How to create transparent images for Tableau


Having a transparent background is often important for images used on a Tableau dashboard.

PNG is the correct image format for transparent images.

Sometimes an image needs editing to make it suitable for use. Often a simple “Save As PNG” doesn’t suffice. This is where PowerPoint can help.

Use PowerPoint to create transparent images for Tableau

For those like me, who aren’t natural picture editors, PowerPoint is a wonderful thing.

PowerPoint has evolved significantly in this area, with some tools to make editing pictures quite straightforward. Images are often a challenge for the website.

While working on images I found some of the new (I think) PowerPoint features to make picture editing far simpler.

Remove Background in Powerpoint

Searching for an image for my post about sending an email from Tableau, I found a suitable, but very colourful, image.

Open green envelope with white letter inside on yellow background
Remove the yellow background using PowerPoint

To begin, copy the image into a PowerPoint slide.

The first thing I wanted to do was remove the bright yellow.

Powerpoint has an option Remove Background in the Format Picture menu.

Menu options for PowerPoint Picture Format
Picture Format menu

When clicking Remove Background, the purple colour is how Powerpoint indicates the background for removal. The default selection for this image cuts off the top of the envelope.

Open green envelope with white letter inside on purple background in Powerpoint Remove Background
The Background Removal removes the purple colour

In the Background Removal menu, it has tools to Mark Areas to Keep and Mark Areas to Remove.

Toolbar of PowerPoint background removal
The Background Removal menu

I can use these and keep the top of the envelope, simply by clicking the purple triangle at the top of the envelope.

Once the parts are marked to keep / remove, click Keep Changes.

The result, with a few clicks, is:

Open Green envelope with white paper inside
Envelope with background colour removed

Other background removal free alternatives

You can also try online alternatives, such as:

Lunapic (far more powerful than only background removal, but also more complex)

Re-colour in PowerPoint

Now the bright background colour is gone it’s hard to see the letter on the white background.

Again, PowerPoint to the rescue.

Another option on the Format Picture menu is Color (yes, deliberate American spelling to match PowerPoint).

Click Color and PowerPoint will change the colour of this, with many suggested alternatives.

The Color menu in Powerpoint provides many options to recolour
The Recolor section provides a number of different colour options

I like blue so choose one of the blue options. That gives this:

Blue envelope with blue letter inside representing email
Edited image with blue envelope and light blue paper

With PowerPoint, it’s easy to save this as a PNG, which means transparency in Tableau.

Right-click on the image in the PowerPoint slide and Save as Picture.

PowerPoint Design Ideas are also great

I also needed images for the website. I thought it would be interesting to show some Tableau work as an image.

In the end the collages didn’t make it on to the website, but below is an example of what the Design Ideas suggested.

A collage of various Tableau chart types
Collage created in a click using PowerPoint Design Ideas

Thinking this would be complicated, I started to snip some charts from various Tableau dashboards and pasting them into a PowerPoint slide.

Then I discovered PowerPoint Design Ideas. Fortunately it self-activated after I pasted the second image into a slide, otherwise I still wouldn’t know it exists.

If you need to switch it on it’s under the Design menu. It offered a large number of different designs using the images on the slide.

All I needed to do was copy and paste the images, no need to manually rearrange anything.

PowerPoint design ideas giving a number of different collage ideas
Design Ideas makes a number of suggestions

This saves so much time and design pain.

PowerPoint is great for image tweaking.

Wrapping up, PowerPoint massively simplifies the creating and editing of images. If you need to alter images for your Tableau dashboards this is the first place I suggest turning to.

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