Who Needs Photoshop? Amazing Image Editing Feats You Can Do With MS Word

Saikat Basu 15-10-2012

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.


So, have you considered using Microsoft Word?

What! MS Word as a replacement for Photoshop! Perish the thought. It can’t hold a candle against the giant, but it does have a few tools to light some creative fires.

There are some amazing image editing feats you can do with MS Word 2017 and its image editing tools. Let’s fire up the creative Zen.

Head for the Picture Tools

Who Needs Photoshop? Amazing Image Editing Feats You Can Do With MS Word word image 670x446

Most of the image editing magic in MS Word lies in the Picture Tools tab.


The Picture Tools work on all image types you insert in Word document. Most of the options are self-explanatory, but it’s the image editing feats you can do with them or in combination with options like Text Effects that makes it all interesting.

It Could Start With a Screenshot

Who Needs Photoshop? Amazing Image Editing Feats You Can Do With MS Word screenshot 670x283

It could just have escaped you, but Microsoft Word (and the other apps too) does have a handy screenshot tool. You can quickly use it to take a screen clip of the open Windows (including browser windows) or something on the desktop and insert into your open document.

With Screen Clipping, your entire window turns temporarily become opaque or “frosted over”. Your selection will show through this opaqueness when you drag to select it.


Embed an Image in a Shape

You can create interesting graphics by using a combination of a shape and a picture inside it letting the shape acts as a frame.

First, choose Insert > Shape. Choose any shape…even a free-form shape can be filled with an image. You can press the Shift key while drawing the shape to draw a perfectly proportioned shape.

Who Needs Photoshop? Amazing Image Editing Feats You Can Do With MS Word ms word shape

With the shape on the canvas and selected, the Drawing Tools appear on the ribbon. Select Shape Fill > Picture. Click on Insert and the picture is embedded inside the shape.


microsoft word picture editor

To fine tune the graphic, you can right-click on the picture and choose Format Shape. For instance, you can use the Crop settings to position the picture. You can also go to the Fill settings and change the transparency level.

Give Your Edges a Softer Touch

Instead of just inserting an image, you can stylize it a bit by introducing soft edges to the picture. It gives the appearance of the image slowly fading into the background of the page.

Insert your picture by selecting the Soft Edge Rectangle under Picture Styles.


Who Needs Photoshop? Amazing Image Editing Feats You Can Do With MS Word word rectangle

To enhance the softness, right-click on the image and bring up the Format Picture dialog box. You can play around with the options here – specifically the Glow and Soft Edges settings. For Soft Edges, you can use the presets or drag the slider to change the look. The effect looks really nice with black & white photos.

Who Needs Photoshop? Amazing Image Editing Feats You Can Do With MS Word format pic

Remove Background


The Remove Background feature is a part of the Picture Tools menu.

Who Needs Photoshop? Amazing Image Editing Feats You Can Do With MS Word remove background

Move one of the handles on the bounding lines and then drag the lines so that you include the portion of the image that you wish to keep and exclude the areas you wish to remove. For linear shapes it works well, but for more complicated shapes, you have to finetune it a bit.

Click on Mark Areas to Keep to demarcate the parts of the picture you do want removed and click on Mark Areas to Remove to demarcate the parts of the picture you want removed. You can always click on Delete Mark to correct the marker points.

Finally, click on Keep Changes to finalize the background removal and close the tool.

Use “Layers” In Word

No, image editing on Word isn’t as advanced as Photoshop when it comes to layers. But there is a workaround. Word has an option called – In Front of Text. You can find it under Picture Tools > Wrap Text.

Who Needs Photoshop? Amazing Image Editing Feats You Can Do With MS Word picture tool

Selecting In Front of Text helps you stack multiple images on top of one another like layers and apply interesting effects.

You could remove the background of the top image so that only the image in the foreground remains. This will allow you to make visible any artistic effects on the bottom picture.

Using the Remove Background tool, apply Mark Areas to Keep at different points, Then use Mark Areas to Remove to mark areas you want to remove. Select Keep Changes to save the changes and remove the background from the top ‘layer’.

Now, you can use different color effects (e.g. change color saturation or recolor) and/or Artistic effects to the bottom image and create interesting combinations. For instance, you can recolor the bottom image to sepia, while keeping the colored image on top.


Not A Replacement But A Handy Stand-In

There’s so much more one can do with images and MS Word . This brief article can only serve as an introductory stepping stone to the graphical adventures ahead.I have left out some of the more obvious image editing feats you can perform like

I have left out some of the more obvious image editing feats you can perform like apply artistic effects How To Take A Screenshot & Apply Artistic Effects With The New MS Word 2010 If Microsoft 2007 covered all that you could think of doing with a document, think again. Two new features (among the ten or so) introduced in Microsoft Word 2010 help to reduce your dependency on... Read More change the brightness, contrast, or blurriness of a picture; or in the end save the original version of an edited picture to the linked tutorials.

