Excel Logo on a gray background

Removing a distracting background from an image allows your audience to focus on the subject matter. Though it’s not known for its image editing suite, you can do this using Microsoft Excel. Here’s how it’s done.

First, open the Excel application and insert an image (Insert > Picture) that contains the background that you want to remove.

Once it’s been inserted, you’ll automatically be in the “Picture Format” tab. Here, click “Remove Background,” which is found in the “Adjust” group.

Once it’s been selected, the background of the image will appear magenta while the foreground remains untouched. The portion of the image that’s highlighted in magenta is the area to be removed.

RELATED: How to Remove the Background from a Picture in Microsoft PowerPoint

Microsoft Excel is generally pretty good about accurately highlighting the areas you’d expect to be removed from an image, but it’s not always 100% accurate. In most cases, you’ll need to do some minor touch-ups.

To mark areas of the image that weren’t highlighted for removal by default, click “Mark Areas to Remove” in the “Refine” group of the “Picture Format” tab. For areas that were highlighted that you want to keep, click “Mark Areas to Keep.”

Mark areas to remove

In either case, your cursor will change to a drawing pencil once it’s been selected. Click and drag the cursor around the areas that you’d like to remove.


Marking areas for removal

Alternatively, click and drag the cursor around the areas that you’d like to keep.


Marking areas to keep

Next, click anywhere outside of the image to reflect the changes.


The background of the image is now removed.


Once you’ve removed the image’s background, be sure to add alternative text to the image so that your readers who are using a screen reader are able to understand the context of the image.

Marshall Gunnell
Marshall Gunnell 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 at LINE Corporation in Tokyo, Japan, runs ITEnterpriser, a data-storage and cybersecurity-focused online media, and plays with development, with his RAID calculator being his first public project.
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