How to change the slide background in PowerPoint

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How to change what the slide background looks like

modify slide backgroundModifying Slide Backgrounds

You are working on a presentation for a client and they ask you to change how the background looks. It may be that they want solid colours, gradients, pictures or just about anything.

They may ask you to set the same background for the whole presentation or just one slide to make it stand out.

By changing the background in the Slide Master you can also affect the whole presentation.

Change the slide Background

Two ways to get the Format Background task pane to open:

Modify Slide background

Figure 1

Either way you will see the Format Background Task Pane on the right of your screen.

Modify Slide Background

Figure 2

If I want to change the background of this one slide then I can use the colour picker to select the colour to change it to.

The eyedropper

Use the eyedropper to  pick an exact colour and match it.

Here is how it works.

I am going to use a solid colour to demonstrate.

Open the Format Background task pane with a right click or via the icon. Now underneath the colours icon click on the Eyedropper icon.

modify slide background

Figure 3

Now hover the Eyedropper over the colour you want to pick and see a little square with that colour pop up. It will also show you the RGB colours for the colour you are picking I chose the blue-grey of my logo. This is the logo of my sister company The IT Training Surgery.

Modify Slide Background

Figure 4

Here is the Eyedropper at work and on the right you can see that one slide has changed.


modify slide background

Figure 5


Use Format Background to add a picture to the background

From the Format Background Task Pane select Picture or texture fill

Click File, Clipboard or On-line to select the picture you wish to use.

modify slide background

Figure 6

I will click File to find a picture of a cup of coffee to put in the background.

modify background

Figure 7

It will be inserted into the background.

modify slide background

Figure 8

Notice that the picture in the background makes the text a little difficult to read. We can change the transparency to make the text stand out more.

modify slide background

Figure 9

modify slide background

Figure 10

Gradient fill

To apply or change the gradient fill:

Open the Format Background Task Pane then select Gradient Fill.

modify slide background

Figure 11

Now pick the colour and the way the gradient looks, you can set as many stops along the way as you like. The stops control how the colour changes from dark to light or light to dark depending on the direction of the gradient.

Menu item  
Pre-set Gradients – pick from a selection of pre-set gradients in the theme colours.
modify slide background

Figure 12


Type of Gradient – select one of the designs, this controls what shape the background gradient will take. Try them out to see how they are different.
modify slide background

Figure 13

Direction – control which direction the grading takes.
modify slide background

Figure 14


Gradient Stops – control how many stops there are for the colour change. You can add as many as you like.


Click the Add marker or just click on the colour line.



modify slide background

Figure 15

You can even add a second colour to the gradient – I have chosen shades of orange
modify slide background

Figure 16

Position shows the position of the currently selected gradient stop.


Transparency and Brightness control the amount of transparency and brightness to add to the gradient. Experiment with them.

modify slide background

Figure 17

Apply to All and Reset Background


If you like the changes you have made and want them to appear on every slide, click Apply to All.


If however you hate what you just did as you were fooling around experimenting – all is not lost. Click Reset Background to get back to where you started.

modify slide background

Figure 18


Now that you can see how simple it is to change the background of the slide or slides, which method will you use? What have you learned from this post? Leave a comment below!

About the Author Shelley Fishel

I will help you be more productive and earn more money as a virtual assistant. As a trainer with 20 years experience, you'll love how you'll get between 4-8 hours a week back when you use Microsoft tools to their fullest potential. I'm also the author of several best-selling books on Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Outlook, published at . Subscribe and get more productive!

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