Making Images Transparent in PowerPoint

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!

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