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Updated by Dan Price on 27th April 2017

I hate graphics software. There, I said it. I know I’m a tech blogger, and I should have at least some basic graphic skills, but the truth is I don’t. In fact, I shy away from these programs in apprehension, starting to sweat as soon as I hear the word “layers.” Don’t laugh, it’s a sort of disability, and just like batch editing 7 Free Apps to Batch Edit, Resize, & Rename Images 7 Free Apps to Batch Edit, Resize, & Rename Images Some of the most common edits your images will have to go through are simple things such as resize, rename, format conversion, basic color fixes, etc. While you can’t be expected to sit through an... Read More , one I have to struggle with when preparing articles.

One of the most common tasks I have to do with images is removing their background. This is not something only tech bloggers have to do, though. If you’re selling stuff online, creating presentations, or even making collages, you might want to use the object in the photo without using its background. Making a single-color background transparent is a task I’ve already mastered (see some tips below on this too), but removing a complex background from a photo always seemed like an impossible task.

But is it really? To find out I dived into the task head-on.

ClippingMagic

remove background from image

ClippingMagic is a brilliant tool that makes it unbelievably easy to remove a photo’s background. As mentioned above, I expected the task to be at least a little demanding. I was wrong. Removing a background from images with ClippingMagic is as easy as dragging, dropping, and drawing out the background. The tool does the hard lifting for you, leaving you with minor corrections which are easily done with the provided tools. So how does it work?

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After uploading your image, you’ll see two copies of your image side by side. With the two provided brushes, mark with green everything you want to leave in, and with red anything you want to get rid of. You don’t even have to meticulously color every nook and cranny, just show ClippingMagic the way, and the tool will take it from there.

remove background without photoshop

There are four different brush sizes to choose from, and you can zoom to take care of the finer details. You can also choose between seven different background colors, or leave it transparent. In five minutes, depending on how complex your photo is, you’re going to have your final result, which you can download to your computer. Isn’t that awesome?

remove background without photoshop

Pros: Doesn’t require any installs, very easy to use, and does most of the hard lifting all by itself.

Cons: Being a web app, ClippingMagic requires an internet connection; this method cannot be used offline.

Bottom Line: A simple Windows software tool anyone, from a child to a grandmother, can use to remove any background from almost any image.

MS Office 2017

If you have Word, Excel or PowerPoint installed, you have another easy way to remove your picture’s background. The process is identical for all three programs.

Before you being, you need to insert the picture into a new document. Once that’s done, head to Picture Tools > Format > Remove Background.

The program will try to figure out automatically which parts of the picture are the background, and mark them in purple. Depending on the complexity of your image, you could be done right then and there, or you might need to make some adjustments. In my case, the result looked good, but it wasn’t perfect.

remove image background

To fix problems, start by fitting the marker around your object, which will cause the program to automatically detect more background. If this is still not enough, as was in my case, you’re going to have to use the Mark Areas to Remove and Mark Areas to Keep tools. The tools are not very intuitive to use, but it mostly amounts to drawing straight lines around the objects you want to get rid of or keep.

remove image background

When you’re done, save the changes, and you’re left with a background-less image. You can now either use it inside the document or right-click it to save it as an image.

remove image backgroundPros: With many images, all you have to do is give the tool the image, and it promptly separates it from the background all by itself. Works offline.

Cons: Requires MS Office, which not everyone has or wants to buy. The marking tools are a little hard to use.

Bottom Line: If you already have MS Office and feel comfortable working with it, this method will work great.

Setting A Background As Transparent

Sometimes you don’t have a complex photo, but a simple image with a white background you want to use on top of other images or a different background How To Change The Background Of A Photo In Photoshop How To Change The Background Of A Photo In Photoshop Changing the background of an image is one of Photoshop's core features. Read on to find out how to do it. Read More . In cases like this, it won’t do to have a white background, as this will hide the other image, and generally get in the way.

Turning this white background transparent is even easier than getting rid of a complex background. There are numerous ways to do this, most of them pretty simple, but today I’ll show you a quick way to do this with Office. Unlike the above tool, this one is also available in MS Office 2017.

