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Recolor Picture Backgrounds in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac

Learn how to recolor a picture background in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac. The Recolor option lets you reduce the visual noise in any picture.

It's true that picture backgrounds add value to your presentations. Yet, one of the worst things that you can do to your PowerPoint presentation is to add a busy, multi-colored slide background. However, you get to see such bad presentations every now and then. When people do so, they compromise the subtlety and contrast of any content on their slides. Look at Figure 1 to see what we are saying.


Figure 1: Picture backgrounds before and after Recolor (sample thumbnails)

As you can see within the thumbnails on the left, it is difficult to read much of the text on the slides. Of course, these slides would normally be shown at a much larger size. Yet, the contrast between the background picture and the text is still aptly demonstrated in the thumbnails that you see. Also, do note that we have used three text colors: black, a medium grey, and white. Our aim is to work around a background that works with at least two of those three text colors, and we do agree that this is a slightly difficult task to accomplish unless you use the Recolor option available for pictures in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac.

Before these options were made available in PowerPoint, the only way was to do these edits in a program such as Adobe Photoshop, save them, and then insert as backgrounds in a presentation. And of course, those edits were not non-destructible in the sense that you could get back your original pictures. But within PowerPoint, all these edits are really reversible!

There is something that you need to remember before proceeding further. You can not recolor the picture that you have already set as a slide background using the Format Background option. You can recolor only those slide background pictures that you have inserted directly within the Slide Master.

Follow these steps to learn more:

  1. Open your presentation and go to the Slide Master view.
  2. Select the Slide Master and insert the picture that you want to use for slide background, as shown in Figure 2.

  3. Figure 2: Picture inserted within Slide Master
  4. Select picture to bring up the Format Picture contextual tab of the Ribbon (highlighted within Figure 3). Within this tab, click the Recolor button, shown highlighted in blue within Figure 3.

  5. Figure 3: Recolor button within the Format Picture tab


  6. This opens the Recolor drop-down gallery that you can again see in Figure 4.

  7. Figure 4: Recolor drop-down gallery
  8. To learn more about the options within the Recolor drop-down gallery, refer to our Recolor Picture in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac tutorial.
  9. Within the Recolor drop-down gallery, click on the thumbnail preview variant of your choice to apply to the selected background picture. In Figure 5, you can see that the thumbnail preview variant Accent Color 3 Light is being selected.

  10. Figure 5: Accent Color 3 Light being selected within the Recolor drop-down gallery
  11. This recolors the slide background picture within the Slide Master. Figure 6 shows our slide background picture recolored. Compare Figures 2 and 6 to realize what a difference recoloring has brought in terms of text readability.

  12. Figure 6: Slide background picture recolored
  13. Click the Close Master button (highlighted in red within Figure 6) to get back to the Normal view.
  14. Save your presentation.

See Also:

Pictures Basics and Adjustments: Recolor Picture Backgrounds (Glossary Page)

Recolor Picture Backgrounds in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows
Recolor Picture Backgrounds in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows
Recolor Picture Backgrounds in PowerPoint 2010 and 2007 for Windows