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.

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

The bad news is that you 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. Here’s how it works:

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.

    Picture or texture fill button on Format Picture pane

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

    Transparency slide on Format Picture pane

  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 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. A word of caution: 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.

Important: 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.

  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.


Instead of making a picture transparent, you may want to change the brightness or contrast of it.

You can apply a variety of effects to a picture to make it unique. Try adding artistic effects, recoloring your picture, or changing the color intensity.

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.

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

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