Every so often, you might want to remove the background from an image in your Word document, leaving a transparent area instead. You could turn to a full-featured image editor, but you can also do this right within Microsoft Word. Here’s how.

There are many reasons why you may want to remove the background from an image. Perhaps you want to focus on one particular person or object without the background getting in the way. Maybe the background color doesn’t fit well with other colors in your document. Or maybe you just want to use Word’s text wrapping tools to get the text wrapped tighter around the image. Whatever your reason, removing the background from an image in Word is pretty easy.

The caveat here is that Word’s image editing tools are not as sophisticated as those you’ll find in something like Photoshop, or even other image editing apps. They work best if you have a fairly simple image with a clearly-defined subject.

How to Remove the Background from an Image in Word

We’re going to assume you’ve already inserted the image into your Word document. If not, go ahead and do that now.

Click the image to select it. When you do that, you’ll notice an additional “Format” tab appear on the Ribbon. Switch to that tab and then click the “Remove Background” button on the far-left side.

Remove Background in Word

Word colors the background the image in magenta; everything in magenta will get removed from the image. This Is Microsoft’s attempt at auto-detecting the background of an image.

Auto-detect remove background image

As you can see, Word isn’t quite sophisticated enough to accurately pick out the background on most images. That’s ok. Word provides two tools for helping you clean things up.

You should now see a new “Background Removal” tab on the Ribbon with a few options: Mark Areas to Keep, Mark Areas to Remove, Discard All Changes, and Keep Changes.

Returning to our example, you can see that Word didn’t correctly mark part of the background—there’s some grass still visible right in front of our tiger’s face. Word also marked part of the tiger (the area behind his head) incorrectly as part of the background. We’re going to use both the “Mark Areas to Keep” and “Mark Areas to Remove” tools to fix that.

Let’s start with the areas we want to keep. Click the “Mark Areas to Keep” button.

Background removal options

Your pointer changes to a pen that lets you highlight the areas of the image you want to keep. You can click a spot or draw a little bit. You’ll have to experiment with your image to find what works best. Keep in mind that you can undo an action if you go too far, or you can click the “Discard All Changes” button to wipe out all your changes and start over.

When you’re done marking things, you can click anywhere outside the image to see the effect. After marking some areas on our tiger to keep, we now have an image that looks a bit like this.

Image with background mostly removed

Next, we’re going to mark the areas we want to remove from the image. In our case, it’s that bit of background that still remains. This time click the “Mark Areas to Remove” button.

Mark areas to remove

Again, your pointer turns into a pen. This time, click or paint the areas you want to remove from the image. They should turn magenta as you do so.

Click outside the image at any time to check your work. When you’re satisfied, click the “Keep Changes” button on the “Background Removal” tab.

Keep Changes

You should now have a clean, back-ground free image!

Background free image

That’s all there is to it!

Profile Photo for Marshall Gunnell Marshall Gunnell
Marshall is a writer with experience in the data storage industry. He worked at Synology, and most recently as CMO and technical staff writer at StorageReview. He's currently an API/Software Technical Writer based in Tokyo, Japan, runs VGKAMI and ITEnterpriser, and spends what little free time he has learning Japanese.
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