How to Make a Picture Transparent in Paint

By Filonia LeChat

Microsoft Paint, included with your computer’s installation package, may be a simple sketching and doodling program, but it has the capability to help you render transparency in your photos and pictures. Transparency is useful when you’re creating an image that will be layered on top of something else, where you’ll want the bottom layer’s background showing through your image, such as with icons or avatars. With Paint’s basic tools, you can cut out areas of your pictures and make them transparent, all with just a few quick clicks.

Things You'll Need

  • Microsoft Paint
  • Digital image

Step 1

Open Paint and click “File,” then “Open.” Browse to a photo to make transparent, then double-click it so it opens in the Paint workspace.

Step 2

Choose whether to click the “Magnifying” tool on the “Tools” palette on the left side of the screen, then zoom in on the area to make transparent. This is an optional step.

Step 3

Pull down the “Image” menu at the top of the screen and uncheck the “Draw Opaque” option. If there is no check to the left of the words, leave it as it is.

Step 4

Click the “Free-Form Select” tool, which looks like a dotted star shape, then draw a line around the area to remove from the photo, making that part of the picture transparent. When a dotted rectangle or square appears, press the “Delete” key on your keyboard. A white space fills the area you selected; Paint cannot render transparency on screen, so it will look like white space until you print or use the photo on another background.

Step 5

Repeat the selection process to remove other areas of the image, making those sections of the photo transparent.

Step 6

Save the file by clicking “File,” then “Save As.” Rename the photo; don’t save it on top of the original in case you want to access the original. Pull down the “Save as type” menu at the bottom of the “Save As” screen and select “GIF;” this is the only format that allows for transparency.

Tips & Warnings

  • Paint doesn’t have the capability to make an entire photograph or picture transparent, nor can it create transparency percentages (such as 50 percent opacity); with Paint, the area you select is all or nothing.

References & Resources