Picture Fill Background In PowerPoint

One of the ways you can make your presentation look more interesting is to add a background to your slides. We’ve already seen how we can apply a gradient background, so now let’s have a look at using a picture fill background in PowerPoint 2013.

First of all right click on a blank area of a slide and select Format Background. The Format Background panel will open up to the right of the workspace. Select Picture or texture fill and some new options will be displayed.

Picture Or Texture Fill

There are two choices:

  1. Picture fill – you choose a picture to display in the background. The picture is either on your computer, or online.
  2. Texture fill – there is a small selection of textures that come with PowerPoint 2013. They look like pictures, but they can repeat seamlessly in the background.

Picture Fill Background

If you decide to use a picture fill for your background, click on the File button and navigate to where your picture is on your computer’s hard drive.

Insert Picture In PowerPoint 2013

Select it and then click Open. The picture will appear as a background to the currently selected slide. If you want it to appear on every slide, click the Apply to All button at the bottom.

Alternatively, if the picture you want to use is online and not on your computer, click the Online button.

The Insert Pictures window will be displayed. If you are signed in to PowerPoint, you will see the following options for searching for an image:

Insert Pictures Window
Click to enlarge

If you are not signed in, however, you won’t see the SkyDrive, Facebook and Flickr options. Use one of the search engines to find a suitable image and, once found, select it and then click Insert. The image will be downloaded and then appear as your currently selected slide’s background.

If at any time you mess up, you can always click Reset Background to return the background to how it was before the “mess up”.

Once you have a picture as your background, you have several options you can use to manipulate it:

  • Transparency – drag the slider right to increase transparency and to the left to decrease it. Transparency is simply how “see through” the picture is.
  • Tile picture as texture – if  you want the picture to repeat as many times as it takes to cover the background, check this box. If uncheckd, the picture will expand to fill the whole background.
  • Offset left/right/top/bottom – increasing the offset values makes the edge of the image move further away from the edge of the slide. For example, if you wanted a margin of whitespace around your picture, you could put a value of 5 in all the offset values and then there would be a 5% margin all the way around the picture.

Texture Fill Background

To display a texture as a background, click on the texture selector. The following textures are available for you to choose from:
Texture Selector

Textures are images really, but they tile seamlessly. When you select a texture, the Tile picture as texture box is automatically checked, and you can see the texture repeating perfectly. The same offset values that were seen for pictures are available to modify.

When using a texture for the background, you get these extra options:

  • Alignment – use this option to tell PowerPoint where the texture starts and tiles from: top left, top etc.
  • Mirror type – this option ensures that the background is symmetrical about the axis you choose: vertical or horizontal.

If you have an image that you know will tile seamlessly like textures do, you could always insert it as a picture and then check the Tile picture as texture box.

Gradient Fill Background In PowerPoint

To format the background of your PowerPoint presentation, right click on a slide and select Format Background. If you can’t see that option, it may be that you have right clicked on some element like a picture or a text box, so right click on a blank area of the slide. The Format Background panel will appear to the right of the workspace.

A gradient is a smooth transition from one colour to another, and gradient backgrounds can look cool. When you select the gradient fill option, extra options will appear on the panel. Here is an explanation of what each one does:

Preset Gradients

When you click on Preset gradients, PowerPoint shows you all the ready made gradients that you can use with just one click.

Preset Gradients

Click on your chosen background to apply it to the currently selected slide. Although you have selected a preset background, you can still amend it to your own requirements using the following options.


The type of gradient you choose controls the shape and orientation of the gradient.

Type Of Gradient

  • Linear – the colours in the gradient change on a straight line.
  • Radial – the shape of the gradient is circular, with one colour being the “focus” and the change in the colours radiating outwards.
  • Rectangular – like the radial gradient, but the shape of the gradient is rectangular.
  • Path – similar to radial or rectangular gradient types, but they radiate using a shape as a path. A triangular shape shows a triangular gradient, a star shows a star-spread gradient, etc.
  • Shade from title – applies a gradient fill to the background that begins from the slide title and ends on the edges of the slide.


Direction could equally be called orientation, because this option doesn’t just control the direction of the colour change in the gradient (e.g. in a linear gradient), but it also controls where the focus is (e.g. in a radial gradient).


Used with the direction option, angle controls the orientation of the gradient. For some types of gradient, like radial, the angle is meaningless (and therefore disabled), but for others, like linear, the angle is useful. And angle of 45 degrees on a linear gradient means that the colours change along the direction of an imaginary straight line that travels at 45 degrees to the horizontal.

Gradient stops, colour, position and transparency

These options all work together and control what colours you see in the gradient, how close they are together and how transparent they are.

To add a new colour stop, click on a blank area of the gradient ramp:

Click On Gradient Ramp

To remove a gradient stop, drag it off the gradient ramp.

You can change a stop’s colour by selecting it and then clicking on the colour selector.

You can easily change the distance between the colours in your gradient by dragging a stop along the ramp, but you have even more control by typing in a precise number into the Position box. This is a percentage that represents how far along the ramp the stop is in relation to the left edge of the colour ramp.

The transparency option controls how see-through the colour is. You can either drag the slider to change the value, or type in a precise percentage.

Once happy with your gradient settings, you can choose to apply the gradient to all slides in your presentation by clicking the Apply to All button at the bottom.  If you don’t, the gradient background will only appear on the currently selected slide.

If you decide that you have made a hash of things, you can always click Reset Background, at the bottom.

The best thing to do to get a feel for how each type of gradient looks is to try each one out. You can always ctrl + z to undo what you have applied.

Format Background in PowerPoint 2013

You can change the background that each slide in your presentation has by using the Format Background command in PowerPoint 2013. Using it, you can give your background a:

  • solid fill
  • gradient fill
  • picture or texture fill
  • pattern fill

In PowerPoint 2010 you could get to the Format Background options by clicking Design (tab) > Background (group) > Background Styles, and then selecting the Format Background Option. You could also right click on any slide and select Format Background. PowerPoint 2013, however, has a brand new Format Background panel. If you click the design tab, then click the Format Background command (in the Customize group)….

Format Background Command

… then the Format Background panel will open up on the right of the workspace.

Format Background Panel

This panel provides all the functions previously available in PowerPoint 2010. You could also get here by right clicking on a slide and then selecting Format Background. To close the panel down, just click on the X in the top right corner.

Here is a brief overview of each of the background options, and we’ll go into further detail in upcoming tutorials:

  • solid fill – the background has a solid colour, like red or blue.
  • gradient fill – the background makes a smooth transition from one colour to another colour. You can choose different types of gradient, like radial or rectangular, and choose the colours you want to appear in the gradient. Learn more about how to apply a gradient fill background.
  • picture or texture fill – you can have a picture background appearing on every slide.
  • pattern fill– choose from a selection of preset pattern fills to appear as a background.

There are a couple of extra options at the bottom of this panel. The Apply To All button will apply your current background formatting options to all slides in your presentation (as opposed to the currently selected slide), whereas the Reset Background will remove all formatting from your background and will reset it to a solid fill of white.