To start, insert your image into a Word, Excel or PowerPoint document. Keep in mind that this method will not work well for multi-colored backgrounds. Even a drop shadow could screw up the results. If you have more than one color in your background, use one of the two methods above. If you have only one color, this method will work like a charm.

Click on the image, and under the Format tab, head to Color > Recolor. Choose Set Transparent Color, and click on the background to remove the background from the image.

That’s it. If your background is truly uniform, it will simply go away. If you get a weird result, it probably means there were multiple colors in your background.

MS Office is a treasure trove of image-editing tools which gets bigger with every version that comes out. For more ideas, check out these amazing image-editing feats you can do with MS Word Who Needs Photoshop? Amazing Image Editing Feats You Can Do With MS Word Who Needs Photoshop? Amazing Image Editing Feats You Can Do With MS Word If you don't want to face the steep learning curve of Adobe Photoshop but you still want to conjure up some imaging magic, you need to look elsewhere. Have you considered using Microsoft Word? Read More . You might also be interested in this collection of awesome image editors Don't Install An Image Editor: Try These Cloud-Based Photo Editors Instead Don't Install An Image Editor: Try These Cloud-Based Photo Editors Instead If you want to get really good results, you need to download some kind of graphics software or other editing app, and put it through its paces. But now, you can do most of your... Read More which reside entirely online.

Note: This trick is possible using many simple image viewers and editors as well, and I’ve often done it using IrfanView View, Resize, & Manipulate Image Files With Classic Utility IrfanView [Windows] View, Resize, & Manipulate Image Files With Classic Utility IrfanView [Windows] We all work with image files, all the time; be they graphics for the Web, corporate images for work, or just holiday snaps. These days there are more digital images than ever before. Windows comes... Read More too.

How Do You Remove Backgrounds?

So turns out I was wrong. Removing backgrounds isn’t an impossible task after all. There’s no reason to fear or to worry. With one of the tools above, you too can remove any background from any picture, and do so easily and quickly.

Don’t believe me? You don’t have to. Just keep in mind that if I can do it, anyone can. Give it a try and tell us how you fared.

What’s your favorite way to remove the background from an image or make it transparent? Do you have a trick everyone should know about? Share it in the comments!

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  1. Skellington
    May 23, 2017 at 1:13 am

    This may have been useful to others, but I don't have Excel, Word, or Powerpoint on my computer, and all of these are quite expensive. All I have is a white background for my image. Any free software for windows that can do the same things as these programs you mentioned? Thanks! :)

  2. Noah
    May 17, 2017 at 3:23 pm

    Thank you so much! I used Clipping Magic. SO EASY!

  3. Trish
    March 6, 2017 at 9:26 pm

    Thank you very much for this helpful and clear resource!

    :)

  4. Jane
    February 21, 2017 at 1:52 pm

    Quite good, I would also look at this new think I found, Malabi (malabi.co) the prices are lower than clippingmagic, and for me it seems like it's faster and more accurate.

  5. C newman
    January 22, 2017 at 6:56 am

    What really irritates me is that windows computers don't have a simple, built in way of editing photos like macs do. On a Windows all you can do is crop and change the contrast.

  6. Jennifer
    January 18, 2017 at 9:32 pm

    Thanks for this incredibly useful post! It was a great help to me. I was able to do what I needed to do very quickly in Word following your instructions.

  7. Jennifer
    January 18, 2017 at 9:31 pm

    Thank you for this incredibly useful post! I was able to go right into Word and follow your instructions to remove my photo background quickly. I greatly appreciate it.

  8. Laura
    December 27, 2016 at 9:46 pm

    But can I use the image in other applications after removing the background in Microsoft word?

    • Roger
      January 10, 2017 at 4:27 pm

      I tried and I was not able to.

  9. mohamed
    December 25, 2016 at 6:11 pm

    ff

  10. john shah
    December 20, 2016 at 5:10 am

    This is an awesome post about photo background removal.i have proud for your this informative content.thanks for this best effective post.

  11. Jas
    November 21, 2016 at 11:14 pm

    Yes, clipping magic is super easy and just what I needed. But you spend so much time perfecting it all just to go download the image and asks you to sign up monthly in order to do so. UGHH so annoyed!

