How to make background transparent with GIMP [Full Guide]

Radu Tyrsina
by Radu Tyrsina
Founder & Editor-in-Chief
Download PDF
Affiliate Disclosure

  • GIMP is a great photo editing software, with a lot of features similar to Photoshop.
  • Removing the background in GIMP is an easy task that can be done in at least 5 ways, and we're showing you how in this step-by-step guide.
  • If you're looking for other useful software, check out the recommendations in our Software section.
  • For comprehensive tutorials of anything software-related, see our How-To Hub.
how to make background transparent gimp

GIMP is a freeware photo editing software and one of the most popular alternatives to Photoshop.

It includes a lot of features that you can also find in the Adobe software, and this is why GIMP is also more complex to use compared to similar photo editing programs.


Among the most sought after features of such a program, GIMP included, are bulk editing, adding watermarks, or removing the background/making the background transparent.

Read on to find out how to make the background transparent in GIMP.

How do I make the background transparent in GIMP?


Fuzzy Select tool

  1. Open the image.
  2. Right-click on the image layer from the Layer tab in the right sidebar and select Add Alpha Channel (if the option is greyed-out, it means you already have the Alpha Channel selected)
  3. Grab the Fuzzy Select Tool (or press U on your keyboard).fuzzy select tool
  4. Click and drag on your subject to create a selection (keep dragging to increase or decrease it). You can add to your selection by holding Shift and clicking on another area.
  5. Click on Edit in the main menu and hit the Clear button. Alternatively, tap the Delete key on your keyboard to delete the background.

It is advisable to have the Antialiasing, Draw mask and Feather Edges options enabled in the Tools section.


Select By Color tool

  1. Open the image.
  2. Get the Select By Color by color tool gimp
  3. Click anywhere on the image where you want the background gone and start dragging until you reach the desired selection.
  4. Press Delete on your keyboard.


Paths tool

  1. Open the image.
  2. Select the Paths tool.use paths tool to delete background
  3. Zoom the image to get a closer view of the details. Start clicking around the edges of your subject to create an outline.
  4. Curve the lines between the points by dragging them.
  5. If you stop at a certain point, resume the outline by clicking on the most recent point you created then continue.
  6. Close the outline by clicking the first point and hold to unite with the last one.

This is a more time-consuming technique, but perhaps the most accurate one.


Layer masks

  1. Open the image.
  2. Right-click on the layer and select Duplicate Layer from the available options.
  3. Then, in the upper-right menu, go to Colors > Saturation, and drag the scale to zero. Click OK.
  4. Go again to Colors > Curves and drag the margins of the curve to make the subject as black as possible, and the background as white as possible.
  5. Then go to Colors > Invert.
  6. Go to Edit > Copy Visible. Turn off the visibility of the layer.
  7. Next, right-click on the original layer and choose Add Layer Mask. Leave everything as default and click Add.add layer mask
  8. Then go to Edit > Paste. Also, in the right lower part of the screen, click on the green anchor icon. At this point, the black areas should remain visible, while the white areas become transparent.remove background gimp
  9. Grab a white brush and fill in whatever imperfect areas you still have.

This is the most advanced technique, as you might have noticed. But it works fine when there’s a lot of details on the subject‘s outline.

It only works well when there’s a lot of contrast between the subject and the background.


Foreground Select tool

  1. Open the image.
  2. Grab the Foreground Select tool and manually draw a rough outline around your subject. It does not have to be perfect.foreground selection tool
  3. Then, brush in the subject without touching the margins. Toggle the preview setting to see how it looks.
  4. Press Enter on the keyboard to convert it into a selection. Then, invert the selection by going to Select > Invert, and then press Delete on your keyboard to remove the background.

And that should do it. You have five ways of removing the background in GIMP, both for the beginner and for the advanced user.

If you have other suggestions, don‘t hesitate to drop us a line in the comments section below.

Was this page helpful?
Thanks for letting us know! You can also help us by leaving a review on MyWOT or Trustpillot.
Get the most from your tech with our daily tips
Tell us why!