Make a picture transparent

Transparency in three clicks

To make a picture transparent in Office, use Washout:

  1. Select the picture.

  2. On the Picture Tools Format tab of the toolbar ribbon, select Color The Color button on the Picture Tools Format tab of the Ribbon in Office . Under Recolor, select Washout (the fourth option from the left in the first row.)

You can't fine-tune the degree of transparency, but you get a lightened picture quickly. If you need more control over the image, click a procedure heading below to expand it and see the details.

On the Picture Tools Format tab of the toolbar ribbon, select Color. Under Recolor, select Washout.

More flexible transparency options

Draw a shape, fill it with a picture, and then adjust the picture's transparency:

  1. On the Insert tab of the ribbon, select Shapes, and then choose a shape, such as a rectangle, from the gallery that appears.

  2. Draw the shape in your document.

    It's important that the proportions of the shape are the same as the image you're about to add to it. If the proportions of the picture and shape differ, the picture will be skewed.

  3. 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.

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

    The Format Shape pane opens.

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

    Picture or texture fill button on Format Picture pane

  6. Click the File button. In the Insert Picture dialog box, locate the picture file that you want to insert. Select the picture and then select the Insert button.

  7. 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.

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.

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, please share them on the Office User Voice forum.

Transparency in three clicks

To make a picture transparent in Office, use Washout:

  1. Select the picture.

  2. On the Picture Tools Format tab of the toolbar ribbon, select Color The Color icon on the Picture Tools Format tab of the ribbon . Under Recolor, select Washout (the fourth option from the left in the first row.)

You can't fine-tune the degree of transparency, but you get a lightened picture quickly. If you need more control over the image, click a procedure heading below to expand it and see the details.

Click the Color button, and then under Recolor select Washout

More flexible transparency options

Draw a shape, fill it with a picture, and then adjust the picture's transparency:

  1. On the Insert tab of the ribbon, select Shapes, and then choose a shape, such as a rectangle, from the gallery that appears.

  2. Draw the shape in your document.

    Take care to match the proportions of the image you're about to add to the shape. If the proportions of the image and shape differ, the image will be skewed.

  3. Remove the outline of the selected shape: With the shape still selected, on the Drawing Tools Format tab on the toolbar ribbon, select Shape Outline and then select No Outline.

    Select Shape Outline, and then choose No Outline from the menu that appears
  4. Right-click the shape and select Format Shape.

    The Format Shape dialog box opens.

  5. Under Fill, select Picture or texture fill, and then select the File button.

    The Format Picture dialog box

    The Insert Picture dialog box opens.

  6. In the Insert Picture dialog box, locate the picture that you want, select it, and then select Insert.

    The Insert Picture dialog box

    The picture is added to slide, inside the shape. You may need to move the Format Picture dialog box to see it. Keep the dialog box open to adjust the transparency.

  7. With the picture now showing inside the shape, in the Format Picture dialog box, move the Transparency slider rightward to adjust the picture as you see fit.

    Slide the Transparency bar rightward to adjust the background image

  8. Select Close to dismiss the dialog box.

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.

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.

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, please share them on the Office User Voice forum.

Transparency in three clicks

To make a picture transparent in Office, use Washout:

  1. Select the picture.

  2. On the Picture Tools Format tab of the toolbar ribbon, select Recolor The Recolor button . Under Color Modes, select Washout (the third option from the left.)

You can't fine-tune the degree of transparency, but you get a lightened picture quickly. If you need more control over the image, click a procedure heading below to expand it and see the details.

Select the Recolor button, and then, under Color Modes, select the Washout option

More flexible transparency options

Insert a picture, inside a shape, at the precise size you want, and then adjust its transparency:

  1. On the Insert tab of the ribbon, select Shapes, and then choose a shape, such as a rectangle, from the gallery that appears.

  2. Draw the shape in your document.

    Take care to match the proportions of the image you're about to add to the shape. If the proportions of the image and shape differ, the image will be skewed.

  3. Remove the outline of the selected shape: On the Drawing Tools Format tab on the toolbar ribbon, select Shape Outline and then select No Outline.

    Select Shape Outline, and then choose No Outline from the menu that appears
  4. Right-click the shape and select Format Shape.

    The The Format Shape dialog box opens.

  5. Under Fill, select Picture or texture fill, then select the File button.

    The Format Picture dialog box

    The Insert Picture dialog box opens.

  6. In the Insert Picture dialog box, locate the picture that you want, select it, and then select Insert.

    The Insert Picture dialog box

    The picture is added to slide, inside the shape. You may need to move the Format Picture dialog box to see it. Keep the dialog box open to adjust the transparency.

  7. With the picture now showing inside the shape, in the Format Picture dialog box, move the Transparency slider rightward to adjust the picture as you see fit.

    Slide the Transparency bar rightward to adjust the background image

  8. Select Close to dismiss the dialog box.

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.

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, please share them on the Office User Voice forum.

See Also

Remove the background of a picture

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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