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 why 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 make an image transparent in PowerPoint:

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Vincent Thompson

Creative consultant

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  1. Image of Dave Dave says:

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

  2. Image of janka janka says:

    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!!!

  3. Image of Mat Mat says:

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

  4. Image of Danny A Danny A says:

    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.

  5. Image of Vincent Thompson Vincent Thompson says:

    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.

  6. Image of Bob Serrano Bob Serrano says:

    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?

  7. Image of janka janka says:

    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.

  8. Image of Richard Richard says:

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

  9. Image of Vincent Thompson Vincent Thompson says:

    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.

  10. Image of janka janka says:

    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).

  11. Image of Duane Duane says:

    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.

  12. Image of TG TG says:

    omg thank you SO much. brilliant!

  13. Image of Vincent Thompson Vincent Thompson says:

    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!

  14. Image of Susanta Susanta says:

    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.

  15. Image of Rahul Rahul says:

    Very useful Vincent… many thanks 🙂

  16. Image of Hersh Hersh says:

    I found this article most helpful. Thank you.

  17. Image of Ian Ian says:

    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!!!!!

  18. Image of Vincent Thompson Vincent Thompson says:

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

  19. Image of Zian Merchant Zian Merchant says:

    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!

  20. Image of Dhruv Chadha Dhruv Chadha says:

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

  21. Image of Carrie Carrie says:

    This is fantastic!!! Thank you!

  22. Image of Farzan Farzan says:

    Thank you very much , that was exactly what i needed … very nice 🙂

  23. Image of Ashley Ashley says:

    This was really, really useful. I knew there HAD to be a way since you can make background images transparent. Really baffling how Microsoft has made this so hard.

  24. Image of Noor Noor says:

    very helpful. thanks

  25. Image of mark m mark m says:

    Wow, this tip has changed my life! lol joking aside thanks for this post it has helped me out a lot i just could not figure it out.

  26. Image of Tim Rose Tim Rose says:

    Great tip… thanks!

  27. Image of naila naila says:

    my artistic effect is not working how to remove this bug plz help me

  28. Image of Kate Kate says:

    OMG I’ve spent hours trying to work this out! you are brilliant! (By the way, I used it in Word not Powerpoint, but same function)

  29. Image of Leonardo Leonardo says:

    Wow… This IS useful! Finally!!! I just wanted to take a minute and thank you for this. I was suffering!

  30. Image of Andrew Andrew says:

    Fantastic, been trying to do this all morning. Thank you

  31. Image of Farhan Naeem Farhan Naeem says:

    Thank you So much!! This Helps a lot.. 🙂

  32. Image of Pedrito Pedrito says:

    I want to overlay one transparent picture on another solid. Your advice works fine till the very end: when I stop sizing the overlaid image, it reverts to solid and blanks out the transparent first image. A workaround is to take a screenshot while holding the mouse button down for the resize – what have I done wrong?

  33. Image of Vincent Thompson Vincent Thompson says:

    Pedrito – the transparent image should still show the solid one behind.
    What I think may be happening is that the transparent image is sat behind the solid one, that’d explain why it isn’t showing through.

    In order to bring it back in front, right click on the transparent image and select bring to front option.
    Hope this helps.

  34. Image of Marlin Marlin says:

    great tip, thank you very much 🙂

  35. Image of Vincent Jacobs Vincent Jacobs says:

    Thanks for the video, but I think we can all agree that having to shape-fill a picture is a work-around. We need to inform Microsoft that not having the ability to directly change the transparency of a picture is a mistake and that this ability needs to be added as an office patch ASAP.

    • Image of Joby Blume Joby Blume says:

      Well, Microsoft do listen Vincent. You can request features here – https://powerpoint.uservoice.com/

  36. Image of Kevin Nachtrab Kevin Nachtrab says:

    The workaround is really useful BUT when I print the slides, the transparency of some (but not all) pictures is lost. This is a real problem if you have put text in over a transparent picture. Any work around with that if I use this solution?

  37. Image of Vincent Thompson Vincent Thompson says:

    Hi Kevin
    How frustrating, never fear, we have the answer:
    Once you’ve carried out the process above, right click on the image and cut it from the slide. Then right click again and paste it in as a picture. This will pop your transparent image onto the slide again, but this time it will be a PNG file, meaning the printer will understand and be able to print it.
    hope that sorts it out for you.

  38. Image of Shirley Gauthier Shirley Gauthier says:

    I’m trying to take a dolphin picture and make it a certain color I want it in the rebel flag colors how can I do this

  39. Image of Traci Traci says:

    Thanks for this workaround. I swear back in the day I was just able to click on a picture in my slides and there was a bar to make it transparent or not. So dumb that this is so hard to do. What I was doing before I read this article was to make a gray shape in my image, and overlay that on the image. Then adjust the transparency of that.

  40. Image of Bunni Bunni says:

    Thank you! Huge time savings.

  41. Image of Leslie Leslie says:

    this was so helpful!!!! thank you!!!!

  42. Image of Greg Greg says:

    Thank you…excellent work-around!

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