Remove the background of a picture

You can remove a background from a picture to accent the subject or to remove distracting detail.

You can use the automatic background removal or draw lines to indicate the areas to keep and remove.

Background removal isn't available for vector graphic files, such as Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG), Adobe Illustrator Graphics (AI), Windows Metafile Format (WMF), and Vector Drawing File (DRW).

Your browser does not support video. Install Microsoft Silverlight, Adobe Flash Player, or Internet Explorer 9.
Purple flower with green leaf background

Original picture

Flower with background removed

Same picture with the background removed

  1. Select the picture that you want to remove the background from.

  2. Select Picture Format > Remove Background, or Format > Remove Background.

    Remove background button

    If you don't see Remove Background, make sure you selected a picture. You might have to double-click the picture to select it and open the Format tab.

  3. The default background area will be colored magenta to mark it for removal, while the foreground will retain its natural coloring.

  4. If the default area isn't correct, go to Background Removal > Picture Tools and do one or both of the following:

    • If parts of the picture that you want to keep are magenta (marked for removal), select Mark Areas to Keep and use the free-form drawing pencil Pencil used to draw tables to mark the areas on the picture that you want to keep.

    • To remove more parts of the picture, select Mark Areas to Remove and use the drawing pencil Pencil used to draw tables to mark those areas.

      The background removal buttons on the Picture Tools Format tab of the ribbon in Office 2016
  5. When you're done, select Keep Changes or Discard All Changes.

    To save the image in a separate file for later use, right-click the image and select Save as Picture.

You can apply an artistic effect or add picture effects to the picture remaining after you've removed the background.

  1. Select the picture that you want to remove the background from.

  2. Under Picture Tools, on the Format tab, in the Adjust group, select Remove Background.

    Remove Background button found in the Adjust group on the Picture Tools Format tab
  3. Click one of the handles on the marquee lines and then drag the line so that it contains the portion of the picture that you wish to keep, and excludes most of the areas you wish to remove.

    Flower with leaves in the background

    You can sometimes get the result you want without any additional work by experimenting with the position and size of the marquee lines.

    Tip: To undo marked areas, select Delete Mark and then select the line.

  4. If the default area isn't correct, go to Background Removal > Picture Tools and do one or both of the following:

    Background Removal group
    • Select Mark Areas to Keep and use the drawing pencil Pencil used to draw tables to mark the areas on the picture that you want to keep.

    • Select Mark Areas to Remove and use the drawing pencil Pencil used to draw tables to mark those areas to remove.

  5. When you're done, select Keep Changes or Discard All Changes.

    To save the image in a separate file for later use, right-click the image and select Save as Picture.

You can apply an artistic effect or add picture effects to the picture remaining after you've removed the background.

Remove the background of a picture

  1. Select the picture.

  2. On the Picture Format tab of the ribbon, select Remove Background.

    The Remove Background button is on the Picture Tools Format tab of the Ribbon in Office 2016.

    If you don't see Remove Background or the Picture Format tab, make sure that you've selected a picture. You might have to double-click the picture to select it and open the Picture Format tab.

  3. The default background area is colored magenta to mark it for removal, while the foreground retains its natural coloring.

  4. If the default area isn't correct, under Picture Tools, on the Background Removal tab, do one or both of the following:

    • Select Mark Areas to Keep and use the free-form drawing pencil Pencil used to draw tables to mark the areas on the picture that you want to keep.

    • Select Mark Areas to Remove and use the drawing pencil Pencil used to draw tables to mark those areas to remove.

      The background removal buttons on the Picture Tools Format tab of the ribbon in Office 2016
  5. When you're done, select Keep Changes or Discard All Changes.

    To save the image in a separate file for later use, right-click the image and select Save as Picture.

Expand your Office skills
Explore training
Get new features first
Join Office Insiders

Was this information helpful?

Thank you for your feedback!

Thank you for your feedback! It sounds like it might be helpful to connect you to one of our Office support agents.

×