How Do I Remove the White Background From an Image in Photoshop?

By Linda Johnson

The infamous white background behind logo images, some stock photos and even clip art means one of two things: You have to use the image in a white document so the background will blend in, or you have to get rid of it. Removing white backgrounds from images in Photoshop leaves you with a transparent background that you can use anywhere.

Step 1

Click "File," then "Open" on the top toolbar in Photoshop. Go to "Pictures" or anther folder, and select your photo or logo. Photoshop will open the image and show it as a "Background" layer in the "Layers" palette on the right. You will see a little icon of a padlock on the layer indicating that it is locked.

Step 2

Double-click on the background layer in the "Layer" palette to unlock it so you can work with it.

Step 3

Choose the "Magic Wand" tool from the Toolbox on the left of the screen, drag it to the white background around the image and click to select. You have just cued the moving line of dots and selected the white background.

Step 4

Press "Delete" on your keyboard, and the white background will disappear, leaving the faded gray and white checks that indicate the background is now transparent.

Step 5

Choose the "Move" tool from the Toolbox, and click on the image to drag it anywhere in the document or right out of the frame onto any another open document.

Step 6

Save your document in a PSD or JPG file format, giving it a name that will indicate your image now has a transparent background.

Tips & Warnings

  • A transparent background around a logo or image makes it possible to incorporate it into other photographs, ads, letterhead and more. You can add a drop shadow, too, by double-clicking the layer again on the "Layers" palette, which brings up the "Layer Options" dialog box. Click "Drop Shadow" on the list under "Blending Options Custom." Use the default settings for "Structure" and "Quality," or adjust them according to taste.
  • Do not include a drop shadow that is already on your image in your selection. It will be a rigid shape with a hard edge, and no longer shadowy. If you need a drop shadow, create one yourself according to the tip above after you have removed the white background.
  • This simple select-and-delete background technique works well with clear, clean unadorned shapes and outlines. For ornate shapes, the magnetic lasso tool may work better than the magic wand tool.