Most presentations contain pictures. A picture in PowerPoint can be used in many ways -- as a
picture you insert, as a
picture you place within a shape, or even as
something that covers the entire slide as a background. In this tutorial, we will look at the last option -- that lets you use a picture as a slide
background. Before you begin, you need to put in plenty of thought into whether the picture you are using will work as a slide background or not? So
how do you determine if a picture will work as a background or not? First of all, stay away from:
- Pictures with areas representing many colors
- Bright pictures
- Pictures that have recognizable human faces
- Pictures that "refuse" to stay in the background
Look at the slide on the top within Figure 1, below -- and then compare it with the slide at the bottom within the same figure --
on at least three of the four counts explained above, the top slide fails. The bottom slide has none of the inherent weaknesses mentioned above, and in
fact works with text of almost all colors!
Figure 1: Choose your background pictures wisely
So what if you must use a certain picture for your slide background even if it is full of color, highly saturated, or even crowded? You can "
mellow" the picture and use it, as explained in our
Recolor Picture Backgrounds in PowerPoint 2016
Pictures and Textures -- What's the Difference?
In addition, you can also choose texture as your slide background fill. In this tutorial we cover picture fills for slide backgrounds, and will look
at texture fills in a our Texture Fills for Slide
Backgrounds in PowerPoint 2016
Before we go further, let us explore how picture fills are different from texture fills. Although both picture or texture fills work very similarly,
choosing one option over the other can make the same background look so different. While a picture background results in your slide using a single
picture as a backdrop, using a texture background can result in the same picture being tiled across the slide background. Also some pictures lend
themselves better to being used as textures, especially if they are seamless.
To learn the difference between picture fills and texture fills, look at Figure 2
below -- the sample slide on the left uses a picture
fill that fills the entire slide expanse while the sample slide on the right uses the same picture as a texture fill -- you can see that multiple tiles
of the same picture form a texture fill.
Same picture used as a picture fill and a texture fill
Follow these steps to learn how you can use picture fills for your slide background in
- We assume you have a new presentation created, or you have opened any of your existing presentations. We also assume that you have summoned the
Format Background Task Pane, as explained in our
Format Slide Background tutorial. Alternatively,
just right-click within an empty area of your slide and choose the Format Background option in the resultant contextual menu
(highlighted in red with Figure 3) to bring up the same Task Pane.
Figure 3: Format Background option
- Within the Format Background Task Pane, select the Picture or texture fill radio button, as shown highlighted in
red within Figure 4.
Figure 4: Picture or texture fill radio button
When you select the Picture or texture fill radio button, you can see a
live preview of your active slide with tiled texture fill. Make sure to
deselect the Tile picture as texture check-box (marked as D in Figure 4, above). Deselecting this
check-box will ensure that you apply a stretched picture fill. Your slide background will auto-update with any changes you make in the
Format Background Task Pane. The options within the Format Background Task Pane are explained below, as marked in
Figure 4, above:
- Insert picture from: You can choose from three options:
- File: Click this button to open the Insert Picture dialog box, as shown in Figure 5. Within this
dialog box, navigate to the folder where the picture to be used as the slide fill is located, select it, and click the Open button
(highlighted in red within Figure 5).
Figure 5: Insert Picture dialog box
- Clipboard: This option fills the slide background with the content of the Clipboard. If nothing is copied to the Clipboard, this
button will be grayed out.
- Online: This brings up the Insert Pictures dialog box, as shown in Figure 6. Within this dialog box you'll find the online picture service providers such as Bing Image Search listed, and also your OneDrive account. Other than these services you can add pictures from your Facebook and
Flickr accounts - but only after you connect to these accounts from within PowerPoint. Learn more in our
Insert Online Pictures in PowerPoint 2016 tutorial.
Figure 6: Insert Pictures dialog box with online picture services listed
- Texture: Click the down-arrow located in this area to bring up the Texture drop-down gallery, as shown in
Figure 7. Choose from any of these ready to use textures to change the slide background of your slide. These textures are not high
resolution, and may look blurred or pixelated when used as a fill. This however seem to work so much better as tiled texture fills, which we explain in
our Texture Fills for Slide Backgrounds
Figure 7: Texture drop-down gallery
- Transparency: Control the transparency level of the picture you choose as a slide background fill. You can use either the
slider or directly type in the required transparency value.
- Tile picture as texture: When deselected, this check-box ensures that your selected picture is used as a picture fill (full
expanse) rather than a texture. Deselecting this check-box also brings up the Offset options that let you further edit the picture
fill -- we explain this next.
- Offset options: These options show up in the Format Background Task Pane only when the
Tile picture as texture check-box is deselected. There are four (left, right, top,
and bottom) Offset adjustments in percentage values that enable you to adjust the picture edges along the slide
background edges. Tweak as required -- if you don't like the results, you can set all these offset values back to their default 0% values.
- Choose any of the options explained in the preceding step to fill your active slide with the selected picture fill. Thereafter, you can proceed
choosing any of the following options:
More details about the Apply to All and Reset Background buttons can be found in our
Format Slide Background in PowerPoint 2016
- Click the Apply to All button to fill all slides in the presentation with the selected picture.
- Click the Reset Background button to abandon all changes you made to the slide background.
- In Figure 8 you can see the slide background of the entire presentation filled with a picture.
Figure 8: Presentation with a picture fill background
- Remember to save your presentation often.
Picture Fills for Slide Backgrounds in PowerPoint
2013 for Windows
Picture Fills for Slide Backgrounds in
PowerPoint 2011 for Mac
Picture Fills for Slide Backgrounds in
PowerPoint 2010 for Windows