How to make a background transparent in Paint on Windows 10

Matthew Adams
by Matthew Adams
Windows & Software Expert
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  • Microsoft Paint is the default image editor that comes pre-installed with Windows 10, but that doesn't mean it is a simplistic program.
  • For example, by using a few tricks you can even turn image backgrounds transparent, and we will be showing you how to do just that in the guide below.
  • Plenty of other such articles can be found it our Windows 10 Tips hub, so check that out to satisfy your curiosity, and maybe even bookmark it for future reference.
  • We have many more guides full of tips and trick in our dedicated How To page, so check it out if you want to find out more.
background transparent in Paint on Windows 10
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Paint is the image editor included with Windows. Most photographers probably overlook MS Paint or new Paint 3D for editing photos as they have relatively limited tools compared with the likes of Photoshop. However, one thing you can do is make a transparent background in Paint and Paint 3D for Windows 10. Here’s how.

How can I remove background color in Paint?

So, how do I make a transparent background in Paint? 

There are two ways that you can make a picture‘s background transparent in Paint for Windows 10.

The first method involves cutting out a foreground area in an image so that the rest of its surrounding background becomes transparent. Then you can paste the foreground over another image.

The second method involves deleting an area from a picture so it’s left with a transparent area that you can fill by adding a second background image layer.

You can add transparent backgrounds to selected foregrounds with the original Paint. However, that Windows accessory doesn’t save transparent backgrounds so that you can combine images with layers.

Although, you can set up image layers with transparent backgrounds in Paint 3D. Below you can see how you can make background 100% transparent in both Paint and Paint 3D.

1. How to add transparent backgrounds to images with Paint

  1. Open Paint by clicking the Cortana button. Enter the keyword Paint in Cortana’s search box, and select to open Paint.
  2. Next, click File > Open; and select an image to open.
  3. Press the Select button, and then click the Transparent selection option.transparent background in Paint on Windows 10
  4. Select the Free-form selection option on the Select button’s menu.
  5. Trace around a foreground area to preserve from the original picture with the cursor by holding the left mouse button.
  6. The rest of the picture left outside the traced area will be a transparent background.transparent background in Paint on Windows 10
  7. Right-click within the rectangle that appears around the selected area.
  8. Select Cut on the context menu to remove the selected foreground from the picture as in the snapshot below.transparent background in Paint on Windows 10
  9. Now open an entirely new image in Paint.
  10. Press the Ctrl + V hotkey to paste the foreground area you traced from the first image.
  11. As that picture now has a transparent background, you can see the rest of the second image behind it as shown below.
  12. Now left-click the pasted foreground image, and drag it to a suitable position on the background picture.

Not satisfied with the result? Check out these 6 free photo editors that may help you achieve a better one.

2. Add Transparent Backgrounds to images in Paint 3D

Cutting the foreground out in Paint leaves a blank area in the original picture. However, that does not become a transparent region in the original picture when you save the image.

Consequently, the area cut out remains blank when you open the image and utilize layers in other image-editing software as shown in the snapshot directly below.

transparent background in Paint on Windows 10

However, Paint 3D in Windows 10 does save transparent areas in images. Although the app doesn’t include a full layers tool, you can also insert one picture on top of another so that it overlaps.

This is how you can fill the transparent area left in one picture with a background layer image in Paint 3D.

