How to Make a Transparent PNG With Photoshop

By David Weedmark

Unlike JPG images, PNG images can retain empty pixels, making them ideal for photos, logos or other images that need a transparent background. If you're working on a Photoshop project that already has a transparent background, all you need to do is save it in PNG format. If your image has a solid background, you'll first need to remove the colored pixels to make the background transparent.

Step 1

Open any image in Photoshop and look at the Layers panel. If the image contains only a single Background layer, as is the case with JPGs, drag that "Background" layer onto the "New Layer" button to duplicate it. Select the "Background" layer and press "Delete" to remove it.

Step 2

Select the "Quick Selection Tool" in the Toolbox. If it's not visible, click and hold the "Magic Wand Tool" to reveal the Quick Selection Tool. Drag the cursor over the background to select all of it and then press "Delete."

Step 3

Clean up the image by deleting remaining background pixels, like those within letters or around fine details in an object.

Step 4

Select "Save As" from the File menu. Click the "Format" menu and select "PNG." Note that if you're saving this as a copy, it's not necessary to select the "Alpha Channels" option. PNGs don't rely on alpha channels to preserve transparency.

Step 5

Select "Save for Web" from the File menu if you plan to upload the PNG to a website. This creates a Web-optimized image with a small file size. Select "PNG-24" from the Preset menu. This preserves transparency and gives you more color range than the PNG-8 option. Do not deselect the "Transparency" option. Click the "Save" button.

Tips & Warnings

  • The Quick Selection Tool isn't your only option for highlighting and removing a background. Depending on the image, you may prefer using the Eraser Tool or the Magic Wand Tool. You can also use the Color Range option under the Select menu to select a solid-colored background. Another option is to trace around the background using the Lasso Tool or the Magnetic Lasso Tool.