoShape dialog box, lick the Colors and Lines tab, and move the transparency slider until the picture is as light as you want.

  5. If you want, remove the shape outline by clicking the Drawing Tools Format tab, clicking Shape Outline, and then clicking No Outline.

Make part of a picture transparent

You can make one color in a picture transparent by using the built-in transparency feature.

Important: Areas that seem to be a single color (for example, green leaves) might actually be made up of a range of subtle color variations, and you might not get the effect you want. Setting a transparent color works best with simple, solid-color pictures, such as clip art.

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

  2. Under Picture Tools, on the Format tab, in the Adjust group, click Recolor.

    Picture Tools tab

  3. Click Set Transparent Color, and then click the color in the picture or image that you want to make transparent.

    Notes: 

    • The Set Transparent Color option is available for bitmap pictures that are not already transparent, and some clip art.

    • You cannot create a transparent area in animated GIF pictures. You can, however, make transparency changes in an animated-GIF editing program, and then re-insert the file into your 2007 Microsoft Office system document.

    • You can make more than one color transparent in a picture in another image editing program, save the picture in a format that preserves transparency information (such as a Portable Network Graphics (.png) file), and then insert the file into your 2007 Office release document.

If you have comments or suggestions regarding these features, feel free to share them on the Office User Voice forum.

See also

Change the brightness, contrast, or sharpness of a picture

Change the color of a picture

Apply an artistic effect to a picture

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