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How to Edit Slide Background Graphics Using PowerPoint

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This post is part of a series called How to Use PowerPoint (Ultimate Tutorial Guide).
How to Work With Images in PowerPoint (Complete Guide)
How to Use and Edit PowerPoint Master Slides

PowerPoint has plenty of tools and options to build great looking slides. That includes using background images or graphics to create unique slide designs. Instead of using solid color backgrounds, use an image or graphic as the backdrop to your content.

Here's what we'll cover in this tutorial:

  1. How to set a different background image for each slide in your PowerPoint presentation.
  2. How to add the same image background more permanently to a slide layout, so that you can re-use it.
  3. How to reduce the opacity of a background image or graphic so that it blends in with the slide color.
Background images and graphics in PowerPoint
In this example, I've placed an image I shot that is available on Unsplash as a background image for a PowerPoint slide.

In this tutorial, you'll learn to use PowerPoint background graphics. Use these steps to discover to place a logo or small graphic on a slide, or add a full screen background image. Let's get started.

How to Quickly Edit PowerPoint Background Graphics (Watch & Learn)

Check out the screencast below for a quick guide on how to add your own images to PowerPoint slide backgrounds. I'll walk you through adding an image to a single slide and adding it to a presentation layout for easy re-use.

 

In this tutorial, we use the powerful Be PowerPoint template, which includes several slide layout options that are ready to work with quickly. 

You can find plenty of professional PowerPoint templates on GraphicRiver, which you can purchase for use. Or, discover more top PowerPoint designs at Envato Elements, which are included in a monthly subscription to unlimited design assets. Browse through this collection to find the best of this year to make your presentation with: 

Now, read on for the illustrated guide to adding and editing image backgrounds in PowerPoint:

Where to Source Professional Images and Graphics for Your Presentation

It's helpful to have a library of images to choose from for your PowerPoint slide backgrounds. Here are helpful sources where you can procure high quality images for your PowerPoint presentations:

1. Premium - Envato Elements

Envato Elements is an all-you-can-download buffet for designers. With a subscription to Elements, you have access to hundreds of thousands of royalty-free stock photos. 

Elements royalty free stock photos
Elements royalty free stock photos.

In addition to photos, a subscription to Elements includes other tools you can use with PowerPoint, like graphics and illustrations, and professional PowerPoint themes. If you use PowerPoint regularly, an Elements subscription is a must.

2. Free - Unsplash

Unsplash is a favorite amongst web and print designers. The reason? The images are free!

Check out Unsplash for free to use images
Check out Unsplash for free to use images.

How to Add an Image Background to a Single PowerPoint Slide

Once you've selected an image or a graphic, let's now make it a PowerPoint slide background. Start off by selecting the slide that you want to add a background image to.

Now, you need to insert the image into the slide. You can either paste it from your clipboard, or go to the Insert menu and browse to where the image is saved on your device.

Image inserted into PowerPoint
To add an image to a slide, either paste it from your clipboard or use the Insert > Image option on the PowerPoint ribbon.

Now, you need to resize and reposition the image so that it covers the entire slide. Grab the corner of the image (white circle on the corner) and click and drag to increase the size so that it covers the slide. 

In the example below, the image is actually larger than the slide after it's resized. That's no problem though; PowerPoint will only show the slide area when presenting.

Image covering slide background in PowerPoint
After resizing the image, it covers the entire slide background and beyond.

The image is now set for the background. Only one problem: our slide content is covered up!

To fix this, we need to send the image to the back of the slide. Your slide has layers and an order that things are stacked in. The image should be the bottom layer so that all of your text and content sits on top of it.

To send an image to the bottom layer, right click it and choose Send to Back. The rest of your slide should come back into view as the image is now sitting on the bottom of the content stack.

Send to back in PowerPoint layers
Right click an image and choose Send to Back to move all content on top of the background image.

That's it! You've now set a full screen image as the slide background for a PowerPoint slide.

How to Add an Image Background Using PowerPoint Slide Layout

In the previous example, you added an image background to a single PowerPoint slide. Let's learn how to add an image background to a slide layout, so that it appears each time you use that layout in your presentation.

First, it might help to understand what a slide layout is. Layouts can be found on the Home tab on PowerPoint's ribbons. 

There's a layout dropdown where you can select a layout, which is a set of placeholders for your slide. Choose a layout to put these placeholders on a slide and fill it with your content.

Slide layout in PowerPoint
Choose a slide layout from the Layouts dropdown to add a slide design to your active slide.

Layouts are re-usable. If you want a background image to appear each time you use a slide, it's best to add it to a slide layout.

Let's go to the View menu and choose Slide Master. On the left side, you'll see thumbnails for each of the slide layouts in your theme. Select one of these layouts on the left side to add a background image to it.

Slide Master in PowerPoint
Go to View > Slide Master view and choose a layout on the left side to add a background image to the selected layout.

With a layout selected, paste or insert the image as the background. Then, send it to the back (right click > Send to Back) just as we did in the first example.

Background image added in PowerPoint
Add the image to your slide and send it to the back of the slide to make it a background image.

Now, leave Slide Master view by going to View > Normal. Return to the Layouts dropdown and you'll see the new master view with a background image added.

Layout with background image in PowerPoint
You can see the layout with a background image added from the Layouts thumbnails.

All of the same tricks we discussed above work as well. You'll need to use Slide Master view if you want to have an image appear each time you use the layout.

How to Change the Opacity of an Image Background in PowerPoint

Now, let's learn how to dim an image or graphic when it's placed on a slide. If you want the image to fade into the background and be less visible, we'll need to change the opacity of it. Basically, we'll make the picture partially transparent.

To use this trick, we'll need to draw in a shape, then set an image as the background for this shape.

Let's start off by grabbing the shape tool. Go to the Insert tab on the ribbon and find the Shapes dropdown. For this example, choose the Rectangle shape.

Insert Rectangle shape in PowerPoint
Go to the Insert tab on PowerPoint's ribbon and choose Shape; then, choose the rectangle shape.

Now, you can draw in a rectangle shape on your slide. Draw a rectangle that covers the entire slide. 

Draw shape in PowerPoint
With the rectangle tool selected, draw the shape over the entire slide to create a background image placeholder.

Now, right click on the shape and choose Format Shape. This opens a new menu on the right side where we can set an image background to the shape.

Format Shape in PowerPoint
Right click the shape and choose Format Shape to open up a new menu on the right side.

Now, you'll need to set an image as the background for the shape. Choose the Picture or texture fill box. Now, set the image you want to use for the background by clicking on File to browse for an image, or Clipboard to paste in the image that's you've copied to your clipboard.

Set image as slide background of PowerPoint shape
Choose Picture or texture fill, and then use the Insert picture from options to add an image from your computer or clipboard.

Now, you can adjust the opacity of the picture using the Transparency slider. Pull this slider up to dim the image and reduce the opacity.

Control the Image transparency in PowerPoint
Pull the transparency slider up to reduce the opacity of the background image, fading it into the slide background.

I also make sure to leave the Tile picture as texture box so that the image isn't stretched in the window, and covers the entire shape area.

It takes some additional steps to get this right, but it can really create a great effect. Start with a shape, set an image as the background, and then dim the transparency.

Recap and Keep Learning More About PowerPoint

Background images and graphics can create beautiful backdrops for your slide content. They're easy to add to a single slide or the slide master for repeated use.

At Envato Tuts+, we're building a library of PowerPoint content that will help you quickly and confidently make PowerPoint presentations. Check out these tutorials for shortcuts to making your own professional slideshows:

How do you use images and graphics in your own slide backgrounds? Let me know in the comments section below.

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