Skip to Content

How can I remove the background from a picture?

Removing the background from an image can be useful for many purposes. You may want to isolate a subject and place it on a new background, accurately cut out an object to paste into another image, create a thumbnail or avatar without background clutter, and more. With the right tools and techniques, removing backgrounds doesn’t have to be difficult.

What are the benefits of removing image backgrounds?

Here are some of the top reasons you may want to delete the background from a photo:

  • Isolate the main subject – Remove distracting or unnecessary background elements so the subject is the clear focus.
  • Change the background – Cut out a subject and place it on a different background to create composites.
  • Remove text or objects – Eliminate logos, text, signs, people, or any undesired elements in the photo.
  • Make thumbnails – Create thumbnail images with a minimalist look and no background clutter.
  • Design graphics – Clip out photos and use them in posters, brochures, presentations, web graphics, etc.
  • Create cutouts – Accurately cut out an object or person to paste into another photo and make it look realistic.
  • Improve chroma key results – Remove background to help get cleaner results when using green screen techniques.

Removing photo backgrounds takes an image editing skill to the next level. It can open up many possibilities for image composition and design.

How to remove the background in Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop provides several tools to help remove backgrounds from images:

Magic Wand Tool

The Magic Wand selects pixels based on tone and color. To use it:

  1. Open the image in Photoshop
  2. Select the Magic Wand tool from the toolbar
  3. Click the background area to select it
  4. Press Delete to remove the background

This works best when the subject contrasts clearly with a solid colored background. It may require some manual cleanup with other tools.

Quick Selection Tool

The Quick Selection brush lets you “paint” a selection over the subject:

  1. Select the Quick Selection tool
  2. Brush over the subject to select it
  3. Refine the edges if needed
  4. Delete or mask to remove the background

This works well for subjects with distinguishable edges. It takes more effort than the Magic Wand but can handle complex selections.

Layer Masks

Layer masks hide parts of a layer without permanently deleting pixels. For backgrounds:

  1. Make a rough selection around the subject
  2. Invert selection to mask the background
  3. Add mask to layer to conceal background

Masks allow non-destructive editing and give you more control. They take more time but provide the most accurate results.

Extract Filter

The Extract filter analyzes edges to extract a subject:

  1. Open image and select Extract filter
  2. Trace edges with the Smart Brush to extract
  3. Set foreground and background colors
  4. Fill in any missing edges
  5. Click OK when done

The Extract filter works fairly well for subjects with good contrast against the background. It requires manual work to refine the edges.

How to remove image backgrounds in GIMP

GIMP is a free open-source image editor with background removal tools including:

Fuzzy Select (Magic Wand)

Similar to Photoshop’s Magic Wand, this tool selects pixels based on color sampling. To use it:

  1. Open image in GIMP
  2. Choose the Fuzzy Select tool
  3. Click the background to select it
  4. Delete selection

Works best for solid color backgrounds. May require cleanup with other tools.

Foreground Select

This tool isolates foreground objects from the background:

  1. Select the Foreground Select tool
  2. Draw a rough line around the subject
  3. Adjust the tool settings as needed
  4. Toggle the preview option to display the selection

Produces a quick, accurate selection with very little manual effort. Great for portraits and objects.

Layer Masks

Like Photoshop, GIMP masking involves:

  1. Making a selection around the subject
  2. Inverting the selection to mask background
  3. Adding layer mask to hide background

Masking in GIMP provides flexibility and accuracy. Takes more time but gives you control.

How to remove background in PowerPoint

PowerPoint doesn’t have built-in background removal tools, but you can remove backgrounds a couple ways:

Picture Format Tab

  1. Insert a picture in a slide
  2. Select the picture and go to Format > Picture
  3. Adjust the transparency to fade the background

This simply makes the entire image more transparent. You lose the background but also make the subject more see-through.

Set Transparent Color

  1. Select the picture and open Format > Picture
  2. Click Set Transparent Color > Set Transparent Color
  3. Click a background color in the image to remove

This makes specific colors transparent. Can work for solid color backgrounds. Requires precision when selecting the color.

For the best results, it’s better to use a dedicated image editing program like Photoshop or GIMP to remove backgrounds from images before inserting them into PowerPoint.

How to remove background with an online tool

Don’t have image editing software? You can use free online tools to delete backgrounds: uses AI to automatically remove image backgrounds. To use it:

  1. Go to
  2. Upload the image
  3. Slide to adjust the sensitivity if needed
  4. Download the background-removed image

The AI isn’t perfect but it handles most images well without any effort. Great for quick, hassle-free background deletion.


FocoClipping provides semi-automatic background removal:

  1. Go to
  2. Upload an image
  3. Use the brush to roughly mark the subject
  4. Download the processed image

Takes a bit more effort than but gives you some control over the process. Try it for tricky subjects with complex edges.


Photoscissors also involves manually marking elements to remove:

  1. Go to
  2. Upload an image
  3. Brush over background areas to erase
  4. Refine if needed and download

Photoscissors works better than FocoClipping for some images, especially portraits. The tools give you precision without much learning curve.

How to remove background in Pixelmator

Pixelmator is a full-featured image editor for Mac. Its background removal tools include:

Magnetic Selection

Draw a selection line around a subject and Pixelmator will “snap” to its edges. To use it:

  1. Choose the Magnetic Selection tool
  2. Draw a rough outline around the subject
  3. Release to finalize the selection
  4. Delete the background

Magnetic Selection eliminates background quickly with very little manual effort. It works extremely well for most images.

Quick Selection

This tool lets you paint over elements to select them. To remove background:

  1. Select the Quick Selection tool
  2. Brush over the subject to select it
  3. Invert selection to select background
  4. Delete background

Quick Selection provides precise control for difficult subjects like hair or fur. More effort than Magnetic Selection but very accurate.

Layer Masks

Layer masks work the same as in Photoshop and GIMP:

  1. Make selection around subject
  2. Invert to select background
  3. Add layer mask to hide background

Masking provides flexibility and enables non-destructive editing. Great for when precision is important.

Tips for effective background removal

Follow these tips to help get the best results when eliminating photo backgrounds:

  • Use high resolution images if possible – More image detail makes selecting and masking easier.
  • Blur or mask complicated backgrounds – Simplify very complex backgrounds to make the subject stand out before removing.
  • Refine selections carefully – Zoom in and use tools like erasers or lassos to cleanly cut out difficult edges.
  • Work in layers – Use an empty layer behind the subject for the new background.
  • Save selections – Turn selections into masks or channels to re-use or modify them later.
  • Watch for halos or fringing – Use defringe tools to eliminate any haloing around edges.
  • Match color tones – Sample colors to make sure the subject lighting matches the new background.

Background removal often requires some precision and practice. But with the right resources, it’s possible for anyone to master.


Removing distracting or unwanted backgrounds from photos opens many creative possibilities. Popular image editors like Photoshop and GIMP provide powerful tools that, with some practice, can isolate subjects extremely accurately. For quick, semi-automatic removal, online tools like harness AI to pull backgrounds instantly. And programs like Pixelmator offer automatic selection tools that make cutting-out subjects easy. With patience and the right techniques, anyone can master extracting subjects from images for use in professional design projects or creative composites.