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Quickly remove the background from a photo, leaving you only with the subject of the picture. Clipping Magic is an online photo editing tool that does only one thing: removing the background from photos.

Removing the background from a photo is something Photoshop pros can do in their sleep, but if you find the process hard – and Photoshop expensive – you can be forgiven. Thanks to Clipping Magic, however, you’re also perfectly capable of removing backgrounds yourself. Just click-and-drag your image to the Clipping Magic website and follow the instructions. It’s not perfect – photos of fuzzy things won’t always isolate cleanly – but if you want a quick way to isolate someone or something from a photo, you’ll be happy to know about this site.

It’s an easy-to-use tool for accomplishing something that can be difficult – even with advanced photo editing software. Clipping Magic is an alpha product, but it’s quite stable – and does the hard job it sets out to do. Hopefully it will only get better from here.

How To Use Clipping Magic

Uploading to Clipping Magic is simple: just click and drag from your file browser or desktop to the site itself (or choose the file, if you prefer).

clippingmagic-upload

You’ll quickly be brought to the editing area when the file uploads.

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Clipping Magic attempts to make what’s usually a complex process – isolating a subject – into something that’s simple. It does this with two “markers”, one red and one green. Simply mark the area you want to remove with red and the subject of the photo with green. Don’t try to be overly precise – Clipping Magic actually instructs you not to.

clipping-magic-instructions

Stay well inside the lines and you should be fine. Clipping Magic will, using your highlights, guess where the subject ends and the background begins – it shows you the results in real-time thanks to a split-screen display. You can continue to color until things look just right. There’s not a lot to learn about: you can re-size the marker, if you like, and zoom in and out. For the most part, though, Clipping Magic keeps things simple.

Done removing the background? There’s a prominent “Download” button for you. You’ll be offered a PNG, as well as a link for sharing the image with friends.

clippingmagic-download

Clipping Magic Put To The Test

So how well does this work? Your results will vary. I thought I’d begin by trying a cartoon character, thinking this would be simple. I was right:

clipping-magic-cartoon

As you can see defining the exact outline was difficult, but for the most part Clipping Magic figured out what I was after. By zooming in and highlighting certain things I was able to get things pretty close, but this is an image I’ll need to touch up after downloading.

I figured I’d try a bird next so I dug through my wife Kathy’s collection until I found this little guy, from a hike in the Rocky Mountains:

clipping-magic-bird

As you can see I had more luck separating him, probably because he’s well defined in contrast to the things behind him. Solid subjects come easier, and in this case it didn’t even take much work. I can impose anything I want behind him and his rock now.

Moving right along, I grabbed a red panda from Wikipedia. This was trickier:

clippingmagic-redpanda

The outside of the fur looks fuzzy, and zooming in you can clearly see the problem is fur.

clippingmagic-pandacloser

This seems to be a pattern: fur throws Clipping Magic off, probably because it’s ill-defined. The dirt is also colored similarly to the panda, which probably doesn’t help. With this in mind I thought I’d try something more solid: goaltender Jimmy Howard.

clippingmagic-howard

This photo is the kind of thing Clipping Magic excels at. It only took a few clips for me to isolate the goalie from the net, crease and crowds. I forgot to point out his stick, but you get the point.

Ready to try this yourself? Head to ClippingMagic.com now. Let us know which photos work well in the comments, okay?

The Verdict

So, what’s the conclusion? Clipping Magic removes backgrounds from photos admirably, though not perfectly. Considering it’s an alpha product, though, it’s amazing – and certainly worth bookmarking if you need to do this from time to time. Of course, there are alternatives. You can try these online photo editors, outlined by Yaara 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 , or read about Aviary Edit Images Online with The Aviary Photo Editor Suite Edit Images Online with The Aviary Photo Editor Suite Read More . These are more complete online photo editors, possibly aimed at more advanced users.

Or, if you prefer Photoshop, you should check out Part Two of our Idiot’s Guide To Photoshop. In it Bohed outlines how to remove backgrounds using the advanced photo-editing tool.

