Cool Technique: Create Your Own PowerPoint Background

About this lesson

Create your own PowerPoint background to stand out from the crowd. Learn two techniques and where to find a source of free use quality images to make your presentations unique. This works for all versions of PowerPoint. Be creative! And be as quick as a 60-second fix!

Combine the 1) power of quality free images, with 2) PowerPoint artistic editing, to 3) create impressive PowerPoint presentation backgrounds that do not look like “PowerPoint.”

Simple to do but with extraordinary visual results.


00:00 Intro
01:15 The 60 Sec Jump Start Project
02:44 What is our Goal?
03:28 Image Source –
05:40 Technique #1 – Fast Change Background
06:33 Change Transparency to Mute Background
07:11 Technique #2 – Artistic Project
07:24 How to “Delete” Background
07:34 Invoke the Slide Master
08:40 Crop to Screen Size
10:21 Send to Back
10:55 Design Variants of Fonts and Color
12:25 Saving to Themes and Templates


Subject Microsoft PowerPoint

Software Compatibility From PowerPoint 2010 up to Office 365 on Windows and macOS


Course Completed

PDF Files There are not any files associated with this lesson.



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If your audience is new to PowerPoint, presentations then the built-in design themes

Are excellent for safe design choices. But if you’ve been around the PowerPoint presenter block way too many times, these choices can be sleeping inducing. You need a better selection without wasting time designing a custom theme can be complex, but we here at Power UP! Training have in-depth tutorials to help, but the quickest solution is to use a new background. Hi, this is less from power training where I provide my decades of experience to you for free. In this quick tip tutorial, I’m going to show you how to add background images quickly, and then they second more sophisticated technique to get creative, to fine tune those backdrops along the way. I’m going to show you my favorite source of images to use for free. As long as you give proper credit, such as these artists that were used to make these designs. So let’s go power up to create your own PowerPoint background.

Let’s do a power of training quick preview of the technique by starting with a simple two slide presentation that was filled in from a blank starting slide. Our quick preview, we’ll start with the design ribbon menu tab and we’ll click on the format background action icon. From there, I will click picture or a texture fill by default. It pulls up my last selected texture, but we want to use a photo. So I will click insert. And from there we’ll work from stock images, older versions of PowerPoint will have fewer choices, but we’ll fix that in a few moments. so stick around. I’m going to choose a basic landscape image and select insert easily enough, but we’re not done. The photo is overwhelming our text. So let’s change the transparency to make it feed more into the background and get our texts to jump out.

You could use the transparency slider, but I like to type in the number specifically to take better control and find just the right amount of fade. And once it’s dialed in, I’m going to then to apply to all and have it ripple to all the slides in our case, just the two. And now we’re ready to take a look at it in the presentation mode. We completed that quick technique in around 60 seconds, but we can do better with more unique images and better artistic control. So let’s head over to another basic presentation and go deeper. Before we even begin the mechanics of adding our unique image background, we need to think in advance of our presentations goal and how to reinforce the message with the appropriate background. Do have an urgent message that needs to set a hotter set of photo colors to bring or disease, or are we looking to soothe our message with a cooler tone or do we want to match the company’s logo colors?

Furthermore, do we have a specific theme image of an object or are we looking for some more artistic background that is subtle? Get your vision before you get distracted shopping for an image and where best to go shopping a shop with free high quality images? My favorite website is with the collection of open licenses of an amazing collection of photos that can be searched and used for free. The only request is to give attribution of where the material came from to support the artists. This side trip to is well-worth exploring the choices and the mechanisms for finding just the right image. It’s easy enough to search by an object name and then scroll, but you can also start to filter your results such as for PowerPoint, we need to see landscape orientations photos to best fit the screen. This is a simple click filter.

And when we find something we like, it’s just a download click with a pop-up window for us to grab the credits, to give the artists full due for their work. Copy it and put it on your slide. At some point in the future, there seems to be an ending list of great creative images found in this collection of photography. So you can use your imagination to start a search and download a variety of potential images to try on inside your PowerPoint. You can go from concrete objects, such as a train or more general ideas such as the sky and see how the sky choices we actually have. The landscape filter is still in place, but we can go even further by putting additional filter such as by coolness of color, to warm up or to cool down our message, or we can choose a mood or action and move to something as searching on motion.