  12. Dee
    November 16, 2016 at 5:14 am

    thank you the recolor worked however, if the image has white in it, that changes as well how do you keep the white parents from the images from turning transparent

  13. JACKY RISHAM
    October 19, 2016 at 8:17 am

    boss you are the best and love the website

  14. Eve Penman
    October 17, 2016 at 8:36 am

    Thank you so much for this helpful information -- it worked!

  15. H
    October 14, 2016 at 5:08 am

    Hello Creator!

    I do not know if you will ever see this, but just let me say, this article has saved me so much headache. I have been searching for hours for a way to do this without Photoshop or some other program, using an image i created in Paint.

    Thank you for creating this article and restoring some of my sanity

    HG

  16. Heidi
    October 11, 2016 at 6:14 pm

    Thank you, very helpful!! For some reason, I found the last option worked better when I saved the image as a PNG instead of a JPEG.

  17. NightCat
    September 16, 2016 at 12:11 am

    Clipping Magic is NOT FREE!!!!!1 ARGGHH

  18. Lenny
    September 12, 2016 at 2:04 pm

    This is amazing. Thanks

  19. Angie
    September 1, 2016 at 12:41 pm

    Uh, thank you! Totally solved my issues for work. :)

  20. julia
    July 17, 2016 at 10:46 am

    There are many tools for automatic removal like Malabi.co (Camera51) which is much faster or ClippingMagic which is semi-automatic.....I own a marketplace, and it works great for my users

    • MOSHE LEVY
      August 17, 2016 at 6:35 am

      I didn't see anything free in Malabi.co. It says free but there is not even trying it. Am I missing something?

  21. prut
    June 28, 2016 at 6:23 am

    Clippingmagic requires online subs and payment.....fk it......tell me somethng free

  22. jow
    June 13, 2016 at 2:52 pm

    CUT THE BULLSHIT. IT DONT WORK YOU FAG!

  23. jow
    June 13, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    BS

  24. Greg
    June 2, 2016 at 4:27 pm

    Needed to make a transparent myself, and besides finding this article doing google search, found a tool called lunapic (url actually www169.lunapic.com with 169 after www???)

    In any case, it worked great for me, since I just had to upload image and it did all the work for me online. Likely wont work good with many different color background since tool was semi limited, but overall very useful

  25. Heikki
    April 26, 2016 at 5:17 pm

    this site is not free, it requires a subscription to download

  26. benjamin
    April 18, 2016 at 3:26 am

    you should update this or something cus I just spent almost a half hour constructing an image until realizing its a pay to play thing. I was upset for a second, but I should have read the date on your article, it would be helpful for people in the future

    • Heather
      April 26, 2016 at 10:56 am

      I was going to say exactly the same thing. ClippingMagic is totally dishonest.

  27. Reese
    April 15, 2016 at 4:05 pm

    Thank you so much! I have graphics software but I am still trying to learn it. I wanted to see if there was a shortcut. Apparently there is. You are awesome!

  28. JoJo
    April 9, 2016 at 7:08 pm

    THANK YOU!!!

  29. John
    April 7, 2016 at 2:05 am

    Great post! :) I also had tried the first online tool but found it a little too expensive. Powerpoint did the job.

    Thanks!

  30. Neel Sangani
    March 31, 2016 at 7:54 am

    Dude, You hate Graphics software and We Love Graphics software, the only difference in us and you is, that A Designer can survive without a developer (through Banners posters web contents designing, movies matte painting digital paintings for scenes, animations, etc) BUT, ..... A developer cant survive without a DESIGNER.

    Keep these words in mind

    • Sabbir@ onlineworkagency
      May 14, 2017 at 1:37 am

      Dude, You hate Graphics software and We Love Graphics software, the only difference in us and you is, that A Designer can survive without a developer (through Banners posters web contents designing, movies matte painting digital paintings for scenes, animations, etc) BUT, ..... A developer cant survive without a DESIGNER.

  31. Kal El's Hub
    March 23, 2016 at 11:05 am

    Thank you so much..

  32. siddartha
    March 14, 2016 at 6:51 am

    Thank you, thank you so much. I didn't knew there was so simple method of removing background color in MS Powerpoint- 2007. You saved my life!!!