Do you know an amazing image editing feat which one can perform on MS Word? Share them with us.

Image Credit: Dmitry Molchanov via

Related topics: Adobe Photoshop, Image Editor, Microsoft Word.

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  1. Rusty
    February 29, 2016 at 1:05 pm

    But it's not possible to export the changes outside of word? I've been unable to find that.

  2. ECW
    March 5, 2013 at 7:27 pm

    Thanks for the tips! This is much more convenient for whipping up a simple title page than through Photoshop.

    • Saikat Basu
      March 6, 2013 at 7:33 am

      Then, Photoshop is prohibitively expensive and comes with a steep learning curve. Usually, we have MS Word conveniently around us. Glad my article could help you out.

  3. suvash
    December 24, 2012 at 10:39 am

    very nice

  4. suvash
    December 24, 2012 at 10:38 am

    i speak english in slow motion @learn also slow

  5. Rick
    November 5, 2012 at 2:47 am

    and I was still using MSpaint this morning

  6. Raped
    November 4, 2012 at 1:18 am

    Great article guys, I didn't realize the picture tools in Word were this sufficient

  7. Lisa Santika Onggrid
    October 22, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    Now this is creative. I'd try some techniques. From my experience though, do this a lot and that document will be painfully slow to pen.

  8. Boni Oloff
    October 22, 2012 at 11:04 am

    This is a good tutorial, but how to save it as a picture image, most of use want the edited picture in blog, or etc..

    • Saikat Basu
      October 22, 2012 at 11:38 am

      Right click on the photo and choose Save as Picture...

      • Boni Oloff
        October 23, 2012 at 5:04 am

        Thanks, that's the only point i need.

  9. illegal3alien
    October 17, 2012 at 11:12 am

    If you need to make posters, you can always use Powerpoint. It has all the same features, but it's easier to move around objects and place them where you want.

    • Saikat Basu
      October 19, 2012 at 6:18 am

      True, Word and PowerPoint have nearly the same image editing tools and its much easier to move things around in PowerPoint.

  10. Gayashan Amarasinghe
    October 17, 2012 at 8:15 am

    Cool, i've been using powerpoint for the same tasks for some time now. =)

  11. Patrick Saunders
    October 17, 2012 at 7:04 am

    No. No no no no no. Don't ever tell anyone to edit images in word. I have lost count of the number of times a client is asked for a high resolution version of their logo and what they give me is an image in a Word document. It's like asking someone to use a hammer for a job that requires a screw driver. Word does one thing well. Everything else it ruins.

    • Saikat Basu
      October 19, 2012 at 6:17 am

      I wouldn't recommend Word for serious photo-editing jobs of course. Even if you don't have Photoshop, their's Paint and online tools. But it is always instructive to look at alternative uses of a program and keep them in mind. Very few people are actually aware of all that Word can do.

  12. sadden
    October 17, 2012 at 3:44 am

    settles whether I upgrade to Office 2010 or not! WOW!!

  13. sadden
    October 17, 2012 at 3:42 am

    This settles whether I get the upgrade or not! WOW!!

  14. Saikat Basu
    October 17, 2012 at 12:43 am

    You can use the screen clip feature to take a screenshot maybe, and save it as a PNG file before you upload it to your site. MS Word can be used as a blogging tool too...very basic...but it's there.

    Using MS Word 2007 for Fast and Easy Blogging (Windows)
    [Broken Link Removed]

  15. herman
    October 16, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    Great site - Great stuff - Gooder than any other tech? site I've tripped over!

  16. Tuna Oddfellow
    October 16, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    There are opensource alternatives to Photoshop that are designed manipulate graphics. While you fully illustrate what can be done with the limited tools of Word, you should be pointing users towards full solutions such as GIMP or Inkscape too.

    • Saikat Basu
      October 17, 2012 at 12:44 am

      Oh! We have done it in the past. Do a full search on our site and you will get quite a lot of articles on the said subjects.

  17. Cara
    October 16, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    Great tools in MS WORD. I had no clue. Thank you for sharing all the wonderful things you do. I always look forward to learning new things from you!

    • Saikat Basu
      October 17, 2012 at 12:43 am

      You are welcome Cara :)

  18. Raj Sarkar
    October 16, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    That was very helpful. :D

  19. Anonymous
    October 16, 2012 at 6:50 am

    I use all these features when printing my photos.:-)

  20. Suresh Volam
    October 16, 2012 at 1:40 am

    This is cool. Need to check out all of these features.

  21. Eric Wilborn
    October 15, 2012 at 11:56 pm

    Nice tips.

  22. Kao Vang
    October 15, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    Works for the simpler stuff. Awesome regardless.

  23. Yash Desai
    October 15, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    woah, didnt know i could do this all with word, guess i can stop using paint now lol

  24. Sam Kar
    October 15, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    never knew abt these features. Thanks

  25. Anonymous
    October 15, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    Thanks..thats a really helpful topic...

  26. zV1
    October 15, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    nice article,very handy :)