Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Setting a Transparent Color for an Image.

Setting a Transparent Color for an Image

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 18, 2014)

5

Whenever you place a picture in your worksheet, it is rectangular in nature. Sometimes, the image may actually be rather small, but the area occupied by the image is rather large. For instance, you could have a logo that is diagonal in nature, which means that there is a large "background area" on the image. This background area, for all intents and purposes, is wasted space.

Fortunately, Excel allows you to define a particular color in your image as a transparent color. This means you could select the background area of your image, designate it as transparent, and thereby allow the underlying cells show through. To make a transparent area in your image, follow these steps:

  1. Select the image you want to modify.
  2. Make sure the Format tab of the ribbon is displayed.
  3. In the Adjust group click the Recolor tool or the Color tool (depending on your version of Excel). Excel displays a series of options.
  4. Click Set Transparent Color. The mouse pointer changes.
  5. In the image, click on the color you want to be transparent.

If you can't select the Set Transparent Color tool in step 3, then you might not be able to set a transparent color in the image. Excel allows you to set the transparency color for bitmapped graphics, but not for other types. If you later want to turn off the transparency color, then you need to click the Reset Picture tool in the Adjust group on th Format tab of the ribbon.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (8729) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Setting a Transparent Color for an Image.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Changing Subdocument Status

Creating a system of master documents and subdocuments can help with your productivity. What if you need to change ...

Discover More

Resolving Revisions

You've reviewed the changes that were made to your workbook using the Highlight Changes tool. Now you need to remove the ...

Discover More

Adjusting How Quickly Your Keyboard Responds

Does your keyboard seem a bit sluggish or a bit too quick when you hold down keys? You can adjust how the keyboard ...

Discover More

Excel Smarts for Beginners! Featuring the friendly and trusted For Dummies style, this popular guide shows beginners how to get up and running with Excel while also helping more experienced users get comfortable with the newest features. Check out Excel 2013 For Dummies today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Taking a Picture

Excel allows you to capture portions of your worksheet as a picture that you can then use in a variety of other ways. ...

Discover More

Changing a Shape

Need to change a shape you previously added to your worksheet? It's easy to do using the graphics tools provided by ...

Discover More

Placing a Picture in a Comment

When editing a worksheet, you can place comments that are associated with individual cells. If you want, you can format a ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 6 - 3?

2015-06-17 21:56:59

Ruben

Thank you!!!, I looked for this everywhere !!!


2014-01-28 16:18:35

JeanB

This is something that has rarely come up, but I just tried it with a picture I had on file with a one color background and it worked like a charm. Now I'm thinking of other uses for this option. Thanks.


2014-01-22 06:39:38

Shreepad S M Gandhi

Wonderful.
Didn't knew this. Thanks. I face the same query as @Tony, why only a single color be made transparent?


2014-01-21 21:25:03

Tony

Very good but why in an image with multiple colours it seems only one colour can be made transparent??


2014-01-20 15:25:03

DippyDoo

Nice Tip. This definitely comes in handy when creating multiple spreadsheets tagged with the company logo. Never knew it was possible before. Thanks Allen.


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.