How to Remove a Background in Paint

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Microsoft may have announced the slow death of Paint back in mid-2017, relegating the software to the realm of "deprecated feature" and noting that it may be removed from future releases of Windows, but that doesn't take the Paint love from our hearts. Much of the joy of using Paint lies in its simplicity, and removing a picture's background is just as simple as spray-painting a digital mustache on a JPEG of your computer lab teacher.

Remove the Background in Paint

Open the image you want to de-background and choose the "Select" tool from the "Home" tab. From the drop-down menu, pick the "Free-form selection" tool. Carefully trace an outline around the foreground and midground elements you want to keep in the picture by holding down the left mouse button and dragging the cursor, keeping the line as close to the edges of the elements as possible. When your outline forms a closed loop, a dotted outline appears around it.

Now go back to the selection tool menu and click "Invert selection," which instantly selects the image's background. Without changing tools, left-click and drag the image until you drag the background right out of the picture.

In effect, this erases the background in Paint, leaving you with a beautiful, blank white slate to fill in to your heart's content or to leave blank.

Make the Background Transparent

If you'd rather end up with a Paint transparent background than a white space, you still have more work to do. Strangely, that work involves using PowerPoint, which likely came in the same software suite as MS Paint.

Insert the image with the now-white background into a PowerPoint presentation and choose "Picture Tools," "Adjust" and "Color." Now choose "Set Transparent Color" and use the color selection tool that appears to select the color white. This removes all white portions of the picture, creating transparency in place of a white color block.

For the transparency to work, you have to save it properly. Right-click and choose "Save as picture" and pick "PNG" from the "Save as type" drop-down menu.

Crop Backgrounds From Paint 3D

If you, like Microsoft, have moved past Paint and into the three-dimensional era, don't worry – you can still crop backgrounds from your projects in Paint 3D, the official successor to the original MS Paint.

Paint 3D uses the magic of AI to make the selection process a little easier and more precise. After opening the image you want to edit, choose the "Magic Select" tool and select the area you want to work with. Drag the corners of the selection in or out to remove more or less of the background – unlike old-school paint, Paint 3D selects the foreground or subject automatically with this tool. If you need to fine-tune the selection, use the "Add" and "Remove" buttons and outline areas that need to be selected or areas that shouldn't be selected. Select "Done" when you've tweaked the selection to your liking and then right-click and copy the selection to paste it into any image you like, sans background.