Excel: Remove Picture Background

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New in Excel 2010, you can easily remove the background from a picture. I can imagine this will lead to a variety of Excel cover sheets with decorative pictures with the backgrounds removed.

Select the picture and choose Remove Background. A new ribbon tab will appear. Your first adjustment is to change the bounding box so it tightly fits around the subject. Making this one adjustment will dramatically improve the results of Background Removal.

Below are two copies of the same picture. The picture on the left is the original. The picture on the right is the picture after clicking Remove Background and tightly adjusting the bounding box to the subject.

  1. Change the bounding box around the subject.

    Given the correct bounding box, the Picture Removal tool does a good job of predicting what to remove. The Background Removal tab of the ribbon includes icons where you can mark areas to keep or remove. This is good for areas that the tool chose to erroneously remove.

    When you click the Keep Changes icon, the background will be removed.

  2. After the removal.

    Gotcha: If you want to enter values in the cells covered by the now-transparent background, you will usually select the picture instead of the cell. Click outside of the picture and then use the arrow keys to move to the cells under the picture. It is incredibly tempting to just try to click directly on the cell instead.


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