Remove Image Fill or Background in Microsoft Office

No Special Graphics Software Necessary

Man working at the office
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Some versions of Microsoft Office allow you to remove the fill, also known as the background, of an image — for example, objects or other people behind a portrait photo, or a box of white (or another fill or pattern) surrounding a graphic. Removing the fill increases flexibility and creativity when designing documents and expands text-wrapping options. This tutorial focuses on Microsoft Word, a program within the Microsoft Office suite.

Steps for Removing Fills and Backgrounds in Microsoft Word

  1. Select and save an image to your computer in a location you will remember. This makes it easier to find when completing the next steps. 
  2. Go to Insert > Image or Clip Art. From here, browse to the location in which you saved the image. Select the image by clicking on it, then select Insert.
  3. Click the image until the Format menu shows up. Then, choose Remove Background.
  4. The program will try to remove areas around the main image on its own. If you would like to keep or remove areas not selected automatically, select either Mark Areas to Keep or Mark Areas to Remove; then, drawing lines with your mouse to indicate the approximate area you're interested in keeping or removing.
  5. Use Delete Mark to get rid of any drawn indicator lines you decide against or Discard All Changes to start over.
  6. When you're satisfied with your changes, click Keep Changes to return to your document and see the results.

    Tips and Details

    • This feature is not available in all Microsoft Office programs, but you can save the image you fixed in Word and bring it into another program (or try copying and pasting).
    • Not all images can have their backgrounds removed; sometimes, only part of the background can be erased.
    • Alternatively, you can Copy and Paste an image from another file or program you already have it open in. When done this way, however, image quality may suffer. Usually, an image looks and behaves better when inserted as described in the steps above than with copying and pasting.
    • If you have trouble removing image fills or backgrounds, try testing another image to see if the image itself is the problem.
    • Older versions of Word may offer the more simplified option of selecting Format > Background > No Fill.