  1. Enter Paint 3D in Windows 10’s search box. If you haven’t had the Creators update, add the app to Windows 10 from this website page.
  2. Select to open the Paint 3D app below.
  3. Click Menu > Open > Browse files, and select an image to open in Paint 3D.
  4. Press the Canvas button to open the sidebar shown directly below.
  5. Click the Transparent canvas setting on the sidebar.
  6. Press the Select button, and then drag the selection rectangle over an area of the image to delete.
  7. Press the Ctrl + X hotkey to cut out the area from the picture as in the snapshot below.
    • That leaves the picture with a blank transparent area that any background layer can fill.
  8. Click Menu > Save as, and select the 2D PNG option.
  9. Enter a file title in the text box, and press the Save button.
  10. Click Menu > New to open a blank canvas.
  11. Select Menu > Open > Browse files, and select to open a background layer image for the transparent picture you just saved.
  12. Click Menu > Insert, and select to open the transparent image that you saved.
  13. The transparent image will open on top of the background layer as shown in the snapshot directly below.transparent background in Paint on Windows 10
  14. As you can see, the background image layer now fills the transparent area in the overlapping picture.
  15. You can resize the overlapping picture by moving the cursor to one of the selection border’s corners, holding the left mouse button and then dragging the cursor.transparent background in Paint on Windows 10
  16. To rotate the foreground picture layer, hover the cursor over the rotation circle at the top of the selection border and hold the left mouse button. Drag the cursor left or right to rotate the selected layer clockwise or anti-clockwise.

So, that’s how Windows 10 users can add transparent backgrounds to images with Paint. Then you can combine the transparent images with other pictures by pasting the selected foreground or overlapping them with layers.

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Paint 3d isn’t working on Windows 10? This guide will get you up and running in no time.

3. Alternative methods to add transparent backgrounds to images on Windows 10

When it comes to digital graphics design, few programs have a more resounding name than Adobe Photoshop. Among the many features that this program boasts, it can also help you in your effort to create transparent backgrounds.

This is thanks to the fact that Adobe Photoshop supports the use of image layers, allowing you to overlap images for great effect.

If you want to know to create transparent background in Adobe Photoshop, follow the steps below:

  1. Go to the Layers tab on the right-pane, right-click your image and select Duplicate Layer
  2. Make sure to hide the newly-created bottom image layer
  3. Select the original picture in the Layers tab, and then select the Magic Wand tool from the toolbar on the left pane
  4. Select and mark the background in your image that you need to turn transparent
  5. Click the Delete key on your keyboard
  6. Press File, and hit Save as…
  7. Give your newly-created image a name, and save it in the PNG format

Of course, this is just one of many tools and useful tricks that you can perform in Adobe Photoshop. As such, if you are an avid graphics designer and feel like adding a bit of extra life into your photography, then a tool like Adobe Photoshop is the right thing for you.

Get Adobe Photoshop free

FAQ: Learn more about Microsoft Paint

  • Is Microsoft Paint free?

Yes, Microsoft Paint is completely free-to-use, at some point even came pre-installed with Windows 10.

  • Where can I download Microsoft Paint?

Microsoft Paint is now downloadable as an app via the Microsoft Store. However, if you are looking for some professional alternatives, there are some other great graphics editors out there.

  • Are there any alternatives to Microsoft Paint?

There are plenty of alternatives to Microsoft Paint, some of which are professional-grade graphics design tools. These include Krita, GIMP, Adobe Photoshop, as essential graphics & design software tools.

By following the steps written above, you should be able to turn any backgrounds transparent in Microsoft Paint.

If you need more ideas on how to make transparent selections in Paint, we’ve written a similar guide on the subject. Check it out here.

Alternatively, in case you may want to remove photo background images without using any photo background remover software, check out this guide for more information.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in April 2019 and has been since revamped and updated in April 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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Editor's Note: This article was originally published in October 2017 and was revamped and updated in August 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.
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  • Thank you for the advice, and it worked. But, It was not what I needed. Just a tip, magic select is much easier than the transparent background for images with curves. I needed to cut out a girl from a picture and put her in a street. Using magic select, it was much easier than cropping at still not getting a perfect result.

  • Are you on drugs? My entire image disappeared! I have never been able to create a transparent background in Windows. Hurry the eff up and create an equivalent of Instant Alpha, instead of these useless girlie apps like sugar crush apple pie girly makeup. It can’t be that hard, even to a mentally challenged creature like their software president.