Know of another way to isolate a photo’s subject from the background? We’d love to hear from you, so please: leave links in the comments below. Thanks!

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  2. Justin P
    September 28, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    Click the download button. If you're not sure where your image ends up, you can find it in the "Downloads" folder in your user folder.

  3. Hoi Tran
    September 28, 2013 at 3:40 am

    I may remove background in my picture,but I don't know how save it into My pictures.
    Thank you for anyone help me.

  4. leahspencer
    June 18, 2013 at 6:41 am

    nice blog!! very good explanation about great tool.Thanks you. Keep sharing..

  5. null
    June 9, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    great tool... thanks for sharing :D

  6. Regina
    June 7, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    Oh my goodness! I just tried this app for a photo of a project from our upholstery shop to use on our facebook page. It worked great! So excited as I have a ton of photos to update and I'm not that tech savvy. Thanks for the article.

  7. Nichole Fraser
    June 7, 2013 at 11:04 am

    This is great, my dad is no photoshop wiz like myself and actually needs something like this for a project hes currently doing. Sweet, saves me the time of having to do it for him even though I really dont mind too much, but he does like to have control of his projects and this will give it to him.

  8. Dee Wheat
    June 6, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    I do have Photoshop but for a "quick and dirty" clip this is going to work like a charm, I think. Besides, can you EVER have too many good post-processing programs? I'm thinking not LOL!

  9. Sharon V
    June 6, 2013 at 4:22 pm

    I think it is great so much easier that expensive programs - Love it

  10. macwitty
    June 6, 2013 at 8:51 am

    Fur is a hell when it comes to remove background. I use the Mac app Snapheal from macphun when I'm to lazy to do a proper job with Photoshop

  11. Praveen Kumar
    June 6, 2013 at 7:21 am

    awesome guys.. thank you makeuseof, I`m searching for these type of tools from years :D

  12. Abhijith V M
    June 6, 2013 at 4:08 am

    Love it.

  13. null
    June 5, 2013 at 11:00 pm

    I think a lot of people will love this

  14. George Lipton
    June 5, 2013 at 10:56 pm

    Clipping Magic does not support Safari but does support Chrome. Worked well with my first trial photo.

  15. Don Ebberts
    June 5, 2013 at 8:39 pm

    This is great. I have an old copy of Photoshop Elements (6!) that I keep around, just to do this. This works better than PSE. Definitely will use, depending on what it eventually costs.

  16. T.Kay
    June 5, 2013 at 7:24 pm

    I tried this but found it awkward to use for the smaller details. The cursor is big and clunky (very square) so it would probably work okay on blocky images, but when I tried to do an image of my cat jumping, it was very hard to cut around the small, irregular details such as ears, paws, face and tail. I couldn't find any way to alter the size or shape of the cursor. The square shape of the cursor also made it difficult to cut a smooth curve. Honestly, I wasn't really impressed. If you're doing a simple shape, it would probably perform okay but I don't think it would do well with anything else.

    • Don Ebberts
      June 5, 2013 at 8:42 pm

      T.Kay, I tried it, cutting out a person against a fairly complex background and it worked great. I agree, a round marker, or a choice, would be better but you can zoom in to the picture and reduce the size of the marker.
      I love the fact that it shows you the preview right next to it. When I first did it, her left shoulder and hand were left out. Just went back and added them and right away it was there, What a great tool.

    • J
      June 5, 2013 at 10:32 pm

      At the top of the page, where it says, "30px" you can change the size of the cursor you're using to accommodate smaller details.

    • Justin Pot
      June 6, 2013 at 6:56 am

      Yeah, for now it's not great for complex shapes. But it's a simpler method than anything out there, and it's still in alpha, so give them some slack. Remove everything manually in photoshop if you want perfection.

  17. ComputerRepair89 .
    June 5, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    Amazing, My mom will love this. I haven't been able to teach her how to use photoshop. This would be great for her

    • Nichole Fraser
      June 7, 2013 at 11:04 am

      Same here!!!

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