How To Remove Background In Photoshop: 5 Best Options

How to remove background in photoshop

There are numerous apps and websites available that offer the automatic background removal feature. AI vs Manual which one do you think gives you the best results? 

Obviously, the manual one! Whether you want to replace your background with a white one or use the subject for other purposes, removing background has become a necessity these days. Although automated background removal can save you a lot of time, you can get higher-quality images if you edit them yourself in Photoshop. That too in a very short period of time!

Want to know how to remove background in Photoshop? Today, we’ll walk you through 5 easy ways to remove backgrounds in Photoshop with step-by-step guidelines. 

Let’s get started.

Different Types Of Tools To Remove Background In Photoshop

There are several background removal techniques in Photoshop. The following are detailed guidelines on how to remove background in Photoshop using 5 popular tools.

Magic Wand Tool

Our first background removal technique is using the magic wand tool. This is a selection tool in Photoshop. When you use this tool to select an area, it will automatically select other areas that have a similar color and tone. This tool works great for simple shapes and backgrounds, especially when there is a strong contrast between the background and foreground. 

It’s worth mentioning that, this tool is not suitable for removing background where the foreground element has sharp edges.

How to Remove Background in Photoshop Using Magic Wand Tool?

Step 1: Open your image file in Photoshop. Go to ‘File’ in the top menu and select ‘Open’.

Step 1 (Magic Wand Tool)

Step 2: Click ‘Background’ layer and drag it to the ‘Create a new layer’ icon. It will create a duplicate version of your image. Click the layer visibility icon of the background layer to make this layer invisible.

Step 2 (Magic Wand Tool)

Step 3: Go to the ‘tools panel’ located on the left side (Photoshop default workspace).  Right-click on the fourth icon to expand the tool submenu. Then select the ‘Magic Wand Tool’.

Step 3 (Magic Wand Tool)

Step 4: Now click the background you want to remove. If the tool selected the background partially, go to the top menu and adjust the ‘Tolerance’ setting. Change the tolerance value and select the background. You may have to do it multiple times until the tool selects the entire background.

You can choose an area manually if the tool is unable to select it. Go to the magic wand tool in the top menu and click ‘Add to selection’. Zoom in and click to select the areas precisely.

Step 4 (Magic Wand Tool)

Step 5: From the top menu bar, click on the ‘Select’ drop-down menu. Then click on ‘Select and Mask’. Your image will have two areas. The checkered white portion is the removed portion.

Step 5 (Magic Wand Tool)

Step 6: If your foreground gets removed or masked because of the selection, go to the right menu. Scroll down and click on ‘Invert’.

Step 6 (Magic Wand Tool)

Step 7: If the edges still have the background color, you can fix it. In the right menu, under the ‘Global refinement’ option, adjust the ‘shift edge’ and ‘Feather’ values for a clean edge. Then scroll down, click ‘Output’, select ‘Layer Mask’, and click the ‘ok’ button.

Step 7 (Magic Wand Tool)

Step 8: Now, to save the image, go to file, click ‘Export’, select ‘Export As’. Set the format and click on ‘Export’ to save it.

Step 8 (Magic Wand Tool)

Quick Selection Tool

The quick selection tool is another selection tool in Photoshop that can be used to cut out background. This tool can identify pixels containing similar colors. So when you select an area using this tool, it selects the other areas too, like the magic wand tool. This tool is best for removing background from images that have clear edges and high contrast between the subject and background.

How to Remove Background in Photoshop Using Quick Selection Tool?

Step 1: Open the file in Photoshop

Step 1 (Quick Selection Tool)

Step 2: Create a duplicate layer as mentioned in the previous technique.

Step 2 (Quick Selection Tool)

Step 3: Right-click the fourth icon in the ‘tool panel’ and select the quick selection tool.

Step 3 (Quick Selection Tool)

Step 4: Left-click on the background areas you want to remove. Zoom in to select the areas precisely. If the tool has selected areas that you don’t want to remove, then you have to press the Alt key while clicking the areas to deselect them.

Step 4 (Quick Selection Tool)

Step 5: To make the edges smooth, go to the top menu and click ‘Select’. Then click on ‘Modify’ and then select the option ‘Smooth’. Adjust the ‘Sample radius; value to see which one works best for your image.

Step 5 (Quick Selection Tool)

Step 6: After you have softened the edges, press the ‘Delete’ key from your keyboard.

Step 6 (Quick Selection Tool)

Step 7: Now that your background is removed, go to ‘File’ and click ‘Export’ to save the image.

Step 7 (Quick Selection Tool)

Lasso Tool

The lasso tool is one of the ideal tools to remove image background having moderate complexity. This tool gives you the option to create a freehand selection. You can drag the mouse pointer to create the outline of your desired selection. Using the lasso tool will give you the feeling of drawing with a pencil or pen.

There are 3 types of lasso tools:

  • Lasso Tool: It allows free drawing for selection
  • Polygonal Lasso tool: This tool draws the selection in straight lines 
  • Magnetic lasso tool: It can identify the edges. So selection sticks to the edges automatically

How to Remove Background in Photoshop Using Lasso Tool?

