Change the color or transparency, or recolor a picture

You can adjust the color intensity (saturation) and color tone (temperature) of a picture, recolor it, or change the transparency (transparency: The quality that defines how much light passes through an object's pixels. If an object is 100 percent transparent, light passes through it completely and renders the object invisible; in other words, you can see through the object.) of one of its colors. You can apply multiple color effects to your picture.

Picture of pink flowers

Original picture of pink flowers

Picture of pink flowers with color saturation changed

Same picture with Color Saturation changed to 66%

Picture with teal recolor effect

Same picture with Aqua Recolor effect

Picture with red recolor effect

Same picture with a Red Recolor effect
What do you want to do?


Change the color intensity of a picture

Saturation is the intensity of the color. A higher saturation makes a picture look more vivid, whereas a lower saturation turns the colors toward grey.

  1. Click the picture that you want to change the color intensity for.
  2. Under Picture Tools, on the Format tab, in the Adjust group, click Color.

Adjust group on Picture Tools Format tab

Adjust group on the Format tab under Picture Tools

If you don't see the Format or Picture Tools tabs, make sure that you've selected a picture. You may have to double-click the picture to select it and open the Format tab.

  1. To choose one of the most common, Color Saturation adjustments, click Presets, and then click the thumbnail that you want.

 Tip   You can move your mouse pointer over any of the effects, and use Live Preview to see what your picture will look like with that effect applied before you click the one that you want.

  1. To fine-tune the intensity, click Picture Color Options.

For additional help on those options, see Format Picture (Picture Color pane).

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Change the color tone of a picture

When color temperatures are not measured correctly by a camera, a color cast (too much of one color dominating the picture) can display on the picture, making the picture look too blue or too orange. You can adjust this by increasing or decreasing the color temperature to enhance the details of the picture and make the picture look better.

  1. Click the picture that you want to change the color tone for.
  2. Under Picture Tools, on the Format tab, in the Adjust group, click Color.

Adjust group on Picture Tools Format tab

Adjust group on the Format tab under Picture Tools

If you don't see the Format or Picture Tools tabs, make sure that you've selected a picture. You may have to double-click the picture to select it and open the Format tab.

  1. To choose one of the most common, Color Tone adjustments, click Presets, and then click the thumbnail that you want.

 Tip   You can move your mouse pointer over any of the effects, and use Live Preview to see what your picture will look like with that effect applied before you click the one that you want.

  1. To fine tune the intensity, click Picture Color Options.

For additional help on those options, see Format Picture (Picture Color pane).

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Recolor a picture

You can quickly apply a built-in stylized effect, such as grayscale or sepia tone, to your picture.

  1. Click the picture that you want to recolor.
  2. Under Picture Tools, on the Format tab, in the Adjust group, click Color.

Adjust group on Picture Tools Format tab

Adjust group on the Format tab under Picture Tools

If you don't see the Format or Picture Tools tabs, make sure that you've selected a picture. You may have to double-click the picture to select it and open the Format tab.

  1. To choose one of the most common, Recolor adjustments, click Presets, and then click the thumbnail that you want.

 Tip   You can move your mouse pointer over any of the effects, and use Live Preview to see what your picture will look like with that effect applied before you click the one that you want.

  1. To use additional colors including variations of theme colors (theme colors: A set of colors that is used in a file. Theme colors, theme fonts, and theme effects compose a theme.), colors on the Standard tab, or custom colors, click More Variations. The Recolor effect will be applied using the color variation.

 Tip   To remove a Recolor effect but keep any other changes you have made to the picture, click the first effect, No Recolor.

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Change the transparency of a color

You can make part of a picture transparent (transparency: The quality that defines how much light passes through an object's pixels. If an object is 100 percent transparent, light passes through it completely and renders the object invisible; in other words, you can see through the object.) to better show any text that is layered on top of it, to layer pictures on top of each other, or to remove or hide part of a picture for emphasis.

Transparent areas in pictures are the same color as the paper on which they are printed. In an electronic display, such as a Web page, transparent areas are the same color as the background.

You cannot make more than one color in a picture transparent. Areas that appear to be a single color (for example, blue sky) might actually be made up of a range of subtle color variations. Therefore, the color that you select might appear in only a small area. This is why it might be difficult to see the transparent effect.

You can make more than one color transparent in a picture in another image editing program, save the picture in a format that preserves transparency information, such as a Portable Network Graphics (.png) (PNG: A graphic file format that is supported by some Web browsers. Short for Portable Network Graphics, PNG supports variable transparency of images and control of image brightness on different computers. PNG files are compressed bitmaps.) file, and then insert the file into your Office document.

  1. Click the picture that you want to create transparent areas in.
  2. Under Picture Tools, on the Format tab, in the Adjust group, click Color.

Adjust group on Picture Tools Format tab

Adjust group on the Format tab under Picture Tools

If you don't see the Format or Picture Tools tabs, make sure that you've selected a picture. You may have to double-click the picture to select it and open the Format tab.

  1. Click Set Transparent Color, and then click the color in the picture or image that you want to make transparent.

You cannot make an entire image transparent, or partially transparent, by using the Set Transparent Color option. To make an entire image transparent or partially transparent, insert a shape such as a rectangle into your Office document, give the shape a picture fill using the image that you want, and then change the picture fill's Transparency setting.

The Set Transparent Color option is available for bitmap (bitmap: A picture made from a series of small dots, much like a piece of graph paper with certain squares filled in to form shapes and lines. When stored as files, bitmaps usually have the extension .bmp.) pictures that are not already transparent, and some clip art (clip art: A single piece of ready-made art, often appearing as a bitmap or a combination of drawn shapes.). You cannot create a transparent area in animated GIF (animated GIF: A file that contains a series of Graphics Interchange Format (GIF) images that are displayed in rapid sequence by some Web browsers to produce an animated effect.) pictures. You can, however, make transparency changes in an animated-GIF editing program, and then re-insert the file into your Office document.

 Notes 

  • To remove the color changes and all other effects applied to the picture, in the Adjust group, click Reset Picture.
  • You can also add other effects such an artistic effect, shadows, reflections, and glows, or change the brightness or contrast of your picture.
  • While you can only apply one effect at a time, you can use Format Painter to quickly apply the same adjustments to multiple pictures. To copy the same changes to multiple pictures, click the picture you just added the effects to, double-click Format Painter on the Home tab, and then click the pictures you want these effects applied to. Press ESC when you are finished.

Format Painter in Clipboard group

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Applies to:
Excel 2010, Outlook 2010, PowerPoint 2010, Word 2010