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How to Add Pictures and Backgrounds in Google Drive Slides


If you're wondering how to put pictures in a Google Slides presentation, you're in luck. Working with images in Google Drive Slides is not difficult once you know what to do. 

Photos and graphics are an important part of any presentation. Images break up the text and add viewer interest. It may be a cliché, but the old saying "a picture is worth a thousand words" is often true. A good picture can be more effective than words.

In this tutorial, you'll learn what types of images you can use with Google Drive Slides. You'll also learn how to add a picture to Google Slides including how to use a picture as a background for Google Slides. You'll also learn some techniques to make your images stand out in your Google Slides presentation. 

Before you jump into this tutorial, browse through our best Google Slides templates, if you need a quick design jumpstart to your next presentation: 

How to Quickly Add Images to Google Slides (Video)

Learn how to add an image to a slide in your Google Slides presentation quickly with the screencast below. We also cover simple image adjustments you can apply.

Or, follow along with the more detailed step-by-step instructions below.

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1. How to Select a Good Image

Before you can add pictures to your Google Slides presentation, start with a good image. A poor image will only detract from your presentation. 

Here are some basics to look for when selecting an image to use with your presentation: 

  • Resolution. The image's resolution should be high. Low resolution images will not look good when projected.
  • Size. Since you are use high resolution images, the file size will be larger. But Google Slides does not support a size of more than 50 MB.
  • Aspect ratio. For images used as backgrounds for Google Slides the aspect ratio should be the same as the slide's aspect ratio.
  • Focused. Avoid using blurry or out of focus pictures in your Google Slides presentation. They can make it seem unprofessional.
  • File type. Make sure that the image you select is in a supported format for Google Slides. Stick to .PNG, .JPG or .GIF files.
  • Subject matter. The content of the image should fit your topic. An image of clowns, for example, would not fit with a financial presentation.
  • Available. Not all images that you find online can be freely used. Make sure you select an image that is royalty free or that you own.

 For a more detailed explanation of aspect ratio, study this tutorial:

Once you've found a good image, you can then insert it into your Google Drive Slides presentation. 

2. How to Insert a Picture Into a Google Slide

You've found the perfect image. You're ready to insert it into your presentation. Here's what to do next: 

Step 1. Open Your Google Slides Presentation

Open your Google Drive using the URL, drive.google.com. Your drive should look something like this:

Google Drive Slides
Start with your Google Drive open.

Double-click the presentation you will be working with. In this example, the presentation is called Travel Industry Overview. Your presentation opens. Go to the slide where you want to insert the image:

Google Drive Slides With Slide Selected
Open the Google Drive Slide where you want to insert the image.

For this example, we want to add a travel image to one of the slides in the presentation.

Step 2. Open the Insert Image Screen

Click the text area of the slide. Select the Insert > Image option from the main Google slides menu:

Insert Image in Google Drive Slide
Click the Insert menu option and then select the Image option.

The Insert Image screen displays:

Google Drive Slides Insert Image Screen
Choose an image to upload.

As you can see, there are six options you can use to import an image into your Google Slides presentation:

  1. Upload. Upload an image stored on your computer. This is the default option.
  2. Take a snapshot. Use your webcam to take a photo to use in your presentation.
  3. By URL. Enter a URL where your image is located.
  4. Your albums. Use an image stored in your Google+ social media account.
  5. Google Drive. Insert an image stored in your Google Drive.
  6. Search. Allows you to look for an image from Google search, the LIFE photo archive, or the stock image archive.

Click the option you wish to use to download your image. For this example, we'll focus on the upload option.

Step 3. Insert the Image

Click the Upload option in the top left of the screen. Click the Choose an Image to Upload button. File Explorer opens. Navigate to the folder where your images are stored:

File Explorer in Google Drive Slides
Find your image in File Explorer.

Click the image you want to upload and click the Open button.

Note: We used a royalty-free image from Envato's PhotoDune. We've cropped the image so that it will work better in this slide presentation. 

The image appears on your slide:

Inserted Image in Google Slides
The image displays on your Google Slide.

Since this was a large image, it takes up most of the slide. We'll have to adjust it.

Step 4. Adjust the Image

Adjust the image by clicking on it. You'll see eight handles around the border of the image:

Work with Image Handles in Google Slides
Use the image handles to adjust the size of the image.

Click on one of the handles to select it. Hold and drag the border up or down to adjust the size of the image. If you select one of the corner handles and drag it diagonally, the image will remain in its original proportions:

Dragging images Diagonally
Dragging a corner handle diagonally keeps the image proportions.

Once your image is properly sized, click on center of the image and drag it to the correct location on the slide.

Now that you understand how to insert an image into your Google Slides presentation, you're ready to learn how to use an image as a background to a slide or change the color of a slide's background.

3. How to Change Your Slide Background

You can control backgrounds for Google Slides. There are two aspects of your Google Slides background that you can change. You can:

  1. Change the background color.
  2. Add a background image.

In this section, we'll explain how to do both.

As with inserting an image, start by opening the slide where you want to change the background:

Open the Google Slide with the background you want to change
Open the Google Slide with the background you want to change.

Click the Background option on the toolbar. The Background dialog box displays:

Background Dialog Box in Google Slides
You can add an image to the background of a slide or change the color.

Let's take a quick look at how to change the background color first.

How to Change the Slide Background Color

To change the background color of a slide, click the down arrow to the right of the Color option in the dialog box. A color palette displays:

Google Slides Color Palette
Selecting a background color for a Google Slide.

Click on the color you would like to apply to the background. Then click the Done button. The color you selected is applied to the slide:

Changed Background Slide Color
The background color you selected is added to the Google Slide.

