We’re often asked whether it’s possible to ‘cut out’ images in earlier versions of PowerPoint. Well, the good news is that it is, and the even better news is that I’ve written a guide to show you how to crop an image in PowerPoint. Let’s go!
How to crop an image in PowerPoint 2010 or earlier: Square or rectangle
1. Select your image.
2. In the Picture Format tab, select Crop
3. Resize the cropped section using the black V handles that appear, resize the image itself by using the white circle handles, and move the image within the cropped area by dragging the image itself.
How to crop an image in PowerPoint 2010 or earlier: Simple shapes (circle, triangle, arrow)
1. Select your image.
2. In the Picture Format tab, click on the small arrow underneath the Crop button to display more options.
3. Choose Crop to Shape from this menu, and select whichever shape you require.
4. By default, PowerPoint stretches your chosen shape to cover the entire image. To change the size, shape or position of the cropped area, click on Crop again.
5. Resize and reshape the cropped section using the black V handles, resize the image itself by using the white circle handles, and move the image within the cropped area by dragging the image itself.
This technique can also be used to highlight an area on an image. Before you begin, create a duplicate version of your shape and apply an effect to it (such as recolouring, blurring, etc.). Place this version of your image behind the one you want to crop. Make sure you line both images up before you start step one.
How to crop an image in PowerPoint 2010 or earlier: Custom shape
1. Head to the Autoshapes menu and select Freeform.
Draw a freeform shape over your image, tracing out the part of the image you want to keep. Here, I’ve drawn around the woman. To create a shape, make regular clicks along the outline of your chosen object to drop points – think of it like a child’s dot-to-dot picture.
2. Make sure you close the path of your custom shape by double-clicking after you drop your final point. If you don’t, right-click on your shape, choose Edit Points, then right-click again on any of the points you’ve made and click Close Path. You can also use Edit Points to drag points around and create a more accurate shape.
3. Once you’re happy with the outline you’ve created, you need to fill your shape with a version of your image. Right-click on the original image and click Copy (or press Ctrl+C on your keyboard).
4. Now select the freeform shape and, under the Shape Format tab, select Shape Fill. You can also select the freeform shape you’ve drawn and right-click on it, choose Format Shape then select Fill.
5. Now select Picture.
6. Click on Clipboard.
7. By default, PowerPoint shrinks the image to fit inside the shape. To make it look right, you need to stretch the image back to its original size. To do this, select the squashed image and click Crop under the Picture Format tab.
8. Use the white circle handles that appear to stretch the image to match the original behind it. Don’t move the black V handles or you’ll lose the freeform shape you’ve drawn!
9. Once the image inside the freeform shape matches the one behind, you can delete the original image (or leave it there and apply an effect as you can see below). You should also remove any outline that your freeform shape may have had.
If your shape’s edges look a little jagged, you might want to add a drop shadow or apply the ‘soft edges’ effect. This will blur the edges a little, giving it a slicker look. You can now sit your cropped image on top of another, or leave it just as it is – either way, it’s a cool technique that you’ll use time and time again.
Good luck! And the best news is that this process is even easier if you’re using PowerPoint 2013 or 2016: check out this 4-step guide on Twitter!
You could even take your newly-acquired cropping skills to the next level, and combine a custom crop with the Morph transition. Take a look at this how-to blog article to find out how.
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