How to Remove a Background in Photoshop

Posted on December 24, 2019 | Updated on December 18, 2020

Knowing how to remove a background in Photoshop is an essential element in taking photos to the next level. Fortunately, it isn’t as difficult as you might think.

More than 90% of professionals around the globe use Photoshop. You can find a tutorial for nearly anything you need. However, not all instructions include every step, which is difficult for beginners.

This short guide strives to ensure you miss no steps. Once you walk away, you’ll know how to remove a background in Photoshop. In the future, you may not even need to refer back.

Why You Want to Remove a Background

You might have several reasons to remove a background in Photoshop, including:

  • A photobomb: You never know who — or what — will ruin the perfect shot.
  • A new setting: You might want to pick up the subject and place them somewhere else.
  • A Business request: A client might ask for a photo with a background you can’t recreate.

Say you line up the perfect shot of some newlyweds. At the last moment, however, an intoxicated groomsman sticks his head in. You don’t have to toss the whole photo. Instead, use your skills to remove the third-wheel and delivery a product the bride will gush over.

Are you a professional photographer or designer? If so, you understand the demanding nature of client requests. You may not have the budget to meet their expectations. Perhaps what they want doesn’t exist. With Photoshop, you can create any reality desired.

Swapping out the current scenery for a new one is an advanced technique. You might want to do it just for fun. Luckily, anyone can do it with some basic instructions and a little practice.

How to Remove a Background in Photoshop

If you’re already familiar with Photoshop, mastering the removal of elements should be a smooth transition. How to remove a background in Photoshop starts with opening the image you want to edit.

Step 1 — Choose What to Remove

In this video tutorial on Adobe’s site, the image above is the example. It’s a photo of a man leaping through the air in an unusual setting. However, the sky leaves a lot to be desired, making it seem a bit blah. Yet what if one were to remove the background and replace it with something more spectacular? Imagine a bright sunrise or sunset. It ramps the image up a few notches.

Your first step is determining which part of the background you’d like to lose. Perhaps you want to keep the subject and nothing else.

Step 2 — Select What You’d Like to Keep

To start, you need to select the elements you want to keep. To do this, follow the five steps below:

  1. Click Open in your menu.
  2. Open the photo with the background you want to replace
  3. Open the image with the new background, which you’ll use later.
  4. With the first, navigate to Select and Mask. This step will mask the entire image.
  5. Use the Quick Selection tool in the Tools panel and paint the area you wish to keep.

If needed, you can zoom in or change the size of the brush. A small brush makes it easier to capture elements. If you have a lot of fine details, you might need the refined edge brush tool.

Step 3 — Preparation

You’ll need to take four more steps to get your image ready for a new background, including:

  1. Change view mode to On Black and transparency to 100%.
  2. Look for areas the quick selection tool missed.
  3. With the ALT key, use the brush tool to select the areas you want to color with black.
  4. If you make a mistake, go to Edit and Undo or use the Ctrl plus Z command.

Use the properties panel to refine your selection more. Shift the edge by a small percentage — 5% to 10% — to clean up any lines. Spend time zooming into the finer details and ensuring the edges are sharp. The more time you spend, the better the transitions will look. Choose Layer Mask on the output menu and click Okay to save selections.

Step 4 — Adding New Background

If you merely want the area you removed to be transparent, click Save As and choose a format. You’ll want a Tiff or PNG file, which offers transparency. If you want to add a different background, follow the six steps below.

  1. Click on the photo of your desired background.
  2. Choose Select All. Then, pick Edit and Copy.
  3. Go back to the first image. Select edit and paste.
  4. If the image doesn’t fit perfectly, choose Edit and Free Transform.
  5. Drag the image until it’s the same size as the first image. You can also move it around.
  6. Hit Enter. Go to the Layers panel and drag the second layer under the foreground one. Click Okay.

Remember to save your image. Now, you’ve successfully completed an advanced editing technique!

Learn How to Remove Backgrounds in Photoshop and Amaze Clients

Your clients will be amazed when you take a drab setting and transform it into a masterpiece. Fill New York City’s night sky with stars. Transport your subject to Paris. You have no limit beyond your imagination.

Knowing how to remove a background in Photoshop is a vital skill every photographer and designer needs. Keep in mind that personal attention to detail will determine how well this technique works. Practice with a variety of projects until your skills progress.

About The Author

Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her exploring the outdoors with her husband and dog in their RV, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or curled up with a good book with her cats Gem and Cali.

You can find more of Eleanor's work at


  1. Alif Khan on September 27, 2020 at 2:15 am

    Thanks for sharing this article. Your article is so effective for me. I follow your instructions for my photoshop projects.

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