Remove image background on Mac with Preview

Sometimes you may need to remove photo background or extract objects from a picture so as to merge or blend photos together on Mac. There are many premium software out there can help. For example, you can use something like Adobe Photoshop. These professional image editors however are usually very expensive and come with a sizable learning curve. If you want to instantly make image background transparent without any professional skills, you can choose other easy-to-use photo editor made simple for beginners. Luckily Mac OS comes with the free image viewer and editor, the Preview, that can help us remove image backgrounds for free.

Open Finder and find the photo which you need to delete its background or make its background transparent. Duplicate the photo first so we can restore it if we made any mistake in the editing process. We are going to edit is copy other than the original image.

To lift objects or image from background, delete unwanted objects or background in your photo, you need to firstly select the part or area you want to keep, then delete the rest.

The Preview app offers us several tools to select objects or background in the photo. Using the right selection tool can make your selection fast and accurate. These selection tools can be found in the Markup Toolbar which is hidden by default. So in order to select areas on the photo to keep or remove, we need to reveal the Markup Toolbar in the Preview on Mac. Click the Show Markup Toolbar (a pen in a circle), in the default toolbar of the Preview app. Alternatively go to the View menu and choose Show Markup Toolbar from the drop-down menu. Various selection tools can be found at the top left corner: rectangular selection, elliptical selection, lasso selection and smart lasso. Note that the magic wand option Instant Alpha does not appear in that drop down list. It second from the left in the markup toolbar.

selection tools in preview on mac

Instant Alpha provides us the easiest way to select photo background. To delete photo background, click the Instant Alpha button from the Markup Toolbar, drag over part of the background to quickly select the image background. Press Delete key on your keyboard to delete selected area. The magic wand selection is very inexact though. You may have to use the Instant Alpha multiple times on multiple areas to clean up the photo background completely. Multiple selection tools can be used together to make your selection more precise.

If you want to make the image background transparent, your image, that does not support transparency, needs to be converted to the PNG format first. You will get a pop-up dialogue, just click Convert to proceed.

Finally go to File > Export, save your image as a PNG or any other format that supports transparency. Be sure to check the box next to Alpha.