Making Images Transparent in PowerPoint

Transparent 02

I have always longed for a way to import an image into PowerPoint and simply make it transparent, but until now, have had to open up Photoshop in order to achieve what I thought would be a simple effect.

Recently, whilst developing a slide with several images overlaying other objects I discovered a way of making the images transparent in PowerPoint.
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Here is how to do it…

Rather than importing your images directly onto a slide in PowerPoint, you need to insert the image into a PowerPoint shape.

  •  Create a PowerPoint shape on your slide, then right click on it and select Format Picture, this will open the format picture window.
  •  Click on Fill tab on left, then select picture or texture fill as an option.
  •  Now click on the Insert From:  file… option. Navigate to the image you would like to place into the shape and double click.
  •  Your image will now have been placed into the PowerPoint shape, in the Format picture window there is a Transparency option (near the bottom) you can use this to set the transparency of the image anywhere between 0-100%.

Format shape

There is an animation option in PowerPoint allowing you to turn your image transparent, but to achieve this, your image has to be on the screen in its original format before-hand; there is also no smooth action when using this animation, the image simply switches from its original state into transparent in the blink of an eye. (Why Microsoft thought this was the best way to carry out the animation is beyond me, surely a fade to transparent option would be much more useful?)

I really don’t know what Microsoft didn’t allow you to change the transparency of all images placed onto slides, but the work around above works perfectly.

Below is a video demonstration of  how to achieve the transparency effect:

Latest comments

Dave on 10th January 2014 at 5:31 pm said

Just wanted to drop a line of thanks! This was causing me to lose hair!

Karl Parry on 17th January 2014 at 1:27 pm said

Thanks Dave – glad we could help with the hair pulling!

janka on 11th March 2014 at 11:53 am said

Doesn’t work with animated gifs.
Sometimes the dumbness of Microsoft really pisses me off. They add useless things like 1 color transparency, but can’t add simple picture transparency. What a bunch of a-holes!!!

Mat on 3rd April 2014 at 4:47 pm said

Thanks so much. What a simple solution. So glad you thought of it and shared!

Danny A on 30th April 2014 at 10:24 pm said

You guys are the best! I’ve scoured the web in disbelief that there was no good way to do a proper watermark in Powerpoint. Yours is the only site that I found with a solution. Many thanks for sharing.

Vincent Thompson on 1st May 2014 at 10:53 am said

Janka – Why are you trying to make a gif transparent? I think you may be asking a little too much of Microsoft on that one. Can’t you make the gif transparent in the program you’re creating it in?

Mat – You’re very welcome. You’d think that with such a simple workaround Microsoft could have just built the function in the first place.

Danny – we aim to please! Do let us know if there are any other issues you encounter in PowerPoint, happy to help whenever possible.

Bob Serrano on 8th May 2014 at 8:08 pm said

Been using both Macs and PCs since 1995. The transparency slider has been on the Mac version since 2008 without having to embed an image into a shape. You would by 2014, Microsoft would have brought it to par with the Mac version? Guess not. Time to switch?

janka on 14th May 2014 at 10:47 am said

Vincent – I needed to add a slight “old TV distortion” effect.. and I didn’t make it, I got it from the net.

Not sure if asking for a basic transparency is too much, ESPECIALLY when they implemented one color transparency, which is a lot more complicated and is not needed most of the time.

Also, you can adjust the transparency of shadows and reflections, glow and other effects you apply to a picture, but not to the picture itself. It’s just ridiculous.

Richard on 28th May 2014 at 9:07 am said

Vincent – this is a super helpful tip, thanks so much! I’ve been looking for a way to do this easily for ages

Vincent Thompson on 28th May 2014 at 1:34 pm said

Bob – You’re right, you would think they could have built in this functionality by now. I’d love to be able to fade down parts of an image in a similar way to creating a gradient.

Janka – I feel your pain, perhaps the effect could be created and then animated in PowerPoint with transparency applied.
You can apply transparency to an image by the way (its what this whole article is based on), perhaps worth another read?

Richard – Glad we could help.

janka on 11th June 2014 at 7:05 am said

Gif is also an image. And this article just describes a work-around, which sometimes doesn’t work.
All I’m saying is that we wouldn’t have to look for work-arounds if MS would implement this BASIC feature (which is present in OpenOffice/LibreOffice and other free office alternatives, but isn’t there even in the newest Office versions).

Duane on 23rd June 2014 at 3:16 pm said

Older versions of Powerpoint used to have this function (2007 – 2008). I was frustrated recently when I was trying to make a picture transparent with the newer version and couldn’t find the feature. I ended up copying a transparent picture from an old version. But this doesn’t help with new material.

Thanks Vincent for showing this work around. Maybe Microsoft can consider bringing back that old feature we all seem to like so much.

TG on 26th June 2014 at 9:37 am said

omg thank you SO much. brilliant!

Vincent Thompson on 26th June 2014 at 10:41 am said

Duane – its true, older versions of PowerPoint did have the functionality, its so strange that Microsoft take things away for no good reason. Perhaps we should start a campaign, I know there are quite a few basic functions the team at BrightCarbon would like to see implemented.

TG – glad to be of service, happy PowerPointing!

Susanta on 11th July 2014 at 8:25 am said

Thank you for this Very useful information and tips. I just wonder why this process didn’t came in my mind. Anyway thanks once again.

Rahul on 17th July 2014 at 8:22 am said

Very useful Vincent… many thanks :-)

Hersh on 6th August 2014 at 7:38 pm said

I found this article most helpful. Thank you.

Karl Parry on 14th August 2014 at 9:12 am said

No problem Hersh, glad we could help!

Ian on 3rd October 2014 at 10:17 am said

Brilliant, thank-you so much for this tip, it had been driving me crazy not being able to set transparency on pictures in Powerpoint and with no photoshop to work with I had absolutly no solution until I read this post, thank-you again you are a real star!!!!!

Vincent Thompson on 7th October 2014 at 11:55 am said

Ian, we aim to please. Glad the post came in handy for you.
Happy PowerPointing!

Zian Merchant on 27th October 2014 at 11:44 am said

Thank you SO much for this! It has been annoying many of us for a while now. This has been the simplest way so far.

Cheers!

Dhruv Chadha on 27th October 2014 at 4:59 pm said

This making the image transparent solution is great. It worked for me and was quick. Thank you Vincent!

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