How to Highlight Part of a Picture in Microsoft PowerPoint

How to Highlight Part of a Picture in Microsoft PowerPoint

Images are common elements of slideshows, which add visual flair to your presentations. But what if you have an image with a place you want to emphasize? With a little editing, you can highlight part of an image in PowerPoint.

It could be the face of your business or your mission, a product on the shelf, or a handshake indicating a good business relationship. Whatever topic you want to highlight, you can do it easily.


Add your picture

As a reminder, you can add a photo or image to your PowerPoint presentation with just a few clicks.

Select the slide and where you want to place the image. Go to the Insert tab and click on the Pictures drop-down arrow. Choose the location of the image from “This device”, “Stock images” or “Online images”.

Insert and picture options in PowerPoint

Find the image you want to add and click “Insert”. From there, you can drag to move or resize the image on the slide as you see fit.

Insert shape

Next, you’ll insert a shape to cover the part of the image you want to highlight.

Go to the Insert tab and click on the Shape drop-down arrow. Choose the shape you want to use from the various options provided.

Insert and shape options in PowerPoint

Your cursor turns into a crosshair, so drag it to draw the shape on your image. You can adjust the shape after drawing it by dragging it to move it or by dragging it in or out of a corner or edge to resize it.

Drawing a circular shape

Don’t worry about the fill color you see in the shape. It won’t show up again after you follow the other steps.

Shape drawn in PowerPoint

Merge and Split Elements

Select the image, then the shape. You can do this by holding the Ctrl key on Windows or Command on Mac while you click on each one. Be sure to select the image first.

Selected image and shape

Go to the Format Shape tab that appears. In the Insert Shape section of the ribbon, click the Merge Shapes drop-down arrow and select “Fragment”.

Fragment from the Merge Shapes drop-down list.

This operation merges the image and the shape while fragmenting the shape so that it is separated.

Image and form fused and fragmented

Apply blur or another effect to the image

Now that the image and shape are merged, select the image (not the shape). Next, go to the Image Format tab that appears.

In the Adjust section of the ribbon, click the Artistic Effects drop-down arrow. To blur the image except for the shape, choose the Blur option. You can choose another effect if you want.

Blur in Artistic Effects combo box

You’ll see the fragmented shape in full light, with the rest of the image blurred, making that part stand out.

Blurred image with highlighted fragment

To adjust the effect, right-click on the image and choose “Format Image”.

Image formatting in context menu

When the sidebar opens, it should direct you to the Artistic Effects section of the Effects tab, but if it doesn’t, go there. Expand the Artistic Effects section if necessary.

Image Formatting Sidebar with Artistic Effects Expanded

You can then use the slider to increase or decrease the degree of blur. If you choose an effect other than blur, you can see other options.

Adjusted blur for an image

You can also try the other effects here using the artistic effects drop-down list.

Different artistic effects selected

Highlighting only part of an image in PowerPoint allows you to emphasize the central point. And for other ways to edit pictures in PowerPoint, see how to crop a picture to fit a shape or how to make a picture transparent.


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