In these videos, taken from The Ultimate Guide to Giving Virtual Presentations on Zoom, I’ll show you how ridiculously simple and fast it is to remove the background from a photo or a graphic in Keynote, and how somewhat easy it is to do it in PowerPoint.

In each video I’ll try to remove the background from three images with increasing levels of visual complexity.

Removing Backgrounds in Keynote

Removing Backgrounds in PowerPoint

Video Transcripts

Removing Backgrounds in Keynote

In this video, I’ll show you how ridiculously simple and fast it is to remove the background from a photo or a graphic in Keynote. All you need is the feature called Instant alpha, and is a bit buried in the UI and Keynote To be honest, but it’s a fantastic tool.

Here’s an example, if I have this graphic, and I want to remove the black background to just leave the green hands, here’s how I do it. I’ll make two versions. So you can see the before and after. Now, to get access to the feature, you click on the image. And then in the sidebar, click image again, and you’ll see the instant alpha button, this gives you a little magnifying glass. And when you put it over the background color you want to remove you click it, it will remove the color.

Now, you can see here, it doesn’t remove all of it. So what you want to do is click and then drag, and it will take similar colors, and remove them also. So when I do that, it’s removed almost all of the black. That’s how easy and fast it is. Now if I want to stylize that a little bit, I’ll give it a border and a drop shadow. seconds and a few clicks. And I’ve gone from this to this is absolutely amazing. And that’s the easiest situation where it’s a graphic with a high contrast background, it makes it quite easy to remove. If you look at a photo this time, again, high contrast, but it’s a photo. So let’s see what happens.

That’s the letters behind me with the lights turned out. Now if I click once this time, nothing happens because it’s a very noisy background with lots of little pixels of different colors. So it doesn’t do anything, I’ll just drag it. And then we can see how well that works. Now it works in a continuous fashion. So things that are actually connected, you’ll have to go into anything inside an area such as this part of the A, and then do that as well. Same for the P. And there’s a little bit of stuff hanging off this E. So I’ll just go and do that.

There we go. It’s pretty good. I mean, it’s going to cause a little bit of destruction around the edges. But that’s actually a really good job. One final example of this apple, this is a bit more difficult. But let’s see how it copes. It’s always good to drag it as far as you can see how much it will remove before it starts destroying the parts of the image you want to remain in this instance I drag is great, it’s great. But now it’s time to eat away my thumb was just not really what I want. If I kept going, it would eventually just decay the whole thing.

So you want to take it as far as you can, without it, removing things you want. So backing off slightly. Okay, the apple of my hand are intact now, but it’s left a lot of stuff behind. So now we just go around all of those individually picking them off. There, it’s getting that gray color is removing a lot of that does a really great job, we’ll find a bit of a darker gray. Same again. You can see how fast and easy this is.

Now at some point. That’s a really great job. I’ll see what it’s done. There’s a few artifacts left. But at this point, I can just crop the image because I don’t need all of that stuff around it. And that’s it 99% done. That’s how wonderfully powerful this tool is. So next time you need green hands, turn to the instant alpha feature in Keynote.

Removing Backgrounds in PowerPoint

In this video, I’ll show you how to remove the background from photos and graphics in PowerPoint. It’s very common to want a transparent background on your images or graphics when you’re doing slide design. And this feature baked right into PowerPoint that lets you do exactly that.

I’ll show you how to do it, but also how well the feature performs at removing the background with three different levels of visual complexity. In this example, we want to remove the black background, so we just leave the green hands.

Select your image, and then go to the picture Format menu. At the top, you’ll see on the left here is the Remove background button. Now, as soon as you click it, it will try and automatically remove what it thinks is the background. But it seems to think we only need one hand. So now we have to tell it which areas we want to keep and which ones we don’t.

So here, I’m going to tell it that we need to keep the left hand and the tip of my middle finger Mark areas to keep click the hand excellent job and then keep changes. And that’s what you’re left with. Now that’s a very high contrast graphic. So it was actually quite easy for it to figure out very quick and very easy. But it did leave some raggedy edges around the hand, which is a little disappointing. But in a pinch, it worked quite well. Now we’re going up the complexity, this is a photo of the letters behind me taken with the lights off, in contrast to the last example, which was a graphic with high contrast, this is a photo and because the lights are turned off, there’s going to be a lot of noise in the shadows.

We’ll see how well it deals with this. I click Remove background, and it removes everything apart from the E, which is not what I want. So I’m going to try and add in the rest of the letters using the same technique as before, mark the areas that I want to keep. So I’ll try the s and keep going. Yeah, it’s not okay, I’ve got the S now but it’s messed up the E a little bit, we’ll deal with that in a little while. Let’s try the pig. Excellent. Let’s try the A Yeah, not bad. There’s still a few parts that didn’t work like the foot of the A there, you still see the pink and on the S here.

But we’ll keep going we’ll try and get rid of those black areas by saying we want to mark them as areas to remove, we’ll try the one in the a first. That’s pretty good. That’s pretty good. And actually fix the thing in the foot of the A now I messed up the E there, we’ll try that again, it depends on the color is finding when you click apparently it’s not able to tell the difference between the E and that black area, which is kind of disappointing because there’s a massive contrast difference between the two. I’ll keep trying a few more times. But I don’t really know what to do at this point.

This is much easier in Keynote where you can drag the cursor and it progressively selects different areas here it’s click and you succeed or you fail, I’m going to try keeping the E again, okay, we finally got a little bit of trial and error. Maybe I had to say no to those black areas and then go back to the other before configure the contrast. So that’s that will keep the changes.

Yeah, again, there’s a lot of destruction around the edges. This is not really usable. We’ll try one more example. And this is a photo of an apple in my hand, I want to keep both of those the apple on my hand. Okay, it’s done a pretty good job here. I need the bottom of my hand back. But it seems like it’s recognized what it is. It’s the focus of the photo. So I’ll try and get my hand back. Yeah, a little bit. Okay, that’s actually really good.

It looks like I’ve got what I need. There’s the white gap there. Let’s see if we can get rid of that kinda the thing of this feature in PowerPoint and the way it works, the end result is not always as good as you think it’s going to be, I’ll keep changes, not only do we have raggedy edges again, but this feature has eaten part of my apple up here, it does an okay job. But it’s not really on professional level, I wouldn’t want to have this kind of quality in a presentation I was giving now all hope is not lost. This feature in PowerPoint is not very good.

But there are other services, you can use that do an excellent job. One example is remove background, very simple site, you have to upload an image, drag it on here, or you can paste it which is kind of cool. If I go back into PowerPoint here, Copy that. Go back here and paste, hit accept. It’s pretty cool. Now look at that. That’s done a magnificent job. And it was so simple. It’s not free. It does cost about 25 cents per image.

But if it’s the only way you can get what you need. It’s really valuable. If you’re trying to create a really professional grade presentation and you’re going to be recording it. I would try using the PowerPoint feature. But if it works as poorly as that I would then recommend using something like remove background if you absolutely need to.