How to Crop a Photo to Eliminate the Background

By Denisa Gipson

Cropping a photo to eliminate the background is done for a variety of reasons. Perhaps you are creating a family photo card for the holidays, and you have taken the photo at home. Maybe there is a messy background in the photo that you forgot about, and you do not want that in the photo. You can take the person or people out of the photo, and place them on a different background. Whatever your reason might be, this can be done with an existing program on your computer.

Step 1

Open the program called Microsoft Paint. This is located within your Start menu under Programs. It may be under a sub-menu called Accessories, depending on your operating system.

Step 2

Click on "File" on the menu bar once Paint has been opened. Find and click "Open." Locate the picture on your computer that you want to crop. Double click the file name. Your picture should load immediately.

Step 3

Select the free-form tool. Depending on your operating system and the version of Paint will depend on how to access this tool. On Windows 7, on the Home tab, click the "Select" button. Under the drop-down list choose "Free-form selection." On Windows Vista and all earlier versions, simply click the selection tool icon. This is the first icon on the toolbar on the left side.

Step 4

Place the cursor over the image. During this step you are going to essentially trace the image you want. Choose an area of the photo where you want to begin to crop the object out of the background. This may require a steady hand and some patience as it might take some time. Holding the mouse down, begin to trace around the object. Get as close as you can to the edges. Go completely around the image until you are back at the beginning. Release the mouse.

Step 5

Click Ctrl + C on your keyboard. This copies the image to your computer's clipboard. You will now need to open a new file to show that you have cropped the image out. Go to File on your Menu bar, then click "New." Do not save any changes. Press Ctrl + V on your keyboard to paste your newly cropped image. If you are satisfied with the way your image looks, save it by clicking File again, then Save. Enter a name for your image, and choose a location on your computer to save it to.

Tips & Warnings

  • To easily access photos you want to use for cropping, place them on your desktop.
  • If at any time you make a mistake when cropping your photo, click undo.
  • Be careful when typing file names when saving your cropped photo. Type a name that is a little different from the original file's name so you do not risk overwriting the file when saving. Or save the location of the file in a different folder.