  33. Amy
    February 16, 2016 at 12:19 am

    THANK YOU for this! So helpful!

    • Austin
      March 7, 2016 at 3:13 am

      Power Point has very powerful background removing tools before you spend money on clipping magic.

  34. Anonymous
    February 14, 2016 at 12:38 pm

    Thank you very much

  35. Beatriz Azevedo
    January 30, 2016 at 11:50 pm

    You redeemed me! I do love graphic design and I use some graphic tools but except for a few epiphany moments I truly hate them and just by force of necessity I started using Power Point a lot for working with images and I never stop being surprised.by how useful power point is. Thank you for the tutorial.

  36. Danielle
    January 13, 2016 at 10:33 pm

    The Clipping Magic tool has another con- it costs money. A monthly fee is required, and I know that it's only a few dollars a month, but I only plan on using the software once.

    • Taimoor Ahmed
      January 21, 2016 at 5:05 pm

      Yeahhh I was just about to say that... :)

  37. SUSHIL KUMAR
    November 15, 2015 at 10:34 am

    hi IN my MS office word 2007 I do not see the remove background in adjust so please let me know how to show that
    thanks

  38. Anonymous
    September 29, 2015 at 6:28 pm

    useful techniques to remove background with ms word. but clippingmagic is paid service.

  39. Anonymous
    September 29, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    Thanks a lot................

  40. Anonymous
    July 25, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    It's so stupid that you have to pay just to download a transparent image on ClippingMagic.

    • Chris Harris
      February 7, 2016 at 12:35 am

      So stupid people want to be paid for the work they do, everything should be free. #feelthebern

  41. José Eduardo Venson
    July 17, 2015 at 1:55 am

    Thanks man! Very nice! =)

  42. Anonymous
    July 3, 2015 at 11:28 pm

    Saved me loads of trouble.
    Had to design a logo and that standard white background was creating a problem.
    Thank you so much!

  43. Jenét M.
    May 2, 2015 at 5:01 pm

    So glad I happened across this post! I have been on the verge of a nervous breakdown trying to figure how to remove the background from my jewelry pics. To think the answer has been in my MS Office suite this whole time!

  44. Susan McL
    April 8, 2015 at 5:44 am

    This was very helpful. A Note: On Clipping Magic, the 7 background color options are a starting point - you can choose an infinite number of background colors. Click on the blue, for example, then click on the color # in the box to the right. That opens up the infinite color palette and you can choose any color you can imagine.

  45. Sam
    March 11, 2015 at 10:54 am

    Thanks for the info Yaara. Very helpful information

  46. Misty
    March 2, 2015 at 6:42 am

    I couldn't use clipping magic b/c of it not being free, but luckily I have Microsoft Powerpoint so I was able to remove the background AND save it. I already knew about the removing background feature, but not the part about saving it without the background. Thanks for the tip!

  47. Anon
    February 27, 2015 at 3:28 am

    I tried using clippingmagic, and it got the job done amazingly fast.
    Except there was an issue I had at the end...
    It wouldnt let me save it without paying money. I don't know if I took too long or what, but it is not letting me save it without telling me I need to pay them money.

  48. jelena
    February 24, 2015 at 5:50 pm

    I am using Magic Edge
    http://www.awssoft.com/magic-edge/
    It works both, offline and online on my server. Awesome!

  49. Anonymous
    November 20, 2013 at 11:06 am

    Great!!! Very helpfull. Thanks!

  50. humayun
    October 19, 2013 at 7:02 am

    fantastic... the method of powerpoint ...

    Thanks...!

  51. harry
    October 17, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    how do i add another background ?

    • Yaara L
      October 17, 2013 at 2:43 pm

      The easiest way to do what would be to simply take your background-less image and paste onto a new background using an image editor.

  52. CP
    October 10, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    Thank you for your helpful tips! I've been struggling for more than an hour on photoshop.... Clipping magic did it for me in less than 2 minutes!

