PowerPoint trick to remove the borders around pictures to prevent overlap (using transparent color)

Lucas Jellema

I am frequently engaged in creating PowerPoint presentations (or Word documents) that contain many pictures. Logos, screenshots, symbols, photographs are typically combined to create a pleasing and effective visualization. One of life’s many small annoyances is that many of the pictures I use have a white border around them that cause ugly overlaps when combined with other pictures. For example the typical picture of a circle


will in fact be a square.

This is usually revealed when you try to combine the circle with other pictures:



This article tells you of the little trick that PowerPoint offers us to manipulate pictures to have this border made transparent.

Some other examples of the situation I am talking about:

Bringing the man and woman together on equal terms, rather than one taking precedence over the other:



Showing just the pointer, instead of having the pointer icon overlap part of the screenshot:



And even showing a performance in the theatre – rather than a blank display of an empty stage:





Many tools have a feature that help deal with these challenges. I recently discovered that PowerPoint can do it too – which is convenient as that is for me usually the tool in which I run into the pictures with unwanted borders causing undesirable overlap.

The steps you have to go through are quite simple:

1. Double click the picture; this will cause the Picture Tools ribbon to be displayed



2. Click on the menu option Recolor and choose Set Transparent Color



3. A pencil like cursor appears. Now click on the area in the picture that should be rendered transparent.



Immediately, all pixels in the picture with the exact same color (RGB code) as the area that you click on will be regarded and rendered as transparent.

Note: a picture can have only one ‘transparent color’. Also note: you may lose pixels with the selected color in other parts of the picture too, because they are now also transparent. This can be dealt with by adding a rectangle with that specific color in the background behind the picture.

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