Step 1: Open the image file

Step 1 (Using Lasso Tool)

Step 2: Create a duplicate layer

Step 2 (Using Lasso Tool)

Step 3: Right-click the third icon from the ‘Tool panel’ and select the Lasso tool.

Step 3 (Using Lasso Tool)

Step 4: Drag the mouse cursor along the edges of your subject to draw the outline. Follow around the edges and zoom in if required.

Step 4 (Using Lasso Tool)

Connect the anchor point to the beginning point to complete the selection. If your selection contains areas that you don’t want to cut off, press the Atl key and draw a new selection around those edges to cancel out the previous selection.

Step 4.1 (Using Lasso Tool)

Step 5: Keep your selection active and then click on the ‘Layer Mask’ icon from the right-side panel to cut off the background.

Step 5 (Using Lasso Tool)
Step 5.1 (Using Lasso Tool)

Step 6: Go to ‘File’ and select ‘Export’ to save the image in your preferred file format.

Step 6 (Using Lasso Tool)

Background Eraser Tool

The background eraser tool is one of the best tools to remove background from picture.  You can use this tool to erase the background permanently. Using this tool is easy. All you need to do is paint over the background and it will be gone, just like how we use erasers on paper. Another good side of this tool is that it does a great job when your background contains multiple colors.

How to Erase Background in Photoshop with Background Eraser Tool?

Step 1: Open the image in Photoshop

Step 1 (Using Background Eraser Tool)

Step 2: Make a duplicate layer

Step 2 (Using Background Eraser Tool)

Step 3: Right-click the ‘Eraser’ icon in the ‘Tool panel’ and select the ‘Background Eraser Tool’.

Step 3 (Using Background Eraser Tool)

Step 4: Choose the sampling option. Go to the options bar below the top menu bar. Select ‘Continuous’ if your background has multiple colors. Then click and drag over all the colors to include them in the samples. If your background is one specific color select ‘Once’.

Step 4 (Using Background Eraser Tool)

Step 5: Go to the limit settings beside the sampling option. Select ‘Fine edges’ and set the tolerance level. Then adjust the brush size and paint over your background to delete the background pixels.

Step 5.1 (Using Background Eraser Tool)
Step 5.2 (Using Background Eraser Tool)

Step 6: Now you can save the photo.

Step 6 (Using Background Eraser Tool)

Pen Tool

The pen tool is the most versatile selection tool in Photoshop. You can use this tool to create precise selections, paths, and shapes around the subject to remove the background from an image. Whether your subject has a smooth or complex edge, such as hair, fur, etc., this tool is the best option for high-quality images. Professional graphic designers and outsourcing companies use this tool for background removal services.

How to Remove Background in Photoshop Using The Pen Tool?

Step 1: Open the image file

Step 1 (Using The Pen Tool)

Step 2: Make a duplicate layer

Step 2 (Using The Pen Tool)

Step 3: Right-click the pen icon in the ‘Tool panel’ and select ‘Pen tool’.

Step 3 (Using The Pen Tool)

Step 4: Go to the tool mode below the top menu bar and select ‘Path’.

Step 4 (Using The Pen Tool)

Step 5: Now create anchor points around the edges of your subject. For a straight line, left-click on a point and then again left-click another point. For a curved line, the process is similar. You need to hold down the second left-click and move your cursor. 

Step 5 (Using The Pen Tool)

Make sure you click the first anchor point after creating the last anchor point. It will complete your selection process.

Step 5.1 (Using The Pen Tool)

Step 6: ‘Right-click’ on your mouse and click ‘Make Selection’ to create your selection. You can also do it by pressing the keys Ctrl+Enter. 

Step 6 (Using The Pen Tool)

Step 7: You have to reverse the selection, or else your subject will be removed. For that, you have to press Ctrl+Shift+I. You can see that the selection is visible around the edges of the background.

Step 7 (Using The Pen Tool)

Now, press Ctrl+X to cut out the background.

Step 7.1 (Using The Pen Tool)

Step 8: Go to ‘Export’ and save the image.

Step 8 (Using The Pen Tool)

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

Photoshop offers multiple tools to remove background. For example, magic wand tool, background eraser tool, quick selection tool, lasso tool, pen tool, layer mask, AI-powered automatic background remover, and so on.  For smooth edges, you can use any of these tools. However, for precise cut-outs of complex edges, pen tool is the best one.

The best tool for removing background depends on the complexity of the edges of your subject. If you want to remove background from a building with straight edges, then the polygonal lasso tool or quick selection tool can be your perfect tool. But, if your subject is a dog or human, editing the fur and hair needs precise selections. In this case, a pen tool will be your ideal tool.


We have reached the end of our discussion. Hopefully this guide has helped you learn various background removal techniques. Now that you have an idea about how these methods work, try these tools to see which works best for you.

Joanna Silva is a graphic designer with over six years of experience, specializing in photo retouching. She's now part of the team at Masking Aid, where her skills in enhancing images shine. Known for her attention to detail, Joanna's expertise adds a touch of magic to every project she works on. Whether it's smoothing out imperfections or adding visual flair, she's the go-to person for making photos look their best.