How to Remove the Background of an Image in a Word Document

Backgrounds are great if you want them there. They add spice to photographs and make them come alive. But what if you’d like to remove the background altogether? Maybe you’d like to use the object in the foreground in another document. It’s not often that you’ll remove a background from an image in Word. But if you ever need to, the background removal tool can help. It’s especially useful if you don’t have access to an image editor.

Select the image with background in Word.It’s important to note, however, that Word’s background removal tool only works on bitmaps like JPEGs, PNGs and GIFs. It doesn’t work on vectors, such as the WMF clipart in Microsoft Office applications.


Step 1. Select the image you want to modify on your page. (The image on the right is a JPEG and was derived from the sample pictures bundled with Windows.)

Step 2. Go to the “Format” tab under “Picture Tools” in the Ribbon.

Step 3. Click “Remove Background” in the “Adjust” group.

The icon will be grayed out if you’re trying to modify a vector rather than a bitmap.

Go to Picture Tools under Format and select Remove Background in Word.

The “Background Removal” tab becomes visible in the Ribbon.

Word adds a purplish tone over areas of the image it thinks you’d like to remove.

Step 4. Go to the “Background Removal” tab and “Refine” group.

Step 5. Click the “Mark Areas to Keep” button.

To make the areas easier to see, use the “Zoom” slider at the bottom of your page to zoom in on the image.

Step 6. Mark any areas you want to keep. These should only be areas that Word has accidentally colored purple, however. A plus sign is added to each area you mark.

Tip: To save time, you can click the first area you want to mark, then drag your mouse from that point to another area you want to keep. This helps you cover larger areas.

If you accidentally click outside the image, Word will close the “Background Removal” tab. To return to the editing area, simply click the “Background Removal” tab again.

Step 7. Click the “Mark Areas to Remove” button.

Step 8. Click the background areas you want to remove, such as the sky in this photograph. This time, a minus sign is added to the marked areas.

Mark areas you want to keep and remove in Word.

You don’t have to select any purple areas in the background. If you make a mistake, simply undo your action. The areas will turn purple, letting Word know you’d like to remove them.

Tip: If Word has problems figuring out which areas you’d like to keep and remove, select the “Delete Mark” button. It lets you remove areas you’ve previously marked.

Click on any marks that are giving you trouble.

Step 9. Use the resizer handles to customize how much of the image you’d like to retain.

Use resizer handle to extend areas you'd like to keep in Word background image.

Step 10. Click the “Keep Changes” button in the “Close” group. The “Background Removal” tab closes. Your updated image displays on the page without the purple overlay.

Image with background removed in Word.

Step 11 (optional). Feel free to reselect the image and reselect the “Remove Background” button if the image doesn’t look the way you want.

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2 Responses to How to Remove the Background of an Image in a Word Document

  1. Carolyn says:

    Hi Allyson, This is great information. Thank you for the step by step instructions that clearly explain what to do to eliminate the background. Once the background is eliminated in the Word document, can you then copy the altered image to another document, say a blog?

    Great post!
    Carolyn recently posted..Poll: Email – Are You a Purger or a Hoarder?My Profile

    • allyson says:

      Hi, Carolyn

      Thanks so much! Yes, you can definitely copy the altered image from Word and paste it elsewhere.

      Now, if you’d like to use the image on your blog, you’ll need to save the Word document as a Web page by clicking “File” and “Save As.” Change the “Save as type” option to “Web Page” in the Save As dialog box and make a note of the file name.

      Microsoft Word will create a folder based on your file name and place the image into that folder once the document is saved.

      Open the folder Word creates and locate the image you’d like to use on your blog. It may have a file name like image001.png or image002.png. Upload the image to your blog or Webpage as you would normally and you should be good to go.

      Thanks for the question. Hope this helps!

      Have a great day!
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