How to make icons in Powerpoint 2

by Paul C. Tumey

Part One of this three-part series addresses how to make icons in PowerPoint. We learned how to work with pre-made icons that have a transparent background. This post will deal with icons that come with a solid color background that needs to be removed.

This technique is part of the Iconic PowerPoint approach that allows non-designers and overworked business professionals to easily upgrade their slides. The beauty of Iconic PowerPoint is that all the tools you need are in PowerPoint. There’s no need to invest in and learn Photoshop or the web-based Pixlr.

How to Remove a Solid Color Background

It’s strategically best to work with pre-mae “png” icons with a transparent background. However, there will be times when your only — or best– choice is art that comes with a solid color background. Here is an icon I downloaded from Google Images (be sure to watch my video version of part one in this series to get important information about selecting icons in Google Images). You will see that it has a solid white background.

A powerpoint icon with a solid color background to be removed

I chose a “Like” icon as a not-so-subtle hint that I’d love for you to like and re-tweet this blog post and my video.

To remove the white background from this image, we need to select the “Remove Background” tool. This can be found by double-clicking the icon art to pull up the Picture Tools Format ribbon.

An image that shows where to find the remove background tool in PowerPoint

Once the tool is selected, you will get a baffling hot pink pox laid over your icon.

an image of powerpoint icon remove background tool

You can enlarge and adjust the selection field by moving the handles – you may need to play it it for a bit. This is not a perfect tool,  but the advantage is that it is in PowerPoint. Once you get used to this tool, it’s pretty quick to use. There are also additional tools to help you remove the background in the upper left corner of the window. My video below demonstrates how to use these.

An image of tools for removing solid background in PowerPoint

Once you have removed the background, simply click outside the pink box to jump back into Normal View. Here, you can see I now have the black outline, with the white background removed.

remove solid background from icon 5

Now you can use the techniques demonstrated in Part One to turn this into a powerful visual symbol in the Iconic PowerPoint technique.

remove solid background from icon 6


remove solid background from icon 7


Great design is all about details. With innovative material selection, sensible construction techniques and modern aesthetics one can craft a unique design language that sets a new standard.- Roi James

For more information, here’s a 5-minute video I’ve made for you.


Paul C. Tumey is the founder and director of Presentation Tree.