It really doesn't matter what format of slide you use. The process works with all slide types. If the background is colored or there is already an image there, the current background will be replaced by your new selection.

How to Add an Image to Your Slide Background

From the Background dialog box, click on the word Choose to the right of the Image option. The Insert background image screen displays:

Insert Background Image in Google Slides
Choose an image to upload as your new background.

As you can see, it is very like the Insert Image screen, with the same six options. For this tutorial, we are going to use the Upload option.

After you click the Choose an image to upload button from the center of the screen, File Explorer opens. Find the file you wish to use and your background and click the Open button. Then click the Done button. The image is now the background of your slide:

Google Drive Slides with Photo Background
The image you selected is now the background of your slide.

Note: You may need to change the color of your text to make it more visible against your background image.

Also, because the image is being used as a background, you cannot resize it or move it on the slide.

How to Undo Slide Background Changes

If you find you do not like the changes you made, you can revert to the default settings from the Background dialog box:

Reset Background in Google Drive Slides
Use the Reset option to undo your changes to a slide's background.

Next to the Reset to theme option click Reset. The click Done. The slide returns to its default settings.

4. How to Transform an Imported Image

There are several creative ways to transform an image within a Google Slides presentation. In this tutorial, we'll explain how to do four image transformations:

  1. Make an image transparent.
  2. Add an image in a mask.
  3. Add borders to an image.
  4. Recolor the image.

Let's get started. First, you'll need to select the slide that has the image you want to transform. Do not use a slide that has a background image. For example, we'll work with this slide again:

Selected Slide to work with in Google Slides
Select a slide that has an image, but not a background image.

We'll look at making the image transparent first.

How to Make an Image Transparent in Google Slides

First, click on the image to select it. With the image selected, click Format > Image Options from the main menu at the top of the screen. The Image Options sidebar displays to right of the slide:

Image Options Sidebar in Google Slides
The Image Options sidebar lets you transform a selected image.

Below the transparency option on the Image Options sidebar is a slider. It's difficult to see because the slider is clear, but it will become visible when you select it:

Google Slides Transparency Slider
The Transparency slider will become visible when you select it.

As you move the slider to the right, the image becomes more transparent. You'll also see percentages as you move the slider. Here is what the image looks like with the slider at about 66%:

Google Drive Slides Transparency
A transparent image. Notice how you can see the text through it.

Notice how the image has faded. If there is text on the slide, you will be able to see it through the image.

How to Change an Image's Colors in Google Slides

You can also use the Image Options sidebar to change the colors of an image. For example, you could make one color stand out more or you could change the colors to black and white.

To change an image's colors, click the down arrow next to No Color under the Recolor option. The system displays thumbnails of various recolor options:

Google Drive Slide Recolor Image Option
You can change the colors of a selected image.

Use the scroll bar to the right of the thumbnails to scroll through the various color options. When you find a color option you like, click on it to apply it to your image. In the example below I selected the thumbnail on the lower right to give it a sepia tone result:

Google Drive Slides Recolored Image
Click on a color to apply it to your image.

How to Add an Image in a Mask in Google Slides

Another creative touch you can add to your images is to put them inside a shape. Here's how:

Start with the slide open that has the image that you want to embed in a mask. Click on the image to select it. Click on the down arrow next to the Crop tool in the Tools menu across the top of the screen. A sub-menu with various types of shapes appears:

Google Drive Slides Shapes
Choose a shape to use as a mask for the selected image.

Click the arrow to the right of the shape option you are interested in exploring. Various shaped image masks appear. Click on a shape to select it and apply it to your image. In the image below, I selected a horizontal scroll:

Google Slides Horizontal Scroll Shape
The Horizontal Scroll shape as a mask for an image.

How to Add Borders to an Image in Google Slides

Another way to enhance images is to add a border. Start by selecting your image. There are three icons on the tool icon that will allow you to add an attractive border to your image:

  1. Border color
  2. Border weight
  3. Border dash

Here's where you find the tools:

Google Drive Slides Border Tools
Use the border tools to add a border to a selected image.

Step 1. Select a Border Color

The first thing you want to do when creating a border is to select a color. Click the down arrow to the right of the Border color icon. A color palette displays. Click on a color to select it. This will be the color of your border.

When selecting a border color, it's a good idea to choose a color the complements or contrasts with the colors in your image. In the example illustrations shown in Steps 2 and 3 below I selected gray because that complements the tones in the image.

Step 2. Select a Border Weight

The next step when choosing a border is to select the border weight. The border weight defines how thick your border will be.

To select a border weight, click the down arrow to the right of the Border weight icon. A sub-menu displays:

Google Slides Image Border Weight
Select a border weight.

Click on a border weight to apply it to your image.

Step 3. Apply a Border Dash (Optional)

You can further enhance your border by selecting a dashed pattern. To open the Border dash sub-menu, click the arrow to the right of the border dash icon. You'll see various pattern options:

Select a Border Dash Pattern
Select a pattern for your border.

Click on a pattern to apply it to your image. Here's our completed border using a dashed pattern:

Click a pattern to apply it to your image
Click a pattern to apply it to your image.

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Download our new eBook: The Complete Guide to Making Great Presentations. It's available for free with a subscription to the Tuts+ Business Newsletter. 

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You've just learned how to add a picture to Google Drive Slides. By adding images, your presentation will be more interesting and effective. You can also transform your imported images quickly by cropping, adding a mask, or borders. You can even replace the background of your slide with an image of your choice. 

Using images are just one way to create an effective Google Drive Slides presentation, discover more helpful techniques in our Google Slides tutorials on Envato Tuts+.

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