How to make a background transparent in Paint on Windows 10

Matthew Adams
by Matthew Adams
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background transparent in Paint on Windows 10

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. The rest of the picture left outside the traced area will be a transparent background.transparent background in Paint on Windows 10
  6. Right-click within the rectangle that appears around the selected area. 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
  7. Now open an entirely new image in Paint.
  8. Press the Ctrl + V hotkey to paste the foreground area you traced from the first image. As that picture now has a transparent background, you can see the rest of the second image behind it as shown below.
  9. 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. 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
  13. As you can see, the background image layer now fills the transparent area in the overlapping picture. 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
  14. 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.

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

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.

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

While the default options might just offer a basic editing experience, a third-party tool comes with extra features. We would recommend two of the best ones to use now.

ACDSee Photo Studio has an option in the Image menu called Add Visibility Mask. It allows you to configure the Wand tool or use the lasso tool to select the unwanted pixels and then delete them.acdsee photo editor logo transparent background in Paint on Windows 10

All you need to do is to select the area of the photo using the selection tool and copy the image to clipboard. You can paste the image onto the background using a selected transparency level.

Fotor is a great image editor with all the handy tools you can use, including transparency and clone. This is a good option to use online as well.

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, 2018 and has been since updated for freshness, and accuracy.

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