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How to remove a background in Photoshop

There are plenty of reasons you might want to remove a background in Photoshop. Whether you’re creating a collage, cutting out some distracting scenery or dropping yourself in a new location, here’s how to do it in a few easy steps.

While there are a number of ways to get rid of backgrounds in Photoshop, Adobe has only made it easier in recent years with Adobe Sensei-powered tools like Remove Background and the Object Selection tool using AI to automatically pull the subject out of a scene. Then, all you need to do is use the brush tools to perfect the edges if you’ve got any details you want to keep.

We’ll be using the Remove Background tool in this how-to guide, but scroll down to the Troubleshooting section at the bottom of the page to learn how to delete backgrounds with the Object Selection feature, along with a list of alternative tools you can use to remove them in Photoshop.

What you’ll need: 

  • A computer with Photoshop 
  • An Adobe Creative Cloud subscription 

The Short Version 

  1. Open the image in Photoshop 
  2. Unlock the layer 
  3. Open the Properties tab 
  4. Click Remove Background to mask the background 
  5. Make any adjustments to the mask with the Brush and Refine Edge Brush tools 
  6. Click OK

How to remove a background in Photoshop

  1. Step
    1

    Open your image in Photoshop

    This can be any image you want to remove the background from. Open an image in Photoshop

  2. Step
    2

    Right click on the image layer

    This should be in the bottom right corner of the screen or wherever you keep your layer tab. Remove layer from background in Photoshop

  3. Step
    3

    Click Layer From Background

    This will unlock the layer. Remove layer from background in Photoshop

  4. Step
    4

    Click OK

    You can also rename the layer at this stage if you want. Remove layer from background in Photoshop

  5. Step
    5

    Open the Properties tab

    This should also be on the left hand side. Remove background in Photoshop

  6. Step
    6

    Hit Remove Background

    Photoshop will automatically detect and remove the background from your subject by creating a mask. You can stop here if you’re happy with the image, or continue with the following steps to make any adjustments. Remove background in Photoshop

  7. Step
    7

    Click the mask icon

    This can be found below the Properties header. Refine edges in Photoshop

  8. Step
    8

    Click Select And Mask

    You might find you need to scroll down a bit to find this option. Refine edges in Photoshop

  9. Step
    9

    Choose the Refine Edge Brush tool

    This is the second brush on the left. Refine edges in Photoshop

  10. Step
    10

    Use the Refine Edge Brush to soften the edges of the mask

    You can also use the regular Brush tool to get rid of any parts of the image you don’t want to see or to reveal parts the Remove Background tool hid. Refine edges in Photoshop

  11. Step
    11

    Once you’re done making adjustments to the mask, click OK

    That’s it! You’ve removed the background from an image. Refine edges in Photoshop

Troubleshooting

How to use the Object Selection tool to remove the background from an image

You can also use the Object Selection tool to remove a background. To do this, simply click on the tool using the icon on the left and click and drag your curser to select the object. Photoshop will automatically detect the edges around the object, meaning all you need to do is hit the mask icon and make any adjustments to the edges.

What other tools can I use to remove the background from an image?

There are variety of tools you can use to select your subject and mask out the background if the above aren’t working for you (this might be the case if you’re using an older copy of Photoshop). 

Alternate options include the Magic Wand, the Lasso and the Pen tool.

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