How to Remove White in GIMP


You can rely on GIMP as a powerful image editor to work with your digital images. Often, you'll find an image that you want to use as part of a presentation or a desktop publishing document, but it contains a white background all around the subject. GIMP can get rid of that for you. As an open-source program, GIMP is freely distributed online at If you haven't yet downloaded and installed it, do so before beginning these instructions.

  • Start the GIMP program. Click on "File" in the menu bar, and slide to "Open." Navigate to the location of the image with the white background on your computer and select it.

  • Click on "Layer" in the menu bar and slide to "Transparency." From Transparency, slide over to "Add Alpha Channel" and click. Adding the alpha channel prepares your image to use transparency when parts of the image are removed.

  • Click on the "Fuzzy Select Tool" in the Toolbar on the left. The Fuzzy Select Tool looks like a magic wand.

  • Click anywhere on the outer white area on your image. The entire white area should be selected. Sometimes, usually near the subject, there are areas that are not selected by fuzzy select, but are still part of the background. Hold down "Shift" and click on those areas as well to add them to the current selection.

  • Click on "Edit" in the menu bar and slide to "Clear." The white area is replaced by a grid of grey and light-grey squares. These squares denote transparency. The white area has been removed.

  • Click on "File" in the menu bar and slide to "Save." In the Save dialog box, click on "Select File Type" and change the file type to a PNG file. Save the image on your computer in a location of your choice.

Tips & Warnings

  • When you view your image with a typical image viewer, you will likely still see the white around your subject instead of the grey and light-grey squares. However, if you insert the image into a program such as a desktop publisher or presentation program, and place color behind the image, you'll see that the background is actually clear.
  • If you select an area you did not intend to, you can press "Control" and the "Z" key to undo a step.
  • Not all graphic types support transparency. If you do not save your image as a PNG file, you may see the white return.

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  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images
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