Watch. As I collect a few different photos to download to my download folder, but careful to capture the credits for each image and keeping them in my notepad for future use. Once I pick my final image, I’ll give them credit. Now that we have a set of images that should be guaranteed fresh for use in PowerPoint, let’s use two techniques to put them to work. The first approach is easy and fast, but what they limited set of artistic controls. We saw this in our initial project, but let’s look a little more closely in PowerPoint is important that I make sure that I have no object or placeholder selected. And then I click on the design in the river menu and format background menu action icon from there, picture or texture format ignoring the previously used pattern and onto picture source. Where I’ll click insert.

And this time we’re going to choose from file. This works on older versions of PowerPoint and also on the Mac iOS version. And now I can browse from the several downloaded images from Let’s use the simple sky image. So as not to overwhelm our text message, not bad, but the word they’ll get a bit lost. So I’m going to increase the transparency of the image to lighten it up. Note that I tend to type my numbers in to take better control. And after trying several different levels, 50%, seems just about right for this image now to go beyond just this one slide I click apply to all and the whole slide deck has this same backdrop image. Once again, after we have selected our photo, it takes less than a minute to apply it to the whole presentation. Give me that unique customized look, but here is the power of training specialized approach.

I will take you deeper inside to show you some secret techniques. First let’s reset the background. You can’t delete it, but you can use the format background, select solid fill to white, to roll back the changes, our creative choice technique. We’ll use the concept of slide master to reach that mode. You need to click on the view on the ribbon menu and then slide master. This mode controls all the slides, and you can learn more about watching our slide master tutorial listed above, but basically we need to scroll to the top parent slide and any changes here will ripple through the whole presentation. The previous format background technique did not let us touch or alter the image. So this time we’re going to go to the insert menu and choose insert picture. And we’ll want to again, go to this device to look at our file system where our downloaded images were put earlier in this session, this time I’m going to choose a more distinctive image that could give us trouble in readability of our slide text, even by using the transparency mode, but we’ve got a few more tricks up our sleeve.

Here’s a common issue. Even with landscape images, they may not fit our 16 by nine dimensions of a typical PowerPoint slide. See the empty white spaces on both the left and the right side. So we need to crop to a specific aspect ratio of 16 by nine so that we can fill up the slide. The great out area above and below will be lost. So as to make this fit. And I have to stretch the opposing corners right up to the edge of the PowerPoint slide canvas area. If you want more details on using cropping with photos, see our extended YouTube tutorial listed above when done. I need to click crop again to complete the action, this full dynamic photo with height, any text titles, and with the selected, the picture format context menu would let me adjust the transparency with some visual choices, but that’s not good enough as it will make the picture too faded.

And we lose the objects themselves. So this time we’re going to explore artistic effects. The strategy is to hover the mouse and browse. The different looks ranging from pencil sketches to watercolor sponges to pastel etchings. But for this particular one, I like the photocopy basically preserving the image, but adding a nice muted look, but I will also go back to transparency to make it a bit more appropriate background and not distract from the plan PowerPoint presentation. There is one last step. Currently the photo image is covering everything up on the top layer. So I need to go to the send backward and tell us to go to the farthest back layer, to become our backdrop, to learn more about layers. See this YouTube tutorial. Now let’s exit out of this slide master mode by clicking slide, master menu and close master view. Launching the slide show.

This looks pretty cool without a whole lot of work, and it is truly unique, but let’s take a couple more steps to make it jump more off the page. To put those finishing touches. We can use the design Variants menu to change the fonts and colors under the design menu and the dropdown box. Next to Variants. I like to change the font to a bolder font family to standout from the background and while, not as necessary. We can follow the same steps to change the color scheme, to match our photo color here. I’m just choosing one that is not fashionable, but does demonstrate the capability, but this color scheme, while different still has the primary text color as black. So if I go in and customize the color scheme, I can alter that first color choice to something other than black, such as the faded blue or an off pink, maybe not the most distinctive choices, but you get the idea.

And if you want to learn more about PowerPoint, color choices, take a look at our YouTube video here. Sometimes even with font color choices, the text does get lost with the background. So use this technique to change the fill of the text placeholder here. I’m experimenting, changing the field color of the placeholder and altering the transparency, the combination of the color and level of transparency to still show the background and display the text is a process of experimentation. In closing. If you create that specialized look that you love and you want to either share it or use it again, then you need to save the file as either a template or a theme to learn more about what’s the difference. See this tutorial listed above. You’re not ready to unleash your creativity to add punch to your presentations, but don’t forget that flash is not enough. You do need to have concrete substance in your presentation. Consider watching our “write killer bullet points and editing for success” tutorial. If this was useful, then like it and share it with your friends and coworkers do subscribe as it helps encourage me to make more free tutorials for you. Lastly, you want to learn everything about PowerPoint, then visit us at our free PowerPoint Training school of

Until next time go power up.