Remove background from images using Office apps

Most of us have Office apps installed on our machine. But not everybody has, or can afford, Photoshop. Luckily, Office apps (PowerPoint, Word, Excel, and Outlook) have built-in image editing features that can do much of your basic image editing needs, including removing backgrounds from images.

I prefer to use PowerPoint, myself, but you can use whichever app you’re comfortable with or already creating within. When finished editing, you can right click the modified image to save it as an independent image file to be used elsewhere.

Note: Video demonstration at bottom of post.

Remove the background

Here are the few simple steps to start removing backgrounds from images:

  1. Select your image
  2. Picture Tools > Format will become an option once the image is selected. Click it.
  3. Select Remove Background

PowerPoint (or whichever app you’re using for this) will guess what you want to remove by highlighting it in pink.

Make corrections using the “Mark Areas to Keep” and “Mark Areas to Remove” buttons in the ribbon.

In the following animation, I’m choosing to “Mark Areas to Keep.” Once you’ve selected an option, click and drag your cursor over the pink-highlighted parts of the image you want to keep. Then select “Keep Changes” to save, removing the pink areas, and view the result.

Click to enlarge

If you’ve discovered you’ve made a mistake or want to keep or remove additional areas in the image, you can select the image again, choose “Remove Background” and continue the steps above until the result is to your liking. If you decide you want to restore the background and undo your changes, you can choose “Discard All Changes.”

Save the image(s)

When finished, you can save the modified image (which will preserve the transparent background) by right-clicking your result and choosing “Save as Picture.”

If you want to combine multiple edited images into a single image file, as in the following example, group the images first.

  1. Select an image
  2. Select all (Ctrl+A) to select all images
  3. Right click a selected image > Group > Group
  4. Right click the new group > Save as Picture

Video demo

Here’s a video showing this process on multiple image types, layering those images into a final result.

“We’ve run into a problem with your Office 365 subscription” solution

I recently moved from one tenant to another and even though I’d signed out of my client Office applications and signed in with my new tenant, I was still getting this error message when opening any Office app.

“We’ve run into a problem with your Office 365 subscription, and we need your help to fix it.”

“Go to My Account” wasn’t an option, as that account no longer existed. “Remind Me Later” only delays the inevitable temper tantrum you know must be coming.

Thankfully, there were two great posts out there that helped me solve this by removing the product keys associated with the de-activated license via command prompt. Just two notes before you begin:

  1. Make sure you run PS/Command prompt as administrator (right-click command prompt, run as administrator).
  2. Your path to the OSPP.VBS file might be different than what’s in their posts. For example, mine was actually located here: C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office16\OSPP.VBS