  53. Elaine
    October 5, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    Hey thanks for replying. I need it for t-shirt transfer? So that when the writing is printed on the transfer paper, then ironed on the fabric it reads correctly. Just can't seem to find out how to do it without Photoshop or such. I'm on MS Office 365 and was hoping to find a simple solution there but been unable to. You totally solved the white background thing for me so figured you were good to ask. The link above doesn't get it quite right.

    Wasn't happy with my email for some reason? No idea why. Only half of the error message was displayed too.

  54. Elaine
    October 4, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    Yaara do you know of anything as simple and succinctly put where I can mirror text? Thank you! Slightly off topic sorry - tried leaving a question but unable to sign up for some reason?

    • Yaara L
      October 5, 2013 at 9:57 am

      When you say mirror text you mean something like this? http://txtn.us/mirror-words

      Also, what happened when you tried to sign in?

  55. Elaine
    October 4, 2013 at 7:10 am

    Brilliant simple info. Thanks! :)

  56. Cindy
    September 13, 2013 at 8:51 pm

    You solved my problem. Thank you very much :)

  57. wiigreen
    June 16, 2013 at 11:05 am

    i use clippingmagic now thanks to this article.it's amazing!

  58. Indronil Mondal
    June 13, 2013 at 8:28 pm

    amazing !!!!

  59. Bob Bennett
    June 12, 2013 at 11:25 pm

    Clipping Magic might work if I could upload a pic. Tried in Chrome and IE and no joy. Waste of bandwidth

    • Yaara Lancet
      June 14, 2013 at 3:06 pm

      Sorry it didn't work for you, I had no problems with it using Firefox and Chrome. Might be worth another try!

  60. Anil Singh
    June 12, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    Didn't knew about this feature of MS Office. Thanks

  61. Enter your full name here
    June 12, 2013 at 6:37 pm

    Never knew about this feature of Microsoft Offiice. Thanks

  62. Lisa Santika Onggrid
    June 12, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    Nah, I usually use Photoshop or GIMP to remove the backgrounds, but I tried ClippingMagic when MUO featured it several days ago. I must say I was impressed. I picked some pictures with complex background and CM did its job well. If you have good internet connection and don't like suing heavy-duty programs just for this, then ClippingMagic will be your best option.

  63. Ricky Splinter
    June 12, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    i rater use gimp then online porgrams

  64. Paul G
    June 12, 2013 at 6:03 am

    I was not impressed by the online Clipping Magic, too alpha behavior for me!

    I use a combination of different software, most of them freeware.

    These include: InstantMask from CPSSoftware ( http://clipping-path-studio.com/instantmask/ ), This is a freeware but there is also a pro version with more tricks!

    My main "go to" program is Paint Dot Net, I just use the magic wand @ 15% tolerance and by clicking with the wand and erasing with the delete key along with zooming closer for fine details like hair, I remove the colors one by one (sometimes a lengthy process) but it does a better job than most, you can find it here: http://www.getpaint.net/

    A new freeware I just came across is Labography from Axpha ( http://axpha.com/ )

    One slight warning: The site and video tutorials are only in French but the program itself is bilingual (Français/English) since February 13th of 2013.

    Hope this helps a few of you! ;)

    • Yaara Lancet
      June 14, 2013 at 3:05 pm

      Thanks Paul! I believe Clipping Magic is aimed at users who don't want to mess with graphics software of any kind. You suggestions sound great for anyone looking for something a bit more professional.

    • Ema
      January 12, 2015 at 3:20 pm

      Some like it complicated :)

  65. Kay Fritz
    June 12, 2013 at 4:33 am

    I always wanted to know how that works and with Clipping Magic I recently tried it and was impressed how fast and good it works.

    Now the next article should be "how to place people in images for fun". Since I don´t have any bad intentions I only want to know how it´s done quickly and not perfect (so nobody could say if it´s fake or not).

    • Yaara Lancet
      June 12, 2013 at 6:49 am

      Good idea, Kay. :) Thanks!

  66. Rigoberto Garcia
    June 12, 2013 at 3:25 am

    Great tips and tools Yaara. Thanks

  67. Nuala Betts
    June 12, 2013 at 12:47 am

    I don't have one - I avoid all tasks like this at all costs, and delegate to the creative types - who have neglected to point out how easy it seems to have become. All awe is now retracted!